“Fight for Her”

So many of you have asked so many questions about what has happened and what is currently going on with our adoption. The goal of this letter is to give you a brief summary of the events that have transpired which have brought us to where we are now and what lies ahead.

In December of 2010 my wife Kelly and I began the process of adopting a little girl from the babies home that Journey sponsors in Uganda, Africa.

Our first Ugandan court date was scheduled for November of 2011. It was subsequently cancelled and rescheduled for April 2012. After our court date in April, we were awarded guardianship of Chloe and immediately began the process of immigrating her to the US.

In June of 2012, the US Embassy in Uganda denied our request for a visa saying that our case was “not clearly approvable.” They sent our case to the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services field office in Nairobi, Kenya. It was during this process that we fully anticipated being granted our visa. However, after several months, we were sent a request for more evidence. With the help of an attorney, Kelly traveled back to Uganda to collect the information they required. Nevertheless, in October the USCIS informed us of their intent to finally deny Chloe a visa, giving us 1 more month to change their minds.¬†We hired a new attorney to fight for us during this process and we have been waiting to hear back once again.

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Tattoos

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS A HIGH VOLUME OF IRRITATION & SARCASM

If you go to Journey, for many of you this has been the elephant in the room. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. The elephant in the room is the thing that everybody knows about but doesn’t talk about. Reports keep getting back to me on people who “have issues” with my tattoos. This, of course, means they ARE talking about it, they just aren’t coming to me about it. I’ll ignore for the moment they are violating the biblical principle of going directly to your brother if you have an issue with him. So let’s settle this here once-and-for-all. And if in the future anyone says anything to you about my tattoos, I would strongly urge you to kindly send them this link.

Do I have tattoos: Yes, I do.
Do I think tattoos are bad: Obviously not, or else I wouldn’t have gotten them.
Do I plan on getting more tattoos? Yes, as a matter fact, I do.
What does the Bible say about tattoos? I’m glad you asked…

Are Tattoos Sinful?

Well, to be honest, the issue is pretty simple and straightforward. There is one verse in Scripture that is often used to support the idea that it is sinful to tattoo your body. Here it is. Continue reading

Re:Train

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the question of what are realistic expectations to place on students. Let me explain. The goal of Journey Students is to “reach students who reach students.” We believe that it is too small a goal to simply reach students who are far from God. We want to reach those students, lead them to life in Christ, and then raise them up in such a way that they become a part of reaching others.

That’s the goal. Now with the goal clearly in focus, we’ve been strategizing about how to get there. The proverbial “bump” in the road that I’ve continued to run into over and over again is that all of the so-called “tools” of¬†evangelism feel so wooden, stale, and inauthentic in the hands of my teenagers. Recently, a girl confided in me that she has friends that don’t know Jesus, and she doesn’t share Jesus with them. She said “if I were to say, ‘If you were to die tonight do you know for sure you would go to heaven,’ they would look at me like I’m stupid because nobody actually talks like that.”

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A Church or a Mortuary?

Warren Wiersbe once wrote:

The fundamental problem lost sinners face isn't that they are sick and need a remedy. The problem is they are dead and need resurrection. Religion and reformation may cosmetize the corpse and make it more presentable, but they can never give life to the corpse.

 Wow. I love that statement. It encapsulates the difference between religion and a relationship with the Living and Sovereign God of the Universe. It's really quite sad that there are so many "churches" and "Christians" who don't get this truth.

Those of us who are in student ministry probably see this played out more than anyone else. Parents look for churches with a thriving "youth ministry" that will train their kids to grow up to be good, moral, and  well-adjusted adults. Even beyond youth ministry, this is the attitude of many (most?) people who go to church. They want to become moral people. The problem is that Jesus didn't come to make moral people. He came to make a different sort of personal altogether. He came to raise dead people back to life.

Eph21The Bible teaches that before Christ you were spiritually dead, but God, in his great love, made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2). Sadly, many churches have become more like mortuaries than churches. They are just putting makeup on corpses. Rather than being about true life transformation and spiritual resurrection, they are more about teaching people the right things to say and do. "Religion and reformation may cosmetize the corpse and make it more presentable, but they can never give life to the corpse."

It may look good… but it still stinks.

Namayingo Day 2 Video Clips

Helen, Rachel, and Laura lead music with motions during one session of our children’s program.

Mary, Meagan, and Ashely do crafts during one session with our Children’s program

Everyday we send three people from our team to some local schools to minister to the kids at the school and share the Gospel with them. Here Blair is leading them in music.

Namayingo Day 1: Overview in Video Clips

Okay, here is a ton of videos all at once. This will act as a sort of overview of our first day of ministry out in the villages. Day 1 and 2 we were in Namayingo Zone. Here is Day one.

