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Archive for the 'Uganda Plano 2019' Category

Uganda: For the Sake of the Gospel, Farkle Out

Today was the last day of the conferences. We were able to wrap up our time with the church leaders and mentors. Appropriately, we started and ended this day with Farkle (a game where there is no winner, but the loser has a consequence).

At the mentor conference, we went out like a Roman candle. The day started extremely high-energy as we taught the mentors to play Farkle. We followed that with teaching on how to lead by establishing and always working on your relationship with those you are leading. We ended the teaching time with encouragement about the work the mentors are doing for the kids we sponsor, giving places to go in Scripture when discouraged, and letting them know they are seen, known, loved, and prayed for by those of us in Dallas. Through it all, Chase “6th Man” Jones kept the entertainment level up the entire conference. They ended the conference with a “Say So,” which is a time of sharing what the Lord has taught you or changed in you (based on Psalms 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so”). Women said they already had shared, or planned to share with someone, things they needed to confess but never had. One man said he had forgotten to have fun with his students and planned to bring back some of the games he learned. One woman realized she needed to go seek forgiveness from her son for things done many years ago. They were so grateful for the time and felt so much more connected to each other.

At the Pastors Conference, we taught on women caring for women, the problem of evil, shepherding, and how to share your story of God’s grace. We also used current heresy in churches around Kampala to discuss how to evaluate a position using Scripture. It was clear to us that many seeds were planted in the hearts of the church leaders of Kampala. Matthew 13:31-32 says, “He presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches’ (NASB).” We left so encouraged, knowing we had the chance to plant some seeds, but that we could leave the growth to the Lord. There were many stories of confession that needed to take place and forgiveness that needed to be extended and hearts willing to do the hard work of trusting the Lord in those things. Many pastors realized and expressed that they have not done a good job of rooting their doctrine or practices in Scripture. Many planned to go back and make sure their positions and programs aligned with Scripture, and others were determined to stop just trying to fill the seats and to make disciples – not just converts.

The conference ended with final blessings and thanks from each group. Kevin got a shout-out from the conference leader for how impactful his openness was for the participants and him personally. One woman looked at us and said, “You people stripped yourself bare in front of us, and we are changed.” What a blessing from the Lord to be able to hear that pouring ourselves out in love for Him and these people had such an impact. We don’t always get to see the impact, but we know God loves to work through His word and His people.

One of the amazing things that resulted from the conference – that we did not expect – was the increased trust and respect that the church leaders in Kampala have for ALARM based on this conference.

We ended the night by teaching the ALARM staff and some of the conference participants to play Farkle. Energy and noise levels were at an all time high. Those familiar with Farkle will understand this story… As we were teaching them, we were playing to 2,000. On his first roll, and possibly the best of his life, John was up to 2,100 – which would end the game. Knowing we couldn’t end the game on the first turn, Kyle said, “Oh, John! For the sake of the gospel, you need to Farkle out!” [let yourself go back to zero]

Starting and ending the day with such high energy, we all ended the day very tired, I don’t think anyone needed a Unisom to sleep that night.

Please be praying for:

the seeds planted to grow into mighty trees which transform the city of Kampala
ALARM to be able to use its credibility to further its work in Kampala
the mentors to reach their homes safely (some came from as far away as 12 hours)
the 520 students who are under these mentors
all conference participants to be encouraged and to trust the Lord for the change He is encouraging in them

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Uganda: Day 2 Report

Kelly and Jeff joined Ben, Suz, and Chase for the second day of the Mentors’ Conference in Kampala. The entire day overflowed with absolute joy and laughter as our team modeled incarnational ministry and excellence.

Through a series of Olympic-style events (cue the music), the Mentors enjoyed a day filled teaching and games. The room was filled with celebration and excitement over each game. We learned that you shouldn’t assume that everyone knows how to put together a puzzle, but it made a great illustration on how we shouldn’t assume our students understand the gospel or that our Mentors always know the best ways to serve. We teach them by doing things with them!

The mentors practiced sharing their 30-second testimonies of life change and practiced counseling from the Bible. They asked great questions, and it was so beautiful to watch them share their stories of grace. 

Be encouraged: Two of the mentors were inspired by Chase’s teaching on the Community Core Values and engaged missionally with each of the hotel staff. One young man accepted Christ and the Mentor is following up to help him learn to read his Bible! One mentor has been inspired to share his testimony in October when he has the opportunity to preach at a church. Be praying: Pray that the way this man models authenticity and trust in Christ for healing would be infectious in the church, starting a desire for broken and contrite hearts to turn to God.

