In working with students from ORU the first few days of my trip, I was incredibly blessed in a couple of ways. There is a young Ugandan man named Daglas who was helping them a lot - interpreting for them, helping to prepare meals and clean up, etc. An amazing servant and great dude. He told me he was doing all this because he himself was a fruit of ORU missions and for years had wanted to find a way to serve with them. Fifteen years ago (while Jill and I were still living in Uganda), a team from ORU came to Daglas’ village and shared the Gospel with his older brother Eddie. After a few days of spending time with the team and Pastor Gerald (whom we still work closely with), Eddie gave his life to Jesus. Eventually he shared the Gospel with Daglas who also came to Christ. Eddie is now a pastor, and I’ve worked with him a few times over the past 6-7 years. Daglas is an active part of the church Gerald pastors, and was an amazing help in so many ways to the team this year.
One day I went with the team to Kiyumba Believers Church. This is the church that had been pastored by my close friend Kayita before he died ten years ago. When Kayita passed away, his assistant pastor (Pastor Sylvia) took over, and has been serving faithfully all this time. It was so good to see her and the church doing so well. It brought back a lot of memories for me being there, and though feeling sad again at the loss of Kayita, I was able to rejoice in the faithfulness and goodness of God. We were also able to be an encouragement to Sylvia and the church members through spending the day together with them and sharing with them.
The pastors conference in Masaka seems to have been a success. It’s always so hard for me to tell, but I did get good feedback that was, I hope, genuine. In his unique way, Pastor Kintu put it like this, “This was a different conference, and Tim has a different kind of anointing. Nobody fell down under the power, but everyone left shaking their heads.” This was actually meant as an encouragement, saying that even though nothing dramatic happened - as is often what is expected in these gatherings - people were given a lot to think about. I taught primarily about the mission of the church, about being servants, and about relational ministry. Simple stuff in some ways, but in my view really vital.
On my last day in Uganda, I met a pastor in Kampala who inspired me so much. Pastor Wilson has an amazing story, and it was a pleasure to spend time with him. He began planting ‘simple churches’ in Uganda five years ago - the only person I have ever heard of doing anything like this. Now more than 700 of these churches have been started, and they go seven generations deep. This seems to be a legit movement, and I was so incredibly encouraged. The best part is that he and his co-workers are reaching witch doctors, prostitutes, the very poor, refugees, Muslims, and others that the church has struggled to reach. Jesus is at work transforming lives, and it is beautiful. Wilson was very eager to talk about working together, and I am looking forward to staying in touch with him and hopefully spending more time with him in the future.
Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. I wanted to remind you that you are filled with the Spirit of God today, at this very moment. He doesn’t take off every time you have a stupid thought or act like a jerk or fail to do something you should have done. He is with you. He is in you. Right now.
Jesus said, “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing... Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:5, 9)
Abide in Him. Keep turning your attention to Him. Remember that He is present. Honor Him. Obey Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Meditate on Him and on His love for you. He loves you! He is with you because He delights in you and likes you. If we can be convinced of that today, I think we’ll bear fruit for the glory of Jesus. His presence is an amazing and overwhelming mystery, and yet it is absolutely true.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves...
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
(Galatians 5:16, 22-23, 25)
We have been filled with the Spirit of God - the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. He is alive in you! His intent is to make us witnesses for Jesus, that the world might know who He is and what He has done for them. He also labors to make us more like Jesus, so we can demonstrate to the world what He is like. Though we have been filled with the Spirit, we can be filled again. If we are struggling in our witness; if we are noticing a lack of true Holy Spirit fruit, we can seek to be filled anew, just as the disciples did in Acts 4. And He is faithful.
You can walk in joy and in love and in peace and all of those things. The key is the Spirit. Paul admonishes us, “let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” We all need to step back at times and seek Him. We need to renew our vows to Him, and to once again give Him everything - every part of our lives. Give Him our futures and our ambitions and our money and our relationships and our sins and habits and addictions and hopes and all of it. Lay it before Him. Oh, the crazy fulfillment that comes with this! The cross demonstrates that He has already given us His all. He is faithful!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” — Acts 1:8
All of us as followers of Jesus are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that power is given to us that we might be Jesus’ witnesses. That we might tell people everywhere about Him. That we might live lives that reflect who He truly is. I’m so glad this is by the power of the Spirit. That gives me hope.
By God’s grace, I will be headed back to Uganda in June. I am so grateful that the tickets have been provided, and the details are coming together. While there, my team of friends and I will be holding a leadership conference for pastors and regional church leaders in Masaka. I am thrilled that this is coming together - and a little nervous. :). My prayer is that all who come will be further equipped to bear fruit in the important work God has given them to do. Further, I pray that our time spent with significant church network leaders will lead to a strategy of empowering and equipping hundreds of leaders, discipling churches to maturity, and thrusting forth many into the mission of bringing the Gospel to all.
I will also have the opportunity to spend a couple of days with students from ORU who will be serving in Uganda at the time, sharing with them in the ministry of evangelism and teaching. I hope to be an encouragement to several congregations that are dear to me, and to have quality time with a number of key leaders.
If you’d like to hear more about this trip, and how you can help, please let me know.
I still love spending time each week at the Merchant, where God is enabling us to build deeper relationships and to proclaim the gospel to the poor. What a privilege! Last Sunday, friends from another local church here in town provided a wonderful breakfast for all who came to our worship service. They had passed out flyers downtown to invite folks, and we were able to welcome a good number who had never worshipped with us before. What a blessing to be part of the Body of Christ working together in His great cause!