Uganda—Self-Sufficiency, part 3 of 3

by Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor

This Week’s Blog Series

In this, the final segment of our blog series about our ongoing work in Uganda, I want to express MBC Loudoun’s practical plan for transitioning our partners to self-sufficiency. (For background on our work in Uganda, read the first and second in this series of blog posts.)

Two chicken coops that will be renovatedFrom Short-Term to Long-Term

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert in their book Helping without Hurting in Short-Term Missions said exactly what’s been on my heart:

“Improving short-term trips actually involves taking fewer of them, dedicating more of our resources to long-term missions and poverty alleviation work within a community” (page 9).

Yes! That’s exactly it!

Friends, if we believe that we should be good stewards of the resources that Christ has blessed us with, then we need to look at transitioning our short-term trips into long-term partnerships for the sake of the Gospel and the welfare of these communities.

Practical Skills

chicken_coop5-72dpiSeeking the welfare of this specific community has been difficult to put my finger on until recently. There are many ways we could do this, some helpful but many unhelpful.

And then I was recently informed that in the past few years, 200 students have graduated from Destiny Village Boarding School without any marketable skills or job training. This reality needs to change.

Agriculture is a need in Katwe and providing on-the-job agricultural training is a first step towards providing job skills that will serve these students for the rest of their lives.

Getting Practical with Chickens!one of the chicken coops that will be renovated

After much prayer and discussion with Pastor Fred, Mamma Evah, and Pastor Julius, we have decided to pursue a project that facilitates long-term sustainability for Destiny Village Boarding School. We are going to:

  • renovate 2 out-of-date chicken coops
  • build an additional chicken coop
  • purchase approximately 3000 chickens and a year’s worth of food for the chickens
  • hire two farm hands that can provide care for the chickens as well as facilitate educational opportunities for the students

My favorite part about this project is that once the money is fronted, they are in a position to provide for themselves with the additional resources that come in from the chickens and eggs.

Let me first say, that I have learned more about chickens in the past month than I ever anticipated knowing about!

inside of a chicken coop that will be renovatedThere are two general types of chickens. Layers (these chickens lay eggs) and broilers (these chickens are used for meat). 50% of the eggs that are laid will feed the kids, and the other 50% will be sold to sustain the chicken project.

The broilers will operate under the same principle. 50% will feed the students and the other 50% will be sold so that they can replenish their broiler supply.

The total cost of this project is $45,000. Due to a generous donation prior to the trip and some additional funds that have been provided by MBC, we only need $12,000 to begin construction and finalize this piece for the school.

If the Lord is leading you to be a part of this project, you can donate in a couple of ways.

1) You can donate by credit card online at mcleanbible.org/Loudoun-Uganda.

2) Or, you can write a check to McLean Bible Church and in the memo line write Uganda Partnership Fund.

I would love to see the construction and everything completed by the time the students arrive for school in September. What a blessing that could be for them!

Please prayerfully consider being a part of the self-sustainability and the long-term partnership that we have with Destiny Village Boarding School.

Prayer

Lord, I trust You to provide for this project. Make it clear to me if you want me to play a role in this and how we can continue to support this school in Uganda. We entrust these chickens to You and pray that You would be glorified and worshipped as a result of this opportunity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: The link above is to Amazon.com. It is not a commission link, so McLean Bible Church will not receive any money when you follow the link.

Uganda—The Work is Not Done, part 1 of 3

By Dave Kroeze, Outreach Pastor

This Week’s Blog Series

Just because we are not in Uganda right now does not mean that our work there is done. You know that we send a mission team to Uganda over New Years, but what you don’t see is the ongoing relationships that we have throughout the year.

This week, allow me to share with you how we are at work with our Ugandan partners throughout the year to empower them to do the work that God has called them to do.

Supporting Our Partners

Missionaries used to go to Africa, convert a bunch of people, and then leave.

