Monthly Archives: December 2013

As Evil Increases, What Is Our Response?

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
– Jesus in Matt 24:12

One of Equip’s ministries is providing teaching and discipleship in Masese slum.  Michelle (my wife) participates in a women’s Bible study there each week.  Masese can be a difficult place in teaching and discipling people in the Gospel because so much lawlessness can exist in this community at times – abuse, drunkenness, rape, theft, prostitution, poverty, anger, selfishness, murder, etc.

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Bible Study Group

Masese

The Community of Masese Outside Jinja, Uganda

Outcast

Resting in the Shadows

The following story from 2 1/2 years ago illustrates the initial challenges our friends and fellow Equip teammates, Jeremy & Tamara Boone, had as they began work there.  This story is from their blog.   “I remember a man who came to Jinja from his distant home in Karimoja to stay with his sister.  He had advanced TB and was near to death.  The family didn’t want him to sleep in the house and basically refused to touch him.  As a result, he spent his days and nights laying lifelessly on a blanket in the shade of a tree.  He was unwashed and unable to eat or help himself to a latrine.  I got involved and told the family that there was free TB treatment available at the local government hospital.  I charged her, “If you will just get him to the hospital, I’ll make sure the doctors and nurses give him the treatment he needs”.   She agreed to the plan but because of the families negligence and his critical condition, I decided to return to their home the next day and make sure he had gone.  That night, I fell sick with Malaria.  It was 2 weeks before I returned.  The first thing I did was go to their home.  I found a freshly dug grave covered with stones behind their hut.  Neighbors came and told me that the sister had refused to take him to the hospital.  Instead, she stuck him in the chicken house so she didn’t have to watch him die.  Their home and the chicken house is directly across from the (local) church.  Everyone saw him dying.  No one acted. I was outraged and discouraged.” – used with permission from www.boonesinafrica.com.

Just to clarify, please understand part of the ministry in Jinja is to teach, disciple, and encourage the people to love and take care of their own, not just do it for them, although at times Equip does that as well.  There is a ministry, Amazima, now in Masese that checks at least twice a week on Masese community members.

Jesus said, “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

Notice carefully in that prophecy, there is encouragement – Jesus said the love of many (implying, not all) would have their love grow cold.  So in striking contrast to the “many,” the followers of Jesus (apparently the few) are to love.

It would seem that the clear answer to increased lawlessness is either more law or better implementation of the law.  But that is not the way to look at it.  Notice that the writer of Hebrews encourages us to be stirring up one another in love and good works, and so much more as we see the Day approaching (Heb 10:24).  This is my desire in this post, to stir us up as Christians to love and good works in the midst of increasing lawlessness.

This stirring one another can happen in various ways, but most effectively in the following two ways (I plan to post a third way later): 1) Go to the source, God’s heart; and 2) Resist the temptation to put law in place of love.

We are constantly hearing more and more about lawlessness and sin.  I had a lady write me a few months ago from the States who was so discouraged about the paths people are taking and the way the world is going.  It seems to be a losing battle and we can be negatively affected by the cold air of lawlessness.

The reality is, the truth is, as lawlessness increases, we cannot fight this battle on our own strength.  When we are weak, many will move into to a self-protective mode and demand more laws and security from our governments.  Others will cry for more obedience to God’s laws – those perfect, unmoving, secure and stabilizing decrees, which are God’s holy righteous standard.  This is not the right move.  The right move is to know God’s heart and spend time with Him each day.

Mother & Child

God’s Love for Us Is Deeper Than the Love a Nursing Mother Has For Her Child

God’s heart does not delight in the death of wicked sinners. Even the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel records God’s Spirit moving him to write, “I (God) have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek 33:11). Rather as illustrated graphically by the prophet Isaiah, when we think God has forsaken His people and forgotten us because of the abounding of lawlessness and evil, God tells Isaiah to tell His children, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold (an expression of surprise! Look, examine, what God is about to say is extremely important) I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16). He has taken us – sinners – and as a sculptor chisels the law into stone, our awesome God has chiseled our sins into the palms of His nail-scarred hands on the cross through the love of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If this is not enough God further reveals His heart to His people through the prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations as they suffer and lament their pain, affliction, and discipline, “Though He causes grief, yet will He show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies, for He does not afflict willingly.” The Hebrew for “willingly” means, “from the heart” (Lam 3:32-33). At God’s heart is not affliction and judgment, but compassion – the very fulfillment of the law found in Jesus Christ Himself compassionately living amongst sinners, serving and loving them.  God doesn’t do away with the law, but fulfills His perfect law with love.

