This was my fifth visit to this region of Uganda in the last two years. The testimonies of how God keeps working were ridiculously encouraging. This training had 35-50 people (depending on the time of day). During one session, Pastor Florence shared the following. I tried to scribble it down as best I could, but she was talking so fast and the translator was trying to keep up so I didn’t get it word for word, but you’ll get the idea.[Read more…] about A “school”, a headmaster & Jesus
It’s a stupid question, I know, but do we know how to talk with people? Honestly, it’s not natural to go up to a complete stranger and be comfortable talking with them, other than about the humidity or the lousy parking or maybe asking when they went to Yellowstone National Park if they are wearing a t-shirt from there. But, in general, we struggle (and subconsciously avoid) having a conversation with people.
Sometimes we want to, but our brain starts acting like squirrels running around, spastically trying to think of what to say until what stumbles out of our mouth is “social norm speak” and we drop it.
I was talking with a friend the other day who straight up told me, “But, I don’t know how to talk with non-Christians.” So, I shared with him three things that I bring from trips overseas into conversations here.[Read more…] about Do we know how…
“…and pastor will teach us now on women’s ministry…”
Twenty Ugandan women got all excited and cheered, yelled, and clapped. I have never been more terrified in my life! I have been more comfortable sharing the gospel in a prison full of Muslim anti-government terrorists than I was walking up to talk to these twenty women!
Here’s the backstory.[Read more…] about A most terrifying thing
So, apparently my kidneys had enough stones in them that they look like overflowing bags of marbles. The doctor said I’d need some surgery, which I was not excited about because needles and I began a strong “maintain social distance” relationship decades before covid. The coffee shop crew that I see each morning were embracing their part in preparing me and I have been banned from ordering tea (which can cause kidney stones) until surgery. The day after they found out, they gave me a large glass of ice water. Boring.
A few weeks before the doctor had told me, “I’d like to do surgery soon because of the pain…” But I don’t have any pain, doc. “Well, according to the x-rays, you should…” But, doc, I have no pain. “Well, that’s unusual.” No matter what I said, I could tell he just didn’t quite believe me.[Read more…] about Well, that’s unusual
Recently in church we talked about a 24-hour day in the life of Jesus (Mark 1, Luke 4). He taught in the synagogue and cast a demon out in the morning, healed Peter’s mother-in-law that afternoon, then as the sun was setting healed people who came from all over the village who were sick and demon possessed, and then got up early the next morning to pray. Once the disciples woke up, they went looking for him, with a makes-complete-sense idea. “Come on back, Jesus. Everybody is looking for you here.”[Read more…] about “…other towns, too.
I get that question often when I send out letters after overseas trips. People who have been worshipping spirits or who grew up in cultures with ideologies and theologies very different from Christianity hear a couple stories and their families accept Christ, get into small churches, and start telling other people new things about the Jesus they are learning about. Yes, it is normal.
After seeing this repeated over and over and over in as diverse settings, backgrounds, and people groups as we have, I know the stories we share about what happens in other countries happen because of the people who are doing things—their willingness to speak, go, do, try. Storying methods are simply a communication style they are using. Way more important is the believers’ stepping into other peoples’ searching.[Read more…] about “Is that normal?”
We’ve all done it. That frantic search for ten minutes for the smallest stupidest thing. Why we have to find that one pen I was using (even though there are twenty others available) is a mystery, an insane obsession. But I must…it will not defeat me! When we do, we hold it proudly aloft, announcing to the world “I found it!”, expecting to be acknowledged for this superhuman feat which saved civilization from an apocalyptic demise. Of course, nobody really cares.
I shared this with a roomful of Ugandans and they laughed. It seems this type of hunting is a global reality, and when I shared the “nobody else cares” there was a lot of elbowing each other.
After a few wives stopped bruising their husbands’ ribs, I shared the stories in Luke 15, the only time Jesus told back-to-back-to-back stories that had the same pattern and message. A search for a lost sheep, a lost coin sought, a lost son looked longingly for. Imagine how frantic we look for a fifty-cent pen, then how determined a shepherd climbs hills and peers into bushes, how a woman tosses her house looking.
If we obsessively search for such things, imagine how intense God hunts for people. He has been looking far longer and far more intensely, turning the house of man inside out, like a dog getting the scent of an animal and not letting creeks or thorns or hills stop its hunt![Read more…] about Searching and Celebrating
One of the things that always makes me grin when I read the gospels is how it was the irreligious people who felt comfortable seeking out and being around Jesus, and equally how Jesus enjoyed spending time with them. Doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy being with religious people, but his dinner conversations with them were usually more cantankerous or had a not very well-hidden “find a fault with Jesus” agenda.
On the other hand, Zacchaeus threw a party with his friends and Jesus said it was a house filled with great joy, and Matthew’s first thing after Jesus said “Follow me” was to have a large crowd at his house eating and drinking and spending time with Jesus.
At these and other times, the Pharisees and those “more religious” showed they wore myopic blinders—how can something unholy associate with something holy? Jesus countered that, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,”—how can the holy not seek out the unholy?[Read more…] about Interest of the Irreligious
“Babu, I just wanted to say I love you, in case you didn’t hear me say that until the other side.”
Tuke is a Kenyan bushman in his late sixties, maybe. He once told me that in the bush, your birthday is like a hyena on the plains—it is out there, somewhere, and only when it wants to pounce on you does it let you know where it’s hiding! He’s started twenty churches and continues mentoring bush pastors in Kenya and across the border in Tanzania near Mt Kilimanjaro. He’s teaching himself to read English.
When he called me, Tuke shared there were 19 COVID cases in his village of 120 people. Several people had died. The government had closed down the closest market village so they hadn’t been able to get food for the past several weeks and were living on a diet of goat cheese. Because of the virus, the government also was not going to send aid to the village. Tuke understands they have to make priorities and a village of herdsmen in the middle of nowhere does not rank as high. He’s not angry.[Read more…] about Eating Goat Cheese
“I’ve never been to church, love.” Skye calls everybody love. She’s a twenty-six year old military wife who works at the coffee shop I basically lived at during my PhD writing. Since this virus has almost shut them down, I sneak out every now and then to give the shop some business. And since there’s no customers, I’ve been able to have longer conversations with the folks who work there, like Skye.
It’s given me a lot of chances to live what I think is the answer to a simple question, “If Jesus came to our city today, where would he go and who would he enjoy spending time with?” (OK, so I’ve modified it a bit…“If Jesus lived in our city today and was under stay-at-home orders, where would he go when he couldn’t stand being inside anymore?”) In the gospels it’s impossible to miss how often Jesus went directly to where irreligious people were, and how many of them really liked being around him. So I figured if Jesus were in our city these past two months, he’d sneak out to the coffee shop.[Read more…] about Where Would Jesus Go