50 Shades of Grey: What You Need To Know

By Rachel Reed, MBC Arlington Director of Women’s Ministries

When I began this post, my intention was to write every reason I believe women in our church should not see the upcoming film “50 Shades of Grey”. It was out of my fear that many women within our church would, under the banner of entertainment, decide God’s Word was irrelevant when they lined up to see this movie. However, there are many great articles like “Fifty Shades, Twilight and Teaching Young Women to Desire Abusers” that speak to my point.

I would rather use this space to help equip you with tools in which you can filter any piece of entertainment you may be considering.

“O be careful little eyes what you see, O be careful little eyes what you see,
there’s a Father up above and He’s looking down in love.
So, be careful little eyes what you see.”

Most of us are familiar with this little nursery rhyme. Many of you may have rocked your little one to sleep whispering this tune, praying it takes root in their young heart. But how true it is, “O be careful little eyes what you see!” Why is it important for us to guard what our eyes see? What we view and hear is a window into our mind. What enters our mind will soon make its way into our hearts.

Paul addresses this in Philippians 4:8 saying, “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

I don’t know about you, but this passage convicts me.My natural instinct opposes dwelling on true, lovely and excellent things. At the slightest moment of apathy, it is much more natural for my mind to dwell on comparison, envy and fantasy. Which leads me to wonder, if I am in a lifelong pursuit to see my mind transformed to be more like the God I serve, why would I feed myself with anything antagonistic to this pursuit of godliness? What I feast my eyes upon will inevitably shape my thoughts. Am I viewing what is true? What is honorable and right?

Whether you believe it or not, entertainment teaches you how to think, feel and act. I know the temptation could be to feel you can’t watch anything these days if we filter it through Philippians 4:8. However, engaging in the dialogue our culture is having with us through entertainment can be beneficial if we know how to filter it through a biblical worldview. Rather than simply watching a movie to get lost in its fantasy, ask yourself what it is teaching you about life, love and expectations. Then ask yourself what God has to say about those things. Through this engagement, you may even learn more of what God has to say and His heart to protect you.

While we have the Christian liberty to watch or read anything at our disposal, not all accessible entertainment is for our benefit. So, how do we discern what to allow in our minds through entertainment while still enjoying a good film or book? Here are a few questions that will aid in discerning what we should allow in our minds:

Why am I watching this movie or choosing this book?
Am I looking to live vicariously through this story in an attempt to escape reality? If so, this should be a warning sign. The subtle tide of discontentment will begin to wash over you as you long all the more for this story to be your reality.

Will this experience cause people to think I advocate the behavior I am seeing, even if I don’t?
1 John 2:5-6 teaches us, “…By this we know we are in Him: The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” As disciples of Jesus, we are called to walk in such a manner that as people imitate our lives, they will ultimately become more like Christ. The phrase, “do as I say, not as I do” should not be the mantra of a disciple’s life.

Would seeing this film compromise my evangelistic platform with non-believers?
Our final commandment from Jesus in Matthew 28:19 is to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations…” This knowledge should shape how we live our lives. Our decisions should be filtered through the lens of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, God’s desire is that I become more like Him, and my mission on earth is to bring people to Him. That is not a grey area. Let’s not try to resurrect everything we died to and were buried with Christ in by aiding our flesh under the justification of “entertainment”. A $12 movie ticket is not worth falling back into pornography, lust, materialism or any other fleshly struggle you’ve once known victory in. It is not worth the battle your mind will face. It is not worth the missed opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ! The costly and precious blood of Jesus that redeemed me from a life of enslavement to sin is worth far more than any piece of earthly entertainment I could ever find.

How to Display Christ in the Midst of Racial Tension

By Nate Crew, @MBCSilverSpring Director of Outreach

Over the last few months, several tragedies around the country have raised the nation’s conscious to the racial tension that exists in America. Benjamin Watson, an NFL player for the New Orleans Saints, took to Facebook to share his thoughts in response to the events and Grand Jury decision related to the death of teenager Michael Brown after an altercation with a police officer in Ferguson, MO. Watson addressed this tragedy through a Christian perspective, but also through the lens of personal experience.

As a church, we must remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not theoretical but makes an actual difference in our day-to-day life. One of those differences is that in Christ, we are reconciled to God and to one another (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). This has major implications for our behavior.

With that in mind and in light of Watson’s article, here are a couple of opportunities for us as a church to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10), which we do when we live out the Gospel in such a way that shows it to not only be true but beautiful.

Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Watson speaks of “bearing the weight of being a minority.” God tells us in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” If someone is burdened by holding up a heavy weight, we get under it with them and help to hold it up. On the cross, Christ not only lifted our burden (of sin) but also pushed us out from under it and let it crush Him instead. We adorn the Gospel for all to see when we bear the burdens of others. We can do this by listening, praying, serving and simply by being present.

Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)
Watson is not alone but expresses the feelings of millions of men and women around the country. One implication of bearing one another’s burdens is that we sympathize and show compassion for the emotional burdens of others. In Romans 12:16 we are told to “live in harmony with one another.” One way that harmony is achieved is by compassionately sympathizing with the pain and prosperity of others regardless of their position. We adorn the Gospel for all to see when we rejoice and weep with one another, especially when we do so across racial, ethnic and cultural lines.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:5)
Watson speaks of some comments being “not only insensitive but dismissive to the pain of others.” The implication is that we should not speak until we have practiced the previous two commands. If we are bearing one another’s burdens and sympathizing with their emotions, then our speech is more apt to be gracious and seasoned. We adorn the Gospel for all to see when our speech displays the grace and love of Christ.

Here are a few questions for self-reflection in light of the truths above:

  • Do I have close relationships with those of other races, cultures and ethnicity so that I am able to know and bear their burdens, to weep and rejoice with them?
  • Am I emotionally connected to the painful experiences of others, or am I generally indifferent?
  • Have I been more concerned with the facts of the case than the souls of people involved on all sides?
  • Is all my speech (even on social media) gracious and seasoned?

As we reflect on our own lives and the wonderful truth of Gospel reconciliation, my prayer is that we become a people who more fully and joyfully “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

Don’t Wait Until You’re Older: Delayed Adulthood (Part 3)

By Nate Keeler, @MBCArlington Campus Pastor

DEALING WITH DEBT
If you want to ruin a happy hour, ask about your co-workers’ student loans. Or if you want to stress out your roommate, ask about her plan to pay off her credit card bill.

In our series on delayed adulthood, we come to a four-letter word: DEBT. For many of us talking about our debt is a downer, and we would rather avoid thinking about it. Four out of 10 Millennials are “overwhelmed” by their debt according to a recent CNN study. Many of us have accumulated student debt, credit card debt, car payments, etc. that are well above our earning capacity…and we don’t have much of a real plan to pay off those obligation.

But really, the issue goes beyond debt. There are a series of paradoxes for some of us, like the following, that point to delayed adulthood:

  • We can afford the must-have new apparel for the season, but we can’t pay more than the minimum on our credit card.
  • We can pick up the bar tab, but we can’t save for the future.
  • We can justify expensive vacations and road trips, but we can rationalize not giving to the church or going on a missions trip.

Do you see the theme? Some of us have the mindset (whether we would say it out loud or not) “have fun now, get out of debt later.” This can be summed up in the word “procrastination”, which is a defining label of delayed adulthood.

For the Christian, this is ultimately an issue of our spiritual priorities. Here are two questions to ask yourself as you evaluate what it would look like to grow in maturity in the area of money management:

1. What do my credit card and bank account statements tell me about what I desire most?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Mike Kelsey, MBC Silver Spring Campus Pastor hit this heavily in his sermon, “The Grace to Come”, about setting our minds on eternity. A fundamental sign of spiritual maturity for the Christian is delayed gratification—the willingness to forgo temporary pleasure (at least as defined by our culture and our own flesh) in order to gain permanent, deep and eternal joy and pleasure.

2. What do my spending habits, schedule and hobbies tell me about how I’m investing my resources?
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” The spiritually mature are wise because they prioritize their time and resources according to God’s priorities not the world’s priorities.

So if you find yourself in the category of delayed adulthood in your approach to money, what should you do about it? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Confess and repent. This is always the right first step. Ask God to give you the heart desire and self-control you will need to grow in maturity.
  • Get accountability. You will need a team to help.
  • Reprioritize. Establish your priorities around God’s priorities.
  • Get a Plan. This may include the need for some further financial and biblical education about money. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” as well as Crown Financial studies through MBC Tysons. We will have another Money 101 workshop at MBC Arlington in June.

Trust me, there will never be a better time to address your debt and spending habits than when you are young. The habits you get into now will carry over when you are older. And if you’re not a Millennial, but a Gen Xer or even a Baby Boomer, and realize this describes you, it’s not too late. God wants to use you and your resources for much more than you can imagine! Don’t delay.

