I am seven years older than my brother. Growing older has birthed a whole new set of adventures and questions in my life. I was a teenager and a freshman in college when I gave my life to Jesus. From the moment I did that I believed that He was to always be the Lord of my life. That is what is implied when a person gives their life to Jesus. He leads. I follow.
Several weeks ago I began asking the Lord if He had one more mission trip in me to Africa.
Every season of life has its own beauty. Every season of life has its own purpose. Growing up in a culture where comfort and safety have become core values can often mask God-given purpose for a season like old age. I don't want to miss what God has for me in this season of life so I believe He initiated that nudge to seek Him about a return mission trip to Uganda.
People often wonder why they have passionate experiences when they go on a retreat weekend or a short-term mission trip. My belief is that all God needs to work within our lives is a simple YES. When we say yes to Him on all sorts of levels we find our journey with Him purposeful and invigorating.
Almost two weeks ago I attended a night of worship and missions about an hour east of where I live in Texas. One of the speakers said, "It's amazing what God will do with a simple yes." My heart sat up and took notice. I wasn't sure at the moment but wondered if this awakening in my spirit was connected to my question of God.
Later in the evening, there was reference made to what Joel prophesied when he said, "Old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions" (Joel 2:28) The speaker went on to say, "Some of you old men need to dream again." I looked around at the group of around 1,000 people and saw quite a few old men and wondered which of those old men he might be referring to ... but I felt the Lord putting His finger on my heart again and telling me to dream again.
Toward the end of the evening, before we left for home, the Word of God in Matthew 16 emphasized that Jesus promised to build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. And, we have been given the keys of the kingdom. The mission has never changed. We grow old, but the mission remains the same ... to partner with the Lord Jesus in the building of this spiritual organism called the church. This third planted seed in my heart convinced me that, in fact, God does have one more mission trip in me.
Pam and I have prayed about this and had several discussions at various levels. We agree that we are to return to Uganda early next year because God is sending us there.
Every person has a story. It is the nature of human experience. We are born, we live, and we die. During our earthly existence, a story is written with our life. Some refuse to let God write their story. They believe in themselves and are independently content to write their own story. Others of us have had an encounter with Christ, confessed how messed up sin has made us, and received the work of Jesus on the Cross for forgiveness and transformation. At best we are co-authors with God in the writing of our story. God has given each of us the power of choice. Pam and I are exercising that power of choice to take one more trip to Uganda. We believe the mission originates with God. He gives us the right of refusal or cooperation. We have chosen to be the junior co-authors.
We plan to live in Uganda for five weeks during February and March 2024. Airfare and our living expenses during those five weeks may cost us around $5,000. Would you like to partner with us in this next chapter of our lives in Uganda? You can make a tax-deductible donation to Next Generation Ministries at https://nextgenerationministries.givingfuel.com/other or write a check and mail it to NGM, 29940 S Dhooghe Rd., Colton, OR 97017. Any amount is greatly appreciated.
Before I wrap up this blog and post it I want to communicate a word to those who have been such an integral part of my story during my assignments in Uganda. I always see us as a team. No one member is more important than another. We each simply have a God-given role to play for the assignment to be successful. Some of you have upheld us in prayer through the years. Others have prayed and sent financial support. Still, others have taken a short-term mission trip to Uganda to witness firsthand what the Lord is doing there. I am grateful for each one of you. I echo the words of the Apostle Paul when he expressed his affection for those in Philippi who partnered with him in the Gospel.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)
Thank you for being a co-author with the Lord and me in this mission.