Current Updates


Men of Willow & Friends Project Update

September 2018 Update – Ninth-Year Anniversary Edition

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

What If?

What began as a reluctant response to an uncertain whisper has resulted in nine years of God-honoring and Spirit-led ministry. Reflecting back on what has been done over these past years, there is no doubt of the certainty of that whisper which spoke to us then and still speaks to us today, asking What if? What if people really listened and responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Ours is just one of the countless stories that can be told of a perfect and holy God who invites imperfect people to help accomplish His divine purpose. The whisper we responded to was What if many of us joined together to accomplish that which we could not do alone? I am grateful to God for His invitation and for all those who are a part of this ongoing story. If you want to be reminded once again of what can happen when people respond to the question of What if? read this: http://www.menofwillow.com/new-updates#TOC-September-2017-Update-Eight-Year-Anniversary-Edition-)

Follow-up report from the August Update

1. New believers: We were excited to receive word from Glory Center Church that more than 70 people accepted Christ as Lord and Savior at its annual Ffe ffenyini festival on August 26. The church is now in the process of holding classes for these new believers and helping them become disciples. The challenge for these young believers is the lack of Bibles in their own language. The cost is just $10 each, but for many of the people in Ndejje, that represents nearly a month's wages. What we take for granted they would treasure. This is another way you could make an impact in someone's life. What if?

2. The church van: In March we announced a plan to help Glory Center Church get a vehicle that would accommodate ten or more people. As for the $3,000 matching gift challenge that was good through the end of August, I am happy to announce that offer was not only matched, but exceeded. It was our prayer that God would move in the hearts of those He wanted to give for this cause and people responded. We currently have $9,500 toward our goal of $17,000 (see attached flyer).

We have tried to explain and describe in previous updates how a van would greatly increase Glory Center Church Planting Ministries' (GCCPM) ability to become even more effective in fulfilling Christ’s command for all us when He said in Mark 16:15 (TLB): “You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere” and again in Matt. 28: 19-20 (NIV): “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” There is an important part of the plan that we have not yet explained, as we are still working on the details. For lack of a better name, I will call it …

The maintenance plan

We will have a written agreement with Glory Center Church whereby the church will contribute $100 per month into an account for the primary purpose of maintaining the vehicle. The last thing we want to happen is for the vehicle to break down and sit idle. We also don't want to be in a position where we would have to come back to the donors and ask for more contributions to keep the van running. That is one of the reasons we think it would be good if we could raise as much as $17,000. Our thinking is that a greater investment should yield a vehicle in better condition. We feel like this is probably our one and only time to raise funds for a vehicle and it may have to last until Jesus returns. I look forward to a year from now when we can celebrate all that God is going to do through our partnership with Glory Center. I trust there will be much to rejoice about as we see more and more evidence of what happens when God's people respond to the promptings and whispers of His Spirit. May those what ifs? become why nots?

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.) If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com


Men of Willow & Friends Project Update

August 2018 Update (Edition 107)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

Did you pray?

Last month's update included these two requests:

Request 1: Pray that God would impress upon the hearts of those He wants to give towards our next project in Uganda. Pray that people would respond as the Spirit leads. This will cost you nothing but a few moments of your time, but could result in an abundance of blessings.

Request 2: Consider the possibility that you may be an answer to that prayer.

So my questions of you are these: Did you pray as per this request? It's a simple request, yet vitally important. We are faced with an enormous challenge, but also a great opportunity to make an impact in the Kingdom of God. We believe this statement, attributed to St. Augustine, to be true: “Without God, we can’t. Without us, He won’t” Therefore, we are fervently calling upon God to do what only He can do and appealing to you to consider what role He has for you to play. It may not be this, but there are parts He has for each of us to play in building His Kingdom. A friend once told me that he began each day by lifting his hands to heaven and asking, “God, what do you want me to do today?” I think this is a great example for all of us to follow.

Is this for you?

The challenge before us is this: raise funds to help Glory Center Church Planting Ministries to purchase a van. We have explained in previous updates (available on our website at http://www.menofwillow.com) how and why we have arrived at the decision to take on this challenge. But let me summarize our reasoning by saying this: First, we sought wisdom and leading from God as to how we can best assist GCCPM to become even more effective in fulfilling Christ’s command for all us when He said, “You are to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” (TLB) and again in Matt. 28: 19-20: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations” (NIV) Our committee of seven unanimously came to the conclusion that a van would be an invaluable tool in carrying out Christ's command and that we should make that need known.