Don’t Wait Until You’re Older: Delayed Adulthood (Part 2)

By Nate Keeler, @MBCArlington Campus Pastor

DEALING WITH YOUR BAGGAGE
Recently, I started a blog series addressing one of the biggest challenges facing millennials today: Delayed adulthood. This cultural epidemic is a destructive philosophy built on the false premise that you can wait until you are 40 (or older) to pursue maturity in various areas of your life without incurring any problems. To the contrary, delayed adulthood robs us of our true joy, purpose and significance during the most available and passionate years of life while sowing future seeds of destruction.

One way that many young adults delay adulthood is by avoiding their childhood baggage. And believe me, we have tons of it. Let’s look at some statistics*.

Daddy Deprivation

  • 24 million children (34%) live without their biological father.
  • 27% live in single-parent homes.

Broken Commitments

  • 1 million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.

Abuse

  • 6 million children are abused in some way every year.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped or were victims of attempted rape (44% of victims are under age 18).

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that we all have baggage with a range of severity from our childhood or teens of some type.

You might feel like you are alone with your baggage, but believe me, as a pastor I talk to guys and gals regularly who have dysfunctional family issues, abuse issues, sexual regrets, addictions and other baggage that they have yet to unpack. Let’s get real—the vast majority of young men (my guess from seven years of young adult ministry is about 85%), Christian or not, have an ongoing addiction to some version of pornography. This number is growing among young women as well.

And yet, it pains me to know that many of us would rather delay, ignore or attempt to bury this baggage. This is pure self-deception. Check out Proverbs 14:8, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”

The prudent person is someone that sees that their past, present and future are all connected. This person carefully considers their “ways” (the patterns, decisions and baggage from the past) so that they can heal, make changes and ultimately mature. However, the fool doesn’t see the connection between their past, present and future. The fool thinks that the past won’t hinder them and their baggage won’t hold them back. The truth is, turning 40 won’t fix it. Burying it won’t fix it. Marriage won’t fix it. And having kids won’t fix it. But all of this will make it worse—guaranteed.

So what do we do with our baggage? Here are some short thoughts.

1. Desire to deal with your baggage
If you don’t, pray and ask God to give you the desire fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. Be honest
Ephesians 5:13 show us that the first step is getting this baggage out into the light so we can begin healing. We need to be honest with ourselves, with God and with other godly people that we trust about our baggage.

3. Study Scripture that targets your baggage
You need to understand what God has to say about it and how He tells us to address it.

4. Talk to a pastor
Seek counsel and recommended resources for your baggage. There are lots of godly experts within the body of Christ that God intends for us to utilize for healing.

5. See a Christian counselor
For the same reason above.

6. Pursue regular biblical community
Join a small group—this is how we carry out “one another” passages in Scripture (bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, pray for one another, etc.) for our healing and transformation.

I can tell you from personal experience that while it is painful in the short-term to deal with your baggage, it will produce a harvest of maturity and freedom in the future. So dig deep and press on toward maturity in Christ!

*Statistics from Restoring Manhood by Eric Mason, National Census, the CDC, RAINN and NY Times

Read Part 1 of “Don’t Wait Until You’re Older”

Don’t Wait Until You’re Older: Delayed Adulthood (Part 1)

By Nate Keeler, @MBCArlington Campus Pastor

What is one of the biggest challenges facing Millennials today? Delayed adulthood. What do I mean by “adulthood?” Well, I’m not defining adulthood in a rigid way (ie: marriage, financial independence, house, kids or steady job). Adulthood has far less to do with these socio-economic factors and much more to do with a philosophical framework that we approach life, AKA—our worldview. It’s a worldview that rationalizes and celebrates a delay in facing serious, difficult and healthy rights of passage, and the establishment of these patterns in our youth. To make it practical, one of the most common phrases I hear from my generation is, “I’ll wait until I’m older to… (fill in the blank).”

What can you fill in the blank with?

  • Pay off my debt
  • Start giving
  • Get into a serious relationship
  • Make a commitment to a church
  • Leadership
  • Serve in a ministry
  • Deal with my childhood baggage
  • Address my bad habits
  • Get serious about my spiritual life
  • Prioritize my life around God

Even if you’ve never said it out loud, I’m sure you have all thought like this. Believe me, this was my mantra at one point in my life! We live in a culture (particularly in Metro DC) that doesn’t just tolerate this worldview, but celebrates and fuels it. Just think of the billions of dollars of marketing and number of businesses that thrive on our delayed adulthood. Almost every comedy in the past 10 years focuses on celebrating delayed adulthood (think Old School, Step Brothers…almost every Will Ferrell movie, The Hangover, Friends, Seinfeld, Two and A Half Men, etc.).

