Monday, January 30, 2012

January Mission Devotional

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not”  (Is. 53:3)

Respect, Obedience, and Honor – words that seem to be lacking in our lives and those around us.  Jesus Christ, our creator, who gave us life, and loved us so much that He suffered the most horrific death so we could have eternal life with Him deserves them.  It should pain us greatly when there is sin in our lives, yet quite often it is made light of and excuses are made.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:5-8)

He bore it all, He understands, and He gave His life through humbling Himself and becoming man.  He lived among us as a perfect example on how to live.

While reading through more of Isaiah 53 we see how Christ was treated even though He did no wrong.  He was despised and treated badly, yet He still loved us and continued with His Father’s plan to save us from our sin and iniquities.   “For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is 53:12) Jesus knew that He would have to suffer and die yet He still went through with it.

When times come to stand up and suffer for our Lord, do we go through with it or chose the easy way out?  There may be rejection, but if we are right in the Lord and leave it with Him we shouldn’t worry.  Let’s stand up for what is right even if it means a little uneasiness and discomfort.  It may even cause us physical pain or death.  What better cause is there than to die for our Lord and Savior and join Him in heaven!

Let us not forget the love Jesus has for us and the importance is He desires all to be saved and come to Him.   Jesus – the perfect example.


scott f. erickson

Pray for Kamuli

415975_10150474158836213_548216212_9138829_1248249740_oThis past Christmas Godfrey was among the many Ugandans who head back to their home village to celebrate with their extended families. When the pastor of Godfrey's home church in Kamuli heard that he was coming, he asked him to preach on Christmas morning.

In his youth, Godfrey had been a member of a notorious gang who had robbed and even killed many people from his village and the surrounding area. In fact, the transformation that has taken place in Godfrey's life all happened after he left the village. Many in the congregation were surprised to hear that Godfrey was the visitor who was going to preach that morning. He shared his testimony with them of how God had brought him out of the life he once lived to a new life of walking with Christ. He likened himself to Zacchaues who had been a wicked man but had been transformed after his encounter with Jesus. He went on to preach for 4 hours, sharing several of the Bible stories he had learned in our Ambassador Institute training. Following his message, he asked if anyone wanted to receive the gift of salvation and leave their lives of sin. Two young men responded to the invitation!

Following the Christmas service, the pastors in the area requested Godfrey to come back again the following week to preach for the final night of a 4-day Crusade they were holding to bring in the New Year. Godfrey did not preach as long this time. He focused his message on the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. He warned the people that those who do not repent of their wicked behavior and turn to Christ will hear those same words, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41). Following his preaching, people were invited to come forward to receive salvation. 150 people responded and the next day they were baptized. Praise His Name!

Godfrey testified that many of those who were saved were delivered from demons. He told us the story of one of them. “Frederick” had been ordained by his clan members to keep the clan witchcraft at his home. He had been repeatedly disturbed by the demons and wanted to be free. He converted to Islam after being promised that he would be freed from his demons if he did, but the demons stayed. After Frederick got saved, Godfrey and others went to his home to burn the witchcraft. When the clan members discovered why they had come, they pleaded with them not to burn it. “If you burn it, the demons will attack our children,” they said. Godfrey told them that the one who had been keeping the witchcraft wanted to be free from it. He asked whether anyone else was willing to keep the witchcraft at their home. They all declined and in the end, they burned it and the man was delivered. Praise Jesus for those in Kamuli who have been delivered from darkness to light.

The story is not over. After hearing Godfrey's preaching, the church leaders and members asked him how he knew the Bible so well and how he learned to teach that way. He told them about the Ambassador Institute training that he is taking. After much dialogue,Godfrey was invited to come and train the believers of his home area. The Spirit of God is at work in this area (about 45 miles north of Jinja). Please join us in prayer for the new believers and for the new class that will begin there in the near future.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Baby…A New Year

Dear Family and Friends,

P1000473How excited we are to welcome in year 201 2, and we anticipate that this year will be as exciting, blessed, and stretching as 2011 was! We hope you enjoyed celebrating the gift of our Savior this season along with spending time with family and friends.  We certainly appreciated the opportunity to slow down and reflect on God’s goodness to us, demonstrated in so many tangible ways.

As Patricia’s due date neared, we took some time off for some much needed rest and preparation at home in December. On December 19, we 000_0021welcomed into the world our precious, healthy baby boy, Nathanael Paul. The labor was difficult, lasting close to two days and nights, but God gave Patricia (and everyone else!) endurance and strength for the entire labor.  What joy we felt when we could finally hold our baby and gaze into his chubby face!  We find ourselves blessed indeed to be given the charge of such a special bundle, and we look forward to the lessons we will learn along the way as we begin to train Nathanael in the ways of the Lord.

