At multiple points along the trip we almost had to pinch ourselves because the opportunity to view the work of God's hand was breathtaking. I wanted to share some of these moments. I look at these almost like God has season tickets to see the work of His hands and he desires to share these tickets with us. On this trip to Uganda we had front row seats to see some of the most incredible things that God was doing and has done anywhere in the world. Step right up to the most incredible show on earth!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be held in awe vabove all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place.
The beauty of God's creation is on display all around the continent of Africa and there were many stunningly beautiful moments along on this trip. These moments would leave you saying wow God, Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised! There were several of these moments driving through the countryside and when we stayed along the Nile River.But some of the most incredible seats came when we were sitting in little wooden chairs outside of a mud hut sharing. Invited there by God to have the closest seat to witness the changing of a life for eternity. If our credentials were checked at the entrance to the event, none of us would been worthy to sit in these seats that belong to God. But God desires us to walk so close to Him that we get to see up close God working in and through our lives to do the miraculous. There were many of these moments shared each night, but only a few people had the privilege to see the actual event each time.
One of these events I was remembering with a friend last night was when we were going hut to hut sharing the gospel in Sibanga I walked up to a woman that was working. I told her I had wonderful news, could I share it with her. She said, "yes." Then another woman came up with a little baby and listened as well. Right after I began sharing the good news of Jesus Christ a young child walked up and a conversation that I did not understand ensued between the young girl and the first lady. I could tell this was her daughter who had just walked up. There was a harshness in the tone and the young girl went inside the hut.
I felt a burden to have this girl hear the message as well. So I asked my translator to tell the mother it was ok for the girl to join us. The translator just replies back to me that I can continue. But I can't shake the burden to invite the girl and ask my translator again to tell the mother it is ok for the girl to join us. He says something and then says to me it is ok for me to continue. I don't get the sense that my translator is on the same page at all and is wondering why I won't just continue. I say to him again, tell the mother I would like for her to join us. He does and the girl is called out of the hut by the mother and she excitedly comes up and sits down next to her mother.
I was in the middle of sharing the gospel but backed up to recap and enable the girl to hear the whole message. At the end when I asked if anyone would like to ask Jesus into their life and trust in Him for their forgiveness it was only the little girl who responded. The other two mothers didn't seem impacted by the message at all. They just seemed indifferent. The little girl shared with me her name and that she was ten. The same age as my Hannah! It was a sweet moment showing her the picture of my family and my ten year old, knowing that they would meet one day in heaven. It made me just thank God for the gift of salvation, because it truly is a miracle if any of us are ever saved. Seeing this precious child that God had a divine appointment with that day, still makes me say, "Wow God I totally didn't see that one coming. That was so cool!"
(not the picture from the story, but a similar front row seat for Alicia)
Another front row seat came when we were going with the school ministry team. Some times it is easy to think your seat is one place (at the schools) when He actually has a seat for you at the restaurant at lunch as well. That was the case this day. I was sharing some of the 10 different snacks I had packed in my backpack with Godfrey on the school team as we talked about life and the Lord. I grabbed a package of peanut butter crackers that I had forgotten were in my bag. Godfrey and I had eaten plenty and so I motioned for the waitress to come over to give her the crackers. That was the extent of the thought I had. But the moment I looked into her face I was hit with a desire to share the gospel. I asked her if she knew Jesus and she said, "Yes, I am a christian...Hallelujah."
Normally that response would be enough in a restaurant to make me glad to have run into another excited believer. This moment was different, I found myself asking when she had become a christian. She stopped and said, "Actually I lied, I am a muslim" Stunned by the this turn of conversation. I asked her if I could ask her a question. She said, "yes" and I began asking her about how a muslim deals with the issue of sin in her life. It was amazing that she was not willing to admit that she had any sin in her life at first. After sharing that different things wedo that fail to glorify God are sin. Each possible sin I suggested she would say that she hadn't done that. I brought her to agree that if we told a lie it would not glorify God and would be a sin. When asked if she has ever told a lie, she said no. I reminded her of how our conversation began and it was though she was very convicted and even laid her head on the corner of the table.
It was clear to see that God was working on her heart from this point on. One of the remarkable things I saw in sharing Christ with many muslims is that Mohammad didn't die for anyone's sin. And there is no mechanism for payment of sin in Islam other than praying for forgiveness. The forgiveness is all dependant on the sincerity of the prayer. But there is no means of paying for that debt. I felt the Lord prompting me to ask her if we could pay for our meal by saying a sincere prayer. She said, "No." I asked could I borrow money from the bank and pay off my debt with a prayer. She said, "No." I asked her if there were any example in life she could think of where she paid for something with prayer, and she said, "no."
Collosians 2:13-14 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
There was a great segway to sharing why it was that Jesus left heaven to come to earth as a man and humble himself to the point of dieing on the cross, for payment of sin. God opened her eyes to see her need for a savior to actually pay for her sins. The conversation continued as I inquired about whether she prayed for Mohammed. All good muslims pray for Allah to show Mohammad mercy and allow him into paradise. She said she prayed for this as well.
The flow of the conversation then went to show her that if every muslim was praying for Mohammad to receive mercy (not receiving the consequences he did deserve) and be allowed into paradise that muslims believed their prayers moved Allah to do this or why would they all be praying for it. Now if Mohammad has the prayers of millions of muslims praying 5 times a day for him to receive mercy and be allowed into paradise, what confidence should any other muslim have of entering paradise. I asked her if she thought of herself as more holy or righteous than Mohammed. She said she didn't. I told her that if she was the only person praying for her to get into paradise she either thought she was more righteous than Mohammad or she didn't think she was getting in to paradise.
The Lord used all of this to expose islam as a religion of works that led people to actually place their trust completely in their own works, when it was clear by their own admission that it was not enough. There was an eagerness for her to hear how our hope was in Christ and His work on the cross, not trusting in the goodness of our own works. We also had great confidence of an eternity in heaven, because our admission to heaven was again based on the work of Christ and our adoption as children of God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
After sharing how to have eternal life in Christ Jesus and the forgiveness of her sins. She prayed at the edge of our table to trust in Christ as Lord of her life. She ended her prayer with the words Hallelua! It was truly amazing to have a front row seat to see God working in and through us even at lunch in the restaurant. There were several times of getting to share with muslims these same truths that there is no hope of paradise based on our own works, and Jesus death is the only way to have our sins paid for. But this one young lady was special because of it being such a surprising conversation that only the Lord received the glory.
I later learned that muslims are forbidden from saying Hallelujah unless said mocking a christian. It explained why it seemed a little odd when she said it the first time. The words didn't seem sincere and from the heart. I think those words were what struck my spirit to cause me to ask more questions. When she ended her prayer with Hallelua it seemed as an overflow of her heart and would have been spoken against Islam. Wow, thank you Jesus for these incredible seats to see of your glorious works!
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