Why is this a problem?
1. This is a destructive philosophy that goes directly against God’s Word. Scripture is constantly calling us to, “Grow up!”
(Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:1-16, 1 Peter 2:1-4, Hebrews 6:1-3). Growing up means that we are willing to confront the list above, not in our 40?s but now. When we disregard God’s timeline, in essence, we are choosing the philosophy of this world to dictate the course of our lives.

2. We miss out on blessing, joy, purpose and eternal significance during our most available and passionate years of life. As a young adult, you will never have more time and freedom in your life than you do right now. Believe it. And because of this, when we delay adulthood we are robbing ourselves, our world, and God of some of the greatest years of impact we can make.

3. Delaying adulthood brings destruction into our lives. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Unfortunately many of us are self-deceived because we think we can do whatever we want because we are young and then snap our fingers when we are ready to be an adult and clean the slate. Sorry, life doesn’t work like that. God has set up the universe on the sowing and reaping principles. Think about your life right now… The habits, hobbies, struggles, dominating themes, priorities that you have in your life right now are being planted in the soil of your heart and soul. You will harvest what it is you are planting, good or bad, later down the road.

So what do we do about it? 
Start making a list of the things you are delaying. Over the next several weeks, I will be addressing many of these issues specifically on this blog and offering hope and a path forward from God’s Word.

How to Begin the New Year

By Mike Kelsey, @MBCSilverSpring Campus Pastor

As we envision the next 363 days, all of us have a desire—if not some sort of resolution—to do some things better this year. If we’re smart, we’ll not only desire and resolve to make some changes, but we’ll create a plan to help turn our commitments into priorities. But the single most important thing to keep at the forefront of our minds as we begin this new year is the character and nature of God—the God who was with us this past year and who will be with us this year.

No matter what we do or fail to do, God will be God, and He will be with us and for us. So I’d like to challenge each of us with an exercise this weekend (or over the next week):

  1. Take time to reflect on how God worked (a) IN you, (b) THROUGH you, (c) FOR you, and (d) AROUND you in 2014. Literally, write down ways you’ve seen Him work in each of those categories. As you do that, write down any Scripture that comes to mind related to God’s work in those areas.
  2. Once you’ve made your list (either all at one time or over a period of days), spend time thanking and praising God for the specific ways you’ve seen Him work.
  3. Set up a time with your discipleship group or with good friend(s) over a meal to share what God has done.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
Psalm 77:11-14

Uganda Day 6 – Good Samaritan School and Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center

Meredith and Dave Kroeze

We participated in a variety of different ministry opportunities today. We visited Good Samaritan Boarding School and saw the amazing ways that God is serving children in a different part of the city. There are nearly 2500 students that live there and have all of their basic needs met. In their fully operational kitchen they make over 400kg of Posho (mashed cornmeal) each day. The school is run by “Uncle Alex.” Alex is a pastor who has been involved in planting over 20,000 churches in Uganda, including Saints Gate where we have served and worshipped this past week.

After spending time with some of the older students, we departed for the Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center near Kampala. This facility had 230 children (ages 0-17) staying there today, 40 of which were picked up yesterday during New Years Eve celebrations. At any point in time, 40% of the children living there are orphans and have done nothing wrong. They are found alone on the street and are just in need of a bed and some food. The other 60% are victims of a culture where petty theft is a necessity to eat. As you can see from the pictures, the conditions were the worst that we have seen so far. There was black mold all over the walls. The mattresses were covered in mildew. The girls used the corners of their chambers as a bathroom, and there were an abundance of bugs and other creatures living there with them. They did not have enough food, water, or clothes for the kids. They had no medical supplies for even the simplest headache or fever.

Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center

Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center - Intake Wing

Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center - Girls Dormitory

There was a 24 hour medical facility across the way that was receiving some form of government funds that had been closed down for a substantial period of time. The director of the juvenile detention facility had no idea where those funds were going and why the nurse had run off. This all came to a head last week when one of the inmates came down with a serious case of malaria. They had no transportation and no funds to get her to a hospital and her condition has significantly worsened. She was so weak that she could barely make it from outside to her mattress to lie down. As a result of this circumstance, we were able to provide $500 for basic first aid and medical supplies.

20150101-mbcl-uganda day 6-2892137

Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center - Malaria Stricken Girl

It was not all negative though. Cyrus had the opportunity to share his testimony with the young men living there and 32 of them came forward to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Even in the darkest place we have experienced so far, God is still moving and transforming souls. He has proven to us, over and over, that He is truly mighty to save!

