The rising of the Son in the midst of break-downs and break-ins.
–From February 5th, 2016–
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4 (ESV)
As many of you know, we graduated from our cultural training in November and have since settled into our home in Bunga, a neighborhood on the southeastern side of Kampala. Over the last month and a half, we have purchased furniture and appliances, enrolled the girls in classes at the Acacia International School, started to develop deeper relationships with our teammates and have begun to visit churches in our area. Angel and I have also finished our first two weeks of intensive Luganda language study. But underlying all these completed tasks and accomplishments has been a series of problems, struggles and challenges. Some have been very minor and funny, but some of have been very frustrating and quite scary. Through all of the these struggles however, we have been wonderfully reminded of the true Source of our strength and courage; this has been made even more clear after our home invasion last Saturday night…
Living in Uganda offers some challenges that are impossible to avoid. One of these is transportation. Public transportation revolves around motorcycles (Boda Boda) or 15 passenger vans (Matatu). Neither of these are very efficient or safe forms of travel; this requires the purchase of a vehicle. Buying a vehicle in Uganda means that you will either purchase an incredibly expensive, new imported vehicle or an incredibly expensive, old and used imported vehicle. In our case, we purchased a 1996 Land Rover Discovery. What we thought was a good purchase has quickly turned into our “big green, money eating machine”.
Friday, we had our car returned after it spent 2 days with our mechanic. Two days earlier, I had broken down on the way to the airport in Entebbe to help pick up our teammates who had just returned from HMA (furlough) in the States. After driving about 30 minutes, the car decided to turn off while I was driving down a long hill on a heavily congested road. This led to many hours sitting in the car, and I’ll admit, a few prayers for the Lord to send a meteor from space to fall on the car… The frustration of spending more money to repair the car was on the forefront of my mind as I went to bed Friday night. I kept struggling with the guilt of spending our family’s limited money on a lemon of a car and pouring the remaining balance of our savings in to it’s constant repair.
4:30 Saturday morning, we were awakened by Genevieve coming into our bedroom. As she was crawling into our bed Tembo, our 4 month old Boer Boel puppy, started to bark. Angel asked me to go check on Riley to make sure that she was okay. After looking in on her and seeing that she was still asleep, I walked down the hall to turn off a light that was on. I assumed it was the bathroom light that one of the girls had left on, but when I got closer, I saw that the light was coming from the open door to the garage. When I looked inside, a man turned and shined a light in my eyes! I guess the sight of an overweight, underdressed (I was only in my boxer shorts) man yelling at him from the top of the stairs caused him to decide to leave. After securing the house and the compound, Nkonge Brian, our friend who lives with us, and I discovered that nothing had been taken and that no one had been hurt. What an amazing blessing from the Lord!
Later in the day Saturday, I drove our freshly repaired car down the street to bring some neighborhood welders back to our house to repair the damaged window security bars. As soon as we loaded their equipment in my car to begin the journey back home, the car stopped working again… My first thoughts went imeadiatly to a place of anger and self pity and doubt. Why me, Lord??? Why us???
Saturday was a long day, but Sunday came as an amazing and welcomed relief and encouragement. Our family attended church at New City Community Church. The Lord was present during the service! The Spirit was very tangible, apparent in the way that He ministered through the worship leaders and pastor. The call to worship began with excerpts from Psalm 33:
From this call to worship, we moved in to the Hymn of Adoration, “To God be the Glory”:
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.”
In response to this time of prayer, we were offered the Assurance of Pardon from the scriptures,
1 Corinthians 10:13
The word “Trials” that James uses here is translated from the Greek word πειρασμός or peirasmos. This word has a specific meaning and one that certainly fits my experiences. Strong’s defines this word as:
Answer– The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services,and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.
May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
Answer – True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God,and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Each of you reading this, in some way, have played a crucial role in helping us deploy to Uganda. Over these last 7 months, I haven’t compiled many exciting stories of how I have been used to advance Christ’s kingdom. I can offer stories of how the Lord is breaking me, reshaping me and preparing me to do the good works the He has prepared beforehand (Eph 2:10).
It has not been easy. It has not been fun. It has led to questions about why we are here. But as I started this story off with a picture of the Sun rising over the Victoria Nile, experiencing the Son rise out of the darkness of my trials is an amazing experience. One that I want to share with all that I can. In Matthew, Christ’s words are recorded: