Saturday, September 29, 2018


I can not tell you the joy I have working with the youth and seeing God grow in them and use them.  3 John verse 4 says, "I have no greater joy than to know my children are walking in truth."  That is how I feel about these youth (and my children!).  I can't share everything but I hope the pictures and stories testify for God's glory. 
A couple of months ago one of the youth wanted a Bible so Josh brought out the list of 15 verses from the Gospel of John that he has people memorize to earn a Bible.  Samson took the challenge and learned the verses and got his Bible.  This set off a spark in the other youth (and some adults) to also memorize and get their own Bible. 

For weeks now Josh will have a crowd around him saying verses they have memorized.

Sometimes they will line up at our house after school to say their verses

After saying all the verses they have to come back to Josh one last time for a quiz where he picks one verse to see if they can say it (remember it).  Then they receive their Bible at church for all to celebrate with them.  In church they say their favorite verse from memory and tell the church why this verse means a lot to them.

As of now, 35 Bibles have been given out and there are six the list waiting for another shipment of Bibles and a few still saying verses.  How awesome to see youth want the Word of God!  To value it enough to memorize these verses.  We pray they read it every day and grow in Christ.
Just in case you are wondering, we buy the Bibles in Uganda for about $8 or $9.  They all wanted English Bibles as they feel Ateso Bibles are difficult to read.  We also have had groups take Bibles from America to give to people here.  I collected good Bibles at the second hand store when I was in MI.  They were free there which is great for me but also sad that people don't value God's Word and there is such an abundance that they are given to a second hand store.  People around the world long for just one copy and in the West people let them sit unread.  I pray for God's Word to be loved and honored by all.
Lydia also decided to memorize the verses and receive a new small Bible.  She is such a blessing and challenges me.  She saw and heard Josh memorizing full books of the Bible and was encouraged to do it herself.  She began with 2 John then 3 John and 1 John.  She is now finishing up James.  So inspiring and awesome!  People will say they can't do it but she will tell you you can.  It takes work and time for everyone but it can be done.  So proud of her and Josh.  I know it challenges me and others to also be memorizing God's Word.

A few months ago the youth would meet trying to organize a time to meet together.   I could see they had the desire but needed leadership.  Sometimes then they did meet it seemed to be only a sermon from a leader or no leader showed up (not to blame the leaders, they are over worked and very busy).  I asked Josh if he was willing to be a youth leader again?  Our girls are very involved with the youth, we know and love the youth and we continually pray that they remain in and grow in Christ.  So we prayed about it and felt we were to invite the youth to our home for "youth group" each Saturday.
It has been a great blessing.  I enjoy being with the youth and sharing God's Word with them.  We start each week with a game.  It allows the late ones to arrive before teachings and it is just a fun.  The youth here enjoy any and all games.  They don't get to play much in their lives so it is treat for them. 
We made a gaga ball pit that gets used daily not only for youth group.

Sac races was super funny!

Josh is teaching through the Bible.  I know sounds like a lot for youth, but he gives a key word for every book and teaches the theme of each book.  Each week we see how God is at work and His plan.  I love learning with them.

I thank God for our youth group.  Pray for the youth to continue to meet and grow in the Lord.
The beginning of September there was a youth conference at our church for all of UCFM (our church here and the other 6 churches).  The theme was "By Faith" from Hebrews 11.

The youth from our church did a dance to "Lord I Lift Your Name on High".  One of the ladies in our church requested that the youth do another dance to this song like they did at Easter time.

Josh taught at the conference.

He did a wonderful job adding object lessons and games so the youth got the message of faith in Heb. 11.
Here they were doing a push up challenge to see who would endure to get the reward.
The youth were encouraged to take time to confess what is hindering them from their race of faith (Heb. 12:1-2) and to submit themselves to faith in God.  Throw off everything that entangles and whatever hinders you from living a life of faith.

Cooking for all the youth

Lydia and Grace putting their muscles to work!

