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Sunday, November 19, 2023

Walking with the unnamed characters

 As the Uganda school year draws to a close, the teachers at Christ School assigned the final full Sunday's worship to Scott, to bring the final sermon in the Luke series. They've been preaching through chapter by chapter. And chapter 24 is LONG. He worked hard on an interactive, comprehensive talk, focusing on the way Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances connected current reality to the Hebrew scriptures. In the process, the distraught women, the minor-character pair walking to Emmaus, the confused 11 huddling in an upper room, experienced understanding that went from their minds to their hearts. Their eyes were opened to recognise his presence, meaning, truth. Scott left them with inductive Bible study methods we learned in college from Inter-Varsity, so that in the long 8-week break approaching they can continue to encounter Jesus on their own. But Scott's phrase that jumped out for me from the sermon: Jesus comes to humble people in their sadness. 

A resurrection chapter sounds like a good time to jump ahead to glorious thrones and light, to the end of all suffering, to victorious angels, and sumptuous feasts. Instead Luke 24 is set in a deserted cemetery at dawn, in gathering darkness on a road at dusk, in a late night hidden cowering of devastated followers. Jesus didn't KAZAAM!! appear to the kings, burst in irrefutable power to the leaders and crowds. He came to humble people, in their sadness, walking alongside, sharing meals, asking questions, grounding them in hope.

That's where we're still called. Our teams in this area partner with humble humans in their real-life situations which are too often quite sad. Yesterday, one team invited dozens of refugees from across the borders to a Thanksgiving meal. Another offers surgical correction of war wounds and congenital anomalies, and tells the stories for world awareness. Another provides training and sewing equipment to village women to make marketable quilts and clothes. Another gathers aural-learner rural pastors and teachers to memorise the Bible as a series of connected stories that can be shared under trees and stars. Another hosted a weekend lakeside training retreat to equip counsellors as part of the painful healing process for sexually abused girls. Just a glimpse of a few of the actual happenings of the last few days . . . in the context of Luke 24. No TV cameras at these events, no fame, no celebrity. Intentional dispersal to the margins, intentional seeking out of the sad. And in every case, the message communicated: Jesus is here. Jesus comes to you in his sent people, and in your sorrows, walks alongside. To connect your life to the big story of God's redemption. To love you practically, and give you the view forward towards the all-things-new. 

this captures it all: in the constant rain working to nourish others, and God sends a little light to paint a bow of hope

We are some unnamed characters who long for all-things-new as well. An 8-hour PTA annual meeting Friday, numerous budget meetings, working out nutrition responses to increased refugee flows, reacting with security measures to an ADF attack just 20 km away over our border, coaching calls with most of our six countries to listen and pray, preparing a Bible study.  Having the preaching and the PTA and a dozen other things in the same few day stretch was a lot for Scott . . . particularly meeting with parents from the community to listen and learn what they seek. But that day we also delighted in seeing our staff reflect the values and impact of their time at CSB. As Scott was trying to answer a father's complaint that our football (soccer) performance disappointed him this year, the teacher translating launched into a heartfelt story of when he was a student almost 20 years ago and after CSB won the district tournament, public pressure mounted to not send our inexperienced students to nationals but to allow the district to supply their best semi-professional mercenaries so Bundibugyo would shine. Kevin B who was head teacher and coach at the time said no, these boys worked to win the district tournament and they deserve to go, it was about promoting good for students not looking good for the country. Two decades later, he still embraces that attitude now as a teacher: we won't cheat, we won't cut corners, we won't sell out for glory. We'll stick with Jesus, and the poor.

visiting some old friends whose smiles in spite of losses inspire us

Scott spends a lot of time fixing problems and helping the school stick to this vision and mission

One problem fixed this week: the copy machine, in time for end of year exams

 photo above and below, showing the parents a Serge East Africa Media (SEAM) video (see it yourself here!) 

Thanks to all who helped us rebuild the burnt dorm, in the Head Teacher's annual report

Reminding the parents and teachers of our shared vision

Above and below, Scott preaching today on our last Sunday with all the students before break

Cocoa connects to school fees and thriving and development . . 'tis the season to harvest and dry the beans.

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