My Lord is My Shepherd
The summer has gone by so quickly, as have 5 months of my extended furlough. As I look forward to returning to Uganda in early October, I am also looking back to my time in the USA, the longest block of time Iíve spent here since leaving for Africa in early 1999.
In Psalm 23 the Bible says: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. When I flew to the USA in April, I was in need of lying down in green pastures and drinking from quiet waters, and my soul needed restoring. God has been faithful and He has given me what I have needed. Now I am very ready to return to Uganda and resume the work that He has for me to do there, to return to loving friends in Africa.
From the end of May through the end of July, I was in various parts of the Pacific Northwest, Washington and Oregon, spending time with family and friends, and speaking in a few churches. It was my great pleasure to discover a baby church (just 3 months old) in Everett, Washington, born to serve African refugees that have moved into the area since I lived there. Pastor Peter Gatata (a Kenyan) began this little church with mostly Burundi refugees, conducting services in Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa. But soon English-only speakers began dropping in, so it was necessary to have an interpreter. So when I was there, a Ugandan man was interpreting from Swahili and other languages into English. And within the week, I found that at least 5 of my good friends in the area have had some connection with Pastor Gatata or the church Ė what are the odds of that in a town of at least 100,000? God is doing something there! Pray for more outreach to Africans in Everett as there are many Muslim Somali refugees as well.
Time was spent in Spokane in eastern Washington too, as well as with my children and grandkids in parts of Washington and Oregon. It was a busy and blessed time. My 13 year old granddaughter Emilee traveled with me for 3 weeks and had her very first train ride. She also had her first experience with Godís visible provision. Emilee is very talented in using a camera and would like to become a photographer when she grows up. She was astonished when a friend of mine gave her $160 to buy a certain camera, saying, ďIíve never held this much cash in my hand before!Ē Then before we had a chance to go buy the camera, another friend handed her a $10 bill as we were leaving. Imagine her even greater amazement when she learned the camera she wanted actually cost $168 and change! So it was a big lesson to her of how God cares about our lives, enough to provide for something like a camera!
At the end of July I returned to southern California where Iíve been based at my brotherís house. Iíve been able to invest time and enjoy spiritual food with my sending church, Calvary Chapel San Jacinto, and to get more involved in their development of their missions department. I have also established a new relationship with Calvary Chapelís Far Reaching Ministries which is based out of Nimule, Sudan, north of Uganda. Far Reaching Ministriesís goal is to reach out to all of Africa and I look for the day when we will join hands even more in that effort.
The remaining few weeks I have left in California will be spent with family, friends, a few speaking engagements, a seminar, and preparing to fly ďhomeĒ to Uganda on October 2nd. Before we know it, it will be time to vote for a new president of the United States, and then holidays will be upon us, and another year and political era will be behind us. My absentee ballot will arrive in less than a week before elections, so I will have to Fed-Ex it to get it counted. The kingís heart [presidentís heart] is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. (Proverbs 21:1) No matter which man wins the election, the Word of God tells us that his heart is in the hand of God who will do with him as He pleases, as God deals with our nation Ė our job is to pray for that man!
As I return to Uganda and the joys and difficulties of the ministries and relationships there, I can truly say with the Psalmist: I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:4b-6)