Out of Africa…
In August, I had the privilege of being in South Africa and Uganda to visit some wonderful people–a delight to say the least.
The Lord had all kinds of things on the agenda for that time–everything from bowling to traversing rough Uganda roads, to sitting in on meetings/trainings, to doing science experiments with kids, to being treated to a wonderful coffee/dinner with a friend, to eating breakfast with an amazing couple at one of the most beautiful spots on earth, to receiving some beautiful handmade gifts, to driving through the African bush and eating “In your face chicken” (the westerners call a stand that sells chicken on a stick in Uganda “in your face chicken” because all of the sales people come up to the car with chicken on a stick and put in right up to your windows and your face trying to sell you on their tasty delights!!), to doing dishes, to singing on a veranda overlooking a lake, to visiting the pig farm, to watching The Army Ant March, to staying with dear friends from Indiana, to seeking the Lord in intense times of prayer.
And…I got to watch a game of South African rugby, which is a one-of-a-kind cultural experience for those of you who have never sat with a group of South Africans and watched rugby. Truly an experience in a league of its own. If you watch the movie Invictus, it might give you some idea of what it’s like, but there’s nothing like tasting of it in person. All of these adventures were accompanied by great conversations with amazing people.
I was in 11 beds in those 2 1/2 weeks and with 11 different sets of people (not including meeting people for short times)–some new friends and some longtime friends. It was truly a rich time, filled with the presence and peace that only Jesus can bring.
Though there was dialogue along the way over many different leadership issues, discipleship desires, marriage/single challenges, family joys, and various other subject matters of all shapes and sizes, there is one subject that has been lingering with me and continues to grab my heart.
I was asked to facilitate a discussion with the J-life ministry team in South Africa about intimacy with God, sharing my own life journey in that arena. As I was preparing for that time, the Lord impressed on my heart to look at the lives of Moses, David and Abraham, all who were identified as having an inmate relationship with God. As a result, it’s something I have been thinking about a lot–what characterizes the life of someone who has an intimate relationship with God? Even though I thought alot about these three men on a high level before leaving for South Africa in preparation, I have now started looking at their lives in depth, asking the Lord to show me what He values in an intimate relationship. It’s been an amazing and rich study–one that I’m still working on.
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As I am sitting here now, think through each portion of my trip I have thought about ways the Lord revealed His heart and character to me along the way. In Capetown, He showed me His character as provider/orchestrator, as He introduced me to two people who will most likely be very instrumental in upcoming En Gedi Experiences in Africa. He also orchestrated a meeting with someone that I have been told at least 3 or 4 times in the States that I should meet, and this man “happened” to be speaking at one of the organizations that I went to visit. We ended up on the plane together on the way back from Capetwon to Johannesburg and had an anointed conversation. In Johannesburg, the Lord showed His generosity and lavish care through a family that just gives lavishly as they love on their visitors. He showed His power as I watched a storm roll in over Lake Victoria and then again at New Hope in Uganda–thunder that shook the foundations of the earth! He showed me His heart of mercy and compassion as He gave me deep emotion for two people that I met and talked with/prayed for, one who is fighting for his wife’s physical life and another who had lost her husband to a head on collision recently. He showed me His grace as he spoke so clearly to someone who had feared not being able to hear His voice.
His body across the world reveals His character to us in amazing ways. I am privileged to “taste and see” that He is good and that His love endures forever as I interacted with His bride in Africa! Oh, how I love seeing His face in His people.