Our day ended with us saying goodbye to the precious babies at the Baby Rescue. These babies have touched each of our lives in so many incredible ways. Take a look at the video below with our team in the background and all of the lives that have hope for a greater future.

YouTube Preview Image

Destiny Children's Home

Uganda Day 5 – Katanga Slums and New Years Eve

Kari Wilson and Meredith Kroeze

We decided to blog earlier today since we won’t get home until late tonight. We are ringing in the New Year at Saints Gate Church in the Katwe slums. We are told it will be 5 hours of worship and dancing followed by a midnight service to start 2015. We have all decided that this will be the most epic New Year’s Eve party ever. (*Due to internet issues, this is being posted after the party, and the short summary is definitely most epic. There were at least 2500 people there.*)

We started our day off ministering in the slums of Katanga right outside of Kampala. We were there with a group from Saints Gate Church inviting the people to join us for our New Year’s Eve celebration. We split off into groups and walked around the slums inviting them to the event, praying for people in their homes, and loving on the children. Whenever we arrive anywhere, the children just come running. Within five minutes we all had children holding our hands and asking us to hold them. They were our unofficial tour guides.

Katanga Tour Guides

Meredith and Dave had a conversation with a man and his family who were practicing Muslims. When they heard about Destiny school they were very interested in having their children attend – even though it is a Christian school. When Dave and Meredith asked if they could pray for his family, the man said yes because he said only Christians came to the slums to love on their kids. Jessica and Mike were in another group and while they were praying with different families throughout the slums, 3 people accepted Christ into their hearts.

Praying for Salvation

The Children of the World choir performed for the people of the slums and the church brought out about 10 large containers full of rice and meat to feed about 500 people. We were able to help hand out food to people who desperately needed it. As we were feeding the group, a man Stephen came up to Dave and Mike and within a few minutes he asked Jesus into his life. The Gospel was also shared and there were at least 17 people that prayed the prayer for Salvation. Jesus was present all over this place – this is what He would be doing – serving and loving these beautiful people.

Kataguna Food

We next went to Mulaga which is the only hospital in the city. Our team spent their time in the Baby Ward to pray over the sick babies and their families. This was extremely hard for every one of us. When we think of hospitals, we think white walls and floors that we can see our reflection in. This was not the case for this hospital in this 3rd World Country. It was shocking to see old metal cribs with mosquito nets around them, very few areas with electricity, dirty floors and walls (when compared to American standards), and open windows to provide some air flow. We first went in to pray with two babies in the intensive care unit. These babies were tiny and their mothers’ expression just seemed hopeless. It was hard to understand their names but we prayed for the babies, the parents and their families – that no matter what the outcome, their lives would bring glory to God.

20141231-mbcl-uganda day 5-2319209

The team went throughout the baby and toddler ward praying together and individually for these sick children. As we prayed for each child, we gave them a small soft blanket to hold. One child that Meredith prayed for looked about the size of a 2 or 3 month old and when asked how old he was, his mother said he was 2 years and 3 months old. He was so skinny and tiny and looked like he was in so much pain. Dave and Cyrus were with another little boy who did not have a family member nearby. His name was Richard and he had the biggest, sweetest eyes and smile. He was not hesitant at all when some of the team was around him. He soon clenched onto Dave’s finger and smiled every time Cyrus or Dave talked to him. When Dave began praying for Richard, he started babbling. It was not clear what was wrong with Richard but it seemed like his legs might’ve been paralyzed.
While this morning was probably the hardest morning of ministry so far, it was extremely rewarding. We were so encouraged by how much the Lord was at work in these places. Every day here is another example of how only through Christ can there be hope for what appears so hopeless. We are so blessed to be able to be His hands and feet this week.

Uganda Day 4 – Destiny Boarding School Sports Camp

By Christina Casares and Meredith Kroeze

Today was a VERY active and fun day. Today was day 2 of the camp at Destiny Boarding school. Yesterday, the focus was more on teaching and worshipping with the children, teenagers and young adults. Today was a day of pouring into the kids through sports and fellowship. When we arrived at Destiny, the children were in part 2 of a competition across 4 teams (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The competitions ranged from Bible trivia to dancing to singing to quoting Ugandan nursery rhymes. The competition got very heated and resulted in Kari and Dave’s team (Matthew) losing points for disorderly conduct (we blame Dave for teaching them how to bark like a dog pound). As the final results were revealed, teams Mark and Luke tied for first place. Even though Team Matthew lost due to their point deduction, they went down cheering as loud as they could.

