David Celebrates Veteran’s Day

So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of Hosts was with him.  These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.  I Chronicles 11:9-10

David was a warrior, a soldier among the mightiest of soldiers, who ushered in Israel’s most glorious days of God’s blessing and peace that the world has ever known.  He served the Lord of hosts—literally, the God of armies, a term used 235 times in the Bible.

I Chronicles 11 details the exploits of David’s mighty men.  They endured exhaustion, constant danger, hunger and thirst; and they slaughtered the Philistines, the Egyptians and the Moabites.  They crouched in a barley field while civilians, women and children, fled in terror; and they valiantly fought to victory.  There was hand-to-hand combat.  One mighty man killed a seven-foot Egyptian by knocking his spear down with a shepherd’s staff.  He then killed him with his own spear.  Gut wrenching bleeding and dying.  “And the Lord saved them by a great deliverance.” (v. 14) These soldiers knew the Lord of hosts.

David named their names and chronicled their exploits, and it was  a splendid Veteran’s Day celebration.  As I read the details this morning, the glaring flaw in our Veteran’s Day celebrations became very clear.  We honor the men and women, but are so careful never to mention the mission.  We have failed a generation who knows little of war, and even less of the Lord of Hosts.

Our children do not know about the Bataan death march.  They are ignorant of the bloody tyrant, Joseph Stalin, who murdered at least 18 million people.  They have never heard of the Khmer Rouge, a regime that slaughtered half a country.   Then there was the Chinese engineered famines that targeted religion and wealth for extermination.  Nameless, faceless people died, including valiant mighty men who stood against evil.

I am not so naive to ignore the fact that wars are fought over money and power, corruption and lies, and media leading people like blind sheep to believe it all.  But from the beginning of the Fall, and the evil rebellion that overtook the heart of man, the epic battles of good against evil have raged, and will rage, until the Lord of Hosts sends His Son to conquer in the final battle of the ages.  Until that time, wars rage in the heavenly realm.  Wars rage on earth.  And the Lord of Hosts has called brave men and women to “serve.”  The word has become so sanitized and nondescript.  God calls soldiers to stem the tide of evil that would overtake our world.  Communist atheism and freedom under the one true God are still lines drawn in the sand.  And though God blesses the peacemakers, and calls us to seek peace and pursue it, I want my children and grandchildren to understand this Veterans Day that the fight of good against evil is led by the Lord of Hosts.  Unspeakable carnage continues around the globe as we have closed out the bloodiest century in history.   Christians are persecuted and mass slaughtered as I write.  The divine calling to be a soldier is from the Lord of Hosts.  He singles out those who have a strong sense of justice, and are willing to bear the burden of war.  They are like David’s mighty men, physically strong, completely loyal, and fierce in the face of evil. Their commission comes from God.  “Thank you for your service” doesn’t cut it for me.  Thank you for your courage, your extraordinary bravery, your loyalty to our nation, your willingness to bear the unspeakable perils of war.  Thank you for living, and being willing to die for a righteous cause.  Thank you for accepting the high calling to be a soldier.

God bless the soldiers who have lived and died for my freedom.  May the Lord of Hosts lead you to glorious victory in your lives today.

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Uganda Debriefing

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.  Psalm 138:8

I have been home for a couple of days now, and debriefing all that happened in Uganda.  When a major event occurs in my life, I have found that the question I need to ask is not “What have I experienced,” but rather, “God, can you tell me from Your perspective what I have experienced.”

Bishop Grivas Musisi spoke this word to me in Uganda, “The Lord will perfect what concerns you.” Psalm 138:8  It has become my Psalm of debriefing and has helped me to understand our Uganda experience this year.

