This is a first-hand account of our mission to Tororo, Uganda.  
It was written by one of our team physicians.  
It is a Western perspective of the surprises, rigors,
and the stunning joy of caring for the Ugandan people for 5 short days.

January 21st, 2013

We have settled into our hotel here in Tororo. We have arrived safely with all of our belongings (including medications). This is a huge praise considering the distance and many airplanes on which we traveled. 

We started out the day in Nairobi flying early this am via Mission Aviation Fellowship to Bungomo. The flight was beautiful as we crossed Kenya flying of the Great Rift Valley. Stunning! We landed in Bungomo after a 1h20min flight. Bungomo is a small town just before you cross over into Uganda. We literally landed on an airstrip that seemed like it was in someone's backyard. 

The plane traveled back to Nairobi to pick up the second team while we waited. We were picked up from the airport by several member of the Agape church and sat at a local restaurant until the next group arrived.

We then made the trek across the Ugandan border which was relatively painless. We stopped on each side of the border which took us a couple of hours and then we made our way across. 

 

Tororo is only about 10km across the border so we got here quickly. We were very pleased to learn that the Prime Hotel is not a bad place to stay. We have hot water and Wifi (which is how I'm using Facebook). No complaints from any of us! 

We have just finished our banquet that we have every year the night before we start the clinic. Many area leaders were in attendance tonight including the many government officials (district leader and health officer), local church pastors, and many of our Kenyan brethren from Agape. We truly have a small army of missionaries here.

We are grateful that the district leader is a believer. The district leader would be like the governor of Alabama. There is tremendous unity among all of the local pastors for this effort. All of us share the same goal to reach the unreached. They have such a passion for sharing the Gospel and evangelism that it truly is inspiring. Kenyans having a Godly desire to reach their neighbors in Uganda for Christ! 

Tomorrow is the big day. We wake early, eat real fast, sort medicines, drive to the site, set up the clinic, organize the flow of patients, have clinic for 5 hours, go to the crusade event, and then sleep. It will be exhausting but exciting for sure. 

If you'd like to join us in prayer, please pray for the people we will see tomorrow. Pray that their hearts are open to see and hear. Pray that He will turn the hearts of many to Himself. We are very excited about what He has in store. 

I read Isaiah 55:11 today.

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
— Isaiah 55:11

Our God is personal and active. He has a specific desire and will accomplish it. May He use the great team assembled here to do a great work... Not for us, but for Him.


January 22nd, 2013

It is 4:30pm here now and we have just finished our first day of medical camp. Busy 1st day and we hit the ground running.

We woke early and ate breakfast together. After a brief devotional, we unpacked and organized all of our medications. After loading them into the van, three of us traveled ahead to the clinic site to layout the patient flow.

Just a few days prior to arriving, a new church building was erected that will serve as the "mother church" for the Ugandan ministry here. The church itself sits off the road about 100 yards in a neighborhood of small huts, dilapidated brick houses and small farms. The church stands tall and prominent among this backdrop. And the church itself is nothing more than a pole barn covered with aluminum roof and siding. 

Driving up to the church for the first time, we saw that there was a small crowd of people waiting for us already. I learned that the Agape church had promoted this clinic on the radio so they knew we were coming. We were greeted with shouts and singing. It was like something you would see in a movie. We quickly unpacked the medicines and determined the logistics of the day.

What hits you first is the smell of smoldering fires. Everything is cooked over an open fire in the homes. Also, refuse and trash are burned as well. It's a very distinct smell and overwhelms you a bit.

We waited on the rest of the team to arrive. They had stopped by the district leaders headquarters for a brief welcome. As we waited I walked around the area and took some pictures. Just adjacent to the clinic, I met a young lady who was caring for 4 children. She apparently had adopted these children and were caring for them. She had been busy chopping fire wood that morning and was in the middle of selling it to a man on a bicycle. $1000 Ugandan shillings per bundle. She sold 7 of them to the man on the bicycle which amounted to about $2 US. One of the older children was cutting a "yam" into slices in the dirt. One of the youngest children was cooking breakfast over a small fire. It looked like a boiling pot of leaves of some plant.

