----- African Connection --------------
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . ."(Matt 28:19)

06 March, 2018

We are a Bridge

This is a season of travel for us because it is a season of connecting with people we rarely get to visit. We love people most of all and we are grateful for time to connect. In this season we have newly realized something about ourselves. We are a bridge.

We are a bridge between cultures. Now we are physically present in the United States of America but a very big part of our hearts and brains are in Uganda. We span these two cultures like a bridge spans a canyon We have deep pillars in each of the two cultures, supporting us as we bridge the differences. Life is very different on either end of our bridge and yet, for us, through us, the two are connected.

We are a bridge between resources and service. As we connect with people we share what we get to be a part of in Uganda, how we see God at work and how he invites people into his work. We are asked questions about the ministries and people in Uganda. Often they also want to know how they can participate in serving in Uganda. Many people are sacrificially donating money every month to enable us to connect people to Jesus in Uganda. Resources and service are the framework for all of us collectively serving in Uganda. Together we are a bridge in the Kingdom of God.

We are a bridge between the past and the future. This is obvious in so many facets of who we are and what we do, but perhaps no more so than in grand-parenting. We connect our grandchildren to the past and they connect us to the future. In the same way, we help to bridge the gap in knowledge of what has been in the past with what is now, as we look with our colleagues into future ministry opportunities in Uganda.

We are a bridge, and sometimes we need to lighten the traffic load on us for maintenance to take place. This is part of why homeland ministry assignment (HMA) is necessary. Stepping away from the responsibilities we carry in Uganda and connecting with loved ones in the U.S. brings us renewal and refreshment. This is also why we take Sabbath time every week. God knows just how to repair and restore us for continued service. He often uses His own people to touch us in restorative ways, and for these we are forever grateful.

We are a bridge designed by God. We are a bridge held up by strong supports, ones that have names and faces and we know parts of their life stories. We are a bridge, common in sort, bridging uncommonly good people and places and times. We are a bridge designed by God.

Jeff and Christine

14 November, 2017

Prepare For Impact!

Image result for "prepare for impact"In day-to-day life there is a lot of talk about impact. The impact of climate change, the impact of a changing world economy. There is great impact on people and relationships due to violence, drugs, broken families and other poor choices made by both those we do and do not know. It seems every area of life is impacted one way or another by something or someone. What we do and don’t do, what we say and don’t say also impacts the world and those around us.  We need to prepare for impact! 
For the most part we can control the impact we have on others. But there are some things we have no control over. DNA is one of those things we have no control over. Often, people have told Christine and I that our son and daughter, resemble me. It is interesting that within a family, members can look somewhat alike (similar, nose shape, smile, etc.), but yet we each are unique. 

God has given us the opportunity to be a part of his family, as His child. As His child he wants us to look like, to be like him, like his Son.    Scripture says:
Gen 1:27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he 
                       created them; male and female he created them.”
Romans 8:29“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to 
                       become like his Son” 
We were created in the image of God, even as Christ was in God’s image. Yes, we are created in His image, but there is more to it.  Author John Piper said: As we are conformed to the image of Christ, he is made more and more the center of all things.

Jesus himself is the image of God" (Colossians 1:15–16). Therefore, we are being made into images of the image of the Father.

We are each created by God as a one-of-a-kind in His image and God wants us to live in His image, to live in the image of Christ. Living in His image is reflected in the work of our hands, in our hearts, in our attitudes and our actions. Everything we do is out of being in His image and is to be done with His love.  This only happens after a heart transformation. 

Jesus is our example. On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus washed His disciples' feet.
In John 13 we read Jesus sat down and said:
12  “Do you know what I have done to you?
13  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
14  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to 
          wash one another's feet.
15  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."
 Further down we read:
34. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have 
           loved you, that you also love one another.
35. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.''

In verse 15 Jesus said “I have given you an example,” Living in the image of Christ who is living in the image of God:

  • God wants us to do what Jesus did.
  • God wants us to love like Jesus loved.
  • God wants us to live like Jesus lived.
  • God wants us to impact others by doing, loving and living as Jesus did.
Over the next several posts I would like to explore how we can live our lives with greater impact for Christ by following His example.


07 November, 2017

First Fruit

We moved to Uganda late in 2012. In February of 2013 we planted two starts of lemon trees. We asked, “How long does it take for lemon trees to bear fruit?” The answer we received was, “Usually 4-5 years here.”

That sounded about like forever then. However, we were delighted to discover in the spring months of 2017 that our lemon trees were blooming. “Don’t get too excited,” we told ourselves. “The trees may just bloom this first year and not yield any real fruit. But just imagine NEXT year!”  Yumm, we could almost taste the lemon!

We know that often the first fruits are not the best. It can be a scraggly beginning for some fruit bearing branches. Fruit-bearing can start off looking quite impressive only to yield little-to-none. We have just enough gardening experience to breed caution in us when it comes to the beginning.

BUT! We are experiencing an AMAZING crop of lemons this year. One tree had over 30 lemons and we are enjoying using them. We have made lemon tea, had fresh lemon slices in cool water, baked lemon cakes and muffins and bread. We have shared lemons with others. What a wonderful first year of bearing fruit for that tree! The other tree does not get as much sun and has put forth fewer lemons, but that tree is blooming again now, so who knows how many more it might produce?

We enjoyed harvesting the first lemons. The two gentlemen who have carefully raised the trees with us celebrated the harvest of our first fruits. 

I soon realized that to make the fruit useful, it has to be changed. To use a lemon, we wash it clean and then we either abrasively grate it or we cut it. After cutting it we may continue cutting it into pieces or we may aggressively squeeze it until all the juice is out. To use a lemon, we never leave it the way it came to us off the tree. But oh, we have been delighted in using our first fruits.

We have been thinking a lot about first fruit. We are about to complete our first term (two years) in the position of Country Director of WGM in Uganda. We feel like first fruit times. We had our scraggly spots through the term. We were cautious about the beginning.

Now we feel like lemons off the tree. God cleansed us. We have been abrasively grated. God has done refining work in us, peeling off some layers that we might be a more pleasing aroma to those around us.

God has done some cutting, too. And have been squeezed! We confess not everything that came out was sweet; some was undoubtedly sour. God did not leave us the way we came into this term. He has not left us unchanged. Even so, we have felt His delight in using us. We believe God is using the ingredients in us to make something good, and the seeds harvested from us to bear more fruit for His Kingdom. We offer it all up to Him in worship. (In some ways, it is kind of special to be first fruits J)

With a grateful heart,