“Thou hast magnified thy word above all Thy name.” v. 2  God promised to go with us, to watch over our health, and to give us His message for the many churches and crusade meetings we were part of.  But I must say that looking back, He magnified His word.  What happened far exceeded the promise as I understood it when I boarded the plane in October.  The crusade in Mubende was humbling; so much of God and so little of me.  The messages I had confidently written were often set aside while the Holy Spirit created a bond between us and the people.  It is impossible to overcome cultural differences and the fact that we were strangers who would appear for a few days.  In the natural, we had little to offer.  God magnified His word to us and to them.  More than 300 people found Jesus and were baptized into the faith.  Many were healed and delivered.  The Psalmist describes it as worship and praise for God’s mercy and truth.  God revealed Himself as mercy—it is His faithful love that draws the hopeless and the helpless.  God revealed Himself as truth—many repented and turned to God through the foolishness of preaching.  I declare the Psalmist’s words, “Great is the glory of the Lord!” v. 5

We had our struggles this year.  Though far less than last year, we pushed through health and food issues, and trusted God for our material provision.  Barking dogs all night, loud music, smoke from open fires everywhere choked the air; the anticipation of a great chicken dinner turns out to be one small wing and some unidentified sides.  It’s a challenge not to get zinged by the food, and we just laughed when one of us lost the game.  More serious were moments of real sickness, and the Lord reminded me, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me. (v. 7)  We prayed through each challenge, and the Lord was faithful to His word.  We were revived for each new day.

Perhaps Grivas chose verse 8 to speak to me, because it is the promise that keeps us going back to Uganda each year.  “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth thee.”   I think of Life Mercy orphanage, the singing and smiling of the kids, and the land that is now full of buildings and growing bananas, sweet potatoes, beans, and corn.  We asked many people to invest in this place—it is the concern of many; and year after year, we have brought beds, clean water, a functional kitchen, desks, school supplies, and tin roofs.  It is miraculous to see

how God has perfected His work.  A timber cutting machine has provided extra income.  The children ate beans and rice, not the corn mush that was the only sustenance when we began.  Mosquito nets and blankets hung above the beds, and uniforms made on our sewing machines are still a testimony to the details God has led us to “perfect.”  It is His work, and He truly is perfecting it in His way and His time.

What I say about the orphanage could be said about Prayer Palace ten times over!  New construction will provide a sanctuary for ten thousand, and the television station will reach six countries!  It is a glorious work, and God will never forsake the works of His own hands. (v. 8)  Praise and worship, singing, influencing kings—all of these things God mentions in this Psalm are embodied in the powerful anointing that rests on Prayer Palace.

I have returned to a whirlwind of catching up, and I am still trying to figure out when it is night and when it is day.  But that is merely my perspective.  God sees the past month as a baby step by His willing servants in the grand plan to claim Africa for Himself, and He is pleased.  This morning, I say with the Psalmist, “I will praise thee with my whole heart!”

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Good bye Uganda

It was a splendid day of worship at Prayer Palace.  It is so exciting to circle the clock tower downtown and look to the left where choir music fills the air and the wood beams high in the air announce Prayer Palace expansion.  The chairs have been rearranged to put the construction at the back of the ssanctuary,, so it feeels a bit like an outdoor camp meeting since the platformm is a raised area with a tent where the wall has been taken out.  I was sorry to sit on the platform rather than the front row seats we are used to, but the choir was to our side, and the Spirit moves so mightily there, we were soon caught up in the worship.  They sang all of our favorite songs.  The choir sang “You are Awesome” and Grivas led the congregation in one of our favorite Lugandan songs.  We call it “oh Sunny Day,” but it is actually “Osanide” which means Lord, you are worthy.”

Grivas preached from Psalm 103, a passage I had quoted that morning as I lay in bed and prayed for the service.  It was powerful.  BTW, they take a Thanksgiving offering early in the service, then at the end, a gathering of the tithes, then a third free will offering.  Grivas acctually took up a 4th offering, asking people to pledge payment for one pole in the new sanctuary.  The platform filled with people who would support the building project.  These are giving people!!

