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What’s a Village Bible School?

So often when I tell people that we do Village Bible Schools, I realize that their first thoughts are filled with crafts and children’s games. Although we do minister to children, this part of our ministry is no child’s play.

We bring Biblical Training to the rural villages, where no Theological training is available. Most of these pastors have had no training whatsoever. Many of them have been placed in the position because they are the only upstanding man in the community. Some do not own their own copy of Scripture. Many of the Pastor’s preach things they have been taught through the grapevine, something they heard on the radio, or even something they dreamt about the night before.

Although on paper, Uganda is a Christian nation, there is not a lot of the true Christ being preached. (On paper America is a Christian nation as well, but well…) The harvest is ripe here! God has had His hand on this nation for years, and the Gospel has advanced, but so has false teaching. Satan has twisted the truth and he does it well.

Our goal in these Bible Schools is to give a good foundation to those who teach the masses. We provide a 9 month program free of charge to these Pastors. We send a teacher to them one week a month for the nine months. They learn Doctrine, Pastoral Leadership, Church Organization, Church History, Bible Study Methods, Preaching, about Other Religions, and many other subjects. When they complete the course, they receive the equivalent of an Associates Degree from the Uganda Baptist Seminary, an IMB Seminary.

Here in Jinja, we are strategically placed for maximum impact in East Africa. Jinja is a melting pot of East African peoples. Even in our own compound there are 4 different nations represented (plus the USA!). People come here for work or education and then return to their homes. We have the opportunity to train them up and the sending happens naturally.

We ask you to pray for these schools! Our current budget only allows us to run 7 schools at a time. We have many other schools on a waiting list. We also have teachers who are so excited about the program that they have volunteered their time to teach the class without pay or transportation help. We have one of these special classes starting in Mombasa, Kenya this month. Keep those other special classes in your prayers as well.

Village Bible School Prayer List

  • 1st Week of the Month: Busia
  • 2nd Week of the Month: Gulu and Kaliro
  • 3rd Week of the Month: Pakwach and Kiyinde
  • 4th Week of the Month: Bugiri and Lira

Pray that those who have begun will remain committed and finish strong. Pray for protection for teachers and students as they travel to school.         Pray that the students would understand and clearly be able to communicate the truths of Scripture that they are learning.                             Pray that the Lord would open their eyes to the false things they have been believing and teaching and that they would respond in repentance.     Pray that family and friends who attend graduations will accept the gospel. Pray that Pastors be men of integrity and character. Pray for open doors to teach the schools in the South Sudanese refugee camps.

Thank you for delivering the Truth to the nations of East Africa! May He richly bless His work in us!

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All Authority is His!

Thank you everyone for praying for Debbie Nester. Her surgery was a success! Just one month post surgery and after many Physical Therapy sessions, which she refers to as Physio-terrorism, she is able to walk without a crutch for short spurts.

The Nester’s did delay their flights back to the United States by two weeks to allow her some extra healing time. That was a great move, both for her health and also for our preparation for their leaving. They are now back in Virginia for the holidays. They have a packed schedule full of family and speaking engagements.

Our prayer is that she will continue to heal while there without any complications and that Terry would be able to clearly communicate the vision for East Africa Outreach as he speaks in various places.

With their absence, Brian will act as the director of East Africa Outreach. We are still trying to wrap our minds around all that includes. We are one week into our new roles and responsibilities. And although, I feel like we gotten a lot of things done. I feel wiped out. We only completed two days of school. And to be honest, it has been so busy that I have struggled to calm my heart enough to spend meaningful time in with the Lord.

Sunday, we had a guest speaker, who was continuing in Ephesians 1.

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[f]toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

He shared some of the main themes of Paul’s prayer for this Ephesian church, but spent the majority of his message reminding us of the Authority that Jesus actually has. What an unexpected insight on this passage for me. Jesus knew this was exactly what I needed to hear. In light of the full authority that Jesus has, I still have to submit to that authority in my daily life. I have to slow down from all the tasks I am doing to “serve God” so that I can “be with God.”

I have to be filled up with Jesus so that I can BE Jesus to my family. Because, let’s face it, they are the ones that saw the worst of me this week. It’s easy to stop what I’m doing to attend to a visitor, but then I may bark at the children for the mess they made while I wasn’t paying attention. They are the ones who pay when I am running on fumes.

My heart’s desire and my goal for this week is to seek the Lord first. To be filled with Him for my tasks, and not just go at it on my own. When I feel overwhelmed, take some time to return to the Lord for fuel, nothing else will satisfy.