Angel

We then headed outside to the soccer field to start the games. We brought 11 soccer balls, 4 jump ropes and 4 basketballs for the kids to have. As these items were being removed from the car, the kids’ eyes completely lit up and were overjoyed with these gifts. Everyone played for a little while until a formal soccer game began with the older boys. Dave was forced into action and surprisingly, according to our Ugandan friends, held his own for a bit with the boys and scored the only goal for his team. He was welcomed into the distinguished club of Ugandan National Team players but humbly turned down the prestigious request saying he preferred to retire at the pinnacle of success. The chants of “PASTORRRRRRR!” were far greater than any other honor that could be extended.*

PASTORRRRRRRRR!

During this time, some boys went to play basketball and the girls began a cheering section or played hand games or jumped rope. Many of us enjoyed having time to talk with the kids one on one or in small groups while we watched the game. We got to tell them about our families and show them pictures of our family and friends and even snow pictures we still had on our phones and cameras from last winter.

Babies

After lunch we went back to the baby rescue area to play with the little ones. They greeted every one of us wearing their new outfits we brought them. Thank you to EVERYONE who donated clothes for us to bring – the caregivers were overjoyed! Thanks to all of you who donated, boys were able to wear properly fitting boys clothing and girls were able to wear properly fitting girls clothing. We were able to have some conversations with the caretakers there and learn some of the rescue stories of the kids there. One special little boy our team has grown particularly close to is named Daniel.

Daniel

He is five years old, a little too old to be with the babies but not yet in primary school so he tends to wander back and forth between the baby area and the big kids. We learned today that his mother dropped him off with Eva (the woman who runs Destiny) shortly after she learned she had days to live. She was HIV positive and as a result, none of her family wanted to take Daniel just in case he too was infected. Just a few months later she passed away and Daniel has been at Destiny ever since. In addition, the four oldest, who are about to enter preschool, were presented with their very first backpack and school supply boxes that we had brought from donations from home. They walked around so proudly with their colorful new backpacks on their backs and the biggest grins on their faces. We continue to see Jesus in the faces of these children, as they laugh and play and sing, “Jesus Loves Me”. It is hard to believe we are already halfway through our ministry time here but we can’t wait to see what else God has planned for our remaining time here.

*some details may be slightly embellished

Uganda Day 3 – Destiny Boarding School

Today was amazing. We arrived to Destiny Boarding School around 9:30am and were surrounded by about 500 children ranging from the ages of 5 years old to 25 years old. Destiny just started their first day of camp; where they have the normal boarding children bring their friends from the slums and their friends get to hear the Gospel for maybe the first time. Every team member was given the blessed opportunity to share how Christ has changed their life and I pray that our testimonies touched a few of the children’s hearts. We then transitioned into worshipping Christ and it was spine-chilling to see so many young children worshipping Christ with all that they are. It’s also eye-opening to see Christ being worshipped in a different language. Our one true God truly does remain the same everywhere. He is universal.

Destiny Boarding School Testimonies

We all were blessed with the opportunity to teach certain age and gender groups. Meredith and I were blessed to be with young women from the ages of 16 years old to 25 years old. We taught on the topic of purity, relationships, and sex. I really enjoyed being able to teach these young women God’s standards and benefits of obeying His Word. I saw Christ speaking through our discussions with the young women and it was so encouraging to see Him be glorified throughout our conversation. The Lord not only taught those young girls a lesson, but He taught me a lesson. I was focused on Jesus and then I started to get distracted and was tempted to continue to be distracted, until I caught myself and was like “No! Absolutely not, Jessica. You’re here to grow closer to Jesus Christ. Not be distracted.” And I snapped out of it instantly. I’m growing closer to Him in my walk this week and I think it’s because I’m not surrounded by my normal 24/7 distractions back home, that I’m hyper sensitive when I start to get distracted with something petty. I came here to touch lives with Christ’s love, allow them a chance to get saved by Christ alone, and to grow closer to Him. He is already doing so much work. Praise Him!

Destiny Boarding School Worship

God is at work in our team and in the partners we are working with. Tomorrow we have the opportunity to run a full day soccer camp for these same kids. We are blessed to have a high school soccer coach on our team! Each of the kids was told they could bring 1 or 2 friends from the slums where they live, so we are praying that we will be able to present the Gospel to a few hundred children who have never heard before. Your prayers are much appreciated.