Again it's the smells here that get really get you. I could smell a very strong odor of alcohol emanating from around me. Just adjacent to a nearby tree, I learned that the mother of these orphans also distilled African alcohol in order to make money. The distillation process seemed very crude and would likely make you blind if you drank it. Two of the Kenyan pastors on our team came over and spoke to her. She was not a believer but was interested in hearing more.

The clinic day started off fast. When the rest of the team arrived, we started seeing patients at a brisk pace. We roped off the clinic into different areas: triage, doctors, dentists and pharmacists. We were again for fortunate to have Wilfred (a pastor and dentist from Nairobi) join us this year. Massey Willingham will be happy to hear that he asked about you and wants you to come next year. (By the way, he was grateful for your teaching him about using local anesthesia for pulling teeth. He finds it much easier now.).

The clinic day went quickly. I had a local nurse from the Tororo district hospital as my translator today. She was fantastic. Most of my patients today had fairly benign conditions including dehydration, upper respiratory infections and neck/back pain. I saw on little 6 month old that was having fever according to the mother. No source identified on exam. His temp at triage was only 99 degrees but he felt really hot to me. I decided to go ahead and just test him for malaria and he was positive. Because of his age, we sent him to the local hospital for treatment.

All in all, we saw about 200 patients today. Many of our patients walked miles from local villages to see us today. Everyone went through our prayer tent and heard the gospel. Our Kenyan team does a tremendous job in engaging the local people.

The people here are incredibly hospitable and happy that we are here. First, I have been blown away by the unity of churches in this area. I spoke with 2 pastors (both named John) who led churches on opposite sides of Tororo who were at our clinic to help. They have a genuine and pure heart about the Great Commission. They served on a local council pastors from all denominations. Such a model for us! Second, the two pastors told me that they have never had a team such as ours come to this area. They are grateful that we are here. I hope he understood how grateful we are to be here.

Off to the Crusade! Will send pictures tomorrow if I can.


January 23rd, 2013
morning

Sunrise at Mount Tororo. This small mountain juts out of the group like a giant rock, but it serves as an orientation point while in Tororo because it it so visible. It's elevation is 927 feet or so. We hope to set aside time to climb it before the week is done.

Time for breakfast and then another day of medical clinic. We are expecting to double our turnout today as word of mouth spreads. One of our Kenyan pastors, Bishop Evan, has erected a banner in town that will invite everyone. 

The crusade last night was a great success. There were many salvations last night but I don't have a good number. Many children gave their lives to Christ which I think is a testimony of the work of Blake Kersey and Ginger Cornelius. A crusade here is a big event, particularly because of the live music. Our Kenyan team hand-built a small stage made from some local lumbar. It was erected in the middle of a small field. They also put up a small tent with chairs and allowed our team to sit at the front. There was a lot of dancing and singing. I even saw some of our people from First Baptist raising their hand, shouting, and dancing. I told them that I fully expect to see them do this when we get back to church in Trussville. I have pictures. 

Off to eat breakfast! Will try to send an update later today. 

Join us in praying for the day ahead.

 

Janaury 23rd, 2013
evening

Day two of the clinic is in the books. What a day! I don't know really where to begin so ill just start at the beginning.

We left the hotel at about 8am and arrived at the clinic shortly thereafter. Our assumptions were correct in that the clinic exploded today. They were lined up already under a tent waiting for us. We quickly unpacked the medicines and got to work.

