The Prospect of Uganda

I leave for Uganda in about 6 weeks to work with Olive Branch Ministries. I will be embarking on this journey for a number of reasons that the Lord has been revealing to me. In reflecting on why I am going, what I hope to achieve, and the skills that I bring to the table I have come to see this opportunity to not only grow in my own faith, but enjoy in seeing my family develop their faith as well.

For years, my extended family has been involved in Olive Branch Ministries and hearing about their travels to Uganda initially sparked my interest in tagging along. Traveling to Panama this past January with Global Bridges gave me a taste of a new culture and fueled my curious spirit to expand my horizons even further. God has certainly given me a passion for learning and I learn best through experiences. I trust that this mission trip will be an excellent opportunity to learn not only about a different culture, but also gain a deeper understanding of how the Lord is working in this area of Uganda. I am not going to Uganda to tour Africa, I am going to Uganda to connect with people, develop lasting relationships, and above all let the spirit guide me so that I may spread the love of God to unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar land.

After having the privilege to go to Panama City Beach also this past semester and engage in spiritual conversations with strangers on the beach with UMass Campus Crusade for Christ, I now understand the importance of stepping out in faith to let the Lord lead me. Being a “good” evangelist doesn’t entail converting the most people, following God and trusting in Him makes for a successful evangelist. Only God has the power to change hearts, we are simply vessels at the mercy of His almighty wind. While in Africa, I will not spend time worrying about checking items off my endless to do list. I will focus less on what I am doing and more on whom I am doing it for. Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”

I have been praying an awful lot about what unique qualities I bring to the table. Not why do I want to go, but why should I? Perhaps this wont be entirely clear until I get to Uganda, or even after I leave, but none the less this is important to think about. God has a plan for me in Uganda and its my job to follow his guidance, trusting Him and giving up control.

Motivation to Love

In downtown Boston, there are a series of historical landmarks linked together by a trail of bricks known as the “Freedom Trail”. The church I have been attending for the past couple of weeks, Park Street Church, is one of these landmarks and so this past Sunday after the service I took a stroll along the Freedom Trial. I passed a man sitting on the sidewalk asking everyone who walked by him, “Spare socks?” Caught up in my own life, I walked right by him. On my way back, I passed this man again and this time I could not ignore him. This man had a very clear and obvious need, one that I was able to fulfill and so I found the nearest store and bought a pair of socks. I hastily handed this man a bag with the socks I had purchased muttering “God bless” as I attempted to walk away as soon as possible. The man excitedly thanked me repeatedly and to my surprise opened up his arms to hug me. I then sort of hesitated and made an excuse to leave, repeating something to the effect of, “no worries, God bless, I have to go.”

As I walked away, I was not proud of what I had done. Sure, I had given this guy a pair of overpriced socks, but I had not shown him any kind of real compassion. I didn’t even give him the courtesy of a decent conversation. Rapped up in my own feelings of discomfort, I basically ran away the second this man tried to show me genuine gratitude. This is not the kind of service that God calls us to do.

Romans 12: 9-12

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep to your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

True, meaningful, and Godly service stems from the heart. All too often, I find myself-and I’m sure many others can relate to getting caught up in lists, and putting God on this list rather than letting Him transform it. In giving this stranger socks, I wasn’t serving him, and I certainly wasn’t serving God. I was serving myself- crossing an item of my list of “to-dos” in order to feel satisfied in myself. I may have muttered the words “God bless” but my empty blessing could not mask the shallowness of my “service”.

Loving and serving others is not something to do, it is a way to be. We are called to devote our lives to loving others, not just sections of our day. It should have been natural for me to hug this man, to look him in the eye the first time he asked for socks and bring glory to God in the way I interacted with him. The key issue is not one of action but rather one of foundation, one of being, and most of all one of transformation and transcendence from our worldly sinful nature to serving the Lord with spiritual fervor and zeal.