A ‘root’ is defined as being, a part of the body of a plant that develops, typically, from the radicle and grows downward into the soil, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutriment and moisture. Hence, the root is a critical part of the development of a plant, it is the very anchor and stability of the plant or tree. Now to enlighten your optics and enable you to think retrospectively, I need you to imagine that the roots that are defined above are prayers and the tree or plant represents the people of Uganda. Considering this simple but defining illustration and analogy, prayers are the root to the growth and development of the people of Uganda. And with that being said, Cisco and I wrote out a prayer and planted it within the roots and soil of a newly planted tree here in Uganda. So our prayers are indisputably planted within the soil of Uganda and it shall produce fruit. To view the picture checkout our Facebook page, I Will Not Leave You Orphans.
Before we proceed further with the series of events, we must survey some background. We have only seen these precious children thrice. At the age of 6 and 3, these siblings speak close to no English. They spend their days playing in this alley as their mother runs the shoe store. This last encounter was the first time we saw their Muslim father of many years. He was puzzled by the reaction his children had when they saw us. The second to last time we saw Sumaya and Tif we lavished them with attention and vital affection. We made them laugh, and we told them in Rutooro that Jesus loved them so much. We uttered the sentence, “Yesu nagugonza muno” until we could see the words begin to sink into their hearts. We carried them until our arms were struck with fatigue. Once we got some friends to translate what the inestimable children were saying in their local languages we found out that the phrase they kept repeating was “now do that to me!”, ” my turn!”. They were starving for affection, but…
Us peaking our heads into that shoe store communicated one message to Sumaya & Tif, it was as though we made a promise to them. A promise that would read like so, “we, cisco and phil, hereby devote the entirety of our attention for the next twenty minutes, solely to you. Even though we have some errands to take care of, you will have 100% our consciousness.” and even when we fell short of those terms, they would speak their local language to regain our mindfulness. Although their words failed to register, the melodious tones in which they were articulated bared no such issue. As our short encounter came to it’s conclusion and we began to lower their feet to the alley floor they are so greatly acquainted with, the grips around our necks became tighter. We released them and yet they held on by their own strength and moved not, as if to display a deeper truth. As if to communicate the cry, ” if I’m let go now, I don’t know when I’ll be picked up again. If I’m let go now, I don’t know when i’ll receive the attention and affection i so greatly need.” Once they were put down their countenances issued an immediate response. The younger brother Tif began to cry, and would not respond when we tried to say bye. when inquiring on the totality of Tif’s tears and the words he so dreadfully uttered, his tears formulated into these words, “take us with you!!! take us in the car with you”.
To many this encounter would be considered minuscule, but to us it bares great weight. These beautiful children are starving for affection. They are deprived of the attention that is vital to their development. They lack the love that can only be given by one who has an appreciation for them, that’s based off their Creator. To the eye not yet opened, we only picked them up and spun them around, but to the eye opened by True Love, we preached Christ to these precious ones. We showed them the Love of Christ, and they fully embraced it. We know this because…
when a child looks up at you and says, “I want: Spiderman Batman, a car, and a rainbow”, your heart beats more rapidly not wanting to disappoint them. so with my brush I begin painting. painting the very opposite of what he desired. my only hope was that he didn’t ask his friends, “how does my Spiderman, Batman, car, and rainbow look?” however what foreshadows this, is the joy expressed on a child’s face once you have painted it, joy that is incomparable and beyond precious. our goal for the day was to show God’s love through a paint brush and some face paint. at the end of the day, our goal was accomplished and we walked away, 7 brushes floating on clouds of bliss. the day was exquisite without error. thanks to the one who’s footstool is the earth’s surface. and when we really digest our lives and look beyond the surface, we realize, we’re all paint brushes. different sizes, different shapes, different colors, and different purposes. and our Paul Joseph Picasso is, Jesus!!! He uses us, His paint brushes to color the world for His glory. every stroke, every dip of paint, all carefully done by Him to make an enchanting masterpiece. so arise from your slumber, its time to paint.
