Ministry Issues


Who Owns A Ministry
Endorsement | Ministry Plan | Evangelism | Holy Spirit | Personal Testimony
Cross Cultural Teaching Tips | Proper Ladies Attire | The Global Village
Money & Ministry | Benevolence | Used Clothing | Bibles, Books, Materials
Portable Sound System | Parcel Post to Uganda | A Gospel Driven Ministry
Attitude | Lesson from a Coffee Cup | Medical Ministry | Missionary Homecoming
Missionary Funny | Uganda Mission Home

If you are a worker in God's kingdom, or ever hope to serve the Lord, let me warn you form the words I wrote down in my notebook that day while I was waiting in the airport interrogation room. In large letters I wrote, "Beware! Beware! God's worker must never, ever disobey God's principles!"

Those Christians who have a public ministry are most in danger of falling into trouble, because they can easily be tempted to listen to the applause and praise of men. If you are a preacher, beware! You must cry out and ask God to help you listen only to His voice, not to the crowds of people who pat you on the back and place you on a pedestal. God's principles are often the opposite of our own. While we hope people will like and accept us, Jesus taught, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you." Luke 6:26

The Heavenly Man, Brother Yun, Monarch Books, 2003, page 317.

Visit this thought provoking world clock


Who Owns A Ministry?

To the question "Who owns a ministry, the simple, direct, and correct answer is "Jesus." It still sets me back when dealing with some folks, even missionaries and even those who speak of being "servant leaders," who in fact operate on the mission field like they are in the trading pits on Wall Street. They must own every second of every minute of every day. The couple of paragraphs below are a revision of a email I sent a friend who was working to help unravel an unnecessary "dust up" following a mission trip.

I have not really pressed John (not his real name) on this, but I sense from emails he has sent that he was hurt by being left out of the planning and execution of the most recent ministry. As you stated in your earlier email, he was just a ride along with the group. In African culture, a village leader is a significant position and ministry that goes to his village should be (humanly speaking) his ministry, supported by those who come, not their ministry observed by him. In my two decades of ministry in Uganda, I doubt there has been even one venue in which I have worked, that I could not have significantly improved on how things went. But I learned quickly that when my few hours in that venue were over, the village and church leaders remained there and if I supported them, even in their inefficient and cultural weaknesses, it was a far more successful ministry. I keep going back to those same venues and do what I can each time to help the leaders improve. When something is handled very poorly, quietly and individually I always try to help them see that it could have been done much better, but in the end, if there is to be lasting change, they must see the need to go up a notch and then take that step. If we just go in an ramp things up for 36 hours and then leave, not much change is left behind.

John wanted to start a school in the village. A village where there had never been a school and very few of the parents had any education. But to help honor John's vision, we raised funds to build the initial school building. I knew that most parents there would see little need to pay for their kids to have an education but I kept that opinion to myself. You could not measure the joy in John's heart when he took me to the village to see the school with 40 or 50 kids in it. But, as I figured, John was struggling to pay teachers, buy books and supplies. Then to my great joy, on the next trip when we drove up, all these people were sitting under the trees in their finest clothes. I asked John what was going on. He told me it was the parents of the school children and he had invited them there to meet me and for me to greet them and tell them why education for their children was important. This was a great victory. I loved that day. In fact, I would have done a better job if he had given me some advanced notice so I could have been better prepared. But the bottom line is, lasting change came to that village that day through its own leaders. It was their leadership saying this is the way to the future and many of the people have followed.

One additional point is that Christian's must minister on a horizontal plane. That is, we are ourselves beggars who found bread in Jesus and we are sharing that bread and it's source with others. In the past, some Christian groups have modeled their ministry vertically, that is, we wise (intelligent, smart, hardworking, superior, etc.) people have come to help you poor (ignorant, lazy, inferior, etc.) people see the proper way. Americans want to "fix" things. Jesus changes things.

Who Should Go?
The qualities that one would look for in a team member are as follows:

Great article on Not Complicating the Missionary Call.

