Tag Archives: missionaries

Learning the Importance of Engaging Others

On Monday, June 3rd at about 6:00 pm local time, I was approached on Main street in Jinja by Abraham, a twelve-year old local boy who saw our family of mzungus (white people) leaving a restaurant.  I was in a rush to get back to the Guest House to be with my family, yet this young guy caught my attention briefly by mumbling, “I wahnt sahma fuhd.”  Due to his thick Ugandan accent I had to ask him what he said.  He repeated the request which I understood this time, but he would not look me in the eye, “I want some food.”

Abraham did not look like a street kid – he was healthy-looking, dressed well, and knew where the street kid ministries were located that could help him.  He was unfortunately learning how to get what he wanted from the mzungus.

This is not the only time I have been asked for food or money since arriving here in Jinja.  I’m not complaining, it’s just caused some thought.  I was asked by two different parents to help them sponsor their children in school since school fees here are expensive and many families have numerous children.

Being in Jinja for just over a month now, I already see the power of money in a third world country.  The easiest, quickest response is money, and we’ve done that too.  Everyone wants just “a little bit more.”  And don’t we as Americans have relatively a lot of it?

So how are we to handle requests for money and food, especially when so many programs exist to help?

It’s interesting that there is an example in Scripture about money that leads us to what I think part of the answer is to this dilemma.  At first glance, the story may not seem to connect with this blog, but think about it more deeply.

MoneyIn Matthew 22, the story is recorded.  The Pharisees ask Jesus:  17Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

  18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?   19Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius.

  20And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

  21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Brilliant answer.

The well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias in discussing this section of Scripture thinks that the Pharisees missed a great follow up question, which in his opinion they should have asked Jesus.  That question being, “And what belongs to God?”

Ravi thinks Jesus’ answer to this hypothetical question would have been something like, “Whose image is on you?”

On us?  Is there an image and an inscription on us?  According to Genesis 1:27 man is made in the image of God.  God’s image is on us!  So we belong to God – his workmanship and creation.  What about an inscription?  Incredibly Isaiah 49:15-16 tells us this truth, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb?Hand & Cross Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed (Heb root is to hack; implying to enact like laws written on stone) you on the palms of My hands;”

How much we matter to God, if we just stop for a while and consider!  He desires a strong relationship!  So much that He didn’t just throw money at us, but rather He cares for us more than a nursing mother does her child.  He took the inscription of our sins onto His palms through the nails that held Him to the cross.

I am learning this point:  relationships matter and we must make the time to engage people in our busy world and not just hand out money.  Love people – that should include engaging them while feeding them or helping them and tell them the Gospel reason why we are helping them.  Should we feed or give money in all cases?  I believe we should follow the lead of God’s Holy Spirit.  An important question might be:  Does handing generous sums of money out, bring those in need to depend on further begging or depend on Jesus?

Little Abraham had engaged me – whether for legitimate reasons or not, I do not know.  As Abraham and I were talking, I thought about Abraham’s request for food.  He knew the ministries where he could get food.  I did sense the Spirit asking me to engage him and we talked about real bread – the Bread of Life being Jesus.  I trust this was the appropriate response in this situation.  It has also reminded me of the importance of my quiet time in order to be prepared to face who God is leading to me that day.

Advertisements

Week 3

Perhaps this week I should title the blog, “Jinja Honeymoon, Week 3.”  Early in the week the kids were sitting with me in the living area of the house where we are staying.  I adjusted my voice to a serious tone, which they noticed immediately.  “I’ll ask a question and I want Joshua to answer first.  You need to be very honest with me.”

“Given what you’ve seen so far, do you think you can stay here in Uganda until the end of 2014?”

Joshua immediately broke my tension, “Oh, yeah.  It’s not like I thought it would be.  Staying here doesn’t seem like a problem at all.”  The girls’ answers were similar.

His answer includes the experiences of living out of suitcases for four weeks, killing numerous insects and a small rodent in the house, adjusting to dirt and lack of cleanliness, the change of food, culture, showers, power and heat.

