Take a moment. Consider. What do you believe is the best investment a person can make? Real estate? Stock market? Precious metals?
As a newbie missionary in Uganda, I did some research with about 50 students who had enrolled in our Leadership Institute. I asked them, "What do you believe is the greatest resource of Uganda?" The answers were varied and worthy of consideration ... the rich, fertile land ... the waters of Lake Victoria and River Nile ... the recently discovered oil.
It's interesting how followers of Jesus, who have been made members of God's Eternal Family, are quite tied to this temporary existence on our planet. What we value most indicates where our treasure is.
There is no greater investment a follower of Christ can make than in people. The King of our Kingdom, Jesus, said He came to seek and save those who are lost. His earthly existence was all about people. He gave His life for people. People are eternal beings whether they know it or believe it.
I am always looking for effective strategies to invest my life in people. Back in 2016, Next Generation Ministries offered an intercultural, residential, mentoring course for young adults. The organization recruited these young people from America and Uganda and blended them at our residence where they lived together for eight weeks. We combined life together, classroom instruction, and mission efforts all the while trusting God to change their worldview and better equip them through their experiences. When I look at some of the people who participated it is obvious that it was a transformative experience. Not for all of them, but for those whose motives were right we received a great return on our investment.
Two of our enrollees met in Uganda, married, and returned to manage the One Step Course mentoring. We also had some students who returned to serve as peer mentors. Eventually, I discovered a young lady whose only desire was to mentor/disciple hundreds of young adults during her lifetime. Esther was a perfect fit to manage this mentoring course. The One Step Course eventually ended with the COVID pandemic, but this young lady then began to serve NGM as our Student Sponsorship Coordinator. And, she was fabulous in that capacity as well.
Esther Mulungi is a treasured friend of Next Generation Ministries. She was faithful and effective as the manager of the One Step Course, the coordinator of the NGM Sponsorship program, and eventually Team Leader. Esther has been a valuable asset to the Uganda Board of Directors and me as we worked hard throughout 2023 to change the mindset of our staff from employees to missionaries.
From the moment Pam and I felt led to ask Esther to join Next Generation Ministries we were well aware that this day would come. She was a volunteer for Worship Harvest Ministries and we believed that one day God would call her to a more expanded discipleship ministry that would require her full-time devotion. Before NGM hired Esther I contacted the founder and director of Worship Harvest to ask him for a reference. He told me, "Hire her! If you don't we will!"
I had the pleasure of writing to the director recently to tell him that while we are committed to encouraging, equipping, and empowering the next generation of leaders in Uganda, we are also committed to releasing them. He was delighted to hear this as he and the organization want Esther to work full-time at Kyambogo University discipling the students who attend there.
Esther will be moving to Kampala to embrace this missionary calling in her life. Next Generation Ministries is pleased to commission her to this new assignment and commit to a small monthly financial support. We will forever be connected as we mutually encourage each other to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Esther in her new assignment. And, stay tuned for my next blog where I will reveal some exciting changes about new leadership for Next Generation Ministries ... the strategy God has given us for investing in the next generation of leaders in the great nation of Uganda!
Investing in people is quite different from material investments. The people we influence and impact are not ours. Each one belongs to Jesus and they are given to us for various periods to shape them for God's glory. It's a personal pleasure to release Esther to this new level of discipleship.
Before you stop reading, please continue with Esther's personal reflection on the time she has spent with Next Generation:
The journey to becoming who God has called me to be has been only by His grace. Looking back on the last four years, I can boldly say "Thus far the Lord has brought us." NGM opened its doors for me in 2019 as the One Step Course Manager. My goal was to disciple 1,000 young men and women into the character and competence of Christ. While I didn't know all I needed to do to run a successful discipleship course, Paul and Pam took my hand and let me into their home, hearts, and lives. More than work, most of what I did was learn from them. They carried me through.
In four years, they've given me opportunities to lead One Step, manage the Student Sponsorship department, and eventually the entire missionary team. They put an A+ on my head and believed in me when I didn't see much good in myself. I've lived to see the transition of the NGM team from employees of the organization to Missionaries in the ministry and God has been so faithful.
Esther & NGM sponsored studentsI've been given the most opportunities to grow, nurture, and lead others. I've built relationships, learned to coordinate people, plan for others, and speak up.
I came as a young woman seeking both to serve God and better my career as well. Today I stand ALL IN for all that God has called me to be regardless of what the benefits will be. NGM has not been a means to an end. NGM is my sending base. It's home and a family from whom I've learned to lay down my life for others. As I walk into the next assignment, I walk as one sent by the Lord but commissioned by Next Generation Ministries. I would honestly never have made it as far as I have today if I had not been taught as much as I have while here. Paul and Pam have loved and nurtured me as their own daughter and this is forever humbling. I carry the DNA of Next Generation Ministries and to change Uganda One Person at a time is a legacy I'm going to carry wherever God sends me. "Thus far the Lord has brought us."
Esther prays for a sick childI'm forever indebted, humbled, and honored to have served the Lord with NGM and will continue to do so without hesitation.