This leads us to the second point:  resist the temptation to put law in place of love.  As I wrote above, the natural inclination is to fight lawlessness with more laws or better implementation of laws.  That does not work.  If God’s heart was His law, He never would have sent His Son Jesus!  He would have held to His law and let it condemn sinners.  God rescued sinners by sending His Son.

God gave the law, and then He gave us His very best – His Son – who fulfilled the law and took on our sins.  If we reject God’s gift of love, His very best and very own Son, Jesus Himself says the result is condemnation (John 3:16-21).

I am greatly concerned that as things in this world get more and more lawless and evil, that we Christians will start moving toward the form of worship of God through the law. That is, starting from the point of keeping the law in attempts to merit good is not love!  Rather it is selfishness and pride.  One must start from Jesus (God’s full expression of love) in order to fulfill the law – namely loving your neighbor and loving God.  Love through the power and person of Jesus Christ and His Spirit, that fulfills the law.  That’s why it’s important to spend time with God each day – to strengthen and grow from the source of Love.

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16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” – Jesus (John 3:16-21)

The answer to lawlessness and evil is not more law, not more morality, not more “spirituality.”  The answer is the love of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of God’s law found in Him, the light, life and truth. His commandment is love.  He is love.  He is the source of our strength, not the law, not morality.  He will not fail us. When the Light comes into our hearts, change takes place and love eventually conquers all, beginning first with us.

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What Motivates You?

On Thanksgiving Day (Nov 28th) I posted a blog entitled, “Are We Seeing Prophetic Signs?” It is my desire that we, “…think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works,” especially “now that the day of (Jesus’) return is drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25 NLT). New King James states it, “as we see the Day approaching.”

Yesterday (Saturday morning, 15th) we got the news here of yet another school shooting in Colorado, even on the anniversary of Sandy Hook. Friday’s terrible event reminds me of the shocking and sobering Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in April 1999.

I remember that day very well. The Holy Spirit used that terrible event to impress upon me my responsibilities as Columbine Librarya father and husband. I remember where I was when I got the news. It was a Hospice of McDowell County volunteer appreciation banquet. The thought that crossed my mind was, “We are losing our children. What am I going to do?” As I prayed God used that evil event to more powerfully impact the life of my family and me than thirty years of men preaching the law to me.

Our daughters had just turned four and Joshua was only a few weeks old. It was that tragic event that caused the Holy Spirit to burden me and move me to commit my family to daily family devotions with our children. It’s something that has forever changed our lives.

Do we have it all together? Of course not. You all know us – sins, issues and problems. We have experienced marriage problems, sins and struggles just like other people.

Watch, pray and love Jesus and others. Change takes a commitment and discipline. Change may even see struggles and failure. We went through periods of time when we struggled through family devotions. But you know what? Our marriage has been like that too. Michelle and I have had some awesome times together, but there have been serious challenges when we have failed one another, sinned, struggled and felt like giving up.

It’s only the grace of Jesus Christ that has faithfully pulled us through. Some people think that is a trite answer. But it’s not. It’s the Gospel – Jesus has pulled us through when we’ve sinned, failed and wanted to quit. I never want to stop telling that truth. If Jesus is too simple to us, if He’s just not enough, if He’s not sufficient for our problems and failures, if He’s lacking or offensive, causes us to be ashamed, is too sweet, too syrupy, has to be enhanced or modified by something, a turn off, too common, too radical, only a good teacher, then He’s more than likely just another religious leader. That’s not the real Jesus.

sunThe real Jesus is life, grace and truth. He rescues failures and sinners. He is faithful, promising to never leave us or forsake us. He’s coming back and there’s still time to get to know Him even better. What do you think He wants you to do? Ask Him, listen and then use the gifts He has given you to love Him and love others.

What is the writer saying in Heb 10:24-25? I think he is saying: 1) we as followers of Jesus are watching, as Jesus exhorted His disciples to do in Luke 21:36; and 2) that it’s not us who is doing the exhorting, but the Spirit throughSpine of a Bible us. Of what eternal value would it be for us to try to motivate others? But God’s Spirit working through us places gifts amongst each of us so that we can be unified, grow to mature in Christ, glorify Jesus and avoid deceitful and destructive lies (Eph 4:11-13). Let’s love Jesus and use our gifts to love others.

