Sunday, August 11, 2013

Share With Others

One of the most difficult things for me to do as we live and work in Uganda is to share my possessions. It seems so difficult, as naturally selfish people, to give up some of our things and a lot of our time and most especially our privacy. As a westerner, I occasionally find it very difficult to share my home. When God blessed us with our wonderful home in Uganda we made a deal with Him; we agreed that we would never send anyone away but would provide a place for all visitors. We usually have a long term guest or two at our home along with the occasional short term visitor and the very occasional drop by visitor. Many times I do not feel so bad about sharing my food or giving the guest a bed to sleep on but I find it very difficult to share my time and privacy. I have been rude and unwelcoming on occasion as God challenges me to keep my end of the deal. I wonder what people thought of my Christianity let alone my work as a missionary when I was rude and unwelcoming.

I realize even more, as we come back to Canada, how many in our culture guard their homes as impenetrable castles where a month-in-advance appointment is needed to be made to get through the front doors. Even more difficult is the aspect of giving up our time. We would rather give the local food bank some money or tinned food than give up some of our valuable time to engage the needy in relationships that might actually transform us and them!

By sharing our possessions and our time we are showing love and faith. Love gives up things for others and faith says even though this act of giving things away decreases my stock of things and eats up my time  I will trust God that in the end it will bless me. Obedience always leads to blessings. My most treasured blessing is the joy and peace I feel when I share my possessions and time.

Hebrews chapter 13 gives us as believers some simple and transformational rules for us as God's children. In verse 16 it says "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." I think this verse gives us the key to giving up things (sacrifices); if we are seeking to please God we will be more willing and likely to give up things. If we are focused on pleasing ourselves we will find sharing very difficult.

Remember the joy you feel when you share something? We were designed to share. Sharing allows us to partake in God's overflowing love -- a love that doesn't run out of things to give away!

Have you forgotten how to share? What do you find most difficult to share? God will be pleased as we learn to share all of what we have been given by Him.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Developed means Developing

One of the first things I noticed about being back in Canada was the good shape of the roads. But I also noticed a lot of recent repairs and current repair projects under way. It occurred to me that having such smooth roads is one of the benefits of being part of what we call a "Developed" country. I could easily see the ongoing work that was being done to keep the roads in such a "smooth" state.

 Unfortunately, many in Uganda (our other home) see development as a stage you reach; paved roads -tick, clean running water - tick, available quality medical care -tick, good telecommunications- tick. These are just a few items that would be on the mental list of a country trying to reach the "Developed" status. Trouble is, development is not a stage but a mentality. To have smooth roads you have to keep filling in the cracks and pot-holes and eventually widening and rebuilding when the need grows. To be developed means to keep developing, to keep making things better. It is not merely about reaching a certain stage.

 To keep things in good condition and in good working order there has to be systems and forethought and a constant will to fight the forces of decay. Most of these qualities lack in the "developing world". This is one of the reasons why there continues to be such a gap between the the so-called "Developed" and "Developing" parts of the globe when it comes to physical infrastructure.

 Let's leave paved roads and running water behind; they can't really change people anyway. However, the principle of developing is important. In our spiritual walk with God through this life we need to keep on developing. God wants to keep changing us -- getting rid of the cracks and damage created by sin and putting in us the strong foundation of His Word. It is one of the joys of life to watch God slowly change us and transform us. If we've been at it long enough, we realize that the spiritual work of development is continuous. Good enough, God has a plan and forethought for developing our lives -- do we have the developing mentality or do we think we have reached the "Developed" stage and the work is done?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This body works!

So many times we hear stories about how the church, Christ's body, is more like a dysfunctional family than the loving and caring group of people it should be. Well, I've got to tell you about our home church and how much they care for us! Not to glorify them or say that our church is better -- no, to show that God's love and Spirit is alive and well in His Body, the Church. We are returning back to our home town of Abbotsford, B.C. for a year long furlough.