The worship the last evening was joy filled!  Lydia led an Ateso song that led everyone to rejoice!  A pastor from Soroti visited and was so touched by the worship in the village he promised to allow the youth to use their sound equipment next year.  I love worship here!

I was excited to here how youth were encouraged and challenged by the conference.  The message of living by faith came up over and over since the conference.  God is teaching us.  Trust Him, is your faith in the right thing, are you faithful, faith produces action...  I was challenged that faith removes fear or fear will remove faith.  I love how Moses' parents in Heb. 11 did not let fear of pharaoh stop them from saving Moses.  Most of the people in Heb. 11 never saw the fulfillment of what was promised to them.  They just believed God and obeyed.  Many faced great suffering for their faith and were killed but they knew the reward was to come.  Oh Lord, do I have this kind of faith?!  Trust you enough to obey without getting the promise and when I suffer?  Faith, what you put it in is very important.  God is faithful. What will we do by faith?  Each person in Heb. 11 do something because of faith.  I pray we all learn to live by faith not by sight.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Answers to Prayers

Thank you again for praying with us.  God is answering in awesome ways!  We are so excited about what God is doing that we wanted to share with you.  May it encourage you in the power of prayer.  Oh friends, there is no greater joy than to see God work in peoples'  lives and bring new life and freedom!

I know I will not do justice in sharing everything God has done but I will try.  First of all Emuli is doing very well.  (See blog post in Sept. for the full story on Emuli.)  People see that he is now happy.  He says home is now fine.  We notice he has new clothes.  He continues to play happily by our house almost everyday and comes to church usually.  The other night he was dancing away at a marriage celebration - so great to see.  Emuli continues to come and see our pastor Charles just to sit close to him and talk with him.  We are very thankful Emuli appears to be safe and happy now.

We see God has used Emuli's situation to bring salvation to his family.  God works in ways man doesn't understand.  He works all things out for His glory!  Because of a boy with medical needs, unloved and unhappy, we were able to enter into a family and share Jesus' love.  The other week four of the children received Christ and now the older brother, cousin and neighbor all came to salvation in Jesus Christ!  

Last week the Holy Spirit was working in people's lives.  Two of these young men came to Christ on Tuesday night.  Then Thursday evening Charles and Josh went to share with these new believers and their cousin was then saved.  Some of these young men saved were very involved in witchcraft and going to the witch doctor.  They were full of fear and had charms to try to protect them.  When they came to Christ they burned them all, deleted the phone number of the witch doctor and told others involved they are a new person.  Wow!  

As the Spirit was at working, some of the youth and new believers had questions.  Charles and Josh met with them to share with them truth.  Charles also invited several of them to go through the 7 steps of freedom in Christ (a beautiful prayer time of renouncing an rejecting sin, lies, curses...and receiving and submitting to God's truth).  Friday one young man went through the steps and Saturday five more young men went through the steps.  I could just sense that this was just the beginning of God's great work.  I knew God was at work in mighty ways.  We have been praying for FIC to continue in Obule and for the steps to be used by the teachers to help people be free.  I prayed all afternoon for these guys as they worked through the steps.  (Unfortunately, we had already committed to being at a friend's graduation - but I could still pray from there).  

When we returned home from town, Lydia told us that Charles had her take pictures of the boys burning their papers (all they confessed to God) as a sign that it is forgiven and they are free.  Lydia said that the boys were very happy.  One boy bought the FIC discipleship book and the others said they will find money and buy theirs this week.  They love the book!  Later that night we walked home from a marriage with some of the boys and they opened up their hearts to us.  They were so full of thanksgiving and joy!  They loved the steps to freedom.  One of the boys had found freedom through confessing idolatry and renouncing generational sins/curses.  Another boy said every step was important and meaningful.  They all said that previously they had so much fear.  They'd had every fear but now they have peace.  One of them talked about how he use to doubt God could use him because of his sin, but now he knows he is righteous and God can use him.  One was very encouraged in his calling to teach.  He said this is the best year of my life.  And they all expressed wanting to go and serve the Lord.  They are ready to take the message anywhere.  This thrilled our hearts to hear young men talking about doing missions - God is answering our prayers and raising up workers to go into the harvest fields!  