Obviously we all miss our family and friends, for sure.  And while his answer was quite encouraging, I tend to be quite the skeptic.  So I’m willing to give it more time.  I mentioned how the next months may be challenging at times with various difficulties and that it’s usually at that time that North Carolina will tug on us.  But I praise God for His preparing us and the kids for this transition.

This past week I have been quite encouraged to see how other children in various settings have responded to our teens.  Alexis and Brittany babysat a young 3-year old adopted son (Jeremiah) of one of our team members while the child’s mother (Anna) and Michelle went out for a coffee and Anna showed Michelle the market – the market is an experience of a life time!

Joshua threw Frisbee and football with the caretaker’s son, Timothy, here this week.

Joshua and Timothy throw Frisbee and football with each other.  The frame in the foreground is a table being built for the house where we are staying

Joshua and Timothy (R) throw Frisbee and football with each other. The frame in the foreground is a dining table being built for the house where we are staying

Both kids really enjoyed that time together.  Timothy had such a big smile.  Later in the week when Joshua returned from town with Michelle and the girls, Timothy’s younger brother, Steven, age 3, came up to Joshua, bent both knees, lowered his head and held out his hand.  This three year-old honored Joshua out of respect.  Someone, probably Steven’s father, Moses, had taught him a powerful way to show respect.  Although the gesture was not necessary, it is evident relationships are starting to form.

At church today an eleven year-old local girl, Christine, came up to Alexis, knelt down next to her and put her head in Alexis’ lap as the congregation sat during one of the prayers.  Christine stayed with Alexis during the service, at times both arms around Alexis, playing with her necklace, hands and hair, and sitting in her lap.  At the end of the service I look over and Brittany is holding Anna, who will be three in July.  Anna is our teammates, Chris and Jane Sperling’s only daughter.

So the children seem to be fitting in and adjusting well.  Again, I praise God for His goodness in making the preparations.  Yesterday they enjoyed some video chat time on Gmail with some friends from back in Marion.

Other transitions continue to happen as well.  Michelle is starting to cook more.  We have eaten in local restaurants more than usual during the first few weeks while we adjust and settle.  At home our meals have consisted of the following:

Breakfast is easy – fresh pineapple, mango, papaya and / or banana and bread with some jam and / or eggs and water, juice or coffee.  Water has to be bottled or boiled.  Lunch consists mainly of sandwiches – usually groundnut (peanut butter) and jelly sandwiches, fruit or leftovers from the night before.  Supper has been rice with various sauces or beans, pasta, fresh vegetables or something like fried cabbage dressed up with hot dogs.  Michelle treated us to mango salsa, fresh avocado dip (from the tree in the backyard) and chips a couple nights ago – thanks to recipes from our teammate, Tamara Boone.

The variety of foods and number of prepared foods do not exist here like the States.  Items differ in price and can be expensive, while others are similar or cheaper than the US.

A snapshot of Main Street, downtown Jinja.

A snapshot of Main Street, downtown Jinja.

We have started language training, learning Luganda.  I was able to find a downloadable DVD from Amazon before leaving the States.  It seems the family is picking up the language quickly, and enjoying it.  They like the Lugandan word for toast, which consists of two words meaning “bread” and “fire.”

Josh started school back two weeks ago.  Since he was out of school for our transition here, he will be working through the summer and into the fall.

Today, the power went out from 4:30 am until after we returned from church.  Power outages really haven’t been bad since we arrived.  And today, I drove the Boones vehicle to church, without an accident – dodging potholes, botas (motorcycles), pedestrians, bicycles, all the while driving on the left side of the road, which was a challenge.  I am thankful nothing significant happened.

Tomorrow our girls will be going with Anna, our Equip Uganda team member from Oregon, to visit three or four Childrens’ ministries.  They are looking for a place to volunteer their time.  Half the population in Uganda is fifteen (15) years-old or less.

Tomorrow Samuel returns here (see Samuel’s story by clicking on the word, Relationships), and I look forward to seeing and listening to him.  I continue work (more about that in a future post), language training, learning the culture and visiting different places, like our Farming God’s Way project this Friday outside Jinja.

“Weraba.” (Pronounced “Wehr ah bah” Luganda for “Good-bye”).  All the best (and the best is Jesus!)