Judy spoke on the anointing of David and his extraordinary faith in killing a lion, a bear and a giant.  She affirmed the anointing on Prayer Palace, how we had seen the drawings from their vision 6 years ago, and now God’s call through the television ministry to six nations.  Her prophesy was both an affirmation that God had kept His promise, and that He was leading them as nation changers.  It was an incredible service.  We got out about 3 in the afternoon, and had a last dinner with Eric at Java, which is a restaurant popular with foreigners as well as Ugandans for its semi-familiar food.

Grivas is coming for breakfast with us, and we will pray together.  Brief meetings with Willie from Waterstep and Pastor Steve, representing the Antioch alliance, and then we are off to Entebbe for the 30 plus hour plane adventure.  Our hearts are full,, and our arms are empty missing loved ones at home.   A grand reunion lies ahead.  Pray for our favor in customs annd connections.  It is hard to keep everything together for so many flights andd so little sleep.  The JOY of the Lord is our strength!

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Prayer Palace Sunday

My heart is always drawn to New Life Church on Sunday morning.  Judy is speaking at Prayer Palace this morning, and I have been praying for our service here and yours there through the night.  We are expecting a very supernatural visitation from God today.  I am curious as to how we will hold  service in their sanctuary that is in the middle of construction.  You can now see Prayer Palace roof from the center of Kampala.  There is lots of excitement and vision as the work progresses.

Let me catch you up on our ministry over the weekend.  Frday was a shopping day.  The craft market is only open every other friday, and it is a delight.  Artisans are carving, weaving, and creating everywhere, sitting on tarps, and a city block of beautiful creations are for sale.  I donate my clothes each year, so I have more room for baskets, and this year bull horn creations.  It’s a really fun day.

Saturday we returned to the orphanage to address many things.  People in the US have sacrificed and given so much for these children, and we want to have a close relationship there so there is accountability and a bond in ministry that is God directeed.  We hiked down to the place where the cistern was built that will eventually supply clean water to the orphanage as well as the community.  I was making jokes about snakes as we stepped carefully on the thick brush, but I was only half kidding.  Passtor Steve carried a big stick, and he promised if we were fortunate to find a snake, he would cook it for me for dinner.  Then I was REALLY glad we didn’t run on to a snake.  We visited the pig operation that supports daily operations.  Then we met the pastor who is growing a church in the community with services at Life Mercy on Wednesdday, Friday, and 3 services on Sunday.  We walked the land with Dixon and Willie, the Waterstep experts.  We are SO blessed to have partnered with them.  I have never met a more diligent African.  Dixon knows every detail of the water and sanitation needs, and can explain all the options available in a country where clean water is so scarce.  Precise time and detail is not common in Ugandan culture.  He really is sent from God to help us.

We visited with the contractors who are constructing the main hall buildding.  The homemade bricks have beeen baked.  They stack them, I believe they said 10,000 per stack, with a large hole  in the middle where they burn a fire for a couple days.  They are originally formed in a wood form and left in the sun until they are stackable.  A homemade wheel barrow carries them to the building, and the men threw them one at a time up to the homemade scaffoldinng whose safety is surely dependent on the Holy Spirit.  A young man, whom David said was a graduate from our orphanage and school, carried a square bucket of concrete and hoisted it up to the men working on the second story.  Their rhythm in moving and laying bricks and mortar was almost musical.

David met with us and explained more of the government requirements, and we were excited to learn that he has purchased a machine to process timber, and is using it to generate extra money for the building projects.  In spite of his stroke and partial blindness from last year, he is full of the joy of the Lord, and is dreaming God’s dreams.  The oldest children finished 3 days of government exams this weeek.  There were 29 students.  The headmaster was confident all would pass.  Praise God!  We give you the good report that God is mulltiplying your giving, and this year we are so excited to see the work spilling over into the community as they will benefit from the water improvements and church plant.  The orphanage pastor’s name is Andrew.  Please pray for him.