The boys were so grateful for us and Charles and Freedom in Christ.  They said they are who they are today because of all of us.  They used to be down and they would not be in church today if it wasn't for the truth.  This community has changed and received good things.  Our coming has made a difference.  We have encouraged them.  The boys said they only wish they could appreciate us somehow.  We told them that they are our joy (3 John 1:4)!  Seeing them changed by God and now desiring to share with others is the joy.  We encouraged them to pass on the truth and freedom they have received.  We also encouraged them to live DAILY in Christ victory and freedom.  They have the tools to continue and to keep going through this process, not just this one time.  

It is really awesome because these boys have been asking us to pray for the very boys God saved this week.  They could also see that God answers prayers and is at work.  We are all empowered by this.  I really love these young men.  Seeing them grow in God is a blessing.  

All the newest believers were in church Sunday.  Charles gave a beautiful testimony of all God is doing in a family no one even wanted to visit before.  How God used one unloved boy to bring salvation to this home.  And how it is changing everything.  I should also say the previous Sunday at church another boy received Christ as his Savior and that day our pastor also led a girl to Christ. 

I find it very interesting that all this joy and victory for Jesus has been very mixed with sin, sadness and more work to be done.  Emuli was unloved and mistreated, yet because of it Jesus brought salvation to many in their home.  Young men are being set free, yet there are so many deep in witchcraft and immorality.  We stood on the path talking to those three young men Saturday listening to all God was doing in them - as group after group of youth walked by jeering, smoking, girls in tight leggings...going to party all night long where the music was.  There is so much more to be done.  People are coming to Christ and at the same time a 14 year old girl shared with me that her father raped her (she left home-forced to leave) and how her life was used in witch craft.  Horrible!!!  What evil.  How painful.  She was crying and is having nightmares.  She needs healing and freedom.

My heart is full.

I am encouraged because the last month I have been reading in John and praying according to it's truth.  In John 14:12-14, Jesus says that anyone with faith will do what He has done.  They will do even greater things!  Jesus said He will do whatever we ask for in His name - for God's glory.  We may ask for anything in His name and it will be done.  This is power!  We can pray in His name for the lost, for the nations, for all of Uganda, for marriages, for the youth, for truth, holiness...and God will do it.  It is His will and desire that we ask Him.  I confessed to God that I am not using the power God has given me, I do not always ask and believe.  I am not powerless.  I want to live in His truth, power to do great things, to ask in His name and see Him answer!  I began praying for the sin and strongholds here to be broken in Jesus name.  For a sweeping of the Holy Spirit to change lives and bring truth and empower believers.  I prayed for believers to grow in Christ, for marriages to be restored, for leaders to remain in Christ...for Jesus to rule and be Lord over all!  I prayed for His justice, righteousness, healing...  For the world to know.  For those who hate Him to come to truth and freedom.  Do the impossible God!  All for Your glory Father!

I prayed John 14:15-31.  We have been given the best and only Counselor to be with us forever.  The Spirit of Truth.  We have truth!  He lives in us, with us.  What comfort and power.  Jesus says He is in the Father and we are in Him and He in us.  Simply awesome!  The Father makes His home in us.  The Counselor will teach us all things and help us.  Jesus left us His peace.  Jesus said the evil one is here BUT he has no hold on us.  This is truth.  Again in John 16:6 and 13 the Holy Spirit is our Counselor who guides us into all truth.  We have all we need in the Holy Spirit.  Come and bring truth Holy Spirit!

John 17 and 20 also tell us that Jesus gave us truth, power and peace to do His will and work.