To read the rest of the Pillman’s newsletter and find out how you can pray for them, please click here.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Infinitely More

What are you expecting this year? What are you hoping for? For many of us, the answer to those two questions would not be the same! The chaos in the world around us leads our minds to expect the worst; our hearts hope for better things. This internal tug of war isn’t new; Jesus actually promised it—”In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” It is because of God’s grace we are able to look to 2012 with excitement, knowing that God is faithful to do infinitely more than we can ask or think!
Last month I asked prayer for two special and precious young people in the Miriam Home, Maria and Josivaldo. Here is the next chapter in their stories.

You already know that Maria has had several opportunities to join new families, but real bonds never developed. Well, just a week before Christmas Maria received a wonderful gift; a home. Recently Maria had made friends with Jacira and had actually visited her home several times; just day trips, little get-aways. Then, less than a month ago, Jacira asked Maria if she wanted to join their family. For the first time, Maria said yes, and before Christmas all the documents were filed with the Juvenile Courts and Maria had her own room, brothers and sisters, mom and dad, even grandparents. One important element for Maria was that her new family understand her concern for her father. Before the holidays they went with her to visit him and bring him Christmas presents. Maria’s dreams are coming true, but adjusting to being part of a new family is challenging. Please pray that Maria will see herself more and more as a “daughter” and not a “visitor” in the family.

Editor’s note:  To hear the next chapter of Josivaldo’s story, click here to read Jonni’s entire newsletter.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy New Year from the Jores

Happy new year 2012 photo

Thank you for all of the Christmas cards and greetings. We loved getting them!

We are all feeling fully refreshed after these past few weeks of extended family time. We were able to get away with another missionary family to the coast of Kenya for a week-long holiday the week before Christmas. The house we stayed in was on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. Each day we'd run down our stone staircase, open up the wooden door at the bottom and be met by the warm, salty ocean air. The kids collected bags of shells and coral, and enjoyed seeing so many new things - starfish, jellyfish, puffer fish, and crabs (they were delicious). The beauty around us was incredible. Our God is an amazing Creator.

We are eagerly anticipating what the year of 2012 will bring. A baby, for one! Our little one is due the end of April, and we are hopeful that we can acquire the necessary paperwork (birth certificate, special pass and passport) in time to fly back to the U.S. the end of May for our 6-month furlough. Would you pray with us that that will happen? Paperwork can be a nightmare here in Uganda.

The first half of December Nate spent wrapping up each of the Bible classes, giving out final exams, meeting with individual students and grading. Most of the students were able to finish off the term strong and are ready for the next term, beginning next week. There are currently about 80 students in 8 different classes. Nate is teaching one of the classes with the help of our interns, Hans and Micah, and is mentoring 8 Ugandan teachers who teach the other 7 classes. It is a 2-year program and most of the classes are beginning their 2nd year. It is a great commitment for these men and women, many of whom are farmers or day laborers, each of them working hard to make ends meet. For them to take a 1/2 day off of work each week to attend classes speaks strongly of their desire to learn and grow. We are so grateful for your prayers for these students, as they study the Word of God each week and take it home to their families and communities. Please continue to pray for them - that they would grow in their love for the Lord and in their understanding of His Word.

Elijah and Jude will also be starting up school again next week. I (Rhoda) spent the day yesterday planning out their last term before we head back to the U.S. I always love having a fresh start with them, changing things up a bit and beginning new books. I was reminded yesterday as I was praying for wisdom and creativity, feeling overwhelmed at all of the different subjects I'd like to teach them, what my ultimate goals are - first, to provide an environment where they can grow in their love for the Lord, for each other and for those around them and second, to instill in them a love for learning. I'd also be thrilled if their love for writing grows, if they learn to persevere and work hard at something that is difficult, if they finish up their Math books, if they wouldn't get so silly and hyper when we do projects, if they... Would you pray for them with me, keeping my goals in mind, as well as for me, that I would be completely dependent on the Lord each day?

Hannah and Jeremiah, little sidekicks, are learning to play so well together, which is a great answer to prayer. They can now play with each other for longer stints before the screaming breaks out, and aren't so inclined to get into mischief while I'm teaching. A huge reason for that is that we have a lot of entertainment in our backyard these days - 5 adorable little puppies, an annoyingly loud little pig (Hannah's much-desired Christmas gift) and a tree house, built by Micah for the kids for Christmas.

We feel really blessed to have such a strong support base. Your prayers, emails, letters, packages and gifts are an incredible source of encouragement to us. Thank you! It is a privilege to be partners with you in this journey of sharing Christ to the world around us.

Editor’s note:  You can view the Jore’s blog here.