If I were to put a picture of my seven-year-old daughter on Instagram, on one of those swipe left for a picture of her as a newborn series, I would get a host of comments about how quickly time goes and how none of my mom friends can believe that she is turning eight in September. Queue all the emojis.
Yet, when I describe our work in Africa, and particularly the development of a campus that’s taken place over the last seven and a half years, people seem less than impressed. Sometimes their eyes seem to say “you mean you haven’t wired electricity to the continent yet?”
Next week, I will venture back to that land that I have spoken and written so much about, after being away for seven-going-on-eight years.
The last time I was Uganda Charlee was enjoying ground nuts womb side and I struggled a bit to see how God was going to help us help this world in overwhelming need.
In 2 Corinthians. 5:7, the apostle Paul says that we are to walk by faith, not by sight. And that is the struggle, for all of us: faith or sight.
By sight, I watched my best friend receive a phone call that our husbands had just been hit by a truck, a group of men sideswiped before the final collision: the truck vs. my beloved teacher, boss, friend and mentor, who was thrown to the ground by the force of the impact.
By sight, I remember my dear friend Josephine looking at me with tears in her eyes, telling me “it’s ok if you want to leave now. This is our reality, it doesn’t have to be yours.” And by sight, I considered it.
By sight, I remember walking the streets of Kampala, right below the tallest buildings in the city, and a friend asking me “you really think we’ll be able to do anything here?” She said she had a friend whose full-time job was to try to get land for an NGO. Here we were, the poorest mzungus most Africans have ever met. By sight, it was clear. We had no money or power to secure a future here. Was I naïve for thinking we could?
But we walk by faith, not by sight.
I remember making a decision in my heart and telling her. “It sure doesn’t look like it. But I know that God called us, and I believe he will make a way.”
We walk by faith, not by sight.
What a scary way to live! Peter tried it. Stepping out of the boat, unsure how in the world he is going to get anywhere close—he chose to believe Jesus who, from the midst of the chaotic water, beckons him “Come” (Matt. 14). Like Peter, when I’ve been frightened, my Lord reaches out his hand and catches me. “Why did you doubt?”
We walk by faith, not by sight.
What a wonderful way to live!
In just 7 years, I’ve watched my teacher be faithful to God through recovery, only to get up and walk, only to return to Africa and continue to serve the people he first introduced me to.
We’ve secured a beautiful 7-acre campus with mango trees and a lot of possibility.
We’ve built homes for four families, and guesthouse with suites for three visiting groups at a time.
We’ve dug two wells and installed an irrigation system for acres of land to grow pumpkins, amaranth, tomatoes, beans, corn, greens, onions, eggplant, groundnuts, cassava, potatoes, cabbage.
We’ve grown so much food, even without the pesticides the experts say you can’t farm without, that farmers are now coming to our land for seminars on sustainable agriculture.
We’ve established a partnership with a neighboring school, empowering teachers with everything from First Aid to creative classroom management. The headmaster claims we have been sent by God and that since meeting, our team has never left them.
We’ve listened to those teachers say that the most pressing need was hunger, and we’ve implemented a lunch program that serves them nutritious food twice a week.
We’ve encouraged the kids to get their own hands in the dirt, making their education practical to their context, and motivated their parents to contribute their little extra to improve the school’s facilities and kitchen.
We’ve offered internship programs and higher education in theology. Some program grads claim there has been no greater impact on their life or no other explanation for their success than the biblical education they have received.
We’ve initiated a business that’s become the favorite shop in the local village. It has introduced new options for healthy living and allowed locals to bring trade from God’s economy (the ground), and not just the coin.
We’ve taught God’s Word to kids through adults, provided a weekly gathering space for believers to worship together, hosted a summit for East African youth, blessed widows with food and clothing, and served the sick and injured in practical ways.
All of this has happened since the last time I visited Uganda, and 2011 was not the beginning! Yet since the very beginning of our ministry to Uganda, we’ve been walking by faith, not by sight.
When you’re carrying a child in the womb, this is kind of how it feels. You know they’re in there, growing, kicking, making you very uncomfortable. But there’s this doubt that sometimes creeps in, asking “are they really going to be ok?” “When I try to deliver this baby, am I going to be ok?” And it doesn’t completely go away when you make it past the birth experience. As you raise the child, you’re still not completely sure. Every parent knows this fear. What if we can’t do it? What if we were naïve in thinking we could? It’s the same thing in trying to birth something new into the world with God.
Matthew 14:30-33 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Jesus both catches us and rebukes us, the absolute best response.
Look at what he has done in mere seven-going-on-eight years! Imagine what more he can do before our lives are done. He has healed. He has restored. He has provided. He has sustained. As Simon wrote to me this morning “Our God is not limited.”
What are we afraid of? Grab his hand. There is a great adventure ahead.
God is certainly not limited, but we are not God. We wait on him. Look at what he has done!