Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What?

A Finger & A Voice

People are everywhere.  Various cultures.  Distinctive circumstances.  Diverse challenges.  Pam and I have an unusual love for a few of those people who exist half way around the world.  We continue to believe that God is pleased with our choice to make an effort to impact their lives with the years we have left on this earth.  We work in a small country in East Africa under the supervision of a not-for-profit corporation called Next Generation Ministries. On Friday the seven member Board of Directors will conduct their annual meeting to evaluate the past year Pam and I have spent in this effort.  They will also advise us about the upcoming year of 2012.  Finances will be reviewed.  Reports will be given.  Strategies will be developed.

This annual event is an ideal time for me to reflect on my life, assess it, resist the comfort of routine, and determine what God wants me to do, how He would have me do it, does He want me to continue what I'm doing, and where.

My journey through the landscape of evaluation typically leads me back to my starting point ... the origin of what I believe I should give my life to.  Commonly known, but always fresh, the last mandate of Jesus is what drives me to do what I do.  More than a suggestion, it is signpost that should motivate my life regardless of where it is lived.  As the One who has been given all authority in heaven and earth, He instructed me to go and make disciples in all the world, teaching them to obey all the commandments He has given me.

People in both America and Africa often ask what I'm doing half way around the world from "home."  Just as often my response brings a quizzical smile to faces when I say, "I'm not sure."  I don't say this because I don't really know what I'm doing, but because the one word answers don't embrace what I believe I in Uganda.  The word missionary will usually produce a stereotype image that Pam and I don't wear well.  If we use the biblical word disciple we speak in a language that many do not know these days.  I've discovered that my relationship with many of those with whom I work is more like a father than other terms.  But, the word that I usually chose to use is mentor to describer what I do in Uganda.

Google the word mentor and the most common definition found will be "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher."  Let me avoid self depreciating humor and admit that I've come to wear this term comfortably. But it was the recent discovery of three verses in the first chapter of the Gospel of John that best paints a one word picture of what I do in Uganda.
The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples.  As Jesus walked by, John looked at Him and declared, "Look!  There is the Lamb of God!"  When John's two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.  (John 1:35-37)
God made me relational and it is through relationships that I influence others.  The danger of this gift is to connect people to me without connecting them to Jesus.  I love the image of John, the forerunner, connecting "his" disciples to Jesus.

What I want to do in Uganda is connect people to Jesus.  I am not building a ministry or organization.  Life is all about Jesus and we have not done our job if we don't connect people to Him.  I'm happy when I've encouraged, empowered, taught, trained, and equipped the next generation and they stop following me and choose to follow Jesus.

What do I do in Uganda?  I point and say, "Look!  There's Jesus!"  It'a enough for me to be a finger and a voice ... a forerunner of Jesus.  May those who follow me turn to follow Him.

The Desire of the nations ... Jesus ... More of Him and less of me

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