Living on Mission (Missions)

Finding Hope in Uganda

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I once read that our roads may not always be straight, but God is always guiding them. He’s connecting dots that I thought were once scattered all over and filling my life with some amazing people.

For the past few years my husband, Cameron, and I have had the desire to our gifts of photography as something more than just earning an income, we wanted to use it to make a difference, to spread Jesus’ love, to give hope and bring change. At the beginning of April, Cameron and I had the opportunity to travel to Jinja, Uganda with The Archibald Project. They use various media, including photography, to share stories related specifically to orphan care. Adoption and foster care where both huge on my heart at the time, so it was very clear this was where God wanted us. In under two months we applied for and were accepted for the trip, raised our funds, arranged childcare for our kids and were on our way. I thought I would leave Uganda wishing I could bring home every kid I encountered. That, as it would turn out, wasn’t exactly the case. apex anthologies

We spent our first day in a babies’ home. There were about 20 kids, most who have been there for years. We learned that about 17 of them actually had families. They still had parents. They still had siblings. They had a home waiting for them. This was our first encounter with the true orphan crisis in Uganda, and would lead to a deeper understanding of the issue.We spent one day in Uganda with HEAL Ministries, and oh man, this organization is where my heart is at. They come alongside women who have been abandoned, kicked out of their villages and have nowhere else to go. They find them housing, teach them a trade and how to run a sustainable business, they are there for them emotionally and most importantly they fill them spiritually. Once the women have completed their program and are working during the day, they provide childcare for their children. HEAL is doing what’s needed, keeping the kids in their families, and helping preserve that family. There’s so much good happening there. God is truly at work.

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 We spent the rest of the week with Sole Hope. They deal with diseases, mainly jiggers that enter through the feet. Jiggers are often thought of as a curse or an untreatable disease. That results in people, especially disabled, elderly and children being neglected, abandoned, left to care for themselves. Every week Sole Hope treats a handful of people at their outreach house in Jinja. Through this treatment, education and outreach clinics in the villages they are making a huge impact in Uganda. The patients we saw that week weren’t little kids. We saw adults, the youngest being 2 teenage boys. At first we wondered how this fit into orphan care. But soon I started to see orphan care and prevention differently. Sole Hope is not only providing healing physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. They are showing love and acceptance, giving hope and a way to preserve the family. On that last day we took home patients from the previous week. I saw families being reunited. I saw understanding, acceptance, hope and love. I started to see that orphanages and adoption weren’t the only answer to the orphan crisis. Reuniting families and encouraging a culture where family is elevated is critical, and this takes many forms.

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It’s been six months since our feet have left the red African soil. My heart has shifted a thousand times but it keeps coming back to one constant desire. A desire to come alongside more organizations and to help share their stories and the impact they are having on their community, and it is stronger than it ever was before. I once read that our roads may not always be straight, but God is always guiding them. He’s connecting dots that I thought were once scattered all over and filling my life with some amazing people.

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Since returning from Uganda, God’s been teaching me to be patient, to be still and to let him work. He’s slowly revealing His path for my family. God is teaching me that if I have the desire to share people’s stories I need to have more of a desire to know Him better. I need to know Him so I can understand and love better. So I can share through his eyes and with his words. My prayer is that we can stay focused on Him and be still, to let Him unfold his plan as He wishes and to have the faith to say yes when the time comes. I’m excited for where God is leading my family. Hopefully I’ll be feeling the red dirt between my toes again sooner than later, but I trust that God is in control and leading me where He wants me to go either way.

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Author: Mindy Braun

Photographer: Mindy Braun

 

Going Deeper

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Going deeper began to be about living within the understanding that this was something quite bigger than meeting a need and being done; it was a call to treat and love each person as a family member.

Glen Shelley and his house church are making moves in the city of Dayton. They are living missional lives right here, right now.

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What began as packing and delivering backpacks to the homeless downtown before Christmas has turned into a regular, heart-invested, intentional pursuit of the people of Dayton.

“After our first time doing the backpacks we met a man named Darrel and a few others and we decided to ask them to visit our house church,” explains Glen.

Taking time to get to know these people led to having meals with them and ultimately culminated in a separate house church on Monday evenings simply to love them well.

Glen sat with Devin and Eric, two of Glen’s house church brothers, around a table at Panera Bread, sharing their story with me, and the passion became contagious.

“It has been a catalyst for going deeper in relationships with them,” says Glen. “We met a gentleman named Darrel; he needed food, but it was clear that he needed companionship just as much.”

They came to find out that Darrel was sleeping under a bridge. It was in the collection of these pieces of their lives that Glen and his house church knew they needed to, and desired to, be much more than simply people who dipped in and out of their lives.

“They are not projects. Each person we meet and take time to know has expectations – they can be hurt, they can be disappointed; they are real humans and they need real human love,” says Glen.

Their house church was faced with a serious question head on – what does it mean to go deeper?