The type people God has used...
  • Noah once was a drunk
  • Abraham was old
  • Isaac was a daydreamer
  • Jacob was sometimes a liar
  • Leah was not attractive
    Joseph had been abused
  • Moses had a stuttering problem
  • Gideon was sometimes afraid
  • Samson was a womanizer
  • Rahab once was a prostitute
  • Jeremiah and Timothy were young
  • David was adulterous and a murderer
  • Elijah doubted the value of life
  • Isaiah once preached naked
  • Jonah tried to run from God
  • Naomi was a widow
  • Job went bankrupt
  • Peter denied Christ three times
  • The Disciples fell asleep while praying
  • Martha worried about everything
  • Mary Magdalene was...
  • The Samaritan woman had multiple divorces
  • Zaccheus was small
  • Paul once persecuted the church
  • Timothy had an ulcer and
  • Lazarus was dead!
Do you think God can use you?

Christians - By Maya Angelou

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace!

Endorsement & Missions
It seems most people view faith as purely a personal matter. This has lead some to conclude that the expression of that faith is purely personal as well. Consistent with this "personal" view, some just jump on a plane and run off to the third world or wherever, doing their on thing. However, even a brief survey of the book of Acts shows the work of the gospel was carried on in the context of the church. It was not just someone doing their own thing, but God's Kingdom work being done by His chosen instrument, the church, the body of believers.

Jesus did not tell Peter that he would build the church for Jesus. Neither did Jesus tell me or you that we would build the church for Him. Jesus said: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) God is His goodness chooses to use us, be He does not dependent on us. He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." Luke 19:40

The word "mission" comes from the Latin word "missum," which has as its root meaning, "sent." The concept is of being sent, commissioned with a specific task, authorized by someone in authority. The English word "missionary" therefore implies not so much going as it does being sent. All believers are "sent" by Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8), and those believers gathered into a body of believers (the church) in turn commission and send some of their own to specific works.

When Barnabas and Saul began their first missionary journey, they did not just go on their own initiative. It was the Holy Spirit who sent them. The method the Holy Spirit used was for the church to fast and pray and then with due deliberation, the laying on of hands.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:2-4 (ESV)

There are three things that need to be accomplished in preparation for ministry in Uganda.

  1. A commitment in your own heart that God is calling you to such ministry
  2. Successful completion of the trip preparation and ministry training
  3. A body of believers who are committed to this ministry in such a way that they provide funding, prayer support, and are willing to commission (endorse) you with prayer and the laying on of hands (ideally, this group would be the leadership of your local church, even if you are to be part of a team organized by your denomination)

When someone funds their own trip and does not actively seek others to pray for them, it is so easy (but not automatic) for the trip to become "their trip" rather than a coordinated work of the body of Christ, and has little or no accountability or encouragement.

One final note: accountability is not straight jacket to keep you in line, but a great blessing that allows others to see and hear what God is doing. It provides transparency so people everywhere can see that ministry is done "decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:40.

And from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. 27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:26-27

Back to Missions : Back to Timeline

Ministry Plan
A school teacher will recognize this immediately as a "lesson plan." There are some venues (ministry opportunities) in Uganda that everyone takes part in such as sharing in schools, Sunday School, one-on-one discussions, visiting in homes, sharing testimony, etc. But there are other venues in which only specific team members take part such as preaching or conducting medical clinics or helping training classroom teachers. In other words, our team members are called on to do what they do best.

To create a ministry plan, simply take a sheet of paper and list all the potential sharing situations you think you might have. Then create a sub-list under each of these major heading containing what you would hope to do if given that particular opportunity. (sample) You will find this helpful as it gives you a starting point so you can face any venue without panic as you have a plan and you know what you can do, so your thoughts turn to how to do it better or how to take advantage of an unanticipated opportunity.

Ask any Marine who has served in combat and they will tell you that you train and train, establish a well thought out plan that everyone learns, and then as soon as combat begins, the plan changes because the unanticipated is encountered. This does not mean it is wrong to plan (even though it always changes any way) but the plan at least gives you a starting point and you will find many of these parts of the plans work just fine even if the entire plan does not.