Quote of the day: “I can’t wait to get to Heaven and see the impact of the mentor ministry to these orphans; the least of these are getting equipped with truth and courage!” – Suz

Day two of ALARM’s Pastors Conference was bold. Meg started the morning by helping the women, by reading and studying Scripture, to understand the character of God. Ese shared the biblical foundation for forgiveness, clearly explaining God’s high calling to believers. Having shared her own story of forgiveness, she left participants with practical steps and conviction that led to a time of prayer, singing, and reflection as we laid our cares and resentments on the cross. Meg came back and explained how conflict resolution starts with self-leadership, owning our own part first. She modeled practical examples from marriage and answered great questions from the participants. While sharing her own story of recovery, Laura shared practical ways to understand trauma, abuse, and grief. Participants spent time in circles sharing their hurts and praying for one another, finding hope and understanding in their Ugandan sisters. 

Kevin blew away the men with his story of forgiveness and the biblical principles that guide it. Men were amazed at what God is able to do with a man who can forgive. Kyle J (street name: “Little Kyle”) started a fire and let sparks fly to help explain conflict in marriage. The participants were hungry with questions and challenged greatly. Kyle K (street name: “Big Kyle”) brought it home with a call to biblical church structure. From biblical warnings to a charge to shepherd well, the participants got a clear glimpse of what the Bible calls us to do.

Be encouraged: The men and the women saw clearly a call to live authentically and to return to the Bible as our source of instruction. They are hungry for practical ways to engage in these areas. 

Be praying: Pray that the men and women would be courageous and simply start somewhere. There is fear of persecution for changing church traditions or speaking up. Pray that our brothers and sisters in Uganda would live out 2 Timothy 1:7.

Quote of the day: “Today was easily one of my top three ministry experiences, watching God clearly at work in the lives of the men.” -Kevin

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Uganda: Day 1 Report

We are all praising God for His hand of protection, as our Watermark Uganda Team traveled to Uganda this past Saturday, September 21st. Our team arrived in Kampala late Sunday night and were welcomed by our ALARM partners.

Day 1 of the Pastor and Mentor conferences were awesome! Both conferences commenced today, and by the end of the day, hearts were full and minds have been reminded and taught about God’s design for leadership, marriage, parenting, and community. 

The Holy Spirit has moved mightily in the hearts and minds of church leaders and our team. Today, the topics our team taught on are: 

  • Interpreting Scripture
  • Leading Ourselves 
  • Biblical Marriage 
  • Biblical Parenting 
  • Community Core Values 

Our team is so grateful and feels so privileged to be with the church leaders in Uganda. As we met, taught, and got to know the church leaders, they felt free to share their hearts through confession and through asking our team tough questions. 

Key takeaways from Day 1 of the Uganda Church Leader conference:

  • Heart conviction – to the point of confessing sin 
  • Eyes have been opened to changes needed in their churches so that God’s Word will be correctly used. One participant called it “getting back our roots.”
  • Our Watermark core value, “Live Authentically,” was taught to both men and women, and the outcome was powerful. Many women confessed unrepentant sin, and the men discussed the need for authenticity on behalf of the Elders and Bishops of their churches.
  • The team really enjoyed watching and listening to each other teach on God’s Word. 
  • Teaching and training on shepherding and discipling children was very appreciated, and the church leaders were given some Scripture tools to help them with their “little arrows.”
  • Participants confessed that they don’t tend to read the whole passage of Scripture when teaching… only one verse.
  • Talked about how nothing is off limits… living out the “one anothers” of Scripture.
  • How do pastors discuss their hard stuff in a safe place?
  • How do I start to begin leading out in confessing sin as a main leader? 
  • How do we handle the welfare of pastors?
  • How do you find passion in your ministry?
  • Church leaders are worried that if they start to make the changes to their current church structure and mode of operation, they will get pushback or even get fired.
  • Help on leading the church financially… including potentially not taking an offering (the reason Watermark can do this b/c we strive to make disciples, not simply converts)
  • What is the next step when we have pastors that are living with their wives simply “undivorced,” instead of in a strong relationship?

Key takeaways from Day 1 of the Mentor Conference:

  • It was an awesome day filled with games and encouraging teaching to help the mentors connect with their students (orphans) in a more authentic and fun way. 
  • Our Watermark Mentor team loved on the students in big ways, making them feel known and cared about.
  • Some team members were teaching for the very first time and did amazingly. 
  • The mentors were really interested in in the way our team engaged with the students, and they were writing down every verse we used.
  • The mentors were taught how to engage a small group with interactive questions and games. 
  • Tea time was really nice
  • Side conversations at mealtime and tea time were really helpful to follow up with mentors on any questions they may have and/or go deeper on things that were shared during the teachings. It allowed room to talk about next steps for ALARM and to answer questions with mentors.

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