It was wonderful that there were a bunch of new Christians who had said the sinner’s prayer, but they were unequipped to encounter the immediate struggles of life. They had made a profession of faith, but oftentimes they did not know what that entailed nor the implications of that decision.

As a result, the quantity of people sitting in church services each week increased because being a Christian was the popular thing to do, but the number of people reproducing their faith was minimal.

Today, many churches take a different approach to international work, including McLean Bible Church. Instead of flying overseas to convert people, we fly overseas to support our partners.

“We see so much more fruit when we
support the work that God is already doing.”

Yes, we have salvation conversations and many people are born again. But, we see so much more fruit when we support the work that God is already doing and when we empower these local pastors for the ministry that God has prepared them to do.

In Uganda, we have two partners that we have grown to know and love over the past two years of our short-term mission trips: Saint Gate’s Church and Destiny Village Boarding School.

Great Partnerships

Background: The Village of Katwe

The village of Katwe is a small urban community within the limits of Kampala, capital city of Uganda.

Africa showing Uganda and Uganda showing Kampala

There are approximately 500,000 people who literally live on top of each other. To get from home to home often involves a climb on a rickety bridge across a stream of contaminated water at best. The children have significant health ailments with basically every one of them having worms in their tummy’s and rashes and sores caused by rabies. These families are in need of redemption in a way that only Christ can provide.

Rickety bridge in Katwe across a stream of contaminated water

Our Partner: Saint Gate’s Church

Right in the center of this community is Saints’ Gate Church. This church regularly has 1300-1500 attendees that have nothing but trust and dependence upon the Lord for their needs each day.

Sometimes, the Lord uses us, MBC Loudoun, to provide in a tangible way. This past trip, we had the opportunity to work with Saint Gate’s to provide a 3-day medical clinic.

How beautiful it was to see nearly 1000 individuals come to the church to receive medicine for physical healing while also hearing the Gospel for spiritual healing. This was an amazing opportunity to empower local doctors, pay them a small salary for the day, and get out of the way so that the Lord could work through this church family!

It was truly beautiful.

Our Partner: Destiny Village Boarding School

Closely connected to the Church (in that the staff overlap completely) is an evangelical school called Destiny Village Boarding School. On this campus, there are 1800 students, including 100 children from infancy to 5 years old who have been rescued from the worst of situations.

The vast majority of these students come from the community of Katwe where they have been abandoned or orphaned. They receive sponsorship through World Help. The school and church are run by the leadership of Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and the Worship Pastor/School Director Pastor Julius.

Our short-term mission trips this year and last were hard work but so rewarding. We worked side-by-side with Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius as well as many others, and we have become friends and partners with them in remembering the poor (see Gal 2:10).

Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, Pastor Julius

Prayer

Today, take a few moments to pray for Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius as they lead these people and shepherd the flock that the Lord has given them.

Father, we lift up Pastor Fred, Momma Evah, and Pastor Julius as they lead your people in Uganda today. As Paul says in Philippians 1:3-6, we thank You every day with joy for their partnership in the Gospel. We pray with confidence that the good work You have begun in them would be brought to completion in Your perfect timing. Use us, Lord, as humble and generous supporters to provide resources that enhance Your kingdom through their humble efforts. For Your namesake and not our own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blog Posts from our Uganda Mission Trips

If you’d like to re-read our blog posts chronicling our trips to Uganda, follow the links below.

2015-16—This Year

Uganda Update 1–In the Slums of Katwe

Uganda Update 2-The Clinic, The Slums, The Conference

Uganda Update 3–Clinic, Slums, & Fellowship

Uganda Update 4–Mulago Hospital, Destiny School, & New Year’s Eve Bash

Uganda Update 5–Children in Luwero

Uganda Update 6–Juvenile Detention Center

2014-15—Last Year

Uganda Travel Day!

