But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Cor. 12:9-11
First, I just want to say that I won’t be roughing it. I’m going to Uganda at the invitation of the Queen Mother. I’ll be spending time in the palace. I’ve googled the hotel in Fort Portal…it’s really nice. I don’t say that to try to impress anyone; it’s just that I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding about the circumstances of my trip. I think that people hear I’m going to Africa, and they envision me sleeping on the ground, encircled by half-naked tribal people with face paint who are trying to decide whether or not they should eat me.
That’s a different trip.
That said, I do feel like I’m taking a great big giant step outside everything I find comfortable. Stripped, in a way, of some of the things I typically rely on when speaking to groups. I’ve been told that humor doesn’t translate well, and may even offend. I don’t know the language, and will be speaking through a translator. I don’t know who this translator is, or if it will be the same person for each of the three locations we hold the conference. I have no point of reference at all for the culture of Ugandans. I’ve never once carried a load on my head, and when I’m hungry, lots of times I get in the car and go pick up Chick-fil-A or Fuzzy’s tacos. I’m anemic, and not just a little bit. The schedule and activity of this trip will be a challenge for someone who relies heavily on afternoon naps. I don’t know what I have to offer these women, or how they can possibly relate to a white woman from Midlothian, Texas, who has all the material things and earthly comforts she could ever need, and more.
But I’m not really worried too much about any of that, because I believe that 2 Cor. 12:9-11 is true. Everything that I consider a weakness or problem, God delights in, because it means that I’ll be forced to get me out of the way and let Him do His thing. I may feel like I’ve been stripped bare naked in that culture, but I have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit…what else would I possibly need?
The women who live there, and to whom I will be teaching, do “rough it.” Every day of their lives. I’ve had this written at the top of my notes as I’ve been preparing for the last month so that I would not forget: These women are oppressed. They do all the work in their culture, and are not respected or treated well by the men. They need to know they are loved and are important in God’s Kingdom, that they are unique and God truly loves and cares for each of them. I hope that you will pray for God’s love and power to be made evident to them. I know that few things that I say will be long remembered; real discipleship is not accomplished in a 10-day trip, but in long-term relationships. I hope to share the Gospel with everyone, and embolden a few believers there to lead out long after I leave that place.
As for me, I’ll just share with you how I’m praying so that you can know how to join me in that. I’ve come across the prayers of some of God’s servants lately that have become increasingly meaningful to me. These are the same prayers that I am praying for myself:
Grant that I may not be left to any foolish act that may occasion my gifts to wither.
Grant that I may experience the power of thy Word before I deliver it. – Christmas Evans
Lord, let me make a difference for you utterly disproportionate to who I am. – John Piper
and my own: Use the gifts that You have given me in the broadest possible way, by whatever means You see fit, for the greatest possible effect, that others might know You more.
Here’s the itinerary, for those of you who are interested. I’ll be 8 hours ahead of you, but don’t worry about that. Since God knows what you’re going to pray already, He can respond both proactively and retroactively:)
Saturday, July 7 – leave DFW
Sunday, July 8 – Tour London, then fly to Uganda
Monday, July 9 – arrive in Entebbe. Spend day and overnight in Kampala
Tuesday, July 10 – travel to Fort Portal, meeting to prepare
Wednesday and Thursday, July 11-12 – Fort Portal Unburdened Women’s Conference, Pastors/Leaders Conference, Children’s ministry, Medical
Friday, July 13 – Rwebsingo Village, repeat conferences
Saturday, July 14 – Bundibugyo Road: people come from villages around the area, repeat conferences
Sunday, July 15 – Rwebsingo Worship service, return to Kampala
Monday – Tuesday, July 16 – 17 – head home
Thanks so much for partnering with me in this way…I appreciate and depend on your prayers!