So all that to say thank you for praying and thanks be to God!  Continue to pray with us for the new believer, for freedom in Christ to continue to bring peace to many, for the work of the Holy Spirit, lost to be saved...God to work mightily for His glory.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Setting your Marriage Free

I really want to get this blog out to you because I have so many things to share with you!  God is at work and I am full of joy to be a part of it.  He is the one who produces fruit, brings truth, and changes lives.  We delight watching Him do His best work.  So after the marriage conference blog I will get out the youth blog including their conference and then a FIC blog.  Can't wait to share!

Several months ago Josh and I began to pray about doing another marriage conference.  We could see people were not together and marriages were suffering.  Josh began to go through the Setting Your Marriage Free book and revised it for people here.  We decided to invite all the leaders who have been through the FIC discipleship course and for the first time we decided to take them out of the village to have a real retreat.  We gave the plan to the Lord and bathed it in prayer for months.  We know God designed and loves marriage.  We knew it is His will to work in and bless these marriages.
Josh did an amazing job using his gift of teaching and making God's truth to be very easy to understand.
He applies every truth he teaches.
26 couples came from four different districts and 10 different churches.  They packed - really packed - 18 people in each van to come to Mbale.  For some of them it is four hour journey from their village.  For many of them it was their first time to Mbale and for many of them it was their first time to stay in a hotel.  I am not sure some of you can comprehend what this meant to people who seldom get a break and never have a vacation.  We had to explain how everything worked in the room.  It is different than a latrine.  One man said he thought he wasn't important, just a village man, but staying in a hotel on the upper floor he felt like he was now an important person.  A women who stayed on the third floor had never been upstairs in a building and she thought that people looked like cartoons below.  Another women was she felt like the boss not having to cook.  For many it was the first hot shower in their life.  We were so thankful they felt blessed and special!

The teaching included a lot of time for couples to talk, listen to God, repent, submit and pray together.
Most married couples here don't communicate and share.  They came together through this retreat because they shared with one another, listened and prayed.  I loved seeing affection that is not usually normal in this culture.  To see couples holding hands, putting their arm around each other, walking together...was beautiful!
A big part of the teaching was confessing, repentance and forgiveness.  Couples submitted to God.

Worship together

We played a game and laughed a lot.

This is the hotel we stayed at - Shine On.  All of $12 a couple per night including breakfast.  Basic but nice and clean.
Our kids came with us.  They did a great job doing their school work and playing with one another so I could be part of the conference.

The kids also helped with one of the babies - their friend Aaron.

One of the afternoons every couple had to have a date together in town.  Josh and I had our date with the kids.  Lydia and Grace thought this bay window in the smoothie shop was awesome.

Part of purpose of the date in town was to learn to move together.  To learn to walk together, be seen together, and share with one another.  And many have not been in such a big city so it was exciting for them to see it.  They loved their time.

Meal time.  Everyone of us enjoyed the fellowship and time together.  I love these people!
It does again make me LONG to know Ateso.  I hate that I am limited to share openly with those who know English.

The last day was the highlight.  Josh opened it up for anyone who wanted to renew or for the fist time say their marriage vows to one another.  They all wanted to!  It was a celebration!  A celebration of marriage, commitment, and love.  God was honored, strongholds were broken, and marriages made new.

Signing the vows certificate.

Some of these married couples have never committed themselves to each other or said they love one another.

It was beautiful to see them celebrate, hug, cheer...I even saw a kiss on the cheek which is unheard of here (not even talked about).  It was funny with one of the older couples, the wife told the husband "no, not here" when he tried to kiss her.

All ages vowed to one another.

These are our neighbors and friends, Johnathan and Winnie, they are one of the many couples who were only married traditionally (paid dowry).  Many couple hope to wed (which here means have a church wedding) someday down the road when they have money.  Usually that means when they have already had ten kids.  When Johnathan and Winnie did their marriage vows it was very emotional for Winnie - and then Johnathan.  She was laughing then crying with joy.  It was so meaningful and beautiful.  Later when we asked about it she said she was just so happy.  They had never said these things to one another.  Their vows were worth it all for me. 

