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We are the Church

Recently at school we talked to my students in the early years about church. We talked about the buildings and how some are very big and decorated with lots of expensive things. We then talked about how church looks for some of us with church being held at schools, huts and some in big buildings. Then we explained that the church doesn’t always mean a building. We had them repeat “I am the church” as they looked in the mirror at themselves. Then we talked about how if you are a believer in Christ that you belong to the church and that being the church means that you worship God. Remember these are 3-5 year olds, we kept it simple, but as we finished I wanted them to have a feeling of being the church together and I put on the song “Come, now is the time to worship,” and as these cute little ones began to sing praises I fought back tears of joy.

We are the church and here in Uganda I needed a place to call “my church”. I remember that it was some of my most lonely of months when we first came to live in Uganda in 2008 and I couldn’t call any place my church home. This go around through God’s grace it was actually such a blessing to find a church we felt connected to. The international church is an interesting concept as we are believers from all over the world and we gather together to worship. We come from all backgrounds and denominations, but that doesn’t limit our ability to come together as one church body.

These past years the “church” has been the support that we have needed throughout this journey of ministry. Believers in Christ have prayed for us from all over the world, given us advice, support financially and so much more. I would also say that having Godly women in my life has really helped me emotionally to continue to do all the things that I do. I am blessed to work with Christian women at school and Sunday mornings worshiping alongside other families in ministry. Then the few important opportunities to go on weekends away to really refocus and have women who also have ministry life struggles to pray for you and lift you up. A few months ago I was blessed to have one of those weekends and I met many amazing women. One of them shared this song with us (she happens to be my new neighbor too) and it really gave me the boost I needed.

Singer:   Ginny Owens   Album:   Without condition  1999            Song:   If you want me to

Lyrics:

The pathway is broken

And The signs are unclear

And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here

But just because You love me the way that You do

I’m gonna walk through the valley If You want me to

‘Cause I’m not who I was

When I took my first step

And I’m clinging to the promise

You’re not through with me yet

So if all of these trials bring me closer to you

Then I will go through the fire If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen

When you lead me through a world that’s not my home

But You never said it would be easy

You only said I’d never go alone

So When the whole world turns against me

And I’m all by myself

And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help

I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through

And I will go through the valley If You want me to

My encouragement to you is to find out what the church means to you. It doesn’t mean just a building, in fact the building could be a distraction from what the church is supposed to be. Find people of faith that you can have a relationship with and can hold you accountable. Going to Bible studies, prayer meetings, retreats, Sunday morning worship and fellowship. I encourage you to meet people and as a person who doesn’t really like to try and meet new people, I know that can be a challenge. Pray for God to open up opportunities for you to get involved somehow in the church as it will not only benefit other people it will be a blessing to you. The pastor is not the only one in the church that can minister to you, WE ARE THE CHURCH. YOU ARE THE CHURCH. I AM THE CHURCH. Now GO BE THE CHURCH and be blessed.

 

 

 

 

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So your going to Dubai, Why?

We leave for Dubai tonight with 18 soccer/football players 4 of which are from our Gayaza ministry. I think there is some confusion about why we are traveling not only on this trip, but for the summer trip to America. Let me back up two years ago when we were traveling around America and sharing our story with just my husband and my kids. We drove from Michigan, down through Kentucky, onto Tennessee, through Texas and then back up to Missouri/Kansas into Nebraska over to Colorado, back to Nebraska and finally back up to Michigan. I was studying for my teaching certificate and did I mention we have two kids and did all this travelling in a car?!

Why did we do that traveling? Simply put, to try and share our stories and our desires for ministry in Uganda. We loved seeing friends, but we also felt awkward; a burden and salespeople. You see we have to “sell” what it is we do for ministry to try and convince people we are worthy of their monetary support. Instead of taking a break from day in and day out ministry we were still doing it on “vacation” you know the ones that we are not supposed to take because we should be doing ministry all the time, because we are getting supported to do ministry, not take family vacations. (sarcasm)

Flip ahead to this past year, Matt was volunteering as a soccer coach at Acacia the Christian school that my kids attend and I work at (yes, working). He was presented with an opportunity to join in with a group of parents that had a vision for their kids. Expats (a person working outside of their home country) and local Ugandan’s that have successful ministries or corporate jobs (you know regular people) who wanted a program that would push their children into the world of football. There were other football programs, but all of them had the same problem they were all about money and not about the development of the child. These parents saw what Matt had developed in Gayaza and wanted that for their kids. Matt prayed and said “no” several times until he was given a vision for what this opportunity actually could mean for the success of our program in Gayaza.

Over this past year as we have started running this program Rising Star Elite- it has provided us with the funds to pay our coaches and add additional coaches (job security). It has allowed us to get more equipment (through donations made by these very parents who want this program). It has allowed for us to have money freed up to spend on renovations to our now amazing library, more books have been donated and even a donation from a local bank to get more material to help with teaching children how to read.

So some may wonder why this trip to Dubai and why this trip to the USA? Well for one we are fulfilling dreams that children from all nationalities and even religions have and we are doing it proudly in the name of Christ. Every single person who joins our programs knows why we have these programs and why we sacrifice our time and efforts is all for the glory of God. We are making an impact in children’s lives by giving them HOPE and when you have hope you are open to receiving what God wants for your life. These trips are allowing us to minister to not only these kids who come on the trips, but also the teams they encounter, the coaches, the fans, the parents, the world.

We were asked two years ago by a church that was considering supporting us. One of them asked how do you think you will be able to sustain your ministry? Are you just going to keep asking people for money year in and year out? Well now I have an answer that I didn’t have then. I work first and foremost because I love teaching, but also it provides a way to educated my children at no cost to our supporters. I also get a little bit of money that helps cover our rent expenses. Matt does A LOT of work day in and out trying to make everything work and has lots of obstacles that only people living in Uganda would understand and appreciate as a miracle he gets as much done as he does. The work he puts in pays for our staff and ministry. But then there is us, our family…we don’t have an income that we can live on. We don’t have money to pay for food, electricity, water, internet and all the other little things that add up. So when people ask why they should still support us, my answer is simple; if you don’t then nothing else can work. We need your support so we can continue to provide all the many services to so many people. So I can continue to teach kids from all over the world many of them missionary kids, so my kids can get a great education, so we can provide care for the other kids that may need shelter, food and education like our 3 boys Tendo, Kitibwa and Happy needed. So Matt can continue to teach coaches, coach children and provide opportunities for kids to travel the world and learn how to read a book. So that through it all we can meet people where they are and point them to the Cross.

So maybe what we are doing sounds unconventional as your perception of what a missionary should be doing, but I challenge you to look around and see what has God provided for you to do that could also impact his Kingdom. Maybe He is telling you to support two unconventional missionaries in Uganda who are working tirelessly to make dreams come true and ultimately impact the world for Jesus.

We need homes to stay in, we need rides, we need prayers and we need you. Please will you help us?

Go to www.risingstarministries.com to find out how you can be a part of our USA tour and how you can also make an impact in the life of a child.