-written by phil edited by cisco
the dusk of the world’s greatest day was coming to its final array before returning to the stock room of department stores all over the world. the day that changed the course of history forever was approaching its closure within hours. as this day came to its final completion cisco and I went to town, which is about 3 kilometers from where we reside. so as we drew near to our destination we saw the streets were bursting with people. so we park our car and begin walking towards the store. within minutes of us walking I see this colorful light bounce cross my path. as I perplexedly drew closer I realized it was a ball! a kid had lost his ball. in losing it, it bounced down a flight of stairs near a Bus Park Station. now living in Uganda many people know the Bus Park Stations are areas where people get robbed. and now the dilemma is surrounding my actions and my next move. as I thought about my next maneuver I found myself just responding with haste. I proceeded to the top of the stairwell where the ball took its course. I then expectantly ask the gentlemen who were below if they could throw me the ball that escaped the little boys hands. little did I know I was knocking on the door of pride in its most perceivable form. the men who I mistakenly took for gentlemen were indeed egotistic in the most raw form. so for the next minute, which seemed like forever, I would enter into a debate on the character and actions of those men who refused to lend a helping hand. at this point cisco was still parking the car, however, he reach the scene of debate at its closure. but once I informed him on the displeasing situation he quickly, with haste engaged the men and challenged them on their character and pride. his rebuke was sharp and vigorous. after this long controversy we retrieved the ball and returned it to the little soul who gain joy from its brightly lit colors and intense bounce. I’ve come to understand after an occasion as such, pride is a killer of ones character and moral responsibility.
tears are far from the scope of our current reality. without a blink of an eye or twitch within ones being, what happen only six days ago marks for our world complete and utter calamity. little ones plundered from their innocence and obliterated from the very constitution of life. a heart wrenching moment has knocked on the door of our comfort and by force it has shown its fruit. but we must rise with the arms of love and transfuse ourselves into the heart of the matter. we must, like a tsunami, cover Heaven with our prayers. in such times as this its not our job to promote our theology or presumption of biblical reasons upon the tragedy. but rather we should be filled with compassion and grace while comforting and grieving with those who are hurting. it would be erroneous to say that God isn’t grieved by such catastrophe. His heart breaks and tears fall like comets from His eyes, Jesus indeed weeps. so lets respond with His heart, we are His burning ones so let love burn.
many people have their own objective idea of a friendship. their hopes, desires, expectation, demands, and the like. but every once in a while like the turning of an eclipse you meet that person who transfigures your idea of a friend. they become the essential. without a slightest picture of the norm they become to you what Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”. Byron Culbertson has become the fulfillment of this. It’s truly the work of the Heavenly Host to
knit together such substantive and tangible truth. Love you Culbert and thank you!
- phillip & cisco
Walking with Jesus is filled with wonders as Psalms 137:4 says, “To Him who alone does wonders…” experiencing the wonder stretched forth by His hand is remarkable. on the contrary our very existence is birth in sin and we were wretched at birth. but God being rich in mercy delivered us from the vanity that defined us. and now we stand. standing with our eyes fixed on Him tasting the wonders of His Splendor. The more I breathe the more I understand that God’s expression within the earth realm is seen through us, His jars of clay. His wonders are being revealed through us. If one really digested this idea, awe stricken would be the only description to publish their current visage. This past week we came encounter with the wonder of our Father. Not fully knowing the acreage we will soon quest through, we faithfully and joyfully granted the request to be approved to journey across Lake Albert to preach the gospel at a village near the shores called, Kitebere. Crossing Lake Albert by boat we couldn’t help but feel like Paul on many of his excursions to preach the gospel. As we crossed Lake Albert and listened to the sound of the water hitting the boat as the engine gave its own clamor, we realized the magnitude and wonder of our God. But this will only foreshadow the lattermost expression arrayed by Him who sits high and looks low. The smell of the water and the sound of birds singing as they danced through the air released within us undiminished satisfaction. Finally approaching the region our imagination allowed us to drift to, we were astonished. It was like a scene in a movie, that was cast along the shores of a beach where boats were harbored and the smell of fish was the aroma. We have now landed, landed on the shores of Kitebere. What awaits us will be unparalleled in our experiences thus far. Upon the conclusion of us preaching the gospel the villagers and our companions whom we traveled with informed us that we are the first Americans to every preach the gospel here. Like a hurricane we were saturated in utter humility and awe. The totality of this sent us to one place, our knees. Here we were greeted by tears and complete praise to the Father. Wonders without measures. The villagers encouraged us to erect a monument because we made history in their land. Wonders without measures seen through mere jars of clay and done by Him who reigns from beyond the clouds.
