Healing the Blind
How blind is blind? If a person is blind, he simply cannot see ~ a tough concept for those of us who’ve always had sight. We cannot imagine life without vision of any kind. The same is true in the spirit realm. Sometimes it’s easier to see things in someone else’s life or culture than in our own. I find that all of us, at one time or another, will come up against blindness caused by our acceptance of things in our culture that are an integral part of our being, and find that we’ve accepted something that is against the Scriptures.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life ~ your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life ~ and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12: 1-2 (The Message).
Changing those behaviors and beliefs to agree with the Bible can be really tough. But if one is willing, with God’s help, it is possible. One of the cases where Jesus healed a blind man, He spit on the ground, made mud out of the dirt, and put it on the man’s eyes. Since we’re made from the dust of the earth, I’ve always wondered if that was an act of re-creation of the man’s eyes. In our Christian lives and ministries, we can likewise find that God has given us simple tools that help us also to bring sight to the spiritually blind around us.
For some time now, we’ve been wanting to start a quarterly leadership retreat for both SEVO and Christian Bible Study Centre leaders. We had all kinds of ideas, but it just didn’t seem to come together. But as we were to discover, it was because we were lacking the tools God was to give us. Hannington Sserugga, director and founder of SEVO International, Pastor David Kasule, pastor of New Life Centre church and director of Christian Bible Study Centre, and I were able to attend several seminars in April and May. Two were on Christian business, called Business Without Regrets, designed and taught by Ugandan pastor and former businessman, Kenneth Mwesigwa. The third seminar was a pastors’ seminar with key note speaker Glenn Schwartz of Pennsylvania, USA, of World Mission Associates. (see www.wmausa.org) Glenn wrote a great book called When Charity Destroys Dignity, about the dependency syndrome that so cripples much of the world, damages missions, and inhibits or prevents self-reliance.
The things we learned from these seminars have given us new tools for ministry. We have just completed our first SEVO quarterly leadership seminar in Bugembe, a small town near Jinja at the source of the Nile River. Jinja is about 60 miles east of Kampala. We were expecting 18-20 SEVO leaders from all over Uganda, but we ended up with 39! I taught from Business Without Regrets during the daytime, then Hannington took over and did discussion and business planning with the leaders during the evenings. Long days and very crowded, uncomfortable environment for all, but the hunger for knowledge was a big deterrent to any complaints. We could literally see eyes getting big with revelation, and feedback indicated that people were willing to go home and try a new and biblical approach to managing incomes, developing character and integrity, and managing SEVO affairs in a knowledgeable and responsible manner.
One thing we learned was there are 4 types of entrepreneurs, 1) Non-starters, 2) Failures 3) Strugglers, and 4) Overcomers. In brief, non-starters have lots of ideas, but no courage to meet the challenges of business or ministry. So they never get started. Failures are those who have ideas and get started, but fail to meet the challenges. The strugglers are those who have ideas, start and have courage to meet the challenges, but lack the skills or knowledge to overcome them. And the overcomers are people who are able to use skills and knowledge to keep meeting and overcoming their challenges. Both SEVO and Christian Bible Study Centre have been in the Struggler category, but are moving into the Overcomer category. God has given us a little spit here and a little dirt there, and together they have caused us to have sight in new areas, so we have developed and matured.
It was an eye-opener to me to meet with these 39 SEVO leaders and to see the difference between them and our former SEVO leaders from several years back. Because of Hannington’s own growth and maturity, he’s passed that on to the people he’s developing to manage SEVO in different parts of Uganda. A major change is that instead of being non-starters, these are people willing to meet all the challenges to become overcomers. Our previous SEVO leaders joined SEVO for what they could get out of it. These are people who joined SEVO and have learned the joy of what they can do for others, in the true spirit of the Good Samaritan. It was reflected in the fact that they had budgeted, each had paid a fee to attend, everything was paid for, and as the speaker, I was never allowed to pay for a thing, not even bottled water or my daily motorcycle trip to and from our meetings.
When we ended, Hannington brought one of the leaders home with him for the purpose of doing a survey of our Kikunyu property where we have 2 acres awaiting more development to become SEVO’s national training headquarters. He’s the scout for a team willing to come and do what they can towards further development of the land, hopefully with local community assistance. Two days later, I asked where this man was, if he’d returned home yet? Hannington grinned and said he was in the gravel pit, digging sand to sell and earn his transport money to get home.
This is one of many ways that our ministries teach responsibility. We do not give handouts, we develop maturity and responsibility. And our leaders are rising to the occasion. In Kamuli, a town in a neighboring county to Bugembe, one SEVO man has labored alone for the past couple of years, having the spirit of the Good Samaritan. He showed us photos of a wrecked, overloaded sugar cane truck where a SEVO rescue was done. That particular area is known as a “black spot,” an area of many accidents and deaths, due to speeding and reckless driving, not to mention the prevalence of the heavy sugar cane trucks. This man, who also suffers from a chronic illness, lobbied various officials for over a year, and has finally succeeded in having speed bumps put on that stretch of road. This will force vehicles to drive slower and thus reduce the accident rate. This man has only been trained in the first level of SEVO training, Basic First Aid.
We are learning that not only does God help us in our own blindness, and in doing so, helps us to learn to make mud and give others sight as well, but the principle of the loaves and fishes is also true today. We give Jesus all we have, and He will always multiply it!