Uganda Day 2 – Saints Gate Church and Destiny Boarding School

Uganda Day 3 – Destiny Boarding School

Uganda Day 4 – Destiny Boarding School Sports Camp

Uganda Day 5 – Katanga Slums and New Years Eve

Uganda Day 6 – Good Samaritan School and Kampiriginsa Rehabilitation Center

4 Ideas for Developing Your Prayer Life

by Brian Walters, Discipleship Pastor

Doug just became a new believer in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Doug believed in his heart and professed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord.

Immediately, Doug began reading his Bible. He got into a small group. He attended weekly worship services and began serving.

However, even though Doug did all of these things, he felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable when it came to praying.

Praying just seemed weird to Doug–to talk out loud or by himself to God. He didn’t know what to say. He thought his prayers to God must be eloquent and passionate. He thought his prayers had to sound good when others listened.

Doug didn’t like praying.

Are you Doug? Does prayer feel uncomfortable or awkward? Do you struggle with what to say?

I don’t know about you, but I used to strauggle with these exact things. In fact, I was Doug and to this day I still get nervous sometimes when I pray in front of people, but here are a few things that helped me to overcome my struggles with praying:

  1. It’s just a conversation.
    Someone once asked me how good my relationship would be with my spouse if I never talked with her. I naturally responded, “not very good.” Then that someone told me the same thing is true about prayer. He said prayer is just a conversation with God. It is not a monologue, but a dialogue with God. It’s you talking to Him and listening to Him just like you would talk to your spouse or a friend. Without talking to God your relationship will only be surface level and never have any depth. So just begin talking with God. Prayer develops intimacy with God. Here are some examples of Jesus talking with His Father (Matt. 26:29-44; John 17:1-26).
  2. What do I say?
    The Lord's PrayerIf you don’t know what to say, don’t worry. Per usual, God doesn’t leave us to guess. Jesus gave us the blueprint on how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Read and study this passage and you will notice we are to worship and revere God (v. 9), we are to surrender and confess our sins to Him (v. 10), we submit our requests to Him (vv. 11-12), we ready ourselves to be used by Him (v. 13), and we close out prayer with more reverence of Him (v. 13). Did you notice that prayer starts and ends with thanksgiving, reverence, and praise to God? That is because the more you focus on God, the more you will be aware of your neediness and then your heart will be aligned to His. You can never go wrong with praying the way God taught us to pray.
  3. Pray Scripture.
    If you still don’t know what to say, then pray God’s Word back to Him. God loves it when we do this. God doesn’t need us to tell Him anything so the best way to talk with Him is to leverage His Word. For example, read Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Then you can pray something like this:

    I praise you, God, that you are completely trustworthy and your promises never fail. Thank you, God, that you are our refuge and source of strength in good times and in bad. Thank you, Lord, that you care and want to hear the yearnings of our hearts. For you alone are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory. Lord, forgive me when I have forgotten to trust you to get me through hard times. Forgive me, Father, when I have forgotten your faithfulness and promises. Lord, help us to never forget that you alone are trustworthy, faithful, and our place of refuge. Lord, thank you for loving us when we don’t even deserve it. May my heart and the hearts of believers everywhere always sing your praises.

  4. Pray for each other! impactloudoun.com/prayerKeep praying.
    The things above helped me greatly to overcome my struggles with praying, but the ultimate key to helping me become comfortable with praying was to just do it continually. I discovered that praying is like anything else in life: the more you do it, the more you feel comfortable with it and the more it becomes second nature.

Lastly, I would encourage you to visit our Prayer Wall every day to post a prayer and/or to pray for others. Visiting the Wall will give you something to pray and will help you get more comfortable with praying. Start off by just praying for a few requests and build upon this as you get more comfortable.

Guilty, Your Honor

Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams

It was a typical Thursday evening. I was driving to my destination when out of nowhere I see flashing blue lights in my rearview mirror....through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

Was I speeding? No. Was I on my phone. Absolutely not…this time, anyway. Did I have a light out? Most likely not.

I pull over, watch the officer walk out of his car, and he asks, “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Absolutely not, officer” I defensively replied. Apparently there is a little sticker that is required on one’s vehicle when registered in Loudoun County. Who knew?