Saturday evening we met with Louis, the accountant/pastor/church planter who has miraculously talked the muslim land owner into selling him the piece of land he has beeen dreaming about for so long.  When he talked to him in early 2016, the owner told him he had no land to sell, and sold a partial plot to someone else.  Now Louis will own that piece, plus another small plot behind.  In Uganda, a property has to be 50 ft by 100 feet to get a title.  Louis was beaming as he showed us the paperwork, that actually required releases from 5 different owners since he was piecing two plots together to get a title.  Total cost, around $2,200.  Planting a new church on owned land in Uganda really is a miracle.  Louis will start his advanced Diploma studies in Prayer Palace’s school for ministers in two weeeks.  So God has helped us to connect these two ministries together.  The promise that one can slay a thousand and two can slay ten thousand surely applies here.  The hand of God is heavy on these leaders.  I gave Louis a special gift that God told me to bring to Uganda.  The moment was a healing miracle for me.  Just one more supernatural plan God had set in motion long before we stepped on Ugandan soil.

Three weeks is a long time to be separated from family and church and home.  You are especially dear to our hearts today as I think about packing and returning to a very different life and time.  It is so amazing to experience God’s work, His faithfulness, His unfolding plans, in a place few people would imagine.  I will try to post once more before we face customs and cramped planes and awful food… trying not to think about that yet!!

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Sunrise in Kampala

A storm in the night kept me up for a while, but this morning it is  amazing to look out over the city and feel the tropical sun.  We have been enjoying long days of ministry here.  Our days in Africa   are coming to a close, and there is so much more we would like to do.

Our conference in Kwelere has grown in the spiritual.  People are hungry to know God’s presence, and we are encouraged about stories that continue to bless us because of the Bibles and bicycles we have sent throughout Uganda.  We had a wonderful time of praise annd worship, teaching and preaching, prayer and deliverance.  Art and Judy really connected with the leaders with stories from their lives of God’s healing and protection.  The Ugandans are amazed that Americans have problems annd trials.  It truly set the atmosphere for our afternoon ssession of praying for healing and deliverance.  We prayed for people to find jobs, for severe conflict in homes, and for direction in ministry.  There were many who were sick with HIV and malaria.  And many talked about being tormeented by spirits.  I got a front row experieence with that, and the Lordd gave me direction.  I’m not sure I can fully explain, because the afternoon was so supernatural, I felt like afterwards there were details I could not remember.  I just knew the Holy Spirit was at work and I claimed His promise to pray for me when I didn’t have words.  A woman came to me and said he right side was paralyzed.  I lifted her arm and it was like lifting heavy wood.  Her fingers were stiff, and she began to shake when I took her hand.  I knew it was demonic.  Thanks to my daughter-in-law, I had brought roller bottles of essential oils that we used to anoint wih oil.  I grabbed her hand, began to pray, and started painting her arm from her fingertips upward, quoting healing scriptures and commanding any spirit that was not of God to go.  She began to wail.  I took her iron arm told her to proclaim the name of Jesus, to see the blood of Jesus that flowed for her deliverance.  As she spoke Jesus’ name, her arm began to feel like flesh.  I bent her fingers and she weakly took hold of my hand.  I could feel her exhaustion, so I began to pray for full restoration.  A peace came over us like standing on a beach and feeling waves of wind.  I took a deep breath as I rubbedd her arm, then she lifted it in the air and spoke in Lugandan.  I recognized the words for God and Father.  I asked heer to write down Psalm 91, and 46, and to speak them out loud over her body and to call on Jesus’ name at all times.  There is so much fear in the slums.  Gideon told us in past years about the wiitchcraft and evil that took place i the very place where he has purchased the land and claimed it for God’s glory.  Many were delivered from tormeent that afternoon.  It was such holy ground.

