The family went to church last Sunday. Nothing unusual about that. But I wasn’t very excited about it. The message was going to be about a new building at a new site that the church is ready to build, and the congregation would vote on whether to build it or not after the service. So, we were going to hear the standard doing God’s will, mission of the church, sacrificing our worldly wealth message.
That’s what it was, too, but it’s not what my wife and I heard. It was the story of Nehemiah. God put on his heart to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, destroyed by the Babylonian king, Xerxes. Nehemiah was that same king’s royal cup bearer, and he want to Xerxes with a plan to rebuild the city the king had destroyed earlier in his reign. Xerxes gave Nehemiah everything he asked for and threw in a few little extras like troops to escort him on the 1000 mile journey to Jerusalem.
For several years now, my wife and I have felt that God wants us to do something different. It’s not like we don’t like our life â€“ three kids, private school, five bedrooms, 2 cars, our own business. My commute is about 20 paces up the stairs to my office. That alone makes life worth living. Heck, my kids wouldn’t know what to do if I actually left the house to go to work and wasn’t home when they left for school or when they got back. They cry and act like the world’s going to end when I go to a meeting or, God forbid, travel overnight. So, what does God want us to do? i don’t know, but it’s something. And we’ve tried a lot of different things. Christian t-shirts (I’ve got a closet full if you want one), starting a downtown church, changing churches, looking for different work. All a big bust. Still, our hearts continued to be moved by the tap, tap, tapping of God having something else for us to do.
We haven’t been going to this church we were at last Sunday for very long. We haven’t even joined yet. We’re still members of our old church. It is one of a couple of churches we’ve been trying out, so to speak. We’re looking for somewhere closer to home than our current church so our kids can get more involved, us, too. A few weeks ago when we were visiting this new church, the message was about a mission the church is funding in Uganda. The mission foundation has purchased and developed a 40-acre property near a small village on the Nile river. They are building a training center for the locals and a church, but the primary focus is on ministering to the remarkable number of orphans in the area. There is a group of four room homes that can house up to eight orphans and a house mother. The images we saw of these beautiful, young, lively children, the smiling faces of not only the children but the Ugandans involved in the ministry, and the impact this 40 acres is making on the entire region, struck me like the blinding light on the road to Damascus.
I told my wife after the service, at lunch, that I would sell everything we had and go help those kids in a heart beat. Now when you tell your wife something like that, you expect an answer like, “We can’t do that, honey, but we should see what we can do to help.” But my wife said, “I thought the same thing.”
Okay, this is different. This isn’t something we cooked up to try to do the something different God wants us to do. This was out of the blue. We’ve never done any kind of mission work. Our support for missions has always been financial. So, what do you do? How do you pursue something like this? Talk to the guy who is the head of the mission foundation, right? That’s what I did, or tried to do. I found the guy’s email and said I’d like to talk about going to Uganda to be part of the mission there. But it was over the Christmas holiday and emails went back and forth and there was no real discussion. We even set up a meeting after the first of the year, but the meeting didn’t happen. Guess this is just me searching for God’s will again, like the t-shirts. If it’s not his will, all the trying in the world won’t make it happen. So, I decided to let it lie. Still, all the while we were praying about all this and being moved to be at peace with uprooting our current lives for something completely new.
Then the guy from the foundation emails me again out of the blue. Sorry I missed the meeting, lets meet next week for lunch. And this time the meeting happens, but I don’t expect much. There will be a this committee has to approve this or that group has to interview you about that and you’ve never done mission work before, all the stuff a church has to do before they send somebody half way around the world . But this isn’t a church. It’s a mission foundation. And this guy and I grew up in the same neighborhood and we’re about the same age. And he says, “What we need in Uganda is an American family to be our go between between the Ugandans we’re working with and the foundation. But frankly we haven’t even talked about it much internally, because we didn’t know how we would find someone who would uproot their lives and go there.”
Now, we’re not going to live in Uganda yet. But God has put it on our hearts, just like he put rebuilding Jerusalem on Nehemiah’s heart. And we’re asking the King for the resources to go, because we don’t have any earthly idea how we would do everything we need to do to be able to go. And I can’t even imagine the little extras He will provide if He wants us to make the journey.
What we are doing, though, is going to Uganda (again out of the blue and my wife would say with very little time to prepare). We’re going to spend a week on the 40 acres, and I don’t mean the University of Texas for you teasips out there, and do whatever the foundation needs us to do while we are there and love on those kids we saw on a video screen several months ago. And I’m setting up a page on this website to post images and commentary while we are there. Who’d a thunk it?
It makes me wonder what will happen out of the blue after that.