Well, my ignorance landed me a court date in the Loudoun County Courthouse. Not accustomed to the ways of the court, I arrived remarkably early,  leaving plenty of time for waiting, thinking, and observing.

There were a lot of people in this small court room that had ugly red carpeting and hard wooden benches that brought me back to my pew days in the Baptist church as a kid—an experience that no doubt instilled a sense of reverence mixed with some fear.

As the Judge entered the room, all stood to show respect. He sat in his long black robe and proceeded to begin with his memorized script of the responsibilities that he possessed.

Then he called the first name. It was a DUI offense. All the details and dirty laundry were aired for all of us to hear. It felt awkward to listen to the wrongdoings of someone that I did not know. Then followed the lawyer’s response, along with an explanation of the remorse and regret of that night. The judge declared a sentence with a fine and they walked away.

Person after person was called up with the same process. Some cases made me angry because of the lack of remorse. Some cases brought tears to my eyes because of the consequences that could have resulted with a lifetime effect on these peoples’ children or the endangerment of other drivers.

Each punishment was different. It was based on first, second, or third time offenses. It was based on their admittance of wrongdoing and law-breaking. It was based on their lawyer’s defense and pleas for reconsideration. But every person was judged differently by that one man who held the power from the state of Virginia.

It got me thinking: this is how we will one day be judged. Matthew 22:1-14 tells us that there is a God who sits on the judgment seat and will ask us one day why we should be allowed into His Kingdom. He is the One who will declare us “guilty” or “not guilty” of eternal condemnation. And He knows all our faults, offensives, and wrongdoings.

It’s not our good deeds or law keeping that will get us into heaven. Romans 3:20 says that the law shows us our sin and that we are not justified by the law.

In the following verses, Paul writes that it is by the gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ that we are made right before God. So, as believers, we can stand before the Judge with boldness and confidence that all of our shame and sin is forgotten because of our right standing in Christ.

Time passed on that afternoon in the courthouse, and when we got to the more minor traffic violations—like not having a sticker displayed on our dashboard—my name was called. I nervously pleaded “guilty.” I had to pay a fine for my ignorance and prove that I made my wrong right. Will I ever forget to get that little sticker again? Absolutely not.

Will I be forever grateful that I will stand confidently before The Judge some day? Absolutely!

Knowing that my sins put Jesus on the cross, knowing that He suffered a brutal death, and realizing there was a payment that had to be made—a payment I don’t have to make—brings me to a place of humbleness and gratitude.

It drives me to a place of striving for holiness and sanctification.

We are declared free because of Christ! No more guilt or shame to bear. We have Christ as our defense. We can walk out of that court room as free men and women, grateful and glorifying the One who paid our debt.

Live today as a free person, no debt, no guilt, no condemnation!

Uganda Update 6–Juvenile Detention Center

January 2, 2016

by Jackie Care, #LoudounUganda Team Member

Pastor’s Conference for Saint Gate’s

This morning we had the wonderful experience of getting to sit under the teaching of Cyrus and Dave at a pastor’s conference for Saint Gate’s. Cyrus taught us lessons about grace through the stories of his personal experiences. Dave gave a sermon on marriage that got us all thinking about how we can better our relationships.

Juvenile Detention Center

After the conference, we went to the government-run Juvenile Kids at the Juvenile Detention CenterDetention Center. The youngest age of a prisoner there is 12 years old and the oldest is 17. Many of the kids get sent to the detention center because of small things like petty theft.

Picked Up Off the Streets

This facility also houses kids who were picked up off the street but didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. These children are significantly younger – some as young as 4 years old.

Building’s Updates

I visited this detention center 2 years ago. At that time, the buildings were gray, the floor had large chunks of concrete missing, there were not enough beds, the kitchen had been involved in a fire, and all of the walls and doors were distorted and falling.Juvenile Detention Center

Today when we drove up to the center, the walls were painted bright colors, the kitchen had been renovated, and there were new mattresses on the beds. It was an incredible contrast and it brought us a lot of hope as to what ministry can do to influence some of the poorest places in Uganda.

