Monday, October 29, 2012

These beautiful ones are on my mind tonight.

Please remember to pray for Laura as she faithfully serves the Lord by caring for "the least of these."
James is still in her loving care.
Innocent is gone. I'm not sure to where... Please pray that she would be connected with a forever family soon and that God protects her little heart.
Laura is now also caring for a 2 month old boy, Emmanuel.
She is struggling financially, but says "God is able."

My heart couldn't agree more. Thank you for remembering them in your prayers!

"You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful"

Friday, October 26, 2012


Africa Inland Mission's ultimate goal and mission statement is...

Christ-Centered Churches Among All African Peoples
...With a priority for the unreached
Or, more simply, "C3A3P." 

So why are we doing missions in a country that is said to be predominantly Christian? Aren't there countries that need to hear the Gospel more desperately?

When you look at statistics from websites like Joshua Project, you see that 85% of people groups in Uganda claim Christianity as their main religion. After living in Uganda for nearly a year, I can verify that this is true. But it's also false.

Yes, I would say that about 85% of people in Uganda go to church on Sundays and will tell you that they believe in God.  But I quickly learned that Christianity is deeply rooted in the culture. This sounds like a good thing, right? Children growing up in the church participating in worship with their parents and elders. Constant youth rallies and retreats put on by local parishes. All-night praise services once a week. Mudflaps on busses proclaiming salvation and stores named after Bible verses.
In theory, these are all excellent and beneficial things. But the reality is that while 85% of people profess Christ as Lord, it's a much smaller percentage living their lives like they believe it.

The "Prosperity/Name it and Claim It" gospel, which is no Gospel at all, is rampant in Uganda. Truth has been exchanged for lies. Freedom for captivity and manipulation. Grace for hoping to be "good enough." Assurance for uncertainty and doubt.

85% is just a number. What the Lord wants is hearts and souls committed to His glory and Kingdom. 

I've shared this before, but I feel that I can't share it enough! This video was filmed on location in Mbarara a little over a year ago and explains why and what we're doing there.

While the Gospel is still desperately needed in Uganda, there are still many places in Africa with people who fall into the more classically defined unreached people groups. Places with doors opening to the Gospel for the very first time but not enough people willing to go...

This video was created by some AIM missionaries serving in South Sudan. Please take a moment to watch and gain a better understanding of the deep need for Light in this country and the doors God is opening for the Way to come. Pray for the life-changing relationships that my friend Jacob, featured in the video, is building with the Laarim people.

You can learn more about how to pray for Africa's unreached people groups with the help of AIM's ministry called Pray Africa:
"Pray Africa is a ministry developed by AIM to equip men and women like you with information you need to learn about and pray for Africa's unreached peoples.Through a dedicated website, Pray Africa provides information about specific groups -- where they live and what their lives and cultures are like, so you can gain broader understanding of who they are and how you can pray."  

Will you be a part of reaching the unreached...whatever that looks like in your life?
  • Pray for the missionaries currently serving and preparing to serve all over Africa.
  • Pray that more people are receptive to the call to "go" and respond with obedience... especially to the hard places. In the places that are still unreached.
  • Pray for Christ-centered churches among all African peoples!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Song of the Redeemed

You have redeemed my life.

You make all things new.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remembering How to Play

The following is a conversation I recently had with a preschool student:

Preschooler: "My cousin is coming to visit me this weekend!"
Me: "That's wonderful. You must be so excited. What will you do with your cousin?"
Preschooler: "Play Mario."
Me: "Fun. Will you also play outside?"
Preschooler: "No! We can't play Mario outside!"
Me: "That's true. What do you like to do when you go outside with your cousin?"
Preschooler: "Well...we mostly just don't go outside."

Unfortunately, the bigger issues presented in this brief conversation aren't specific to this child. Frequent media input, lack of creativity, and limited time spent in active and outdoor play have become standard aspects of our culture in regards to children.

I recently finished this book by Dr. David Elkind and would highly recommend it! It's a call to remember the importance of spontaneous, unstructured, self-initiated play. Elkind reminds us that play is crucial for social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development and is what gets children ready for learning in the first place.

