Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our weaknesses, His power

I have recognized that I need to spend these next few months focusing on aspects of Jesus' character. I don't need motivational fluff...I need to be equipped with the knowledge of my powerful Savior. I'm going to use Max Lucado's study, "Experiencing the Heart of Jesus" to guide me.

Satan was having a field day with me this past week, doing his best to scare me with stories of spiritual warfare. I spoke with missionaries to the Philippines last weekend and learned of a demon who was possessing a girl (she did NOT know English). This demon addressed the missionary by name--and in English (yikes). I also spoke with a missionary who had a witch doctor in Africa put a curse on him and his family that they would die in several days. For a few days, I was shaken up by the power that demons have...but then I realized, "Wait a minute. Sure, they have SOME power, but that's not the end of the story. My God has already won this battle--as it clearly states in the Bible. My God is so much MORE powerful than sneaky demons. I'm on His team, and I know that demons shudder at His name...I have nothing to fear." Nevertheless, since demonic activity is so prevalent and so in-your-face in Uganda, it's definitely something I need to take seriously. I need to prayerfully equip myself every day I'm over there.

Knowing that I needed to fill my mind with Truth and reminders of His power displayed in the Bible, I have been so encouraged the last few days. He raised children from the dead. He healed the social outcasts with grotesque sicknesses. He fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. He defied the laws of nature and walked on water.

Let this encourage you....our God is STILL alive and working. These stories are not so we realize what Jesus did. It's to remind us of what He does. We can, with a hopeful heart, realize that even if we feel broken, He is able to heal.

"A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." -Matt. 12:20 NIV

Do you get that?? He loves you despite your struggles and despite your weaknesses.

You might feel like a bruised reed--once standing upright by the waters, nourished by what it offers. But now you're bent over, feeling weak.

Or perhaps you're feeling like a smoldering wick--once on fire for Him, you had strong faith. But now the flame is close to being snuffed out. You're trying to hold on to what little light you have left.

The world has no place for you. The world says you're not worth it. You're not good enough.

But the arms of Jesus welcome you. He whispers, "You feel bruised and broken. But I love you. You're valuable in My eyes. Stay close to me, and I will use you in mighty ways. Your life still has significant purpose."

I'm weak. But He is powerful. And that is beautiful.

A few details

Things are falling into place....but there are still many details to complete (applying for my Ugandan visa, getting shots, filling out miscellaneous paperwork, and the list goes on.)

On Friday I mailed out prayer cards enclosed in a support letter. They should be arriving in mailboxes within the next few days. If I did not send you one but you wish to have one, please contact me. Your prayers are greatly appreciated--just because I haven't boarded the plane yet does NOT mean I'm not needing prayer!

Last week, I met with my boss (at HOHC) for my 6-month review. We discussed my departure date, and I have requested to leave my job on May 2. I will dearly miss my HOHC family, but I know I need those weeks to focus on Africa, pack, shoot a few weddings, and wrap up any unfinished details before I leave.

I'll be headed to NY (at AIM's headquarters) for orientation June 14 and 15. I'll be leaving the country on June 16, arriving in Africa on June 18.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Destination: Uganda

Time after time, the possible Africa assignments didn't come to fruition.

Time after time, I was disheartened and questioned, "Lord, what is your plan? Why are none of these assignments working out?"

The last two and a half years, as I've been waiting, I've reminded myself over and over that His timing is perfect.

His plan is perfect.

He knows the desires of my heart more than I do!

I never understood why ASHLEY'S plan wasn't working out. [Story of my life! :) ]

Until now--until this past Friday, to be exact.

I received a phone call from AIM, letting me know that "Dwelling Places" has requested that I come to Kampala, Uganda and serve with their ministry for approximately 9 months.

Yes, I did just say Uganda.

While taking care of ten Ugandan orphans (on the choir tour), I developed a curiosity and a passion for the Ugandan people and culture.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that God would place me in their hometown of Kampala!

God's faithfulness absolutely blows me away.

"He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it." -1 Thess 5:24 (ESV)

January 30, 2009 I read this verse in "My Utmost For His Highest,"

and I wrote " His timing" in the margin.

Exactly one year later was the weekend that I received the call about Uganda. Incredible.

I will be assisting Dwelling Places with various needs, including public relations and ministering to the kids. [I also want to come up with a creative way to use my photography to reach people THERE and HERE.]

According to their website,

"Dwelling dedicated to removing children from the streets, rebuilding broken families and restoring broken individuals with the love of Jesus Christ."


[Photo from D.P.'s website]

I am planning to leave for Uganda in early June.

I have four months to prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I also need to immediately start raising support. Although that part feels overwhelming, I know He will continue to show me His faithfulness.

If you would like me to send you a support letter in the next few weeks, please contact me with your address.

While I'm gone, I am hoping that God breaks my heart for the things that break His heart. I hope this blog will inform you about the tragic yet hopeful circumstances in Uganda...I can't wait to witness the Lord restoring children in His name.

This blog will be updated semi-regularly before I leave and certainly regularly once I'm in Uganda.