I have included a picture of my interpreter this week. A very gracious and Godly woman named Adikin. She is a nurse from the local district hospital here in Tororo district. Her English is excellent and she really helps me in figuring out who is a believer and who is not. She is very encouraging and always looks for opportunities to help patients make Godly decisions. Small example... We saw a young teenage girl today who found out she was pregnant. She came to the clinic for a cough but we quickly realized that wasn't why she came. She was thinking about having an abortion because if she told her parents then she was fearful of the consequences. She was also afraid of what would happen if she had to leave school. We spent time talking with her and encouraging her to make the right choice to keep the child. In the world's eyes, it seems a convenient choice. The reprocussions in her life would be devastating though. An abortion in Uganda is a deadly proposition for mom and the baby. We helped her to realize that God is trustworthy and will take care of her. And while her parents would be upset initially, they would support her and this child. Adikin spoke mostly to her and really comforted her. I think this young lady just wanted someone to talk to about it.

We began our teaching sessions today alongside the clinic. As I mentioned earlier, we have 3 pastors with us on this trip. Today, Dr. Dwayne Howell (Old Testament Professor from Campbellsville University) and Tim Clark (Brookwood Baptist) led a small group of pastors under a small tent. I cannot tell you how eager and thirsty they are for doctrinally sound Biblical teaching. I have included of picture of them in the tent. 

The clinic day was very long but very rewarding. We saw approximately 250 patients today and extracted lots of teeth. The stories of these patients were incredible. Believe it or not, many of them however have similar ailments that we have. But one thing they have that we do not is malaria. We have seen an huge number of patients with malaria. This is a new experience for us. In years past, we have seen relatively few patients that we've diagnosed with malaria. This year is different. It's difficult to pickup in patients. They don't have classic symptoms mostly. Usually it is a chronic and cyclical pattern of flulike illness, malaise, back aches, headache and sometimes fever. We brought about 200 malaria tests and were almost out. Most of our cases have been children as young as 6 months old too. Very surprising.

As I have mentioned before, we have a prayer tent set up at the end of our clinic. Every patient receives prayer and counseling if wanted. Tim and Dwayne spent the afternoon with our Kenyan pastors in this afternoon sharing with patients and families. According to Tim, we have counted 92 salvations just TODAY during the clinic! For those of you that have joined us in praying for the lost here Tororo, I'm sure that you share in our rejoicing. While we do come to serve and give and heal with medicines, it would be futile if not for Christ. What hope have we if not for what he has done for us and for the people of Tororo. If you consider the hardships and circumstances that these Ugandans have (hunger, broken homes, diseases, chronic pain, unemployment, severe poverty), you quickly realize that they don't need just medicine but hope. And not hope for this world but a better hope. A hope for redemption, hope, true healing, justice, and love.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

On this side of the world, you encounter such joy and life in believers only because of Christ's power to change a life. Without it, there is no ultimate hope.

I would be remiss to not mention the incredible work being done by Blake and Ginger. Kids are everywhere. There are probably 50-75 children that are running and playing around the clinic site at any given time. They have done a tremendous job by playing games, singing and coordinating activities. Today they made paper airplanes, painted fingernails and threw small frisbees. Evangelism with kids 101. Sharing the love of Christ with a paper airplane. So simple but powerful. Children unfortunately feel the brunt if broken homes and poverty. No doubt that they feel privileged to shine some light into the darkness. Many children have already responded in proclamations of faith. Pray for their continued work with the children that His light will shine even brighter.

Some of the Kenyan team has been setting up for the crusade tonight. We have a new sound system that we have rented from Kampala. It sounds much better. Pray for the preaching and sharing of Gods word tonight. Pray for the harvest to come.

As of today, there are 350 people following these updates from Uganda. Please share with everyone. Let us all lift our hearts and voices to God is prayer for the pouring out of His Spirit among this people group. He listens and answers when we call on His name. And in turn, praise Him for the work accomplished and the days we have ahead.


January 23rd, 2013
night

Day 2 has now come to a close. We have all returned from the crusade and many of us are sitting here in the hotel lobby feverishly sending emails and messages back home. Thank goodness for WiFi!

