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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ministering in Africa

Here's what I was doing this time last weekend:

That's me, in the royal blue. Just last weekend, Kelsey, Colleen, Kirby and I attended a traditional Ugandan engagement party. And we even wore the traditional, native outfits. It was quite the experience.

Colleen and I pretending to be high fashion models. Posing in the banana leaves. Very classy I think.

We woke up early Saturday morning to travel way, way, way out to the northeastern corner of Uganda. The party took place in a small village nearly 6 hours from the capital city of Kampala.

Along the way we saw monkeys swinging from trees, baboons with their baboon babies and the incredible River Nile.

Colleen's awesome photography capturing God's handiwork.

As we traveled through this remote region, we also saw poverty. Lots of it. Some of the areas we passed through were very, very poor. Poorer than any place I've ever seen before.

This simple structure, and many others similar to it, is home for many people in Uganda. Compared to these people, I'm outrageously wealthy. I'm filthy rich. And so are you.

When I see this kind of poverty, my first inclination is to feel pity. The home in the picture above is so primitive. The lives of these people are so much harder than my own. Surely no one desires to live like this.

And yet, I have no idea if these people would want anything to do with my American way of life. Given the option, I don't know that they'd want to live in my multi-room house with running water and air conditioning and closets full of clothes and shoes and a bunch of stuff I don't really need.

After all, along with my American wealth comes a whole bunch of other problems -- materialism, laziness, isolation and, most importantly, an inability to really, truly understand the concept of God's provision.

We call these people "poor" but in so many ways, they are rich. The Africans that I know cherish community and value their time with friends and family in a way I probably never will. For most of them, stuff is not important -- because they don't have stuff. They joyfully work long, hard hours because hard work is simply a way of life.

And daily, they experience and rejoice over the blessings of the Lord's provision -- for food, water, health, safety and even the air they breathe. He's the provider. They get that in a way we just don't.

It's a privilege to minister in such a place and a piece of my heart will always live in Uganda. The people of that country bless me, challenge me, stretch me, inspire me and pretty often, they put my weak faith to shame.

Dan and I often tell visiting mission teams this: Uganda is not so much a place that we go to tell people about Jesus... as much as it's a place where we go to learn about Jesus.

I'm blessed to know and visit this country and, truly, I thank God for the opportunity.


Naomi said...

Once again, thank you for sharing so much insight. I know I need to see Jesus more and would love a trip there...... praying the Lord's will ;)

The fashion shot is classic!


Anonymous said...

that's beautiful Shelly. We are blessed through your writing and sharing. x anna

Amber said...

I think my favorite photo is the one of you and Colleen holding hands. It totally adds to the pic! :)

Melissa May said...

Good points. You voiced what I'd been pondering this summer while in Uganda. Thanks for sharing!