Last night we hosted a reception at our hotel for the Antioch Alliance pastors and their wives.  We bought pineapples, papaya, bananas, and melon at the market,, and the hotel chef graciously offered to cut it for us.  The heaping plates of delicious tropical fruit looked like artwork beyond our greatest expectations.  We bought a dark chocolatee cake at the market,, but they didn’t know what to do with it.  Processed food is so foreign to them.  We gave each one some simple gifts.  I had brought power sticks for charging a cell phone for each pastor,, and Judy had beautiful necklaces for the wives.  We brought 25 small backpacks, so they could take one for each of their children, and they were delighted to find a toothbrush andd toothpaste inside.  I was thankful I had gone to see Kerry Goodin the week before we left, and he sent the supplies from his dental office.  It was so good to visit with each of the pastors and hear about their work.  Judy anointed each one with oil and prophesied over their ministry; then they prayed together for us.  It was so powerful.  Gordon and Steve brought me gifts that women had made on the sewing machines we worked so hard to bring over.  Theey are amazing!!

There is much more to tell, but I am out of time.  A few more exciting days and we will fight the traffic jam of all traffic jams back to Entebbe airport.

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Leadership Conference at Kwelere

We have had  a couple of glorious long days, and I want to report before our conference starts this morning.  We visited a government school on Monday, and it was so helpful to understand how our Waterstep people work with other schools, as well as understandinng curriculum and government regulations.  The people here want to help everywhere you go.  After touring the school and meeting with the headmaster to discuss his operation, Willie, [the Waterstep expert] invieted us to his house and we talke about the builldding options available for our most urgent needs at Life Mercy Orphange.  The pit toilets he built at the governmet school are far superior to the ones we have, and there are chemical options that extend the life of the building.  [God cares about the details–this is the a little much]  We want to talk to Grivas as well about some of these options.  He has more thann 600 children at his orphanage.

I hurry on to tell you about our conference.  We are meeting at Gideon’s new church, and pastors have come from all over Uganda.  You haven’t lived if you haven’t been to a 7 hour African worship service!!  I think I might actually get rhythm if I stayed another month.  I love the joy in the Lord that lights up the faces of the worshipers.  Pastor Gordon is translating for us, and he is mightily anointed.  His is the ministry up north in Jinja, and I am continually amazed at his ministry.  He is a preacher and evangelist, and also runs a community center that provides for the elderly, the single moms, the orphan children, the sewing classes and more.  He goes out to huts in rural areas and sprays for beddbugs–hey that’s ministry.  He just has an incrediblee heart for the whole person and is the most energeetic person on earth.  He is clever, a jokester, which is really fun, beecause with the cultural andd language differences, you don’t always get his jokes immediately.  He laughs andd dances around, and you know there is something good to figure out.  He just makes life fun, and if we have a need, he knows the best places in Kampala.  He has made all the arrangements for buying Lugandan Bibles, sturdy bicycles for the pastors, pharmaceuticals for the medical work we did last year–Gordon is the go to man to get it done.

The church in Kwelere has expanded it’s walls in the years we have beeen here.  It used to be a tin bake oven.  Now it is larger, and the walls are homemade bricks with large holes for windows, which they will eventually buy.  We are so proud of Pastor Gideon who has bought the land and expanded his sanctuary.  The problem is still the road.  It’s a bit scary to drive in on the red mud slide with a deep sewer on the side.  You have to walk in the last 100 feet or so with deep ruts and rocks in the red clay path.  But you can hear the singing by the time you get to that point, and there is an excitement in the air as you approach the church. A single light bulb hangs over the pulpit.  I don’t know why they make pulpits so tall here.  It puts my notes too close to my farsighted eyes, but that helps me be more spontaneous and sensitive to where the Lord would take us.  I spoke about Barnabus ad Paul as pastors, using Acts 11 to contrast with I Corinithians.  The theme of God’s great grace runs through both the church at Antioch, where Barnabus saw God’s grace immediately, as well as the Church at Corinth, where a whole book of problems ended with “by God’s grace, I am what I am.”  The pastors have small notebooks and scraps of paper to take notes.  It would be wonderful to bring them notebooks and nice pens one year as a gift.

