I must change.
Life is peppered with important moments. Sometimes we can sense that this moment, right now, this present experience, this is pivotal. The road is splitting right here and I have no choice but to choose a direction. Yesterday I had that kind of a moment.
I walked up the concrete stairs and into a large room where several brown plastic chairs had been formed in a semicircle. A couple Ugandan men sat in quiet conversation. To my left was a row of windows overlooking the Eastern half of Kampala. To my right was a row of windows through which I could see homes with children playing and women working. A fellow missionary greeted me warmly and walked me around to those who had arrived by 9am. “Excuse me Kefa, have you met Nathan?” he motioned toward me with one hand while his other rested on Kefa’s shoulder. I smiled and extended my hand. One by one I met the overseers (we might call them district superintendents) and administrators of the Africa Gospel Church. We sang a song and prayed and listed to a short devotional. The meeting had begun.
Our schedule for the meeting was to include reports from the various districts throughout Uganda, a review of the budget, vision casting, etc. It’s called the AGM (annual general meeting). My only role in this meeting was to watch and learn. In my watching and learning I was shocked at what I saw and changed by what I learned.
“Our district is enduring some challenges. We have three churches whose buildings have fallen down.” I was confused. Maybe I hadn’t heard him correctly. I reviewed his printed report and saw that all but one of the churches in his district were temporary structures. He talked about the members of different churches contributing bricks and materials to try and put up a new structure. “Do we have believers there?” someone would ask. I felt like I was watching the book of Acts as leaders discussed church development referring to the groups of people as churches. There were many, yes many, churches with a name and no building. I could feel my mind and heart and soul ache under the pressure of profound change. I must change.
“We had a donation of Bibles that gave each of our districts churches eight.” I listened to this statement and thought it was a little sad. “Only eight?” I thought. The man next to me reacted with a subtle expression of appreciation like his faith had just been strengthened. I looked at him for a while. He smiled to himself and looked down at his papers and shook his head. He was excited. I felt myself change while I watched this leader be deeply encouraged by news of eight Bibles per church in someone else’s district.
As we prepared to leave America for Uganda I told many of you that I expected to impact Ugandan pastors with my education while they impact me with their faith. Yes. It is happening. Change is a gut-wrenching, mind twisting, heart-pounding monstrous pressure cooker. It hurts. I sat in that meeting hurting. I held my tears back not because I felt pity but because I admired them. “God help me, “ I thought. “Spirit of God, you are in that man, come and change me,” I prayed. It is true that I will teach these men and women. I will train them. But I discovered yesterday that if I am to spend time with them I must change. I’ve come to a fork in the road. I must change.
The moment we stop changing we stop growing. Change brings life. If we think we have arrived, finished, maxed out, reached the peak or completed anything in this life then we have lost and died. God brings us life by causing us to change.
Here’s a good prayer: “God, in the way that You see fit, would you change me today?”