The crusade was incredible once again. Such a different and unique way of worship. Back in the States, we would probably find some label for it such as "eccentric", "radical" or maybe even Pentecostal. But here, I would simply describe it as authentic and genuine. They truly have such a heart of worship that emanates, I believe, from their hardship and toil. They hold nothing back and give their hearts to praising God. From my Baptist background, I find it very liberating. I'm sure many on the team would agree. The shouts, dancing, and preaching stem from authentic faith, I believe. So, as they regularly shout in the service, "Let us praise God with a clap of hand." Love it! Many of you have asked for pictures of specific people dancing and raising their hands at the worship service (specifically some of our FBCT members). My apologies but I am keeping them for bribes later.

When we arrived at the crusade tonight, they were well into the worship service. I bet the whole affair was several hours long. They probably started around 4pm and when we finally left at sundown, they had just finished the invitation.

At some point in the evening, the service was given over to our team. I had the privilege of leading off by sharing a brief story of my own personal conversion. Then a small group of ladies from our team then led an impromptu version of "Amazing Grace" and "God Is So Good".

Then our very own Blake Kersey from FBC Trussville had the honor of delivering the message. Pictures will be uploaded separately. He did a fantastic job. Then Pastor Evans came to give the invitation and there were many professions of faith. I have been amazed at the number of children who have come forward to accept Christ. All of the children sat in the front while listening to Blake. They were very attentive.

The energy and enthusiasm on the team is great. You would wonder about some burnout. But we are all excited and eager for tomorrow. I didn't mention this earlier, but every morning we have a devotional led by one of our team. This morning, one particular person got up to share about how God has gotten their attention. This person shared how they once believed that they were holding it all together. But through a series of circumstances, God was tearing down their perfect world. And when everything collapsed, it got even worse. In the end, what was left was her and God. There was nowhere to turn. God was telling this person, "I AM all that you need". And He was using the experiences this week to fill this person back up.

The brokenness and humility that emanated from this short devotional is, I think, indicative of where our team is. Some more than others, but you cannot help but be brought very low during such an experience as this. Not just though the tears but the what ifs. What if I had just went to Walmart to buy a handful of reading glasses? What if we had just brought some extra clothes to give? I do a good job on holding back most times but the tears do come. You can't help it when you get slapped in the face with such helplessness and sickness.

I am reminded of this verse in Matthew...

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
— Matthew 9:36 NIV

All of us reach a point when our perfect world is torn apart. Some don't reach this point until their days have come near an end. But there are many fortunate ones who reach this point sooner... when all is stripped away. At these times, you are left with nothing. But for those who call upon the name of The Lord, He becomes your Good Shepherd.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
— John 10:28

 This is the promise that our Good Shepherd gives in John 10:28. Join us in praying that the people we encounter will experience this promise this week. Lala slama!


  This is Pastor Chepkombe from the Agape Mount Elgon fellowship. He is very grateful for the teaching sessions and free books from The Gospel Coalition.  A special thank you to Bill Walsh from TGC and providing such an incredible FREE resource.  We selected "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith" by RC Sproul. If you have an upcoming mission trip, check our  Packing Hope  at they website.

This is Pastor Chepkombe from the Agape Mount Elgon fellowship. He is very grateful for the teaching sessions and free books from The Gospel Coalition.  A special thank you to Bill Walsh from TGC and providing such an incredible FREE resource.  We selected "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith" by RC Sproul. If you have an upcoming mission trip, check our Packing Hope at they website.

January 24th, 2013

At the close of day 3 of our medical clinic, I think the word of the day is "whew." This is by far the hardest day of our clinic. First, the patient volume typically swells beyond our capabilities. The crowds become very large. Second, we begin to run out of medications, usually the most used, such as doxycycline, Selson Blue, flagyl. Third, this day is the most physically demanding. And while tensions were high for a few hours this morning, we have survived. Praise God.

