Tag: uganda

Outreach in Uganda – A Discipleship School Testimony

It took a long time to get to Uganda – a very long time.

Think 18 hours of flying and 10 hours of driving, and you’ve made it. But I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

My team consisted of 16 adults and kids. The goal of our trip was to share the Gospel and ultimately find hungry people who would lead discipleship groups of Ugandans after we were gone. Each morning we met as a team to worship, encourage one another and get vision for the day. Then we were sent out to the city in twos.

One day, my husband and I were in a group with two of the kids from our team. We prayed for guidance, and then we each shared what we had received from the Lord. My husband saw a picture of windowpanes. Since we didn’t have a specific destination, at each intersection we simply took turns asking God which direction to go.

L: Some of our team helped cook a meal at an orphanage that we visited. R: Rice and beans are typical fare for lunch.

We found ourselves on the campus of a technical college walking past a cornfield when my husband saw windowpanes that matched the picture he had received earlier. We went to investigate but only found an abandoned building. Giving up, we turned around to leave. We were stopped short by a man driving up on a motorcycle.

His name was Stephen, and he was a professor at the college. He had planned to go out with his colleagues that afternoon but felt like he should return home instead. That sounded like a divine appointment to us!

L: Some of the teachers on our team visited a nearby school to share Jesus. R: A typical scene in Uganda

He invited us into his home – adjacent to the abandoned building with the windowpanes – and we each took turns sharing part of God’s story from creation to Christ. He was excited to hear stories from the Bible and shared his desire for the people of his tribe to know them, too. We encouraged him to share these stories with others and promised we would come back again.

I remember walking away in amazement at how many things had to work together perfectly in order for that meeting to happen.

God was leading us as well as our new friend, Stephen.

We returned one more time to visit Stephen and found out he had told the stories to others and was eager to hear more. We led him and another friend through a discovery Bible study and encouraged them to keep sharing what God was teaching them.

Our time in Uganda was over before we knew it. By the end of two weeks, our team had met more than 30 people who were hungry to know the Word of God and share with others. We gave their information to the long-term team to connect with in the future.

One day our team met for our morning meeting under the mango tree at our hotel.

While we won’t be there to see these people grow in their faith, I’m so thankful to have played a small part in their stories and in God’s plan for Uganda.

We all have a part to play, and one day I look forward to seeing the full tapestry of how God has woven all those parts together into one magnificent masterpiece.

By Heather Garcia, Antioch Night Discipleship School Class of 2014

Interested in learning more about the Antioch Discipleship School? We’ve got details for you.

Take a deep breath

One year ago, I got married and moved to Waco with my new husband to do the Antioch Discipleship School. It was the most refining, challenging and transformational year of my life so far.

Needless to say, it was filled with a lot of newness and get-out-of-your-comfort-zone kinds of scenarios. And what better way to cap off a year of less of me and more of God than two weeks of making disciples in Gulu, Uganda?

I want to share one of my favorite stories from the trip. It’s a story of the kindness of God to include me on His mission, even in my weakness. It’s a story of His goodness and His grace and it’s one of my favorite things I got to see Him do in Gulu.

My Ugandan Sunday morning started with this word from a friend: “Breathe deep today. There is a lot of life out there.” I wrote it down in my journal, not thinking much of it, but taking it as encouragement nonetheless.

I met my friend Joanna in the lobby an hour before we would have left for church, and we headed out to meet a woman named Monica in her village. We had been meeting with Monica all week, and she wanted to come to church with us. We walked for what seemed like several miles that day looking for her.

After the first thirty minutes, I got irritated. My frustration rose steadily with every step along each winding dirt path that led to another grass roof hut that looked exactly like the last one we thought might have been hers. I felt like I was running up the down escalator, never quite reaching the place I actually needed to go.

It’s funny what happens to our spirits when our goals get blocked.

And I thought it was peculiar how I kept seeing this pattern: a hen with baby chicks, a momma duck with ducklings, a dog with puppies. In retrospect I realized that all along that seemingly pointless wandering to find Monica, God was heralding the coming of new life. Abundant new life.

“Pay attention and press on. What you see in these living parables along your path now, you’ll see in the Spirit next.”

But of course, I wasn’t hearing that in the moment.; because I was hot and tired, and we were missing worship. Blocked goals, again. Maybe I was like the people Jesus talks about in Matthew 13, who see but don’t perceive when he speaks through things like stories and metaphors. I was ready to give up. We couldn’t get a hold of Monica on her phone, and we were lost in her village.

Joanna, though, steadfast as she is — she wasn’t giving up. And she wasn’t letting me take her and Monica down.