Going deeper began to be about living within the understanding that this was something quite bigger than meeting a need and being done; it was a call to treat and love each person as a family member.  

Since this outreach began and this house church has been formed, they have found themselves being asked to think outside of themselves.

“I got a call at 9 PM from someone that needed a ride home, but he was in Indianapolis. It had to stop being about my comfort level being disrupted and more about showing someone I cared,” says Glen.

So they piled into the car and drove to Indianapolis and brought him home. If there is one thing they’ve learned through this act of obedience, it’s that the viewpoint should never be “us versus them,” but always all of US.

Glen and his house church have seen more than anything that everyone has a story; “these people didn’t wake up one day and choose to be homeless. They are not ‘less’ by any means – there are circumstances and fragments of a storyline being written that lead people to their current situation.”

“We don’t want to pound anything into them; we just want to love and care for them. We just tell them, ‘we just wanna love you,’” says Devin.

It started with backpacks. It became fellowship and shared meals; relationships are being built and poured into and now, they are able to see integration to larger fellowship. Members of the house church are starting to come to Apex and pursue baptism, as well.

“When we are not with them on Mondays, there is constant communication,” explains Glen. “They need to be picked up, they might need money for bus tokens, sometimes they simply need someone to talk to, to listen, to hear them.”

As a final thought all three men have come to, and rest, at this powerful point – they’re real people and they have real needs.

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? –Isaiah 58:7

 

 

Author: Steph Duff

Photographer: Hilary Tebo

Taking God Out of the Box

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“We have been wowed by God. It’s our hearts’ desire for other people to be wowed by God, too.”

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      Jim and Sandy Corbin found themselves to be empty nesters when it all began.

           “I remember being at church and hearing someone speak about missions and I felt something stirring within me,” explains Jim.

He was shortly thereafter called to Rwanda, but Sandy stayed behind.

           “Before Jim went on that first trip he was all about lists,” says Sandy. “And then he returned home and I witnessed a complete transformation within him.”

Jim is a self-proclaimed list maker. He would set out each day, on his first mission trip, with a list of things he needed to accomplish and not one item was able to be checked off the list.

           “I finally realized this is not about me, this is not about my plan. It’s God’s. It’s His will. Always.” says Jim.

He began to feel and see a boldness creep into his demeanor and come forth.

           Jim and Sandy have been travelling missionally with E3 Organization since 2010. E3 is an organization that strives to evangelize in new cities, share the Gospel, and leave villages and their people equipped to lead churches and house churches. The Corbin’s have travelled with E3 to Rwanda, Kenya, Costa Rica, and Peru; they take one trip a year and are there for one week at a time. They go with teams and serve local pastors.

           “The idea is that the pastors would then go to neighboring areas to share the Good News. It is all formed around a discipleship methodology; in order to create house churches, what must we do? We model the process of discipleship – Model, Assist, Watch, Leave,” explains Jim and Sandy.

The Corbin’s recruit and train a team before leaving and then the team trains people in the cities and villages they visit – their goal is to reach unmet and unreached people groups and to create a cycle of Gospel teaching and sharing.

“There will be people that we won’t be able to reach,” explains Sandy. “They will only be introduced to the Gospel through the natives that we are able to work with. By following the model E3 trains us in, we are allowing people to be the teachers.”

           “One of my favorite things about the groups we take is that we are family units; every trip we’ve been on has had children. We have had kids as young as 13 and adults up to 70,” explains Sandy. “And each person is working while we are there. We are each given a translator, or mission partner, and we are each responsible for sharing the Gospel and what Jesus has done for our lives.”

           Jim and Sandy both find incredible and amazing grace to see God at work outside of each of their comfort zones on each of these trips.

           “These trips allow us to take God out of the box we’ve put Him in,” says Sandy. “You get to see the greatness of our God when you step out of what you’re always saying yes to. There is something about worshipping with others and hearing them sing in their native tongue and only knowing what they’re saying because you’re both witnessing and feeling the Holy Spirit.”

Sandy often asks herself, ‘what in my life do I need to bless others with?’ and she finds that God always answers. Two months after they returned, hearts heavy with missing the people they had spent time with and loved on, God placed a family of refugees in Dayton near them and they’ve since been able to love on and emotionally support them.

           “My focus is no longer just, ‘what can I spend on myself?’” says Jim.

Sandy shakes her head as her husband says this and affirms his feelings. “It’s not about what I have to do, but what I get to do.”

           Jim and Sandy are passionate about reaching people that are seemingly unreachable, but they are equally as passionate about leaving a legacy. “This is about illustrating to those around us what is important.” They always return with their faith deepened, boldness abounding and a desire to return another year to spread the Good News of our God like wildfire.

“We have been wowed by God. It’s our hearts’ desire for other people to be wowed by God, too.”

 

 

Author: Steph Duff

Photographer: Hilary Tebo

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