mustard seeds and partners
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.”
— Psalms 63:1
This prayer is becoming the cry of my heart. It expresses so beautifully and powerfully how I feel and what I desire my life to be about. I want God! To know Him; to serve Him; to obey Him; to love Him! There is nothing else in the world that can compare. There is nothing that is more worthy of my time and resources and energy and affections. “Earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you!!!”
Mustard Seed Fellowships.
Yesterday was Tuesday - which means Jill, Philip, and Success (the daughter of our good friend Pastor Kasozi) spent the afternoon in the village of Kigato. They have made a number of friends in this small community, and gather each week with a few of them to read the Bible, discuss how to obey it, encourage and pray for one another, and just spend time together. These gatherings have become an important rhythm for all involved. Through it, some have given their lives to Christ. Others are still listening and participating, questioning and wondering. Some come and go. A few are consistent each week. They help one another in times of need and rejoice together when a member receives a small blessing - an answer to prayer, an unexpected gift, news that a child is doing well in school. Right now one of the older ladies, or Jjajjas, is very sick, but yesterday they received the good news that she is improving and should be released from the hospital today.
On Sunday afternoon we’ll meet with a dozen or so others who lead similar fellowships. Betty is one of these dedicated leaders. Recently she told us that August to October of last year was a really tough period for her. She was in a lot of pain physically and wanted to do nothing but lay in bed. However, she felt the Lord impressing her to get up and go be with one of the groups she has started (nine of them at last count!). She did so, and found that as long as she was there - listening, praying, instructing, encouraging - she was pain free. Then the moment she dropped exhausted back in bed, the pain returned. This pattern was repeated numerous times over those months. The only pain relief, she told us, came when she went out to share the gospel, pray with people, and lead discipleship groups.
In a couple of weeks, Philip and I plan to spend time in the mountains with two groups who we’ve been training to do this same disciple-making work. It will be good to be back with them, to hear their testimonies and challenges, and in God’s grace encourage and help them.
The smallness of this endeavor - a scattering of small groups meeting with just a Bible and a trust that the Holy Spirit is present - is sometimes inspiring and sometimes frustrating. Because I can be impatient. However, in times of doubt and angst, I am lifted again by two realities: (1) When I look deeper into these groups, I see genuine transformation in people’s lives. Even to see one person truly born again and living a new life is miraculous. To see several in a given area is truly significant. These are actual people, delivered from the kingdom of darkness and welcomed into the Kingdom of Jesus. They are growing to know Jesus more closely, to obey Him more fully, to make Him known more truly. Beautiful! (2) My doubts are also cut short when I remember Multiplication. We are believing that these small ‘mustard seeds’ of the Kingdom will grow and produce more just like them. And they in turn will produce more. And more and more and more. God seems to love working like this. Small. Underground. Unimpressive. Who can tell the work He is even now doing beneath the surface in unpercieved ways? Please join with us in praying for more transformation and for multiplication.
We have the privelege of partnering with some incredible ministries as we seek to make disciples and equip leaders in Uganda. One of these is All Nations, led by our good friend Wilson Namuwazo. A couple of weeks ago I spent a day with him and his team for their annual CPx (Church Planting Experience) - a training and equipping intensive for selected members in their disciple-making movement. As always, it was an inspiring day. I shared with the group about training in godliness (1 Tim 4:7). They were incredibly responsive and engaged, making it a wonderful experience for me. Even more than that, I loved hearing stories from the field - addicts burning their drugs, prostitutes being born again and given new life, the poor ministered to, communities served, and the gospel proclaimed in any setting you can imagine. What joy!
Another partner is Global Advance (GA), based in Rockwall, Texas. After my time with Wilson and team in Kampala, I traveled to Mukono to spend a couple of days with our GA Uganda national leaders. This retreat was led by the ever-zealous and energetic Wilberforce Owori, GA’s national prayer coordinator. It was a beautiful time of intercession, deep connection, and laughter. Each participant was able to share their vision and plans for 2023 related to the various ministries within GA that they lead - NextGen youth ministry, Esther Initiative women’s ministry, pastoral training, church planting, marketplace ministry, and prayer - and to be prayed over and encouraged in their efforts. I’m really grateful for such an incredible team. My role is to be kind of a coach and consultant, but the lion’s share of the work is done by these wonderful servants.