“We have to get her to church. We’re not leaving without her.”

She was preaching perseverance and my flesh was too thick between my ears and my heart to really receive it…

…Well, I wasn’t going to cross her. So we waited some more. Minutes that felt like hours later, a phone call finally went through. Monica was on her way. She finally made it to where we were, and we walked about 20 minutes in the wrong direction plus 20 more minutes back before finally catching a bota (motorcycle taxi) to church. I was certain we’d missed it all by now.

Wrong again. It was kind of starting to hurt.

Of course we made it just at the right time. We found Monica’s friend Doreen, who we’d also met in the market that week. Somehow (or not-so-somehow but by the grace of God) she made it too, despite us not being able to reach her all week.

And these two women, whom Joanna had led to Jesus days earlier, both raised their hands to be baptized the following week.

The chicks, ducklings and puppies suddenly fled back into my mind. Newness of life. Of course God knew. And now it was all worth it, and I was humbled as I thought of what we might have missed if we’d left when I’d wanted to.

Later that afternoon, as I sat down to write all this down, the clouds were rolling in. And I thought, “How timely. Of course the rain is coming.”

Because God always brings the rain to the sun-scorched land when we ask, and when it rains, it pours. Grace, grace, grace … I was reminded of something a girl on our team said earlier that week: an ocean of grace will mark this trip. And let’s be honest, my heart needed cleansing that day.

So I stopped, looked out over the plains and watched the clouds, awaiting the coming rain as another kind of rain trickled from my eyes. Grace tears — the kind that come when unmerited favor is showered on me.

I take a deep breath. There really is a lot of life out there today.

By Sara Gilmore

To read more of Sara’s work, you can head over to her blog.

Playing it Safe is Overrated!

I used to hate change. I found it so…unpredictable! My preference was to maintain a semblance of control in my comfortable ruts. I found safety in my job, my friends, and my family just three hours down the road. Life was good, and I wanted to keep it that way.

That’s how I used to think. So you can imagine my shock – more like terror! — last year when God prompted me to pray about joining the SERVE:project for eight months in Uganda. Uganda!? I wasn’t even sure I could find it on a map! Although I had followed Jesus since childhood, completed Antioch’s discipleship training school, Elevate, in 2009, and was leading a Lifegroup, I felt overly-scared and under-qualified for missions. Would God really ask me to exchange my safe life for adventures in a land of grass huts, scorching heat and humongous hela monsters? Talk about big change! Reluctantly, I sighed a prayer of surrender: “Okay, God, I’ll go. But if I’m not supposed to, please stop me.” He never did. Three months and more than 20 fundraising meetings later, I found myself on a plane to Africa, hoping I hadn’t made the worst mistake of my life!

That’s how I got to Uganda in September 2011. Though it was an intimidating and unromantic process, God had big plans. It all began with an encounter with a street merchant.

One day while my teammate Rachel and I were walking the streets sharing the Gospel, we approached a young man to ask for directions. His name was Boniface, a 16-year-old orphaned street salesman who seemed to fear his own shadow. His shiny eyes ricocheted around their sockets like marbles in a pinball machine, nervously dancing everywhere but careful to avoid our gaze.  I quickly wrote him off as uninterested in the Gospel. “Would you like to meet sometime and talk about Jesus?” Rachel chimed. “Seriously?” I thought.

Our initial meetings with Boniface were painful. He hardly talked, wouldn’t answer or ask questions, and gave us blank stares. This went on for days.  Rachel and I wanted to give up, but something in our hearts urged us to persevere.

Several weeks later, Boniface led three people to Christ! I was shocked, but this was only the beginning.  As we continued to meet and study God’s Word, his confidence blossomed. He laughed and conversed more and shared Christ with many. He started a small group of 20 students at his school and even preached around campus alongside a former Muslim he led to Jesus. Boniface began hearing God’s voice with clarity. One day he wanted to disciple a new believer he recently met but didn’t know where to find him. After praying, Boniface went to the park God directed him to and found the man there waiting for him!  Boniface had many stories like this. By the time we left Uganda, he had led more than 40 people to Christ! When asked what sparked this transformation, Boniface testified, “It was when I understood God is my Father, and I am not alone. I know I am loved.”

Today Boniface is a key leader at the Antioch church plant in Lira, Uganda. Initially I didn’t see it, but I’m glad God did! I’m also thankful God urged me to risk change and go to Uganda. It’s sobering to think I almost missed the opportunity to invest in a young man who is now changing Uganda for eternity! I’ve learned that playing it safe it overrated!

By Becca Lemons