Pure Worship

Worshiping in Africa was breathtaking. For one, Uganda is absolutely beautiful. God’s splendor and majesty is so clear. I mean when you see things like this….

How can you not marvel at God’s handiwork?
I truly believe that love, is pure worship. Simply loving, that’s God’s heart. If we could just get love right, everything else would fall into place. In Uganda, you are surrounded by love. You love until hurts, and then get love back tenfold.
A child’s heart is so pure and beautiful. It was awesome to receive the love they offered and to see the worship they offered their King. It was so humbling to see how they worshiped with their whole being. Every bit of them presented to God. Whether they were falling to their knees in prayer…
Or dancing with joy to honor their Lord…
It makes me ashamed of the half-hearted worship I have offered at times. My first Sunday back from Uganda, I went to church with family. There was nothing wrong with the service, but I found myself in tears. I missed Uganda so badly in that moment. I longed to be holding the hand of a child, dancing, exhausted, laughing.
I watched kids unashamed to offer all of themselves in worship. Not afraid to offer their hearts. I have SO much to learn. We…I get so caught up in appearances. Sometimes that means we’re afraid to fall on our face and cry out to the Lord. Other times that means we raise our hands and close our eyes…because that’s what “good” worship looks like.
Harsh? Maybe. But that’s where I am right now. I am trying to remind myself that God is the same no matter the country. I can’t change the world, but I can change me. I can let God change me. I can let the worship I saw in Uganda, change my worship. That is what I long for. I long for the example of children to penetrate my heart, to convict me and move me to change. I don’t ever want to go back.
One of my favorite songs is “I Saw What I Saw” by Sara Groves…
I saw what I saw and I can’t forget it
I heard what I heard and I can’t go back
I know what I know and I can’t deny it
Something on the road, cut me to my soul…

Your pain has changed me
Your dreams inspire
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me, what I’m afraid of
and what I know of love

Pastor Rebel

Isaac Wagaba, is known as Pastor Isaac to the people of Uganda. To some American teams who have visited Canaan Children’s Home, he is now known as Pastor Rebel. His story is truly one of rebellion. It is not a story of rebellion against God, but a story of a man and his family who vowed to serve God NO MATTER WHAT.

While in Uganda, my team and I spent four days at Canaan Children’s Home aka Heaven on earth. Canaan’s is an orphanage that offers a home, education, love, and family. There were some angels there that certainly stole my heart.
So back to Pastor Isaac’s story…
Pastor Isaac was working with some missionaries when Idi Amin came to reign. Christianity, and all things related, were strictly banned. Those who opposed and were caught in church or with a Bible were put to death.
Pastor Isaac along with other Ugandans held secret underground church services. He buried his Bible in his room, bringing it out only to copy a few verses on a piece of paper that he would hide in his clothing. We take our Bibles seriously for granted!
Pastor Rebel became a wanted man. One day soldiers came to Pastor Isaac’s home. He told his wife and two children to run and hide. He was taken and severely beaten. The soldiers put him in a room packed full of other pastors. As Pastor Isaac shared his story with us, he told us how they stood shoulder to shoulder on top of the blood of the ones who were killed before them. They were kept there without food for three days. On the third day, soldiers told them men to renounce God and become a Muslim to spare their life. For those who refused, death awaited them.
Pastor Isaac and the other men were taken outside, blindfolded, and bound. Pastor Isaac told us that he asked one of the soldiers to please hurry and kill him. He would just get to meet Jesus that much sooner. All of the pastors were lined up along a wall. One soldier was assigned to each man. They opened fire. Pastor Isaac heard the gunfire, but was not shot. The soldier firing at him approached him to ask if he was a magician. Why was he unable to shoot Isaac?
Finally, another soldier shot Pastor Isaac in the arm. When he fell to the ground, they assumed he was dead. Pastor Isaac was thrown on the back of a truck with the rest of the dead bodies. They were driven to a forest where there was a pit already full of dead pastors. Isaac was thrown near the top. After the soldiers left, Pastor Isaac heard a voice telling him to get up from among the dead. “I have saved your life so that you may save the lives of my fatherless children.”
Pastor Isaac crawled away from the pit. A herdsman found him and took him in. The man sold his cow to pay for Isaac to receive treatment at the hospital. After a short stay there, doctors helped him to escape to Kenya. Two years after his capture, Pastor Isaac was able to locate his wife Rebecca and let her know he was alive. Can you imagine?!
When the reign of Idi Amin ended in 1979, Pastor Isaac and his family were reunited at the exact same place he was captured. They rebuilt their life there. Pastor Isaac had forgotten God’s words until one day in 1982 a woman and her two children appeared at his home. She was dying and searching for a place for her children to go. Pastor Isaac told her he could not help her, but they could stay there for the night. In Pastor Isaac’s words, “that woman was very smart,” and left early the next morning. Those two children became the first of many in Canaan Children’s Home.
Pastor Isaac’s story sounds like it either came straight from the Bible or Hollywood. I want his life story to encourage, inspire, and challenge you. He is a man I greatly admire. He is so full of joy. It is beautiful to see God so alive in His life. My life has been and is so easy. I have no idea what true hardship is. I love that God is powerful enough to take all of our pain, like the pain we talked about with the handkerchiefs and teenagers, and turn them into treasures like Pastor Isaac and Canaan’s.
Before we left Pastor Isaac asked our team to pray for that God would provide the one that would take over Canaan’s one day. I hope you will join me in praying for this amazing, godly couple.

