Saturday, November 17, 2012

News from the Whitmers in Uganda

 From the ashes comes new hope! As many of you know, when we were back in the USA from March – May 2010, we received word that our Bible school building on Buvuma Island had been burned down and nearly destroyed. It was a time of great disappointment, but also a time to rely on God and His vast resources to rebuild.

On Nov 4th, we had our first classes in the rebuilt Bible School! There is still work to be completed (windows, plaster, paint, and floors), but the roof is on and it is usable. This has been a reminder that at times, God has to do the same thing to us---take us back to our foundation so that he can rebuild or reshape us for His service!

 God is so good! In October we moved into our new place. The IMB offered us a house since it was going to be empty, and we will remain in it until our return to the USA in November 2013! An IMB couple (James & Sonya) live below us and the compound is beautiful. This has been a blessing and a real answer to prayer!

  God continues to work on Buvuma Island! As a result of the Urbancrest team that was with us this summer, we continue to meet weekly for Bible study with believers in the village of Bulima. Aaron Taylor and Matt Johnson taught two days in the village which resulted in 24 salvations and an interest in learning more from the Bible! Thank you Aaron and Matt!

  Urbancrest Primary School in Butende is growing! We have hired another teacher and currently average 160 students per day. In addition to being taught the government curriculum, they are also hearing God’s word each day! We still have challenges there with finishing the construction on the new building and the new toilets (the old one collapsed).

  The leadership development of some of the women at Muwanga (our main compound) has resulted in growth in the Women’s Prayer Ministry! We now have groups at five churches and will continue to identify women in each church and train them to lead these groups. Our goal is to have a group in each of our island churches.

 We are also expanding the HIV Support Group to a second village to facilitate travel. The group at Muwanga has grown to over 40 and it is time to start another location. We have a monthly meeting which includes Bible study, prayer, nutritional information, a time to share personal challenges, distribution of vitamins and medication, and a meal. Johnson, one of our local pastors, has taken ownership of this project and administers it with our assistance.

  On a personal note, we are doing great! Our health has been good and God has kept us safe on the roads, on the water, and most importantly on the motorcycle (ask Darlene). A lot has happened on the home front back in the USA. On August 16th, Damon (our oldest son in Texas) got married! On October 23rd we “officially” became grandparents as Eric and Caren finalized the adoption of Sarah Patience Whitmer! We are so blessed to have such a great family! Damon and Eric will be coming to Uganda for a visit in January! It will be so great to have them here for a bit and show them our African lifestyle and work.

  It is so nice to have today’s media to keep up with what God is doing. A Wednesday night meal in the Urbancrest gym would be awesome! Please continue to pray for us and the ministry here in Uganda, George & Geraldine as they are on furlough in the USA until June 2013, and our pastors and their families on the island. We miss and love you all! 
~ Ron & Darlene Whitmer

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Uganda Mission Trip Report - Part 1

Uganda Mission Trip ~ July 28-August 11, 2012

The mission trip to Uganda, Africa has drawn many participants from Urbancrest and other churches over the years. Two of our Urbancrest families, the Bogans and the Whitmers, are currently serving there in full-time ministry. This year's short-term team consisted of the following fourteen participants:
  • Clint, Michelle, Lexi & Lauren Otto
  • Doss Estep
  • Mindy Howell
  • Matt & Jennifer Johnson
  • Heather Parks
  • Larry Picklesimer
  • Shela Smith
  • Aaron Taylor
  • Todd Tolliver
  • Marilyn Whitsel
  Because we had a large team, we were able to split the group into two groups for the first five days of ministry. The group that stayed on land in Jinja with the Bogan family consisted of Doss, Todd, Mindy, Lexi, Lauren, and me (Michelle). We visited Good Shepherd’s Fold (an orphanage) on the first day of ministry. Dana Bogan and Mindy assisted medically, and Lexi, Lauren, and I got to hold babies in the newly opened baby house. We also played with preschoolers and colored with the older children. We were able to present the Gospel to those who were old enough to understand and encourage the caretakers.   

  The second and third day of ministry we visited a Christian school called Hannah Moshi. The school focuses on reaching Muslims in their area. Dana and Mindy helped in the medical clinic both days, while the Bogan children and the three of us taught kids the Bible and played with them. Doss presented the Gospel to people who had been helped by the medical team. Many families gave their life to Christ!
  We also held a men’s seminar and taught women at Alfred Adundo’s church. Mindy and I worked together and had a wonderful time! The women really enjoyed getting together as a group, separate from the men. They said they got so much more out of having their own time versus staying with the men. We did a lot of discipleship with them and we encouraged them to continue meeting together and encouraging one another when we were gone. 
  We had a wonderful time ministering alongside the Bogans in these different areas. It was wonderful to do life with them, encourage them, participate in their church, catch up with them, and see where they live and work.

  When the group came back from Buvuma Island, they were able to visit a hospital where they prayed with many people. There were several salvations as they worked their way through the rooms of the sick. After that, they headed out to Alfred’s school in Massese. Our team was able to love on kids and help the women by purchasing some of the products they make and sell to help their families and the school.

  Later, we traveled to Masindi to visit Canaan Farm. This was a long, bumpy ride, but it was worth it! Canaan Farm continues to amaze everyone who sees what they’re doing. They have helped so many people by teaching them business and farming skills as well as providing them with clean water, medical facilities, and beds. We were able to help teach the Bible while we were there (although they already diligently do so). Aaron and Clint preached each evening, and men, women, and children were taught during these days.
  As a side note, much ministry was accomplished during the time we spent with our drivers. One of the drivers, Bediru, has been our driver each time I have been on this trip. He is a Muslim and has expressed interest in becoming a Christian. Please pray that the next time a team goes back, we can request Bediru as our driver and he can bring his wife with him, “so the good Christian women can talk to her” (as Bediru said). Bediru has talked to his wife about him becoming a Christian, but she said she would leave him if he did. It is very hard for him to make this leap of faith without her.
  This trip was different than the ones I have been on in the past. Discipleship was the main focus. I know that this is what the Lord wanted. So often, we see many salvations in Africa, but not enough discipleship. The heart of our trip was to make disciples just as Jesus told us to. People grew, were stretched, and I believe left with focus and vision for what God is calling them to do. I especially saw this as I was teaching the women at Alfred’s church. They were excited to see what God was calling them to and hearts were truly changed! Thank you all for your prayers on behalf of those that we went to minister to in Uganda, and for praying for us as well. We felt those prayers and know that the Lord honored them by keeping us all safe, healthy, and allowing many hearts to be changed or grown in their walk with Jesus!
~ Clint & Michelle Otto, Team Leaders

Mark Your Calendars


November 11 - Last Date for Operation Christmas Child Drop-off

November 18 - Baskets of Hope @ 6:00pm in the Sanctuary


December 2 – Annual Church Business Meeting @ 6:00pm in the Sanctuary

December 4 – FPF Stewardship Team Meeting @ 7:00pm in Room 202

December 14 – Church Planter Network Christmas Dinner @ 6:30pm in Room 203

December 16 – Baskets of Hope @ 6:00pm in the Sanctuary