What about you?

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Clean Water and Tippy Taps

Last blog, I introduced you to 3 Stones Preventive Health Care Program. This is a 4 -session program including in home encouragement. The program teaches sanitation, hygiene and good health practices. We began the first session in two sites: Bulega and Busagazi.

The organization representatives said it usually takes about two years to see changes in a community. It takes a while for people’s habits to begin changing. As they learn together and encourage each other to make practical changes in their health… their whole lives change. They told us of stories of other locations where people are now building brick houses, sending children to university and starting busiIMG_2029nesses. Why?

1. Because they aren’t spending as much money on health care.
2. Because they have found hope that things can be better for them.

3. Because they have practically seen the hands and feet of Christ through these trainers. They are seeing people who not only are teaching them health practices based on the Word of God but care enough to enter their homes and encourage them.

These people are not only gaining knowledge. They are realizing that God loves them, created their bodies to be healthy, gives them tools to be healthy and wants what’s best for them. What a basic, but life-changing concept. As we watch people learning these concepts…. we are seeing them blossom.

It is so important that we not only love people with words, but with our actions. 

We even saw a change in one of our drivers, Charles. We have worked with Charles for years on our short term trips. Charles will drive for us for conferences, evangelism, children’s ministry, etc. Usually he drives, gives a cordial greeting, but stays with the van for most of the day. NOT THIS TIME! He is completely engaged. He participates, volunteers and even wants to take this training back to his village. It’s incredible to see the turn around in him. It’s like a whole new Charles!  (Charles is the tall one with a light blue shirt on, in the back right with his arms lifted the highest) Continue to pray for our partnership with 3 Stones in these villages. We will be working with them until March.

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This week we also have a team from Colorado. They will be here until the 19th doing Church Leadership Discipleship and Evangelism.  Continue to lift them up as well.

Update on Momma Debbie: She is home from surgery and slowly recovering. The did well in surgery and in physical therapy. They even released her 3 days early. They have moved their date for returning to the states back to November to allow her a little extra time of healing. Thank you for praying!

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Scars of War

In my last post I mentioned our guards. I have to take a few minutes to expound a little more on them. As we are taking time getting to know them and encouraging them in the Lord, we have noticed a troubling theme…. the scars of war.

America was awakened to the troubles in Northen Uganda just a few years ago when the Youtube videos of Joseph Kony swept the news. America was appalled by the fact that he was stealing children and taking them captive as his army. But we are learning that this region was war ridden long before Kony. In fact, before Kony, his Aunt was up to the same stuff.

Matheas is our day guard. He has really become more like a part of the family. He is from Congo. He lost his father at a very young age due to war and his mother moved them across the country to escape. She then left him to care for and raise his younger siblings as she moved to Uganda in search for work. At 12, he was working two jobs to pay his way through school and care for his siblings. Also at the age of 12, Matheas was abducted by Joseph Kony’s army. He remained with them for 9 days. He was a good worker and would do whatever they asked. Even if he didn’t know how to do the job, he would say that he did and try his best. He had seen what happened to the other boys who did not do as they were told. On the third day of their kidnapping, they were already learning to shoot semiautomatic guns. They were hidden deep in the forest of Congo, but Kony’s army had arranged for some women from the village to come and cook for them. One of these women, knew Matheas. She lied and said that she had forgotten some spices needed for the meal and that she needed to send him to town to fetch them or the meal would be delayed. She assured them that Matheas would not betray them. But as she gave Matheas instructions, this woman told him to go and never come back.

I wish I could say that this was the only time that Matheas had a run in with the rebels, but it wasn’t.  By God’s grace, though he was released each time.  As he shared these stories with us, I was blown away. I began to share verses like Ephesians 2:10 and Jeremiah 29:11 with him. The Lord allowed him to be spared from these things for a purpose. There is no doubt about it. I think that our conversation was the first time he realized it. Up until that point, they were just difficult things in his life. But as we looked back at God’s hand of protection, I watched his faith grow.