This was our veiw as we pulled into the first village on our first full day of ministry. You try to prepare your team for this, but there really is just no way to describe it until you can experience it for yourself. It can be very overwhelming but also very humbling and very fun!

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Rob Wetzel teaching in one of our seminars for both church leaders and new believers.

Short clip of Stan Cherry sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a group of children.

Laura Freeman teaching about the persistence of Christ during one of our seminars.

Mark teaching during one of our seminars. The Holy Spirit seemed to move in a powerful as a result of Mark's talk.

It was humbling to see these dear people openly confess their sin and repent as a result of Mark Harvey's talk.

Uganda 09 – First Day: Tour of the Orphange

It has taken me three full days to get this video online, but it's finally up! Back on our first day here in Uganda, after Godfrey showed us around the Secondary School out at Bukaleba, he then toured us around the main area of the orphanage, which is nearly completed. They are behind schedule (they originally expected to be moved in by now) but they expect to have it completed and the orphans moved in by late December 2009. Here is a look around orphanage. 

Please excuse the rough video and audio. The area is still under construction and can be difficult for your camera man to maneuver when trying to film and walk backwards at the same time!)

 

Uganda 09- New Phase @ Bukaleba: Secondary School

Godfrey Wanamitsa, director of Arise Africa, gave us a tour around a new phase that has begun out at the Bukaleba project. The secondary school will work in conjunction with the orphange giving the children a place to continue their studies beyond primary school. This school will also be open to the children of the community.

 



Uganda 09 – Day 1: Journey to Jinja

There is just never any way to know how long it is going to take to get to Jinja (where we are staying) from Entebbe (where we land). It can be anywhere from 1 hr 45 minutes, to 4 hours (or even more)! It just depends on traffic. The problem is the city of Kampala, the capital. Even with some new roads they’ve built in the past few years, traffic is still horendous. Well today as we began our journey to Jinja when we were still 15 kilometers from Kampala, we hit “stand-still” traffic, and I knew we were in trouble. After all was said and done, we made it to Jinja in around 3 hours. Could have been worse. Here’s a quick snippet of the experience.




Uganda and Revival

Uganda-map As I sit here writing this blog entry, I am about 30 minutes away from heading to the airport where we will begin the long journey to Uganda, Africa. This will be somewhere around my tenth time to this country. I have been so many times and built so many lasting relationships that the anticipation of trip comes not only from the excitement of being a part of a mission halfway across the world but also from the excitement of getting to old friends.

Nevertheless, it is not the company of old friends and familiar faces that keeps me going back time and time again. The Holy Spirit is moving in Uganda in a powerful way, and getting to be a part of such a major move of God as he draws in his sheep by the hundreds is intoxicating. It's like a drug. I can't get enough of it.

As you look back through church history, it appears that the Holy Spirit has moved in a powerful way in particular geographical areas at particular times. Who knows what causes these events. Many people have speculated, and I'm sure that there a minutia of details which came together at just the right time to act as the catalyst for these events that have so often been referred to as "revival." In any case, what is not a mystery is that for some reason or another, God sovereignly ordained it so that at certain times in certain places there would be an outpouring of his Holy Spirit. Just to name a few…

In the eighteenth century, there was the Moravian Revival in Herrnhut, Germany and the Great Awakening in New England. The revival among the Moravians spawned a prayer "meeting" which lasted 100 years as people continually took turns praying and interceding around the clock. It also spawned the modern missionary movement as they sent out more than 100 missionaries to spread the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Great Awakening, which is more well known, began in New England with the puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards and his church. People everywhere began to be woefully aware of their sin before a just and holy God and began to repent as the Holy Spirit was poured out in a powerful way.

In the nineteenth century, there was the Second Great Awakening in America led by the great "revivalists" like Charles Finney. In the early twentieth century there was the Welsh Revival in Wales. Later in the twentieth century there was the Argentina Revival, the Toronto  Revival, the Brownwood Revival, and the Pensacola Revival, just to name a few. Of course many if not all of these "revivals" have been fraught with controversy, and some people have used "revival" as means to gratify their greed and pride. Nevertheless, one cannot deny the work of the Holy Spirit despite the shortcomings of God's people.

I mention all of that only to set the context for what God is currently doing in East Africa and in Uganda specifically. It cannot be explained in human terms. Once while in Uganda, I had two young children, a brother and sister, walk right up to me and tell me (through a translator) that they wanted to give their lives to Christ, and that they were willing to die for it because their parents were Muslim. They couldn't have been more than 12 and 10 years old. They did give their lives to Jesus, and I don't know what happened to them. I've never been to any other place in the world where the Holy Spirit is moving in such a powerful way.

As I am gone, I will try to keep my blog updated with stories of what God is doing and what he is allowing us to be a part of.