Sharing the Gospel

Vijay shared the gospel and several children decided to respond by accepting the Lord. We spent a long time there playing with the kids. Several girls have babies at the prison because of getting pregnant there, which was very hard for us to see. Many of the kids seem so depressed and needed the hope that the gospel and playing with them delivered.

Few Visitors

It was such a blessing to be able to visit this facility. They only get a few visitors per year (we signed the guestbook and found only 8 pages of visitors separating our names from Dave’s name last year). We were so glad that we were able to go. And we look forward to what the Lord is going to do in the future.

Uganda Update 5–Children in Luwero

January 1, 2016

by Chris Gordy and Kari Wilson, #LoudounUganda Team Members

Sister Barbara in Luwero

Today was a shorter day of ministry since we were recovering from our late night New Year’s Eve celebration. We took a short road trip to Luwero and visited the local church.

We were greeted by Sister Barbara who was overflowing with joy and happiness upon our arrival. She was so excited to welcome us that she wouldn’t let us get off the bus before giving each team member a hug.

Barbara is an amazing example of God’s faithfulness through her love and commitment to the children of Uganda. Watching her serve these children and seeing the sacrifices she makes helps us understand the importance of having Godly leaders within these communities. It’s an honor to be able to stand alongside and support local leaders like Sister Barbara.  All of us were impacted through our interaction with Sister Barbara and the kids.

Clothes for the Luwero Children

We were able to provide roughly 300 pounds of clothes for the local children in the area. This church does not receive visitors very often, so to be able to come and bless the church was an amazing experience. Because of this, these kids were a little more reserved than others we’ve met. But once we started spending time with them they opened right up. They grabbed our hands, sang us songs, and played games with us. We also organized a race with the kids which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Pastor Fred and Wife Liz in Kampala

Dave with Pastor Fred & his new motorcycle

After visiting Luwero, we met Pastor Fred and his wife Liz for dinner in Kampala. Both Pastor Fred and Liz shared their testimonies, and we were able to pray for them and their ministry at Saints Gate and Destiny.

It was a great ending to a very rewarding day of ministry.

Editor’s Note: The photo on the right is Dave Kroeze with Pastor Fred and his new motorcycle. Pastor Fred had to take a taxi 30 minutes to get to church, paying money he doesn’t have. He also is involved in 3 communities and had difficulty getting around. MBC Loudoun provided the $1200 to buy him the motorcycle to get around.

Uganda Update 4–Mulago Hospital, Destiny School, & New Year’s Eve Bash

December 31, 2015

by Chris Gordy, #LoudounUganda Team MemberWatch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Mulago Hospital

Today we began by visiting the children’s section of the Intensive Care Unit at Mulago Hospital. As we made our way to the hospital, we were stunned by the business that was set up dead center in front of the hospital. This business specialized in casket making for the deceased because there is only two ways out of the hospital and that’s dead or alive.

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the hosts and escorted directly to the NICU. It was difficult for us at first to adjust to the environment and see some of the sickness up close that these little children had. It was encouraging to see that despite their circumstance they were still filled with joy.

Destiny School  Dave Kroeze with kids at the orphanage

Destiny itself is an orphanage and a primary and secondary school consisting of 1700 students. We visited the campus and got a better feel for the vision and need for the future of this great place.

We went on a tour of the multipurpose room that was built by us through our Rock Ministry. This addition has fulfilled a great need for Destiny and is being used as a cafeteria, conference room, and training center.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

As a whole, we as Mclean Bible Church have a very important relationship and want to continue our partnership in tangible ways that will impacts lives for the future.at the orphanage

New Year’s Eve Bash

I think all of us can agree that we have never experienced a New Year’s Eve quite like this one. We brought in the New Year by worshiping together at Saint’s Gate Church. The Ugandan people were so excited to have us spend time together as one church.

