If you want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven you must become like one of these…
Today began very early indeed preparing in prayer for a leaders’ breakfast that began at 6am. Emily and I drove up there and already were greeted by noisy prayer and worship coming from a second storey window. Passionate intercessors marched up and down on the small stage, and others from the world of business were there praying for the nation, their work place and their personal family life.
I was so delighted to be asked to speak at this community church event by the pastor who had translated me at the prison. They have opened this new school called Missio Dei (the Mission of God) and it reminded me of something I had read way back in college by David Bosch ‘Transforming Mission’ which said that ‘the church of God does not have a mission, the God of mission has a church’.
I found myself saying the Kingdom of God is bigger than the church – it affects workplace, and schools, and government and families and nations. I was speaking into having creative and entrepreneurial dreams that enable you to shape culture, business and nations, like Joseph in the Genesis account. It was an honour to speak to them and share a little about after-revivals I had experienced in Borneo, E. Malaysia and in South Korea, and how the legacy of the East African Revival was so much more recent than our last great awakening in the UK, 250 years ago under Wesley and Whitefield. A Bill Hybels quote from his Axioms for Leadership anchored the talk from a chapter in which he points out you sometimes need to generate 100 ideas before arriving on the one good idea that has the hallmark of God – sometimes Kingdom inspiration takes earthly perspiration! I could teach like this all day long and not get in the least bit tired… such a wonderful congregation.
After the leaders breakfast we returned to prepare for the grand event – the whole point of our trip (apart from looking out for Emily, and supporting her better)! This was the Grand Opening of the Chill Children, in which those who appear to be great in society and those who appear to be least came together in a Kingdom infused demonstration of God’s great humour and power!
The children were of course, after God, the main event, but this could have been lost to a bystander as speakers consistently tried to make us, the project workers, Diocesan staff or local officials the foci of praise. Time and time again someone kindly came up to thank us all with sometimes heart-rendering and heart-breaking thanks, which was often too kind, but the show was stolen by two participants in the Chilli Project and three brave parents who dedicated their thanks to God and for our country. When people who have faced the disadvantages of Moses and his blind friend can stand up in front of selected dignitaries and speak boldly and clearly everyone has hope.
I told the children the story of ‘The Boy with Two Eyes’ and a true story about a boy called Daniel, son of some friends of ours who was very heavily disabled and yet used to ‘heal’ stone hearted lawyer friends of his father’s when they came around to visit after work. Something about him with his limitations enabled them to face up to theirs… the disabled are often the source of our blessing if we only have eyes to see. [If you’d like to read more on this please read here].
For me the day was made by numerous parents and children, and even adults who had grown up through the well-founded project. One extraordinary man of 33 was in an antique tricycle wheelchair that was clearly falling apart, but maintained and incredible smile.
My personal affections were stolen by a dear little girl who leaned in for a hug when I was making my early rounds of all the children and parents. Called Mary, she had been discovered under a bush as an infant, probably hidden and abandoned there because of her quite mild disabilities. A village woman found her and kindly took her in. Now aged four she clearly craved more affection and came into my arms for the opening ceremony ribbon cutting.
At the end of the 3 hours ceremony she came for more hugs and wouldn’t easily get down or let go for more than half an hour. But then a miracle happened for her, the local headteacher had been at the ceremony and spotted her. He came by to offer her a scholarship place at his school which has a disabled unit. Please pray for Mary. I think she’s rather gorgeous.
There is more to say as ever, but this will be my last post in Uganda as 27 hours of travel await in the morning and I can’t wait to hang out with my wife and kids – rather than taping more keys on the word processor and wearing out your eyes as readers anyway.
I’d like to make my hearty thanks though to Simon Wethered for organising the trip and coaxing me along as well as being an amazing friend and companion. To Nev, Sarah and Suzi Towers for provoking it at the weekend away with their compelling presentation. To all in Christ Church W4 for releasing me and making the Chilli Children centre possible through their generous giving. To my dear wife Nicola and 3 kids for being so kind as to share me for a few days and for Nicola’s parents who have helped with the babysitting, and most of all to Emily and the people here in Uganda – including Rodney and Anna who hosted us in their self-built house, and numerous incredible men, women and children I have met who have all touched my heart in so many ways.