When I say that the volume swells, I'm not sure if that adequately explains it. Not only do we have word of mouth, but this year we also had a radio advertisement that told everyone about the clinic. So you start to see patients that are not local to the area. Some have come from 10-20 miles away to come see us. And then there the children. Particularly this year, since we have had a dedicated children's program and have been giving out more toys and games, the throng of children was overwhelming. We had been seeing some of the local children for the past two days, but there were many new faces today. 

Where arrived this morning, it was obvious we had a problem. There was an enormous crowd of people waiting for us. And as we unpacked and setup the clinic, the number of people seemed to grow. We understood immediately that we could not see all of these patient today. In fact, we had given out tickets yesterday so that people could return today. We gave out 50 tickets to return today but there was easily several hundred people who were waiting for us. As the clinic progressed, Kathy Hudgens with some of our local ministers took most of the crowd away from the clinic and handed out free vitamins and de-worming medicine. They were appreciative but it could have easily gotten unruly. (If you are worried about our safety, then don't worry. We had several local police officers - with AK47s - patrolling the area for us.)

The pace of the clinic was brisk. We started triage at patient number 504 and closed up today around patient number 860-something. And that does not include the number of dental patients.

The most striking theme of today was the acuity of illness, in other words how truly sick everyone was. And it wasn't the adults but the kids. All of the physicians on the trip agreed that we could easily have filled up Children's Hospital ICU with the kids we saw today. The clinic was filled today with the cries of babies and children either waiting for the physician or having teeth pulled.

Many of our sickest patients today had malaria. This is the most cases of malaria that I have ever seen (but I haven't seen much). There were many children that we saw today as young as several months old who had fever, malnutrition, dehydration and were listless. And almost all of these cases today were malaria positive. One particular child I saw who was about 1 1/2 years old (who was the size of a 6-8 month old) was floppy. I sent them directly to the hospital in one of our vans. One of the last children I saw today presented for vomiting and diarrhea for the past 2 days. The child looked weak and tired but was awake and interactive. In the US, we would think the baby likely had a gastroenteritis (I.e. viral illness). But this patient had a fever and was very tachypneic, or breathn fast. Malaria = positive. We treated the child, gave her oral rehydration salts, and she went back home.

In the US, many of the patients today would have been sent directly to the ICU. Sending patients to the hospital here in Uganda is not a simple thing to do. Not only are the patients required to pay for treatment up front, the hospitals do not feed the patients. Anytime someone is admitted, the family of the patient is required to bring them food. My translator, Adikin, who is a nurse told me this is the reason most cannot stay. The hospital is reserved it seems for the sickest of the sick, or those with the means (which is not many).

Two of our pastors, Blake Kersey and Tim Clark, spent a few hours today with the local church pastors. Some of them were with the Agape churches and some were from local congregations. I will leave it to them to describe their experiences, but from what I hear, they struggle with many similar things that our pastors do, including balancing church and family responsibilities. There was a very interesting and important discussion they had regarding word-faith beliefs, such as if I believe in God then He will answer all of my prayers regardless. Very thankful for all of our pastors from the US this week.

After a few hours of clinic, the crowds were somewhat dispersed. Those who we could not see wandered away. Some still linger around. It really is heartbreaking to not have the capability to see everyone. And I know there are many sick kids still among these crowds with malaria, dehydration, parasitic infections, etc. There is just not enough medicines or time.

The clinic wound down slowly and we finished around 2:30p today. We traveled back to the hotel to freshen up for the crusade tonight. One of our pastors, Dr. Dwayne Howell, shared a very powerful message tonight on Jesus as the Living Water from John 4. It was a call not only to salvation but also to personal evangelism. The message was bookended by lots of singing, dancing and praising. It is always quite an experience. Because this is the dry season here, it is incredibly dusty. And when they begin to dance in front of the stage, it create a cloud of dust that envelopes them. But they just keep going.

DSC_0839.JPG

We are all now back at the hotel and have just finished our dinner for the evening. The plan for tomorrow is to have our last clinic day for about 3 hours until about noon. We'll return to the hotel and dress up in our Sunday finest. And the we will head back to the church for the dedication service.