When we got off the bus the children ran up to us like we were family and would not let go of our hands. The tradition here in Ugandan churches is to pray the new year in through the entire night. The worship was very lively. The entire building was filled with the joy of the Lord. They all grabbed any nearest object (chairs, purses, plants, baskets, etc.) to raise in the air to symbolize carrying their burdens as the Jews carried their burdens out of Egypt.

Each of us are establishing close relationships with the staff and members of Saint’s Gate Church. Cyrus preached the Gospel message and 15 people came to the front and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior!

This service was an amazing experience. Our God is the God of every country, and it is such a blessing to worship with believers in a different culture.

Happy New Year!

Editor’s Note: Dave posted a video of the New Year’s Eve bash on Facebook. You’ll find photos of other parts of the trip on Facebook as well. http://www.facebook.com/mbcloudoun

A Christmas Miracle–Right Here in Loudoun County

by Cheryl Krichbaum

When God wants something done, it gets done!

A Christmas Miracle Right here in Loudoun County

Here is a true story of a Christmas miracle that happened right here in Loudoun County through MBC Loudoun’s Gifts of Joy. (Many of the names below have been changed for privacy.)

Once upon a time not too long ago (November 2015), in the village of Leesburg was a young girl named Emma who really wanted an American Girl Doll. What better way to feel like an American than to have an American Girl Doll?

But, her parents were poor. They lived in a trailer park. They didn’t speak English. And some of her family were still in Central America.

In the meantime in another part of Leesburg, a mom named Susan saw a deal on TV for an American Girl Doll. She bought it for her daughter who is about the same age as Emma. The doll was adorable! She came dressed in pink. She had a beautiful hat and a sweet nightgown for bedtime.

Only the daughter didn’t want the doll. “Thanks, Mom, but I don’t really like dolls.”

The doll laid in her box, waiting.

But God had a plan.

It was Christmas season, and I was having a conversation with friends Gifts of Joy Luke 2:10-11on Facebook about opportunities to give that would involve our kids. Susan and another friend, Grace, asked, too. I told all of them about Gifts of Joy, which is McLean Bible Church’s version of Angel Tree but for under-privileged kids identified through our partnerships with Loudoun County schools, explained how it worked, and even provided the link to the web page.

Marie, my friend who goes to church at the Loudoun campus, liked the idea of participating in Gifts of Joy, but Susan and Grace did not get involved. Perhaps it was a little uncomfortable to go to a new church to pick up a gift request.

Weeks later when all the gifts were turned in, I asked Outreach Pastor Dave Kroeze if all the gifts were purchased. “I still have a few requests to fill,” he said.

I told Dave that I’d check with my friends on Facebook to see if they’d like to shop for kids at the last minute.

Grace said yes. Susan said that she had found another opportunity to give. But then Susan sent me a private message asking if I knew anyone who wanted an American Girl Doll.

Wow! Well, I didn’t know but offered to take the doll for a future giving opportunity. I thought perhaps the church could give the doll to a homeless girl for her birthday.

At the office the next day, Dave gave me two gift requests for Grace and then started walking away saying, “Now to figure out how to get an American Girl Doll.”

“What!?!”

Dave explained, “We don’t usually take gift requests for anything this expensive, but that’s all this little girl wants.”"God wanted her to have that doll." said Dave Kroeze

“I have one for you!”

“Really?” But Dave didn’t seem as surprised as I was. Later when we were telling this story to LeAnne Smart, Director of Kids Quest, Dave said matter-of-factly, “God wanted her to have that doll.”

I sent a message to Susan to confirm. Yes! She wanted to donate that doll, saying “I knew I shouldn’t sell it!”

That night I stopped by Susan’s house to get the doll. Her daughter was at the door. She was shy, but I could tell that she was excited about giving the doll.

She wanted to give the girl all her money.She held out a ziplock bag of coins to me. “What’s this?” I asked.