Then there’s Ben and James.  Ben, one of our night guards, is Ugandan. He is from the Iteso Tribe. This tribe is mostly based in the norther part of the country. Ben and his wife moved to Jinja during a season of war. Over dinner one night he began to share his testimony with us. He was running from rebels who were coming into his village. He and his wife split ways to meet at a predesignated spot. As he ran through a field, the shots rang out. He watched his friends and neighbors shot down all around him. Before long he found himself face to face with a rebel gun. He reached out and overpowered the gunman, holding the gun straight in the air. Taken aback, the rebel continued to struggle with Ben. Moments later another rebel appeared and ordered Ben to walk away. He began to take a few steps, but realized that he was only going to be shot in the back. So he turned around in defiance and refused to leave. His audacious boldness must have taken them off guard, because they stood their for a moment speechless. Once they realized they could do nothing else with him, they fired a shot to which he was able to dodge. It grazed his chest enough to knock him down and cause him to bleed, but did not puncture him. Realizing this, Ben laid still as the rebels stood over him. Poking him and laughing. One even whistled a hymn as he walked away. Ben thanked God and prayed they would not return his way. Once things were clear he got up and ran to a family members house, where his wife was staying. There, providentially, the Lord brought a Christian. This man also carried some medicine. As he cleaned Ben’s wounds, he shared the gospel. The man spoke of the deliverance of Ben was for a purpose and Ben’s entire family was saved that day.  The Lord has used his testimony to lead many to know the Lord.

James is Rwandan. Remember the movie “Hotel Rwanda?” That was one of the most difficult movies for me to get through. Well that was James’ life. He is a Tutsi, the minority tribe that was being wiped out through genocide.  Although the Tutsi tribe made up only 14% of the country’s population in 1994, they were blamed for troubles within the country. In just a few short weeks, 800,000 Tutsi men, women and children were murdered. That’s 3/4 of the Tutsi population!

My heart can’t begin to imagine what these men have been through. But the Lord is good. The Lord is faithful.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagles! The Lord gives righteousness and justice who all who are treated unfairly.  Psalm 103:1-6

All three of these men love the Lord. They seek to serve Him and grow in the knowledge of the Lord. What could have broken these men, the Lord has used to grow them stronger in faith. It is such a testimony to me. If our internet is down for a day, or the electricity goes out, I start gripping.  Lord, let me never forget the good things you have done. He has a plan to use all things for His Glory and to make us more like His Son Jesus. What difficult thing are you facing today? Will you complain and shake your fist at God or trust seek Him through it?

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

We have been here in Uganda for a month. It’s hard to believe that it has already been a month.  Most of this month has been spent settling into our home. There have been lots of repairs that either we or our landlord have done to prepare the house. We have had to repair plumbing, install hot water heaters, electrical work, lighting, repair screens on windows, order furniture, etc. That alone has kept us quite busy. The first few weeks that is all we were doing, and I began to get discouraged. It was about that time that Ramadan finished. Ramadan ends with a large holiday called Eid. On that day, none of our workers showed up. On that day I realized that we had been looking outside of our home for ministry opportunities, but the Lord was bringing ministry even into our own home. We were so focused on getting the work done on the house that we didn’t even realize that most of the workers were Muslim. That was a turning point! We began to pray daily for the people entering our gate. That we would be a blessing to them and that they would see Christ through us.

At the beginning of our time here, we didn’t have a day guard. Without someone guarding the gate, we were required to be here the entire time that people were working on the house. This slowed down the other things that we were needing to do. We began to pray, and asked you to pray, for the Lord to provide good, reliable guards.

Boy did he supply. Meet Mathias and  ben and matheasBen.

Mathias is our day guard. He guards the gate and helps us maintain our compound. Mathias is a believer in Christ and attends Acacia Community Church with us. He actually plays the bass guitar we donated to the church last year (and he’s VERY good)! He was looking for work that would allow him to consistently attend church. Mathias is from the D.R. of Congo. He lost his father in the war when he was just 7. His mother left him and his siblings in search for a better way to provide for them and was in a car accident very far from home and nearly died.  She couldn’t get back home. So he raised his siblings and worked to provide for them for 3 years. Even as a child, he was working jobs to pay his way through school and provide for his siblings. He is a great guy. We enjoy him so much. He loves the Lord and wants to serve Him. Mathias joins us each morning for breakfast and a devotion. He is memorizing Scripture with us and Cady reads him the children’s Jesus calling devotional most afternoons.

Ben is from a far eastern Uganda town. His tribe is a warrior tribe called the Teso. He is our night guard. He has done this work for years. He is a very honest and loving guy, but very serious about his job. He has 7 children and loves our children as well. Ben is reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. We leave it out for him each night and he reads until sunset and in the early morning hours. Every week or so, Brian goes outside and has tea with him and they discuss what Ben is reading.