As I mentioned earlier, there are 6 Ugandan pastors that will take up the work after we leave. In my mind, this is the most important step in everything we have done. And this is why I come back to Africa year after year. Through Jesus Harvesters Ministry and the Agape church, they already have plans to further engage and minister to those who came to our clinic. They are already planning to send a Kenyan medical mission in 3 months. They will use our leftover medicine and go into the bush to reach others. The church building that has been erected will serve as a launching pad for further church panting efforts in Uganda.

Dr. Kabachia says that he believes tomorrow will be the hardest day. To leave behind so many in such great need will be a difficult. But you have to believe Christ when he told us not to worry, particularly about tomorrow. And in this same passage He says, 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
— Matthew 6:33

Let us all pray together for these, the least, the forgotten, the broken, the sick, the hungry. But we must not simply pray, but we must also act. It is abundantly clear that we have the resources and ability to make an community-altering impact for His kingdom. And we will just continue to make His name known among all nations until He returns.

 

January 25th, 2013

We have finally reached the end of our mission trip to Uganda. I can attest that we have witnessed a great work, a work not performed by human hands but by God.

The final day of the medical clinic went very smoothly. There is a degree of fatigue that has set in but our spirits remained high. We had already given out all of the tickets for patients to be seen. The number of patients that could be seen was limited because our time was limited. However, as you can imagine, there were many mothers bringing their children, begging and pleading that we do something to help them. We made room for as many children as possible and we tried to determine who was the sickest. There were a few that were upset. We handed out vitamins to everyone who could not be seen. It was a very calm day compared to earlier this week.

Throughout this week, we have seen approximately 1000 patients. There's not a final count because of so many extra kids we worked into the clinic. With regards to salvations we witnessed, I cannot give a final number but it was in the hundreds, either from our prayer tent or the crusade.

After we wrapped up the clinic, we said our goodbyes and thanks to all of our interpreters and nurses who were so instrumental this week. For my nurse/interpreter Adikin, I gave her a Hewitt Huskies tshirt and Alabama national champions tshirt. I also gave her my stethoscope and lots of pens (which are very valuable). We went back to the hotel and then returned quickly for the final step.

The building that was erected this week was not just for our clinic but also for the church that was being planted. And so we returned to dedicate this new building. I have some video from the ceremony I will try to share. It almost unexplainable. They worship God with such fervent joy that is refreshing. Pastor John and 7 other pastors were installed as the new pastor of this church and he will shepherd the effort here in Uganda. There are also 6 other small congregations that will continue to meet in the area villages surrounding Tororo. They have great faith in what God will continue to do in their midst. A vision has been cast for the planting of churches beyond Tororo into Uganda.

There is an immediate impact from such a trip as this. Having such a large medical team from United States invade a Ugandan town for 4 short days creates quite a stir. People have come from miles around to seek medical care at the clinic. Some have come just for entertainment, to see the Americans, or listen to the loud music at the crusade. But many have come to know Christ.

But there is also a long term impact. From this church will come a multiplication of churches. There is now a mother church in Tororo that will continue to grow and send forth new church planting teams deeper into Uganda, into the bush, where the name of Christ is not well known. The small team of 22 has empowered a whole body of local believers to advance the gospel beyond today and beyond Tororo to reach those who have never heard of Christ.

As we wind down this mission trip, I personally want to thank all of you for praying with us for the effort here this week. God answers prayers when we pray in His name and for His will to be done. And God is moving and working among the people of Tororo.

We begin to prepare for next years trip now. The destination is unknown but it will be in East Africa. We hope to take another team of 20-24 next year. If you would like to join us, then let me know!

God bless! I will try to post some pictures from safari when we get there.

 

January 27th, 2013

  Dr. Blake Kersey preaching Sunday morning at a small Masai church in Kimana, Kenya.

Dr. Blake Kersey preaching Sunday morning at a small Masai church in Kimana, Kenya.