She didn’t want to talk, so Susan explained: “She wanted to give the girl all her money.”

Cue the tears!

“Oh, how sweet!” I gave her a half hug–after all, we had just met! Then I showed Susan’s daughter the two dove tags with the gift request on one and gave her the other–the ornament–to keep. I told her that the ornament was so that she would remember the girl and be reminded to pray for her.

So, you would think that this story is over. But, no, God wasn’t finished.

Dave, his wife Meredith, and Lori (our MBC Loudoun Campus Administrator) decided to buy outfits for the American Girl Doll, a matching outfit for Emma to wear, and the puppy that is the doll’s companion.Emma and her American Girl Doll in matching outfits

Dave’s mom, who lives in Chicago, found out about this story, and she bought a picnic set for the doll.

Dave’s brother, who lives in California, found out about this story, and he bought outfits for the doll.

Delivery day came. Claudia Rabe, our wonderfully dedicated volunteer at Embrace Catoctin, went with Dave and me to translate. Claudia is so good about making sure each family knows about the resources available at Catoctin Elementary. They call her “the church lady,” and I try not to think of Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live. If you know Claudia, you know she is not uptight at all! And everyone at Catoctin loves her.

We went during the school day so that Emma wouldn’t know. It was a privilege to go along. It was a privilege to be involved at all. I didn’t buy the doll. I didn’t buy any outfits. I just “connected the dots.”

I drove into the trailer park, remembering what it was like to live in a trailer. But the trailer park I lived in wasn’t so packed. So many homes, so close together.

I was 10 when we moved out of the trailer park. I don’t think I had been in a trailer since. Everything seemed so small. I was actually a little envious, thinking about how little time I would have to spend cleaning if I lived in a smaller home.

Then I felt guilty–what I have is never good enough, is it? I changed my attitude. God has provided for me, and I am grateful.

Emma’s mom was quietly excited. Through Claudia, we found out that Emma’s parents had explained that they couldn’t afford the doll. Emma said, “Okay, I’ll just have to wait.”

We also found out that Emma’s birthday is in January, and she was hoping that by then she could get an American Girl Doll.

Wouldn’t she be surprised?

Dave said, “Well, the dog that goes with the doll hasn’t arrived, yet, so I’ll wrap it up, and you can give it to her for her birthday.”

I remember Christmas in our trailer. I can only imagine, though, to be new to the United States. To be learning a new language. To want to fit in. To know that your family is too poor to get you what you really want.

I wonder what it was like to see her open that gift.

But God knows. He did His Christmas miracle. And someday when I’m in heaven, I’m sure he’ll show me the movie reel.

It’s a privilege, Lord. Thank You for using me. I can only wonder what seeds You planted this Christmas day.

And I continue to pray for Emma as well as for Susan’s daughter. Will you join me?

THE END

Do you have a Christmas miracle story? Share it in the comments below.

Uganda Update 2-The Clinic, The Slums, The Conference

December 29, 2015

By: Sean, Kari, and Dave, #LoudounUganda Team Members

Working at the Clinic

Today, the team spent another day at Saint’s Gate Church working with the medical clinic. Because we were there yesterday, we all knew our roles and the people with whom we were working, making the process as smooth as possible.

The clinic served 357 people the first day. Because the needs of the individuals were so great, the church ran out of necessary medicine. MBC Loudoun was able to purchase all of the medicine and supplies needed to serve enough people for today and tomorrow. It was such a blessing to be able to serve the church in this way.

Chris, Vijay, and Christine continued to present the Gospel upstairs while the rest of the team worked in the clinic downstairs. Chris spoke with a man whose family had converted from Islam to Catholicism, and the man was considering converting back to Islam. The man was going through a really rough time. After hearing Chris’s testimony, he came forward and made the decision to follow Christ.

Walking the Slums of Katwe

Erin, Renee, and Sean had the opportunity to take a two-hour walk through the slums of Katwe and got to experience the poverty firsthand.

