Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mentoring By Relationship

People Matter
June 9, 2011

My 90 year old mother amazes me.  She never let the world of technology intimidate her.  She emails me at least weekly and has even learned how to scan and attach photos to her emails.  News from home is always welcome as the attempt to live on two continents that are 10,000 miles apart from each other is challenging.  Some recent news resulted in sadness accompanied by good memories.  Shirley Maycumber was a pastor's wife who Pam and I met while working at youth camps.  More than 30 years ago she was one of a few who encouraged me at a time when I was  young, arrogant, and stupid.  She is now in Heaven and I desire to be an encourager to those who are just now learning to discover and display the glory of Jesus.  At least I'm not young anymore!

And, I've discovered my assignment at this stage of my life.  The mission to Western Uganda had tailor made purposes for each member.  My motivation in it was not to find a place to preach or teach or administer the mission.  It was an opportunity to live life with more than a dozen of the next generation and impart something of who I am to them.  Call it discipleship.  Call it mentoring.  Call it parenting. Maybe when I'm in Heaven some of them will reflect on that time as when I encouraged them at a time when they were trying to find their way.  People don't become who they are without the benefit of having others come alongside them.

During the last couple of days of the mission I began planning how I would write some blogs to update you on what happened.  I still plan to write a few stories about some things that happened there, but my plans have been altered and delayed by relational mentoring.  Because impacting the next generation is my assignment and I do it relationally, I have less control over my time than some.  When people become the priority, some of the best intentions for work become secondary.  This blog is about three of those people from the next generation.

Sami doing early morning laundry
Sami is 22 years and a member of the Dove Voice Band.  He is a leader and a learner.  Several weeks before we left for mission he wanted to establish a blog for the band.  He has email and Facebook experience and has taken a few classes in software, but had no experience with a blog.  I helped him begin a blog.  He wanted to learn more so during our time together on the mission I asked if it would be possible for him to come to Jinja and stay with us awhile so I could teach him.  He is actually in transition without a place to call home and said he would come directly back to Jinja with us at the end of the mission.  He has been living with us since Monday night.  I helped him write one of his post for the Dove Voice Band blog as a way of instruction.  Then he wanted to know how I put together some of my videos and I helped him open a free account with to produce videos.  I spent several hours collaborating a Dove Voice Band video.   All of this activity is simply a venue for relationship to be a father to a young man who did not have a father who equipped him to live life as a real man.

Sera and her Mom during her sick stay
Most of you know Sera.  She is 25 and mother to 20 former street boys.  According to her, Pam and I have been her only parents and she calls herself Sera Kasonga Hunter.  The last couple of days of the mission we began to receive text messages filled with anticipation about our return to Jinja.  Our arrival at home found her sick with malaria and needing injections and IV's.  Rather than pay for an bed in the clinic, Sera came to stay with us.  I've been running her and Blair back and forth to the clinic so she get treated.  Blair has been making sure Sera gets rest (something that would never happen in a home with 20 young sons!), drinks plenty of fluids and eats (appetites disappear when infected with malaria).  I found that I was asking Sami to please allow me to go to the "hospital" with Sera and would  he mind waiting for me to return.

At the clinic with her nurse
Sera's self appointed nurse at home - Blair!
Elisha of Bukeeka
Some of you may remember one of my blogs this year about Elisha.  Elisha is 22 and was the first convert to Christ in Bukeeka.  His father is a witchdoctor.  Elisha worked with me when I was painting at Fountain of Hope.  We became friends and I saw something in him.  I invited him, during that time of working together, to come and stay with us a few days so that he could learn some carpentry skills.  There are about 25 school desk that need to be finished and delivered to the school.  It would be a venue to encourage and impart something to Elisha.  He called on Monday and said that he was free this week to come and work on the desks.  Elisha is now bunking with Sami and living life with us this week too.  Early yesterday morning, as I was spending some time with the Lord on the veranda, he came out and sat with me.  He asked, "Muzee (pronounced moo-zaa and a title of respect for an older man), would you have some time to answer some questions for me?"  While we were taking a break during the afternoon he began with those questions ... great questions!  The one that impressed me the most was something like, "While all are men, not every man is a man.  Can you help me become a man?"

Can you help me become a man?
Last night, my wife, my two oldest granddaughters, Sami, Sera, and Elisha sat around the dinner table after the rice and beans had long disappeared ... talking about life and the readiness of young people for marriage.  The conversation was dynamic, entertaining, engaging, and beneficial.

Relationships are consuming.  They will postpone good intentions.  They will disorganize schedules. They will test and refine.  They will bring joy.  I woke at 5AM to write this blog ... my first since being home for three days ... before the rest of the household emerge from their bedrooms.  When the other members of our current house mates start rubbing the sleep bugs from their eyes, my opportunity to write you will most likely disappear.  And, I won't mind in the least.  Nothing would give me more joy than to know that my legacy was written upon the hearts of a few of the next generation leaders of this east African nation.

Several times this week, during reflection, I've felt so much gratitude for those of you who believe in me and what I do here in Uganda.  Without your financial support and prayers I would never have the privilege, or be effective, in discipling these amazing young people that God has put around me.  "Thank you" seems insufficient in expressing my gratitude, but it's all I have at the moment.  Thank you.  You are a gift to me.  Thank you, Pam, my best friend and life partner, for embracing and joining me in this relational mentoring that we feel called to.  At the end of the day we may not have all of our ducks in a row, but, hopefully, we will leave a deposit of the grace and goodness of Jesus in the lives of those He has blessed us with.


  1. This is one of my favorite posts yet...resounds with my own heart, is the essence of why i love you two so much, and expresses the joy of knowing Jesus' tangible body in the earth! :)


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