He spends a few chapters talking about media input in the lives of children today and the pros and cons of the various television programs, computer games, and "lapware" programs frequenting the homes of the modern family. But this is what I found shocking. In a recent survey of 1,065 parents with infants and preschoolers, it was found that:

  • 25% of children under two have televisions in the bedroom
  • Two-thirds of children under two use some kind of screen media for about two hours on a typical day
  • Children under six spend an average of two hours a day with screen media -- three times longer than they spend reading or being read to
These numbers make my jaw drop and my head ache. Can that be true?! It would explain so much, but there's a large part of me that doesn't want to believe it. 

And then I see things like this... A commercial that I haven't been able to stop thinking about in over a week:

[insert jaw-dropping] 

I would say something here about the carefully placed, not-so-subliminal messages about parenting...
Or the way they pose the question "How does your baby learn?"... and answer with "Laugh & Learn Puppy"...

But I think I'll let Dr. Elkind share his thoughts with you in a much more eloquent manner instead!
"...these educational toys for young children are another example of how toys have become part of the consumer culture. Parents are encouraged to buy such toys to give their children an educational edge. And there is a subtle message that parents who do not buy these toys for their children are really not doing a good job as parents." (Elkind, 36) (emphasis mine)
"Parents who talk, play with, or sing to their young infants or toddlers give them much more than any DVD or television program ever could. The most important stimulus to healthy growth and development for infants and young children is affectionate human interaction." (Elkind, 47) (emphasis mine)
"The sheer number of toys owned by contemporary children weakens the power of playthings to engage children in dramatic thinking...[Children appear] to look to toys for amusement and distraction, not imaginative inspiration." (Elkind, 16) (emphasis mine)
I'm thankful that this certainly isn't the case in all families.
I'm thankful that we have so many electronic resources at our disposal for the times that we really do need them.
And I fully understand the benefits of media for the busy parent who just needs to keep their child entertained for a bit while they get some things done.

But as parents, educators, and advocates for the youngest, let's remember the importance of spontaneous, self-initiated, creative play.

Let's let them be little. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Home Is Where?

She said, speaking from personal experience,
"That's the problem with loving your life.
There is always going to be something that you miss."

These words my sweet friend offered up as encouragement couldn't be more true in this season of life.

My heart has never had roots in so many places at once. I'm completely enjoying being back in my hometown again, and I'm so thankful for and blessed by my friends here (old and new!) and the many opportunities to serve. God has provided in ways I never would've dreamed, and I wouldn't ever want to miss out on these opportunities!

But I seriously miss living in Minnesota. I got to visit one of my wonderful former roommates in the Twin Cities recently, and it felt like home. It felt so normal to be back. Being with her up there just felt right. The Twin Cities quickly grew on me over the four years I lived there, and I always pictured myself moving back if I were to come live in the States again. It's where I have all of my professional connections, where I became a part of a beautiful church community, and where I made my home.

And all the while, not a day goes by that I don't think about my precious friends in Mbarara and the incredible life God gave me there. I'm thankful for blogs and Facebook and ministry updates so that I can follow some of the big things happening there now. It's a life that takes place in something that can feel like a completely different world, but it's a life that I expect to return to one day.

They say home is where the heart is.

That doesn't mean much to me anymore. My heart has many homes.

They're all comfortable.
They're all full of wonderful people.
And I miss them whenever I'm not home.

winnie the pooh

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One Thing Remains

This very week last year I was writing about living in a place where it's always summer. I was missing some of my favorite things about autumn but thoroughly enjoying the benefits of living on the equator. Now I'm back in the Midwest of the United States, and autumn is in full swing. Trees are changing colors, pumpkin flavored beverages and treats are back, apples are picked, and I don't leave the house in the morning without a warm jacket.

Fall is officially my favorite season. There's something about sunshine filtered through orange leaves on the backdrop of a cerulean blue sky that makes me breathe more deeply. Makes my heart soar with gratitude.

Gratitude for the blazing reminder of God's steadfast love.
That He is who He is.

This fall, the changing of the season serves as a reminder to me that my God never changes.
He was,
and He is,
and He is yet to come.

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,'
says the LORD, who has compassion on you."
Isaiah 54:10

The brilliant oranges, yellows, and reds that cover the trees also remind me that through death comes life. As the trees surrender the last of their leaves, so must we fully surrender our hearts and lives. It's through surrender that we find freedom.Through dying to ourselves that we find life.

This fall I will remember that in the midst of ever-changing circumstances, God never changes. His deep and steady love for us remains. As the trees are falling asleep for a season, let us be renewed and...

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