This has been one of the hardest posts for me to make. Because the focus is on us personally and we do not like to be the center of attention! But I thought it important for you to see that The Mandate in Uganda is real people being used by a real God to affect lives in a little village. I wouldn’t say we are a normal family, we are just a little on the crazy side! I’ve been told that to be a missionary you have to have a little crazy in you to just go when God says go with no thought about the sacrifice you are making. But we aren’t anything special, we just love Jesus and want to give others that love and understanding of what it means to be a child of God.
We weren’t expecting to be missionaries, Christian has been a preacher and pastor for over twenty years, I (Rhonda) have been a mother, wife, grandmother and graphic artist for many more than that. We have two grown sons, a “surprise” daughter and a daughter-in-law and two beautiful grandchildren. But we were at a point in our lives we knew God was getting ready to do a new thing with us – although we were kind of thinking He was moving us from Louisiana to Texas! Boy did He surprise us with this move! Uganda wasn’t even on our radar!
The one thing we tell people over and over is in whatever you do, know that God is in it. That you “know that you know” you are right where He wants you to be. Whoever you are – you don’t have to move to another country to be God’s messenger. So that during the hard times – and we started our ministry in Uganda pretty rough – you can hold on to that and know that whatever you face He will get you through it. If we didn’t have that we may have gone back home the first month!
But now, after over three years, we call this home. We’ve learned a lot about the culture in those years but still learn something new just about everyday. There isn’t anywhere else we’d rather be, even somewhere where we had running water at all times! We love the people, we definitely have challenges and have days where we want to give up but we hold on to that knowledge that this is where God has us and if we let him have control His plan will be accomplished. People have asked me if the hardest part of living here is not having modern conveniences – running water, electricity (although thankfully we have excellent solar) or the ability to “run” to Wal-mart but I really don’t think about these things. Leaving family was a sacrifice but leaving all the material things was just a no-brainer for us. We gave away just about everything we owned including getting rid of our home. We know that whenever and wherever God puts us next He will take care of all our needs. The hardest part of living here is all of the needs, especially the children. It is hard to sit down to eat whatever and as much as we want when we are constantly hearing children crying because they don’t have enough to eat. And we can’t feed them all. But we try and keep our focus on God and use the Holy Spirits’s discernment to help those we can and lift up the others to God. Even if we can help a few by walking side by side and lifting them up that is pleasing to God. I talk in another post about the children being the future and that is where a lot of our focus is, whether it be in Sunday School, the schools we help in support, the six orphans we love and support or just in being “mom and dad” to ones who hang out at our house. Many of the kids here don’t always have fathers around so Christian tries to be a role model for especially the boys and young men that he is with almost daily.
When we talk to Americans one of the first questions people ask is how many people have been saved since you’ve been there? I can’t tell you how many. I know there have been hundreds over the years between Sunday School, prison ministry and the different places Christian preaches that have confessed salvation. We don’t keep numbers, we could but we have learned that just because people ask to be saved here doesn’t mean they are really understanding what that means. To the majority it is something you do to receive miracles and material blessings. For many, even though they’ve asked Jesus into their hearts they still cling to their culture. They may pray to Jesus but if their prayers aren’t answered just the way they want they then still go to the witch doctor to have him/her do their thing. I can tell you it is relationships that have been made where we see that God is real to them and working in their lives. It is the daily walking with someone and living what we preach before them that gains trust and respect and helps them to see Jesus is real. I pray that the majority of the people who have asked Christ into their hearts are sincere but we leave the counting up to God. And do our best to disciple the ones that we can.
So that’s who The Mandate Uganda is. Christian, Rhonda and Raelee. Just a little family that answered a call, not a big team of people even though we have a big team of donors, prayer warriors and Jesus behind us praying and cheering us on! Everyday is an adventure and looking back at what God did to prepare us for this life we can honestly say we have never been happier materially or more spiritually at peace!