Sean was walking through the slums and had amassed a following of small children. He was approached by a baby who was barely able to walk. The baby had crossed an unstable bridge over one of the many sewers running about 4 feet underneath. The bridge was made of wood with a few nails sticking up. The baby grabbed onto Sean’s shorts. Sean felt like Paul and Jesus in the New Testament as people tried to grab onto their garments and tassels for healing, although Sean was most likely grabbed because he stuck out like a sore thumb!

The baby turned away because Sean was focusing on the older kids who could understand him, but then Sean realized that this baby was the “least of these” and deserved just as much attention as any other kid living in the slums because his hope is most likely the same.

Sean started to sing the chorus of “10,000 Reasons” to the small baby, dressed only in white underwear with no shoes. Although the child was unaware of anything going on, other than that he was getting the attention he was looking for, it was a spiritual experience for Sean because he felt like he was singing to Jesus himself, feeling that whatever you do for the “least of these, you do for [Jesus].”

Dave at Pastor’s Conference

Dave had a great time at the pastor’s conference in Kigumba. Over 500 pastors participated and we were able to provide the additional bibles for each of them. He mentioned that he had never seen a group of people so impacted by the gift of a Bible.

The lives of those at the conference have been transformed, and they have requested that we come back next year to continue their education. We look forward to continue our partnership with these village pastors in the coming years, Lord willing.

One of the greatest moments of this conference was seeing one pastor, a teenager, and a child give their lives to Jesus for the first time. This pastor confessed to Dave that he had never been told the Gospel before yet he was overseeing the spiritual needs of the village without the resources or salvation to serve them effectively. This pastor has an entire new outlook on ministry because of what the Lord has done!

God has been glorified in the far reaches of the villages. Disciples who make disciples are being made.

Uganda Update 1–In the Slums of Katwe

December 28, 2015

by Kari Wilson, #LoudounUganda Team Member

Today was an amazing day. The Lord did more than we could have ever asked or imagined. Our ministry took place at St. Gates Church in the slums of Katwe. The church was running a free medical clinic for people in the area, offering treatment for acute medical problems and screenings for HIV, Typhoid, and Malaria.

Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS still effects 7.3% of the Ugandan population and many people have been effected by a cholera epidemic, so it felt purposeful for us to be a part of the treatment process for these people.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The Lord definitely stretched each one of us out of our comfort zones today as we were all facing challenging roles that we have never experienced before. Vijay was responsible for sharing the gospel to the groups of people coming into the clinic. Although he was extremely nervous to speak in front of a group of people, our Ugandan native team member Muyambi said that once he got up to speak, Vijay’s words were flowing perfectly, and it was apparent that God was speaking through him to share His specific message.

Sean, Christine, and Chris had similar experiences when sharing their testimonies to patients. Christine said, “I would have never been one to talk about myself in front of a group of people but when the opportunity arose I felt strongly on my heart to share my testimony to them.” Through the sharing of the testimonies and gospel message, 40-50 people decided to accept the Lord today at the Saint Gate’s Church!

Karen, Jackie, Kari, Erin and Renee were put into medical roles that they had never experienced before. The team faced the challenge of helping the Ugandan medical team with patients due to a language barrier. Hundreds of patients were seen each day and received free screenings and medications as needed.

Erin, Kari, and Renee spent hours taking notes from each patient on their symptoms and doing the best they could to direct people through the clinic.

Jackie facilitated the testing for HIV, Malaria, and Typhoid.

Many of our team members had never seen such poverty or poor conditions in their life and were deeply effected emotionally, yet it was an amazing opportunity to show us how other people live and that despite the poverty, people were still very happy.

God showed us today what it meant to rely on Him in our weakness. We realized that we all have our roles in the body of this team. Sometimes it’s hard to see God in the midst of all the chaos that we experienced today, but overall the Lord sees and was the ultimate Director of the medical clinic.

As far as our team is concerned, we have become so cohesive that we have already established great relationships through laughing, praying, and worshiping together.