Along with getting to hang out with my awesome sister-in-law, Laura and her hubby Slim, we had an AMAZING weekend with our great friends, Jamin and Vicki. They are our college roommates. . .both of them! NO we didn't live with them as a couple. . .Jamin was Greg's roommate and Vicki was one of mine! So, as you can imagine, reconnecting with them is always great fun. And this weekend was for a great purpose too. . .
Summit Church, Naples was launching their sponsorship of Nabakalu Home of Champions Orphanage in Bugiri, Uganda!!! Whohoo! We were so glad that Jamin was able to join us on our trip in October and this was the culmination of that trip. Can I tell you what a blessing it is to see visions come to fruition? AMAZING!!! Seeing the children who we had spent time with in Uganda be chosen by Summit families to be sponsored and loved leaves me almost speechless (almost!) What a beautiful thing it was.
Even more amazing is that Summit Church, Naples is a new church plant of the larger Summit Church in the University area. Right now, the Naples campuses has approx 250 in attendance at their best service. Oh yeah, and did I tell you that the orphanage they are sponsoring is 102 children????? That seems practically impossible for a church of that size, doesn't it?
We recognized all weekend that this would be a God-sized task. Jamin, along with Vicki and the leadership of their church, had prayerfully considered this and were confident that this was where God was leading their body. Saturday night, after the cookout was over and the kiddos were all in bed (they have 3 gorgeous girls ranging from 3 weeks to 4 years!) we decided to spend time praying over the children to be sponsored. What a joy! I love friends that you can stop everything with and just enter the presence of Jesus together. In fact, I do believe that we need to do that more often! It was such a joy to listen to Jamin and Vicki's heart for these orphans, especially Vicki's. She didn't come with us on this trip and hadn't seen these children face to face but is every bit as passionate about them as the rest of us. She was a blast to spend time with, sharing our hearts for orphans and the lost and our struggles with living in this world.
Jamin had dedicated their whole service on Sunday morning to Mission Uganda. We spent time in worship singing songs like "Our God is the God who SAVES" that just prepared us to join God where He is at work across the globe. Then, Jamin preached on
1 John 3:16-18: "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth"His message points were that Jesus sacrificed it all for us, we are to lovingly lay down our lives for others and that love must reveal itself in actions. He challenged us especially with verse 17 and about having hearts of compassion. You may remember that this is something the Lord has really been teaching me. Well, Jamin brought it up another notch. He said that the word compassion didn't just mean "to suffer with" but the words were to give a word picture of our intestines. Literally that compassion means "to suffer in the gut". Wow! Do I feel like I've been punched in the gut for others? That kind of care. . . .that's the kind HE was looking for in verse 17!
You know, I felt that punched in the gut feeling when I was in Nabakalu. You may remember Molly. She was the 13 year old girl who had recently lost her mama and ended up sobbing on my lap. The problem is that it was, for me, a one time punch in the gut. Yet, Jesus has revealed over and over that His compassions are new every morning. Compassion for Him isn't a one time action, but a continuing way of life. I have thought of this many times since that meeting with Molly. I have wished that I could live in relationship with her in a deeper way.
Saturday, God revealed to Greg and I how we could take that punch in the gut compassion and live it out in real action. While we were going through the children's profiles, Vicki and I found Molly! Ok, so I apparently didn't understand her Ugandan accent and her real name is Mauwa, but we found her. Immediately, I knew. Greg and I will now join Summit Church, Naples in the sponsorship of Nabakalu. We have chosen Mauwa as our sponsored child!!! How cool is that? Isn't God soooooo good??!!! (PS Yes, we will still sponsor kiddos from Rapha with our church on April 4/5).
Jamin had asked us to share something in service and we didn't even realize how well all of that would work together and how much the Lord would be revealing His plans to US and not just Summit Naples that day!
Following service we saw over 80 children get sponsored!!!! They have another 20 kids to go and were bringing those profiles to their college group this week. We have no doubts that God has done a GREAT work in Summit Church, Naples this week by taking a fairly small church and using it to sponsor a huge orphanage! Thanks to God's people who stepped up to the challenge!! Continue to pray for the children still needing sponsors and the sponsors who just chose their children. This also helped me in our upcoming trip to Uganda. It helped me to realize again and again that we put God in a box. He is showing us just how much He can use smaller churches. . .He doesn't need there to be 1000 people in a church to get an orphanage sponsored! There are churches across our nation banding together to sponsor orphanages or stepping up to the plate to sponsor WAY more kids than you would ever think possible. He is GOOD!!!
PS We still have another spot open if your church would like to be represented on the April trip, leaving 6 weeks from yesterday!