Back to Missions : Back to Timeline

Evangelism
Evangelism is part of a Christian's sanctification. It helps us grown in Christ. The compelling lack of evangelism in the American church is not evidence of the decline and influence of the church, it is the cause. The church has lost sight of the lost. So much "church growth" in the last thirty years has simply been members leaving one church and joining another.

Some folks change churches because their understanding of the gospel has changed and they move to a church whose theology and practice are more consistent with their own belief.

However, in many other cases, some churches have learned to package their programs better than others and so they attract transferring members with slick packaging that grows mega-churches while the influence of the Kingdom of Christ on the culture of the United States is literally vanishing before our eyes. We no longer need to wait one-hundred years for some church historian to methodically trace this decline, all we need do is watch the evening news.

One goal of the Africa Christian Training Institute is to allow American Christians to see practical evangelism in a "revival" culture with the hope that those same Americans will take a zeal for evangelism back home.

To support this, Dr. Henry Krabbendam (and other ACTI team leaders) regularly conduct school's of evangelism in various venues in Uganda. In the last 25 years, Dr. K has developed an extensive evangelism syllabus. Dr. Krabbendam would love to hear from you by way of email.

The Global Village
As you begin to minister in a culture other than your own, it is helpful to remember the demographics of a mythical world village in which all the people of the world and their life circumstances are reduced to just 100 people.

Here is the makeup of that village: --copied, original source unknown--

  • 70 are persons of color
  • 57 are of Asian descent
  • 21 are of European descent
  • 14 are from north or south America
  • 8 are of African descent
  • 80 live in sub-standard housing
  • 70 are not able to read
  • 50 suffer from malnutrition
  • 6 (all from USA) own 50% of all the wealth
  • 1 has a college education
Remember this point: If you are a caucasian American, well feed, living in a comfortable house, with a college education and money in the bank, it is your lifestyle that is abnormal on this earth.

The USA 100 years ago
When comparing Uganda (or any other third world country) to the United States today, you might want to take a look back to a snapshot of the United States in the early 1900s. During this 100+ years, the U.S. never had an Idi Amin or any other horrid ruler that most third world countries have had to endure.

  • The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years
  • Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone
  • A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00
  • There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph
  • The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour
  • The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year
  • More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at HOME
  • Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education
  • Sugar cost 4 cents a pound
  • Eggs were 14 cents a dozen
  • Coffee was 15 cents a pound
  • The four leading causes of death in the U.S. were: pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, and diarrhea
  • Two out of every ten U.S. adults couldn't read or write
  • Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school

Click here for some photographs in the USA from 1939.

Click here for a US Map showing numbers of believers in each state.

Click here for a 8th Grade Final Exam from 1895. See if you could pass it?

Attitude
(Note: While this little story does not relate directly to ministry in Uganda, its subject matter -- ATTITUDE -- most definitely does.

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud mother-in-law of my best friend, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

Maurine Jones is the most lovely, gracious, dignified woman that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. While I have never aspired to attain her depth of wisdom, I do pray that I will learn from her vast experience.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. "I love it," she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room ... just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," she replied, "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it ...

"It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away ... just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account ... you withdraw from what you've put in ...

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories."

Lesson from a Coffee Cup Author unknown

A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers, got together for a visit with their old university professor. The conversation soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work and life in general...

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and soon returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal - some plain, some expensive, some quite exquisite. Quietly he told them to help themselves to some fresh coffee.

When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the small gathering...

You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones. While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves, it is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems...

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups... Then you began eyeing each other's cups...

Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the Life we live...

Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee that God has provided us... God brews the coffee, and passes out the cups by His own sovereign will. Enjoy and use your coffee and the cups He has given you to honor Him!

The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything..

How to determine how long a missionary has been on the field

  • Year One, she finds a fly in her water, and pours the water out
  • Year Two, she finds a fly in her water, picks it out, shrugs, drinks the water
  • Year Three, she finds a fly in her water, smiles, says, "Oh good! Soup!"

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