our journey to a near by village was the upmost rewarding. the mission for the day was to teach about 50 kids how to play baseball and have a bible study with about 200 kids. showing them the love of the Father through baseball was as pastor bayless says, “putting the gospel in work clothes”. our hearts were changed that day, changed in such a way where we’ll never see baseball the same. this very day was overcast with three highlights. the first was teaching those 50 kids how to play baseball and the second was having a bible study with 200 kids!!!! it was like RealKids x20! and the third, well it’s more heart compelling then mere words can fixate. without a shadow of turning and the empty deception the enemy tries to ensnare us with our hearts plea day and night covering the gates of Heaven with our supplications and as david said in psalm 6:6, “I’ am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears”. without rebuttal or debate this verse will be digested in the chambers of my heart concerning the third highlight. even as I write this my stomach turns as if it’s on some wild carnival ride. but I’ll try and let the words floating around in my heart gracefully dismiss the symptoms of a contrite heart. to begin with, cisco and I were commissioned to pray for a group of 30 old ladies with a vast amount of sicknesses. humbled by the request we proceeded to do so. looking into the eyes of these old ladies I could see and feel their longing and desire for relief. so with that I started to pray. as I prayed cisco walked around and laid hands on each lady. and he did so reminded of the words of Jesus in Mark 16:18, “they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”. the more I prayed the more my heart pumped. chills begin the cover my body like the waters cover the ocean. tears flowed like a running faucet from my eyelids. and with every tear drop my voice extended. as a result it echoed of the aluminum tin ruff covering. surveying the reaction my heart and body released I prayed as pastor bayless calls it, ” a violent prayer”. and once the prayer was concluded I walked outside still weeping to find rain! pouring down from the heavens and I heard the Father say, “I’m weeping too”.
- written with tears, phillip
before I proceed with another word, please listen to the beat of my heart….it rained and the trees didn’t bare the dripping of the cold drops on our skin. as time gave way the rain didn’t relent but grow in its heaviness. our desire was to feed them. about 80 kids, waiting in the rain to eat. waiting in conditions some will normally flee free. they waited, wet and hungry they waited. as the rain continued to fall without withholding a single drop the line of hungry kids grew. the capacity grew to the point where pushing and pulling became the norm. trying to regulate and minimize the pushing and pulling my heart broke. their just hungry. trying to squeeze way to obtain possibly the only food they’ll eat for the conclusion of the day. their just hungry. some haven’t eaten all day, maybe a little cup of pourage at school. but indeed hungry pains and sounds has become their theme song. the sound of hunger that never cease to exist within them. so for a moment, to muffle the sound that hunts them day and night our desire was to feed them. you may be wondering how? for simplicity’s sake this is how: a lady was selling chapatti and roasted bananas. she set-up shop about a block from this primary school. so when school let out her hopes to make a few sales to provide for herself and her family would become a reality instead of an empty hope. so as we approached the now populated area our desire was to feed them. about 80 kids walking in the rain from school. fully aware of the possibility that we may not feed them all our hearts burned with passion to feed as many as we had the means to do so. without hesitation we bought all the chapatti and roasted bananas the lady was selling and begun to put a band aid on the hungry that’ll take more than two mere vessels to satisfy. knowing that such a cause exists we’ll die trying to end it! they were just hungry and our desire was to feed them. tears gave way but the pupils of my beholders wouldn’t allow the barrier to break. my heart became violent within my chest. raging with the complement to extend the simple but over looked satisfaction of hunger! they were just hungry. when shall such sounds of hungry be buried from within the little souls of children all over the world?