Today we will preach through the morning session, and after lunch, we will have a prayer and healing service which will probbly last about 3 hours.  I am wearing my all cotton lightest clothes; it is a sunny day on the equator.  As we left the church yesterday, there was a little girl, maybe about 3 years old, whose one eye was completely turned in, and the other appeared to be cloudy.  She was alone as she reached her hands out to me.  I stopped andd prayed for her, but her face has been in my mind ever since.  If God would deliver her today, it would change that whole area.  There is such hopelessness there.  It is the poorest part of Kampala, and the conditions are just not scenes I can capture with words.  What a contrast between the people who stare at us as we walk to the church, and the bubbling over joy that floods the house as we step over the high mud threshhold into a holy sanctuary.  I am so exited about today.  I wish my children and granddchildrenn could experience the presence of God in this place the way he has privileged me to know.  More soon….

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Worship in the inner city

Sunday services Uganda style are hard to describe.  People here love singing and dancing before the Lord.   I went to Passtor Steve’s church,, which I can only describe as turning right past the third cow and left where the ruts in the red clay road are 8 inches deeep.  I was thrilled as we got close and the music filled the market place nearby.  We arrived about 9:45, and Rita, Steeve’s wife was leading a choir of singers and dancers.  The building is a wood frame covered with corrugated tin sheets.  There are no windows, so this American felt a bit like I was being oven baked.  About 11 we stood up, andd I was seeing stars.  There are no reestrooms in the slums, so I hadd intentionally stopped drinking around 7:00.  It was a dilemma.  Should I ddrink the water in front of me, or see if the dizziness passed?  I had an energy fizz stick in my back pack, so I poured an inch of water,, added the fizz stick and gulped it down.  In two or three minutes, I was back in the spirit of joy and worship, andd enjoyed it immensely.  Steve introduced me to speak around 12:30.  I use a lot of scripture when I speak, and it is a problem for interpretation.  But a couple of times, I stopped and waited for the interpreter to find the scripture in a Lugandan translation.  People struggle to read, and Bibles are scarce andd precious.  I quit worryig about a smooth presentation, because I could tell from the peoples’ reponses that the truth was clearer whenn I stopped to listen, explain and to read.  The Word is powerful and alive, in eveery language.

I finished about 1:30, and it is tradition for someone to stand annd summarize the message when you are finished.  That’s always very enlighteninig, as you find out what they truly understood, and what did not connect.  I was so happy with their responnse.  They came to me after kneeling ddown to thank mee for coming..  The honor is almost embarrassing, but I loved hearing their responses and greeting the children.

I bought another sewing machine for Pastors Stevee and Gordon,, and I hadd asked about it.  Sometimes it hard to know if the gifts are relevant.  Steve drove me to a shop and I recognized the proprieter.  She had been at the service.  She makes dresses and teaches the young women at the church to sew.  The clothing was beautiful.  I ordered two dresses.  She sells them for $3 each.  I gave her $5, and Pastor Steve will bring them to me on Thursday.

We got to Pastor Steve’s house around 3 and had matoke and rice.  I was still very dehydrated, but they had bought Fanta Orange soda, probably something speecial for me.  I begged to decline.  Matoke sits heavy on the stomach.  I was grateful to get back to the hotel around 4:30, and had some bottled water.

David and Sumalie Matovu, the orphanage directors came around 8:15, and we went over the water purification, the P7 exams that will happen next week for the oldest students,, and the two buildings in progress, as well as the cistern we buit last year, and making it available to the community.  We will return to the orphanage on Saturday to finalize ways we can help the children this year.  The need is great.  I don’t know how they manage to feed everyone, let alone all of the other overhead.  It is truly God’s work.  It was after 11 when we prayed for one another aand gave hugs.  I am sleeping so well in spite of the noise.

We are up early this morning to pounding on the doors and barking dogs, and scrubbing the parking lot with stiff brooms.  At 5:30 a.m.?  Yes, it wwas 5:30.  We have a meeting this morning at a neighboring orphanage, so I will rush this.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Judy is feeling very well after several days of struggle, and I know God has provided His strength for His miraculous plans in these ayss.

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