Good Samaritan Clinic

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Enid’s Good Samaritan Clinic and Pharmacy

Here are photos of Enid’s Good Samaritan clinic that we visited on Saturday.  Joshua stands in front of the sign.  “Eddwarliro” is the word for “hospital” in the Luganda language.  The clinic has two rooms in the back with two beds in each room where assistance can be provided to patients.  In the photo Enid, Michelle and Alexis are in front of the clinic.

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Enid caring for a baby with malaria.

A four-month old child was in the clinic with a case of malaria when we visited.  Enid said the child presented with convulsions from malaria the night before and was on IV medicine.  The child was initially sleeping when we arrived and when we came back through, she had woken up.  Though crying a bit and hot, she was doing much better this morning and was responsive to Enid’s voice.

Enid is from Uganda and has had connections with Equip in Marion and Canada for a number of years.  Each month she takes a 3 1/2 to 4-hour taxi ride from her home to Jinja for our team meeting and then returns in the afternoon.  It seems she almost always has a smile and something to talk about.  If you’re around her for any amount of time, you’ll learn she is a woman of prayer.

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Enid and a staff member in the pharmacy.

As we traveled from her home to the clinic (about 1 kilometer), we passed three private schools.  She and her staff will visit neighboring schools to check on students.

Enid is well-respected in the community and at the larger nearby hospitals.  It’s a blessing to have her ministering with the hands of Jesus to those in need.

HIV Hope at Community Care

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Equip Uganda Team Members: Enid (front row, left), Luke Anderson (in back with cap) and Wise Family

One of our Equip Uganda teammates, Enid (see photo, in front on far left), is a well-respected medical leader in her local community just outside Kampala.  She specializes in HIV care, treatment and education.  Our family visited Enid’s home and clinic on Friday and Saturday.   Enid is a strong widowed mother with three children (Isaac, Psalms, and Victory) who cares for twin girls who are two.  The twins’ mother died during childbirth, the father would not care for them, so Enid took the twins into her home.

Enid can be contacted 24-hours a day.  In fact, Friday night after a delicious dinner, some conversation and at her request some prayer, she was called out to the clinic.  We found out the next morning.  It’s about a half mile from her house, and she walked to it at night with her son.  This was a good night as she was able to return to her house by about 10 pm.

On her land Enid has a house (see the photo, her home is to the right of the parked vehicle we’re IMG_6458driving), a building for guests to stay overnight (not pictured, but to the extreme right), outdoor latrines (not pictured, but to the extreme left), and a building (to the left of the vehicle) that serves as a nice room for educational conferences, meals and/or a sanctuary. Equip Uganda is assisting Enid and her family in holding a 1-week HIV Hope Conference at her place for twenty pastors from around Uganda in January.  Her building and grounds make great use of rain, as she has every roof collecting the rain water in large containers.  She has solar power for her house and buildings, although the solar is not currently working in the conference building.  She hopes to add electrical power to the conference building before the January HIV conference.

We ate dinner, talked by candlelight and slept in the conference building.  The IMG_6453meal consisted of rice, potatoes, peas cooked with sausage, chapatti (flat) bread, g-nut (peanut) sauce, eggplant and cabbage.  It was delicious.

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Conversation by candlelight.

We rigged up mosquito nets for the night – I used some rope, chairs and the vehicle’s jumper cables suspended from the upper beam of the building to hold the nets up.  It’s amazing to see how God prepared our children for the Uganda experience.  They did not complain and seemed to enjoy the trip.  After visiting Enid’s clinic Saturday morning (I’ll post more pictures Monday or Tuesday), it took us about five hours to travel back to Jinja from Kampala in the heat due to traffic and construction, a trip that should take about three hours.  I ended up with a severe headache Saturday night, probably due to not drinking enough water.

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Conference Room has beautiful paintings in it. The most dramatic is the one of Jesus “Calming the Sea.”

Overall an enlightening experience with great hosts.  More photos tomorrow or Tuesday.

Prayer requests:  for the

* HIV Hope Seminar / Conference in January;

* Strength for Enid as she cares for her family and cares for others in the community;

* For the patients, many of whom have HIV – for hope, for the power of Jesus to minister to each of their individual needs, for encouragement, for peace, for healing.  Enid sees many young girls pregnant, too.  A young Ugandan man told me a couple weeks ago one of the biggest problems in Jinja for prostitution is the boda boda (motorcycle) drivers who carry passengers around town.  Girls who cannot pay with money are solicited for sex as payment.

* For getting power to the buildings before the pastors’ conference.

Thank you for your prayers and support!