Thank all of you for your prayers for the mission trip to Uganda. God opened up the windows of his blessings and poured out his Holy Spirit upon this endeavor. Everything detail was perfectly ordered from the travel logistics, expenses, team safety, hotel and food. We crossed the border from Kenya to Uganda (and back) without any troubles. The clinic days were fruitful and the crusades were effective. A new church was birthed, a building was erected and 8 pastors were licensed. The only right response to such a mighty display by Him is reverence.

Last Sunday, our teams split into 3 groups and visited 3 different Masai churches. I went with a group to Kimana town (southeast of Ambesoli) to visit a small Agape church there. We travelled some distance off the main highway along from dusty dirt roads trying our best to find what seemed a needle in a haystack. Upon arrival to the small one-room church building, we joined about 30 other church members for an unforgettable experience in worship. The doorways were wide open with an occasional gentle breeze flowing through the building rattling the thin aluminum walls. The dust was the floor. Despite having a roof, walls and a wooden frame made from tree branches, it felt like we were outdoors.

At the end of the service, the pastor took an offering from his congregation. Our team sat at the front in some plastic chairs facing the congregation. We were happy to participate and give what we could. As our team passed the offering bucket, we dug into our travel wallets for Kenyan shillings. What an opportunity to give! For a moment, I realized that in this one offering, we would probably give more money than they've received in the past month combined, maybe entire year. I considered my wealth in light of their relative poverty, so I dug a little deeper.

As the offering bucket quickly passed us by, they were collected the pastors and the service moved on. My gaze caught a frail, elderly Masai woman (see attached picture) who shuffled her way to the front toward the pastors. She came to give an offering. In her hands, she closely held a small chicken. As she stood in front of the pastors, she extended her arms and offered it to the pastors. And as quietly as she came, she turned and took her place on the wooden bench where she was sitting.

My first thought turned to Luke 21 and the Widow's offering. In this story, the widow gave two small copper coins, a paltry offering compared to the wealthy. However, Jesus pulled his disciples aside and pointed out that she had given more than all of them because she gave out of her poverty. The parallels struck me deeply.

From my Western and sometimes worldly eyes, I see the glaring contrast between my wealth and their poverty, and I am deeply moved with pity and shame for excess. But fortunately, there is a spiritual, heavenly economy that is opposite of the world's. The weak will be made strong. The foolish things confound the wise. Life comes through death. Joy through trials. And a frail, elderly Masai woman gave all she had which was far, far more than I had given. She gave out of poverty and I gave out of excess.

I see our work in Tororo, Uganda through the small prism of this story. God does not need my American wealth to accomplish His purposes. God looks beyond the worldly facade of money and prestige and looks into my heart. And that is what God desires... my obedience, my love, my worship. And just like our God, as I fall to my knees before Him, He lifts me up. As I am emptied of this world, He fills me up. As I die to myself daily, He gives me life. And through the obedient heart of this mission team to Uganda, He made His name known in Tororo and brought many to salvation.

And so we turn our attention to the 2014 mission trip. All signs point the destination as Juba, South Sudan. Having suffered the rampage of civil war for decades, this country is only 2 years old. The Agape church has one church in Juba already, but we will go to plant another. We will take a team of 24 short-term missionaries including pastors, physicians, nurses, midlevels, and others to reach this new nation for Christ. We will join about 25-30 Kenyans from the Agape church who will travel with us to Juba. The plan is the same... 4 days of medical clinic, crusades, pastor training, and evangelism. God willing, a new church building will be erected and a new pastor will be installed. As we push beyond the borders of Kenya, we are reaching more and more who have never heard the name of Christ.

We hope to finalize the 2014 mission team by March 1st. Begin praying today and see if God is leading you to join us. If so, please send me an email. We will attempt to keep cost at $3000 but South Sudan is a very expensive country. We are praying for church partners and private donations to help supplement this trip. The time frame will also be the same (the end of January, 2014).

God bless and join us in praying now for next year's trip.