James will be our other night guard. He will rotate with Ben so that they can rotate weekends off. James is from Rwanda. I met him last year doing evangelism. We IMG_9232began sharing Jesus with the other security guards that lived near him regularly because of his influence on them. He was baptized last summer at Acacia Community Church and asked me to stand with him as his family. We approached him about working with us and he said, “I have been praying even this week about the Lord supplying me a different job.” James will start with us in September.

Last but not least, the Lord has brought 3 sweet little Muslim boys into our lives. They began hanging out around the gate. Then they came in jesus storybook2to play. Then they began coming every day at 4:00 pm, when they got home from school. We began praying with Noah, seeking the Lord on how we could share Christ with them. At first when I asked if they wanted to learn about what we believe, Omar, the oldest said, “No, I am a Muslim! But we can still be friends.” Just a few days later, we were leaving for Bible Study and he wanted to go with us. He couldn’t go that day, but he was insistent that day that we begin teaching him the Bible. We are 4 days into reading the Jesus Storybook Bible with them. They love it. Each day we only read one story and they beg to go further.

jesus storybookYesterday, we went as a family to their house. They invited us in and we spent an hour sitting with his grandmother, uncle, father and cousins. It was a beautiful thing and we ask you to continue to pray for that relationship. Pray that their eyes would be opened to the truth as our friendships grow.

Brian also began teaching in the Pastor Bible Schools. Last week he traveled to Bugiri and this week he will be in Busia, a bordertown with Kenya. He enjoys so much teaching these guys. We have been told that the Busia school has been one of the most incredible schools. The men had no idea they were teaching falsehood. They are humbled and eager to learn the truth. They are soaking in every word with humility and an eagerness to please the Lord. Continue to pray for these schools as well. 

Jenn’s Journal

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. It’s hard to believe that I have been in Uganda for a little over a month. I have been enjoying my time here. God has been working. Last Saturday we went and did evangelism in the village of Kimaka. The first time I shared the Gospel with the Evangecube in Kimaka, I was a little nervous.  God helped me overcome that. He allowed me to lead two women and a couple of children to the Lord. 🙂 That was really encouraging to be a part of that. I also have been able to go to the orphanage, Welcome Home, and I am going there again this afternoon. In the coming weeks I will be helping teach at a youth conference. Please pray that I would have boldness and courage to speak in front of the crowd and that God would give me His Words to say. Hopefully I will also be able to help at Ekisa. Ekisa is a minstry for special needs children. Later this month the Whites and I will be going on a safari at Murchison Falls. Thank you again for your prayers, I really appreciate them.

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Jet Lag Tales

Whew, Jet lag has been something to be reckoned with. When flying to Uganda there are typically two eight hour flights which cover 8 time zones. When we arrive we are 7-8 hours ahead (depending on daylight savings time). Currently we are 7 hours ahead of the East Coast.

That is a big difference to make up for internally. This time was no different. Thankfully we walked this road last year with the children and were a little prepared for what was coming. We knew that there would be sleepless nights for about a week so we decided to make the most of it. One night everyone was awake at 1 am, so we decided to watch Frozen on the computer. We completely forgot that it was the middle of the night when we all started belting out “LET IT GO!!!!!”

Cadance struggled with the late night wakefulness the most. It was in those quiet, dark moments that she sometimes became overwhelmed with homesickness, began crying and needed comfort. We had some sweet moments together. One night, we got up and had chocolate milk and called Gugi (Brian’s mom.) Other nights, we sat and told stories about great memories and chose to “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Jennifer also experienced some late nights as well, not only because she was bunked with my kiddos, but because of the jet lag. Toward the end of the week, I heard Cadance and Jennifer listening to music or talking. One night I stopped to listen a minute and rejoiced! God was redeeming jet lag. He used the late night conversations to allow Jennifer to start a discipleship relationship with her. She was challenging her perspective and pointing her to hope and good choices.

Some “fun” things happened during the day too because of our mental fog. Once we moved into the house, coming and going took a lot longer. The first several days it took us 30 minutes just to pull out of the driveway. We would forget to lock a door, or turn a light off, what we came to the house for or just plain forget the keys all together. One day, after the 30 minute process of leaving, we were actually pulling out of the driveway and realized we had forgotten something. Brian took the keys right out of the ignition in the middle of the road and got out of the car. Quickly I said…. “Are you going to leave the car here!?” Thankfully the Lord has allowed us to laugh in the midst of the frustrations.

One more fun story about our mental fog. Brian has been learning to drive, which takes your full concentration here. There are so many pedestrians, animals and children walking along and crossing the roads. There are motorcycle taxis weaving in and out of traffic and potholes. Actually, POTHOLES is a better description. We drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side. There are very few signs and very different driving rules that are more like suggestions.  Pair all of these things with not knowing where anything is, and it makes for quite the experience. It has taken all of Brian’s concentration just to get around town.