Up next, worship Africa style and my LIFE CHANGING times in the prisons!


I wish I had the words to describe just how amazing my time in Uganda was. But words seem to fall short of the splendor. Instead of giving you a day by day re-cap, I have decided to pick out a few heavenly nuggets to share. Stories that I think should shake us to our core and drive us to action.

Uganda is a beautiful country. It is lush and green, yet dry and red. The red dirt gets on and in everything. You shower and scrub only to be covered once again within five minutes of being outside. It is glorious!
Everywhere you go, you hear people shouting, “Mzungu! Mzungu!” (white person) Most children you meet are ecstatic to meet you. They find your white skin funny and your long hair intriguing. They run their hands over your arm, pull at your fingers, and rub your hair. Some of the babies find you terrifying. What is this strange looking creature? Yes, there are times in Africa when a little one walks around the corner, sees your white skin, screams, cries, and runs away.
There is always a little one to hold your hand or that wants to be rocked. And they don’t have to be so little either. Even the older ones just want to be held. No words, just love. A safe place to rest their head. When you have seen the things some of these children have seen, rest can be hard to find. When you look into their eyes, one can only guess the pains they have felt.
One night at Canaan’s Children Home, our home for part of our stay, four of us got to hear some of their stories. Our team had brought white handkerchiefs with the intentions of doing a healing activity with some of the kids. We waited and prayed for the right time. We invited anyone 13 and older from Canaan to join our activity. These teens had been in school until 7 pm, had dinner, then worked on homework until 9 pm. What a long day! But they were so excited to be with us.
Everyone was given 2 handkerchiefs and some markers. We told them to draw or write the best day of their life and the worst day of their life. We split up into smaller groups. I had about nine boys in my group. I told them that if they wanted to share, I would treasure and honor their story. I had also drawn my best and worst days. I shared my heart with them, then felt it melt as I saw the love that swept across their faces for me. They felt my pain, and they felt my joy.
Some chose to share their story. Others weren’t able to in the group, but shared with us privately later. We told them that Jesus knows what it is to have a very worst day. We told them how much God loves them. He suffered so much for us. Now, He wants all of our days. He wants our good days and our very worst days. And He promises to take our worst days and turn them into a treasure.
One of our team members had made a cross out of logs. We all took our handkerchiefs, our hurts, our sorrows and laid them at the cross. It was such a sweet moment to get to be a part of. One of the teens prayed for us at the end. What beautiful words from such a beautiful heart! My heart broke as I watched one my sweet friends leave in tears. I wondered what his worst day was. He wasn’t ready to share his story, but the next night as we prepared to say goodbye, this boy who always acted more like a grown man than thirteen, laid his head on my shoulder and cried. I squeezed him tight wanting to soak up all that pain and hurt and replace it with so much love.
After our night with the teens ended, we were able to look at some of the handkerchiefs. There were many stories. Our hearts ached as we read things like, “My worst day was when I cried for help, and no one heard me.” I cannot pretend to know that kind of pain.
For their best day, there were two events that seemed to come up again and again. The first, “My best day was when I came to know Christ.” And the second, “My best day was when I came to Canaan’s.” That made my heart smile. That makes me stand in awe of a God who takes the most horrible of things and uses them to create the most beautiful of things.

I loved our time at Canaan Children’s Home. It is such a place of refuge and restoration. Pastor Isaac and his wife Rebecca started the home in 1996. I promise to share their story in my next post. You will not believe the things they have faced! Their story is one that is all about God taking the MOST horrible, performing a few miracles, and creating something absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Home and Heartbroken

I am home! And once again I am wrecked by the things I saw. The people of Uganda were a stranger to me just twelve days ago. Ten days was in Africa was all the time I needed to fall in love. It honestly caught me off guard. I knew to some degree that love would find me once again on the mission field, but not like this. This love hurts deeper than I ever thought possible. Before my journey to Uganda, my prayer was for God to break my heart for what breaks His. I am home feeling just that, absolutely broken. My spirit is heavy from the pain and corruption I have seen. I know God is good, but we are not good. As I think through the ugliness God’s children are going through, all I can do is weep. Now I find myself asking, now what, Lord? You have shown me things that horrify me. So, what do I do about it? I am overwhelmed, but God is greater. He knows the pain I am feeling because He feels it for His children ALL THE TIME. I am trusting Him to reveal the next step. I know I am going to need time to reflect and process everything. I promise that little by little I will share their stories with you. And oh do I have some doozies for you! I will tell you all about the baby with HIV and TB. I will tell you about the Karamajong who are taken away like dogs to the pound. I will tell you about the man who was buried alive. I will tell you about the children’s prison overflowing with children with special needs desperately needing medicine. I will tell you it all as God and I go through it all. Until then, THANK YOU for supporting me! Thank you for your donations, prayers, and encouragements! I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to serve in Uganda. Thank you for sending me!