Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Next Level

Feeling Like A Proud Papa

Sharing "tea" with 3 amazing African men
As I looked across the breakfast table at three young men and reflected on their lives I was reminded of Thanksgiving.  I love that America holiday.  It is a day for family to be together; a day for enjoying great traditional food that leaves everyone satisfied; and a day to focus on acknowledging the goodness of our God.

In 2005, when Pam and I made the transition from short term missionaries to full time mentors in Uganda, we had no blueprint for the strategy we would use.  We believed that the greatest need for the many new believers in Uganda was for discipleship.  Alive, but undeveloped, was not the intent God has for His sons.  We cornered four words to describe what we wanted to do and embrace relationships as the environment in which we would do it.  We set out to encourage, equip, empower, and release the next generation of leaders in Uganda ... one person at a time.

Dereck, Jimmy, Robert (left to right)
By the end of the year we had established a relationship with 5 married couples that we targeted.  We wanted to encourage them, equip them, empower them, and release them.  We basically behaved as spiritual parents to these five couples since that time. Four of these men made a trip to the United States this summer, but none of them came as a result of an invitation from us.  One spent several days with us several weeks ago and now we were sharing breakfast with the other three.  It was like that of Thanksgiving for me.  We were family being together.  We enjoyed food together in a family atmosphere from the patio furniture on our deck.  I focused on the goodness of God in bringing all four of these men to maturity.  Each of them is a spiritual father in their own right.  They have all moved to the "next level" and I was feeling like a proud papa.  I'm aware that I am not the explanation for their development.  Jesus Christ is the explanation.  Just like He is for all of our biological children.  But, He trusted them to our care for a season, along with other teachers, mentors, and spiritual parents.  And, it is with gratitude that I look at each of them and feel proud.

Abdu (left) with friends from Fairview, Oklahoma
Abdu Wasswa and his family lived in the same house with Pam and me for four years.  We continue to live in the same compound, but in separate houses.  Abdu taught me SO much about the African culture.  He advised me and I advised him.  He is a business man focused on agriculture and his wife is the director of a Primary School established for the children of prostitutes in her village.  We connected them to short term missionaries.  Abdu got his visa and structured his itinerary for three months in America.  Abdu came to America to expand his knowledge of dairy farming and to secure additional sponsors for the students in his wife's young nursery and primary school.  He has traveled to Idaho, Oregon, Oklahoma, Washington, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Alaska.

Robert Sityo now pastors a church of 250 in a village that was previously 90% Muslim. Curses and bewitching were placed on him and the village fought to make him a failure. Today he is the Director of a Primary and Secondary School that boosts over 1,000 students who score among the highest of those in the nation.  He has started another church that is now over 300.  He has a maturity that makes him a good spiritual father. In fact, he and his wife Sarah, are now parents for 18 children who live with them!  He works with Grace Giving International with our blessings.  We encouraged Robert to have those who work with him start their own separate not for profit organization and they are now released to work with so many sponsors all over America.

Jimmy with Robyn
Jimmy Kiwanuka is our pastor in Jinja, Uganda.  He is a pioneer in the development of "church" in Uganda.  He is a spiritual equipper and father.  He works to make disciples who will demonstrate the glory of God in their lives, their relationships, and their vocations.  He came to America to sustain relationships with people who have become his friends and help support the work he does as a spiritual leader in Uganda.

Dereck Mombera is a business man who came to the United States for three short weeks to see if investors would like to help him develop his distribution business of imported rice, from Kenya, and pharmaceuticals, from India.  He believes business is just another venue in which sons of God should manifest the glory of their Father.

Dereck with Mama Pam
Our motto at Next Generation Ministries, as you can see from the sub heading of this blog, is "A River of Relationships Connecting Resources To Needs."  These days Pam and I are pleased to play a minor role in the lives of these men. They are seriously connected to so many across the United States

NGM is a family.  We never set out to build an organization.  We simply want to be used in the lives of young men and women to help them on their way to maturity.  And then release them so that can reproduced and multiply.

Today we are working more directly with other young Africans, hoping to encourage, equip, empower and release them.  Of course, there will come that time, much like a wedding, when we "give them away" so that they can begin to do with others what we have done with them.  And, then, once in a while, we will get to sit with them, like family on Thanksgiving, and rejoice in the goodness of our Father and give Jesus praise for the privilege He gave us for this work.