We have had a wonderful almost-four-year term here in Uganda and are ready for a rest and a recharge and a revamping. Of course getting our clan across the world is no small feat but how about finding a house, furnishing for the house and a vehicle for such a family of ours is also no small task. Our church body has helped with all of this and more! It all started with a plan though. Recently our leaders felt it necessary for each missionary family to be appointed a "Champion" from the congregation to represent the missionary and their ministry to the church body and to help see that the missionary's needs are met both at home and on the field. We have a wonderful Champion called Mary. She and her family have spent years abroad so they know what the challenges are for a missionary family to re-settle. Mary helped to find us a suitable home and, with a little help from her family, she even helped to pay some rent and the damage deposit. Mary is part of our Life Group (a cell group/Bible study group) with whom she shared our needs and they have come together to help off-set some of our rent costs and to help furnish the home. Our Missions pastor has been in constant contact with us to see how our needs are being taken care of. Another man in our church is busy trying to locate a 8 passenger vehicle for us through his work as a car salesman. A local branch of the MCC thrift shops has agreed to furnish our home freely with whatever they can give us.

We are SO blessed! I mention all these details to show how we have been cared for in the most practical of ways. We will not struggle like many missionaries with "fitting in" in our church or Life Group. I hope sharing this account of our church's love for us will encourage you to see what you can do in your local expression of the Body of Christ. When we serve and love each other the the world will know us by our love for our brethren. How do you show your love for Christ by loving and serving in your church?

Friday, April 19, 2013

High Fives at Ugandan Immigration

"More time wasted, more money wasted.." these were thoughts that loomed in the back of my mind as I drove back to Kampala for the umpteenth time in the last couple months. I have been trying to complete the renewal process of my work permit so that our continued stay and work in Uganda is legal. To counter these negative and faithless thoughts i have been practising my two minute prayers. A few of my missionary buddies and i meet together to encourage each-other to encounter God in our daily lives. I suggested we take the David Allen's Two Minute Rule and apply it to our prayer life. The Two Minute Rule goes something like this: if there is something you can do in two minutes then do it immediately. We thought, well, we can pray about anything in two minutes so we can be filling our day with Two Minute Prayers; thus we would be able to watch and experience God work in our ordinary circumstances. My weekly trips to immigration were perfect chances to practice my two minute prayers. For those of you who have dealt with being a foreigner anywhere or having members of your family who are foreigners to the country where you are living, you will understand the difficulties and frustrations of immigration issues. In Uganda you can then add the high levels of corruption and inefficiency and you have what cooks up to be a pretty stressful situation when you go to the Internal Affairs office in Kampala. As the anxiousness would surround me and possible negative scenarios would run through my mind I would send up my prayers for success at the Immigration Offices. I caught myself getting dragged into the doubting and negative posture that most foreigners put themselves in when at Uganda Immigration. I asked God for forgiveness for my low expectations and continued to pray for good results. Today, the lady who works in the work permit office saw me and recognised me from my numerous other unsuccessful visits. When I showed her my file number on my crinkled sip she quickly had my Work Permit Assessment in hand and passed it to me. I was relieved and overjoyed! I rhetorically asked her "Are high fives allowed at Immigration?" I passed my open hand through the metal bars and she gave me a high five. I was glad that the my permit had been renewed but I was also glad that God had been slowly working in the undercurrents of my heart to actually include the immigration staff in my celebration instead of being antagonistic towards them. Have you seen God change your heart through two minute prayers?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom Through Farming

Did you know that there are 1 billion people in Africa? Did you know that out of these 1 billion people 3 billion are Christians? No, that’s not a typo and yes, that doesn't make any sense. Amazingly, although Africa has been saved three times over (when you compile evangelistic statistics from the continent) for all of our salvations we have not seen the effect of the salt of the earth on the societies and cultures of Africa. At our Farming God’s Way trainings we often ask our participants “Why is there both a high level of Christianity and also high levels of disease, corruption and wars in Africa? Could it be that the gospel being preached is not the true gospel; a gospel that produces practical change and spiritual fruit?” In Africa we have a “conversion” gospel where people become Christians for a whole host of reasons. But most do not understand the Gospel of The Kingdom; the gospel that Jesus preached; a gospel that calls people to repentance and obedience. Most Africans know a false, perverted or diluted Gospel which preaches health and wealth to those who follow Christ; not a gospel that requires humility and obedience. The Farming God’s Way curriculum provides an amazing entry point to demonstrate to people that God is not only interested in all areas of life but he rules the world and all that is in it. Many are surprised to know that God has something to say about farming. After a few sessions they catch on. As we wait in line for tea or lunch delegates have asked me “ …what about family God’s way? What about marriage God’s way?” -- I can tell that they have started to get the point. God rules over all the earth and He cares for it as well. He also has never revoked his first commandments to mankind of being fruitful and caring for the earth. Once we discover that we are ultimately stewards of the earth and all that God gives us we have started to understand our role in His Kingdom. It is difficult work fighting false gospels, especially when they are so prevalent, but it is good and rewarding work because we are able to see real and lasting change.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bumpy Roads