One day we were driving back to Pastor Terry’s house and the car began making funny sounds. Brian was hitting the gas, but the engine wasn’t doing anything. Thankfully, we were on a slight decline. He was convinced it was the timing belt.

When we arrived at Terry’s they both opened up the engine compartment to begin the investigation. We were out of gas! Once the embarrassment passed, we all laughed.

Thankfully the fog has lifted and everyone survived!

Jen’s Jinja Journal

The following excerpt is from Jennifer Herman, a 14 year old friend who is spending the summer with us.

     Thanks so much for your prayers and support. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since we arrived. When we arrived at the airport, we were running a little behind. As I walked into the airport, the reality set in that I was leaving my family for two months and getting on a plane that would take me to another continent. Checking in our 25 pieces of luggage took awhile, which made us even later, so we were escorted to our gate.  We could hear our names being called over the intercom and we finally made it to the gate with only a few minutes to spare. I didn’t sleep much on the first flight, but the Whites all slept some. Then we had a six hour layover in Amsterdam which seemed very long. When we finally arrived in Entebbe, the Whites were missing six pieces of luggage. (Those six pieces of luggage did eventually show up, so thank you for praying for them.) The remaining luggage filled up six luggage carts. Mr. Terry and Mrs. Debbie Nester came with some of their friends to pick us up. We finally arrived in Jinja around 3:30 in the morning & slept until one o’clock in the afternoon. It took us a few days to get over the jet lag.

     I have noticed how bumpy the roads are here. This week Pastor Brian has been learning to drive here and learning where things are. We have had to rely on the help of others to get even the basic things done, like grocery shopping. Because of this transition and the jet lag, it has been a pretty slow week.  I have been able to go to the market and help the Whites move into their new house. I enjoyed going to the church here and was able to meet a lot of people. The church meets outside under a covering.  (The picture of me pointing to Virginia was taken at this church.). After church, we went to lunch with one of the families I met and then we spent some time visiting them in their home. 

     Tomorrow, I will be going with the Whites to Kampala, which is about two hours away. Pastor Brian will be applying for a work visa & dependent visas for Mrs. Jerilyn and the kids. Right now the White’s only have 3 month visas, so this will allow them to stay longer. The Whites will also be looking for a washing machine while we are in Kampala.  It’s a larger city so they offer a wider variety of shopping. 

     Hopefully, we will be working at Sole Hope later in the week. Sole Hope is an organization that helps remove jiggers (a small insect that burrows into your skin and lays eggs) from people’s feet. After they remove the jiggers, they give the person a pair of shoes to protect their feet. So I am looking forward to helping at Sole Hope.  You can go to www.solehope.org for more information.

     My favorite things about Uganda are: waking up and hearing ibises cawing outside our bedroom window, seeing the red dirt, and the bright sunshine and palm trees. Also, just seeing the kids here with such big smiles when they see us mizungus, or white people.  One thing that has stood out to me is how much Americans have that they take for granted. Because I see people here who are thin and whose clothes are tattered. It breaks my heart at how Americans have so much and the people here have so little. In my short time here, God has shown me that I should be more giving and thankful for what I have.  I should be thankful in all circumstances. 

Thank you for your prayers. I hope you enjoyed this update.  

Jennifer 

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We made it!

We made it safely to Uganda! Thank you so much for your prayers!
We made it to the airport with just a short time to spare and by the time they checked in our 25 suitcases, they had to escort us to the gate to make it in time. Which to be honest, was a blessing! You get through lines a little faster with an escort.
The first flight was uneventful but also unsleepful too (yes I just made up that word.) We had a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam and a few of us got some rest there. Then off to Entebbee, where we ALL FINALLY got some rest. The kids did a great job traveling, they are becoming old pros at this. Having Jennifer with us was such a blessing. We were no longer outnumbered by kids.
We arrived in Entebbe around 10 to find out that 6 of our bags did not arrive with us. So after filling paperwork out we made the trek to Jinja and arrived at 3:30 am Uganda time.
This morning we slept in until 1 pm and are hungry at all the wrong times.  Brian drove for the first time around the neighborhood this afternoon and went to Acacia Church’s evening discipleship class. We hope tomorrow to begin unpacking bags in our new house. Until we get set up in the new house, we will continue to stay with our gracious hosts, Terry and Debbie Nester.
Thanks again for your prayers!