#9 June email “The Gift of Relationship”
Today was my second day in the school of evangelism. It was great. The first session was on Biblical church structure and the second was Dr. K showing his evangelism techniques. I was blessed with spending time in class and some time with John Mark, a ten-month-old Ugandan boy who was content in my arms. It made me miss my baby nephew, Gabe, so much.
After lunch, Dr. K, Pastor Joseph, Pastor James, Dr. K’s two grandsons and I went to the prison. We were greeted by the prisoners with songs of praise. The prison has 152 inmates. Most are men. I only met six women. On our way in, they were asking if I would be allowed to go inside. The guard said that it would be no problem and I could speak with the women separately. I felt incredibly humbled, inadequate and not prepared. Once we were inside, Dr. K presented the Gospel. He spoke in English. Pastor James translated it into Lugandan. And one of the inmates translated the Lugandan to Swaheeli. (I’m sure I butchered both of those spellings… forgive me) About twenty minutes into his presentation, the women arrived. There were six of them and one had a young daughter. My heart sank. I had a hard time not staring at the little girl for the hour we were there. Toward the end of the presentation, Dr. K asked if anyone was ready to surrender to Jesus. One raised his hand. But, within about a minute, almost the entire place stood up and prayed.
Four of the women were receptive to the Gospel today. My heart wanted to stay right there with them and spend time with them. Get to know them. Know their stories. Know their struggles. I asked the Pastor if I could come back tomorrow and spend time with them and he told me now was my time. So, I went over and greeted them as I sat on the ground. I asked how long they had been there. It ranged from three weeks to a year. I asked the woman with the little girl how long she had been there. She said it had been three months. I inquired about her daughter and found out she was a little over a year old and stays in the prison with her. I could see the shame in her face as she looked away. I tried to share that life is difficult. It is so hard with Jesus, I couldn’t imagine without him. Just about that time… the pastor came over and told me I had to leave.
It took everything I had to hold my tears until I was back in my room at the hotel. How can we preach the Gospel without relationship???? How can we, in good conscience, share the good news of a personal relationship with our Savior WITHOUT walking alongside people. Evangelism without discipleship is sad. I wanted to convey to these women that this isn’t a magic prayer. Jesus isn’t a band aid to what is wrong in your life. This is the beginning (hopefully) of the most beautiful relationship they will ever have the honor and privilege of being a part of. How do you grow that relationship??? You spend time with Jesus. How do you do that??? You read the Bible.
I know I’ve talked a lot about my dad in these emails, but he’s a HUGE part of this journey. This is the most time we’ve spent together since I was six years old. During those twenty-four years or so… I wasn’t his biggest fan. I didn’t know him that well. We didn’t spend time together. But, here in Uganda, we share meals, car rides, hotel rooms, prayers, stories, jokes and naps. We are becoming intimately acquainted. It is a beautiful thing. I am so thankful for this time together. The more time we spend together, the more I love him. The more I love him, the more time I want to spend with him.
It is the same with God. How will we ever love Him rightly if we don’t spend time with Him? How will we ever want to spend time with Him if we don’t read our Bibles? How can we tell others that He is THE God, if we aren’t intimately acquainted with Him? I left that prison today yearning to tell the women, who were receptive to the Gospel, to read their Bibles. That is their only hope. That is our only hope.
My eyes are continuing to be opened wider and wider. My relationship with our Father is getting deeper and deeper. My heart is getting bigger and bigger.
Thank you so incredibly much for coming along this journey with me. Your words of encouragement are beautiful gifts. Some of you have been sharing your spirit of generosity with the Ugandan people and I know you will be blessed. I pray that our hearts will grow closer to Him and each other as we continue this work together. God is good… all the time.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3: 7-11
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