After 26 marriage vows, Josh asked the people to be patient a few more minutes so he could renew his vows to me too.  Yeah!
We renewed our vows for our 15th anniversary (four years ago), but it is always an honor to recommit to one another.  I will tell him anytime that I give myself to him alone, forever, in good and bad, with all my love and God's help.  Of course it was said with tears.

I knew we bathed this conference in prayer, but sometimes I would sit there wondering if people understood, if they were receiving, if God was at work.  Then the testimonies started to flow as we talked with people and I marveled at all God had done.  Here are some of the testimonies that give God all the glory.

-Satan tried to keep us from coming.  I said it was pointless for our marriage.  I wondered if this was how God wanted our marriage to end up.  It wasn't godly, there was no peace.  I put myself in the center and tried to fix it.  But because of this conference our marriage has been renewed/cleaned.  There is a deep healing.
-The best thing that has ever happened to us since coming to Christ!
-The Holy Spirit is at work through this teaching.
-We had a heavy burden.  We opened to each other, forgave and things are new.  I love her!
-We looked into our hearts.  We have now restarted our marriage.
-I have had a great change.  I have been at the lowest level but this has brought improvement.
-Simple things multiply and become big.  Walking together has brought a change.  We can share.  We are together now, not distant.
-The Doctor is still treating me, let me continue to receive.
-This teaching made us go to Jesus.  When struggle is there we didn't deal with it and it can destroy.  I have learned how my wife wants to be loved, so now I can love her well.  Our marriage will be new.
-This teaching is very good.  Usually I don't put things right but I learned when things happen I need to address it.  I feel joy.  I am not in control.  I am to serve Christ.
-I use to be disappointed in my husband.  I was troubled.  I wan't open.  Now I will do it the right way.
-Vote of thanks to those who organized the marriage conference. I can't speak small because of the time we spent learning was big.  The old way of doing things gave little impact.  But now I have seen the work grow until everyone knows what he is believing.  I was boasting I might know all because I was a pastor, I was old, and I was educated, but now I am truly equipped to help people.  Theological study puffs up.  But now we have truth, we believe truth, we speak truth, and we share truth.  If I had a small body, I could jump up high with the joy I have.
-I thank God for this marriage conference.  When a teaching touches my heart I feel pain for the person who is not here.  I want to challenge everyone here to choose 1 family to share this with.  I spent 20 years in marriage but I have a struggle.  We had gaps.  This helps close those gaps.

Since the conference we continue to hear people testify of God's work in their marriage.

-I use to be in pain physically.  Since I forgave, my pain is gone.
-My husband wasn't ready to go to the conference but I kept quiet and began to make charcoal to get money to go.  He saw and I told him that I wanted to go and hear the Word of God.  I trusted God.  When we went I received good news in the teachings and it made my heart relax.  I see a difference in our marriage.
-I thought our marriage was an accident.  I believed I could get out and leave, but Josh taught us marriage is a covenant.  I thank God for our time in Mbale.  I thought they were teaching only to me.  I became joyful.  I used to want to die because of marriage but I thank God for this teaching.
-We are now together.

We were so delighted when two leaders at the youth conference talked about a burden on their hearts for youth to be wed and not sneak around God's plan.  They challenged the youth to be wed and one even promised a goat to each couple who would do marriage God's way.  (That is a big gift and shows he is passionate about this.)  The one leader said there has been no church wedding since 2002 and it is a painful thing.  We were so excited to see these leaders changed by God's plan for marriage and now having a burden for the youth - their children - to do it right.  The conference was on Heb. 11"By Faith", so we challenged the youth who wanted to "by faith" trust God to wed.  Many raised their hands with cheering.  We prayed for them and can't wait to see God honoring marriages here!