2020 has been more different than any of us ever imagined. Even with things slowing getting back to normal our life just feels different. Fortunately, this year and its changes and challenges were no surprise to God and He has been slowly preparing us for years for these weird days we are in. And we know that He is also using this season to prepare us for the next one. He is just faithful like that! It has been helpful for us mentally and spiritually to remember this simple truth and reflect on how His hand has been weaving our days in to this special life we get to live. Let me give you a couple of examples…
House Groups at Jinja Town Church
With the lockdown of churches here in Uganda we have been streaming Jinja Town Church on FB. It was the best option at the time but everyone is missing the community that gathering for church on Sunday creates. In an effort to serve our church better we are introducing home groups to Jinja Town Church. This past month I have been able to help 9 groups begin meeting through out the week in different areas around town. I send out a short video each week summarising the sermon from Sunday along with a few questions and discussion points. Every group spends time praying for one another, enjoy fellowship together, and take communion. We have already had 4 people give their life to the Lord and so many others are being encouraged weekly by these gatherings. It is fun to see how the Lord is using our past experiences and skills we learned leading Small Groups at Ridge Church to serve the local church and meet people’s needs here today.
One of my roles at Jinja Town Church is to help share the preaching responsibilities and give Msumba (Pastor) Smooth a break. He is a great teacher and speaker and spends lots of time each week preparing. It is my pleasure to give him a breather every few weeks. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach and finish up the sermon series “Storms”. I focused on Ps.91:14-16 and the promises the Lord gives us in those verses. Going through storms in life is inevitable, but God is faithful as we pass through them. Preaching is something that I am having to grow in but it has been a good outlet for me in processing what I am going through personally and what the Lord is doing in my life. Through this time of studying and preparation I was reminded of all the storms the Lord has brought me through and the promise that He is forever present with me. Here is the link if you would like to listen. https://web.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=2454100358232168&ref=search
Doing Life With People Gives Life
One thing the Lord taught us years ago is how important it is to live life with other people. We were created for community and the Lord calls us to help carry other people’s burdens. This takes work, it takes time, it requires vulnerability and it sometimes feels heavy, but it is so worth it. Not only do you get to see the faithfulness of God in your own life, you get a front row seat to see Him at work in others lives. God has used the people in our life so many times to encourage and bless us. It is our hearts desire to be that for others. When we were moving to Uganda we knew that the Lord wanted us to serve the people of Uganda, but we also had a desire to care for those in the expat community. We make an effort to connect with the people the Lord puts in our path and enjoy this journey together. It just makes the valleys and the mountain tops better.
We love connecting with people from all over the world, hearing their stories and looking for ways to serve them and Jinja is full of so many people from so many different places. Our home gym, Jinja Sweat, was birthed out of this desire to build community and healthier bodies. We knew that accomplishing these two things would help others in becoming healthier emotionally and mentally too. We had no idea that during this crazy time our small gym classes would meet such a practical and real need. We have had so many people tell us that more than anything Jinja Sweat has helped them to stay sane during this time and even helped to fight off depression. That folks, is what you call a win! We have 2 small classes, 3 times a week, on a dirt floor, under a tin roof shelter, with minimal equipment, but the impact on people’s lives in spectacular. We are seeing more and more how creative God is in His plan to use our lives! Lara and I both experienced the power that exercise and attempting to eat healthy foods can make in your life just a few years ago. If there has ever been a time that we need to prioritise some self care to reduce the stress of life, the time is now! I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given at Carolina Sweat to get my fitness coach license and learn how to teach group fitness classes. Those skills are hard at work these days and are making an impact on so many!
Be Encouraged Friends
Even if this season feels weird, wasted, different and frustrating, please know that God will use it to prepare you for whatever is next and whatever is next is even better!
Will you be praying these things for us:
- Eyes to be open to the opportunities and people around us
- Strength and energy to continue investing in others
- Spiritual growth and deepen relationship with the Lord
- Extra funds for a gym floor (Pavers, Not dirt)
- Direction for Jinja Town Church during this time
- Mental, emotional and spiritual healthiness
- Spanky finished his Life coaching school and is now working on hours so he can get his International Certification