Saturday afternoon we kicked off our time with Jim Ehrman speaking to us from New Haven about his work through both YWAM and the World Christianity Initiative at Yale. He encouraged us to recognize that God is at work in us using our culture as a gift to others, and that as we go to Uganda we are also able to receive gifts from their culture. Rather than mentally (or outwardly) devaluing any culture we can seek to grow in parallel with others as members of the Christian church.
Saturday evening we heard from Tom Lin, InterVarsity's Missions and Urbana Director, about the changing face of Christianity, the rapid growth of Christian communities in Asia and Africa and how they are challenging Western Christians to view their own faith and their work in missions. One thing that really connected with a lot of us is the need expressed by believers in the Majority World church to keep the gospel message intimately connected with "gospel practice," or the living out of one's faith. This will be a big emphasis of our time in Uganda. A particularly challenging question Tom raised was, "how will you love people without spending money?"
Today we heard from John Rowell, a pastor from Atlanta, GA who recently returned from Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the topic of being a mission partner with our resources of time, money and physical presence. At the end of his talk a comment that he made really resonated with me. "God's grace is sometimes in what he doesn't reveal." I have found this to be true in my preparation for spending time in Uganda - being able to finalize so few of the details in advance makes me that much more grateful for the amazing relationships, meaningful service, and deep learning and growth that God facilitates.
We've also spent time this weekend getting to know the other members of our team and working through some of the details of life together for the next month. Today as we worked together to untangle a "human knot" during a team exercise it was inspiring to see how each member balanced leadership with a willingness to take direction from others while having a good time. I am very hopeful that our month together will continue with the mutual respect, atmosphere of extending grace, and general sense of openness that everyone has for each other!
- REST! Pray that as we meet from 8:45am-9:30pm for the next three days we find time to rest, receive refreshment from God and allow our spirits to be restored.
- ENGAGEMENT: as each new speaker presents a new topic or raises more questions pray that each member of the team would stay mentally and spiritually engaged and will have a good mental framework for our time in Uganda
- PEACE for those of us who a feeling a little nervous about traveling. There are at least two students on our team who have never left the country and many of us are feeling unsettled about at least one aspect of the trip.