If you've ever been to Africa you will know that we are famous for our bad roads. One such bad road exists like a barrier between me and one of my training groups. It is called Kamuli Road. It is a 67km road that has been under repair for over two years yet has yielded only about 12km of smoothly paved road. The rest is in various states of disrepair with sections of dusty dirt road but mostly just the old paved road eaten away by a minefield of potholes. 

Recently, as I was heading out to train our group of farmers headed up py Pam and Allen McEvoy (,( who are doing great work helping the locals to pick up the tool of Farming God's Way) I had to endure the infamous "Kamuli Road".  While I was trying to dodge the countless pot-holes I heard a slight "ping" from the back of my Isuzu. Just a few meters and several loud bangs down the road and I knew what had happened; my rear coil spring had either totally broken or had popped out completely. In disgust I didn't even bother getting out to check. I detoured to a parallel dirt road which I hoped would be better. It wasn't. A couple hours later of nursing my car over the bumpy terrain I arrived in hot dry Kamuli in front of the church where I was to teach at. The car was slumped over the left back tire. Further inspection showed there was no spring to be seen; it had completely" jumped out" (as the locals say). 

Discouraged, I set my attention on the training ahead. Although Allan and Pam had organised the workshop very well, only a fraction of the delegates had arrived and the time for starting had already passed. I felt another wave of discouragement sweep over me. How were we going to work with people so reluctant to keep time and prioritise the days activities? Along with the waves of heat and dry dusty air the waves of discouragement kept sweeping over me -- my enthusiasm levels were pretty low.

I have often felt like this at the beginning of a training but God has always been faithful to raise my energy and hope as I start to deliver the good news that he has put in my heart. Sometimes, this is an answer to a quick prayer other times it is God's faithful love coming through for me when I haven't even thought of asking Him for help. How much more the help is appreciated when I've asked for it!

The bumpy roads and discouragement remind me of the resistance that we often feel and encounter as we do what God wants us to do. I am reminded that we must keep scattering the good seed and let God bless it where He sees fit. If we only scatter seed where there is no resistance  we may stick to putting nice ideas on Facebook and Twitter and never get out to those who don't even know Who and what they need.

I hope you have discovered the role of resistance in your life too. It's like the waves crashing on the bow of a boat -- they only beat against the bough when the boat is moving forward.

NB-- Just make sure the resistance is not from God -- then your efforts will be futile!

If you'd like to read about the role of resistance in your life here is a great post one of my favourite bloggers Michael Hyatt:


Posted via email from The Sperling's blog

Friday, January 11, 2013

Eleven years


Today, as a write, Jane and I celebrate 11 years of marriage! These 11 years have been full of troubles, trials, fun, joy, arguments, agreements and everything in between! Our marriage is a tribute neither to the greatness of Jane’s love for me nor mine for her; God has been the one who has been so faithful, showing us the way to love each other and to glorify Him as we try to give Christ His place as the king of our hearts. We are so blessed, especially by all of our children, the fruits of our marriage. They bless us every day and we pray that they will be arrows in the hands of our Maker; going much further and doing much greater things for The Kingdom than we could ever have dreamed.

Here is a little bit of a song by Malcolm Guite to reflect my feelings for the day:

“You can’t photograph fidelity, or merchandise restraint,
Your inner beauty won’t be selling soap.
And sometimes from the outside it might seem that love grows faint
On the inside it’s renewed each day in hope.
So there’s nothing on the surface to attract a stranger’s gaze
There’s not photo-genic posed romantic bliss,
Just two people staying faithful through the darkest winter days,
But they don’t make movies out of love like this.”

Posted via email from The Sperling's blog