So here we are. May I be so bold as to ask you again: Did you pray? If so, or if you will now, will you consider the possibility that you may be an answer to that prayer? (Sorry for using the word “so” three time, no, now four times so close together. Make that five times. My bad!) The point I want to make is this: I realize that not everyone is interested or led to give to this cause. But, I believe that some of you may be and all of us can at least pray about it. For those who believe, along with us, that this is a good investment in Kingdom work (laying up treasures in heaven), I want to remind you that you have a great opportunity to maximize your contribution through a matching gift offer.

The goal is to raise $17,000 by October of this year. We currently have $5,000 in the account. We have received $1,500 towards a $3,000 matching gift offer. So we have $1,500 remaining to take full advantage of that offer, which is good through August.

More About Glory Center Church – Ffe ffenyini

I don't feel like an update is complete without including some information about our partner in Uganda that will serve to reassure you that we are teamed up with the right people, fully committed to declare and demonstrate the love of Christ. This is what I want to share with you this month:

Glory Center Church recently held what they called a Ffe ffenyini marathon (see attached pictures). Later on this month the church will hold its annual Ffe ffenyini festival. These events are designed to bring believers and non-believers together in a secular setting as an opportunity to share the love of Christ. The festival is a celebration and recognition of tribal diversity. (There are 56 different tribes in Uganda.) This event draws more than 600 people. I asked Prossy, the church administrator, what the words “Ffe ffenyini” mean in English. Here is her answer”:

Ffe ffenyini in English means: we ourselves. This name was extracted from the book of Joshua 14: 1-15, but mostly from verse 12. This is where Caleb claimed his inheritance as it was promised and said to him by Moses.

We decided to name it that way because we are His generation and God has chosen to claim back the lost souls from all nations (uttermost parts of the world) through the Gospel despite our differences in tribes and languages. We are therefore convinced beyond any doubt that it's we ourselves to preach the gospel and make Disciples, it's we [who are] to bring hope to the hopeless, it's we who are supposed to share the love of Christ with unloved ones with what God has entrusted to us. God works in us and is using us to claim the nations back to God. We ourselves, not any other.

This statement, “ We ourselves, not any other” is not intended to be exclusive. What it means is that they are accepting the burden of responsibility to carry out the “Great Commission.” The “We ourselves” is applicable to each one of us who claims to be a Christ-follower. Another illustration of this can be found in Joshua 24: 14-15: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The last question, that I must first ask of myself and then invite you to ask of yourself is this: “Am I living my life in the spirit of Ffe ffenyini?”

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.) If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com


Men of Willow & Friends Project Update

July 2018 Update (Edition 106)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

What can I say? Is this worth your time?

I pray that this update will accomplish whatever purpose God, not I, may have for it. You see, it is not my primary intention to persuade you to give any money to this cause. For I have learned some time ago that it is not my role; it is God's role. My place is to make the needs known, explain why it would be worth investing in and share stories from the field that confirm that God is at the center of what we are doing.

In my efforts to write these updates I can identify with Paul when he first spoke to the Corinthians. I have personalized it here from the Message version of 1Cor. 2:3-5:

My friends, I was unsure of how to go about writing this update. (I have been staring at a blank sheet of paper for more than an hour. Many thoughts have crossed my mind, but nothing seemed to come together.) I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate – I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it – and so [I felt] nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But I am praying that the message comes through anyway. If it does, it will be because God’s Spirit and God’s power did it. So I am anxiously looking forward to see what He might do with this.

The Project

A few months ago we launched an initiative to help Glory Center Church Planting Ministries purchase a vehicle. This will be a used van in very good condition (see attached flyer for details).

The goal is to raise $17,000 by October of this year. We currently have $4,020 in the account. (We have received $1,020 in the month of June towards a $3,000 matching gift offer. So we have $1,080 remaining to take full advantage of that offer, which is good through August.)

I have two requests of you. The first one is easy and applies to everyone. The second one is to whomever and however God may impress upon your heart.

Request 1: Pray that God would impress upon the hearts of those He wants to give towards our next project in Uganda. Pray that people would respond as the Spirit leads. This will cost you nothing but a few moments of your time, but could result in an abundance of blessings.

Request 2: Consider the possibility that you may be an answer to that prayer.

Good reason for supporting this ministry: Here is a portion of a recent report we received from our partner in Uganda. I trust that this will serve to reassure you that we are teamed up with the right people, fully committed to declare and demonstrate the love of Christ.

Dear friends, I am so happy and grateful for all the work you are doing to see that we extend hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved ones by transforming communities helping people to live Christ-centered lives. Above all, I am so grateful for the strategies that have led our churches to penetrate within the communities where they are situated. I can say that so far it is good.

[The] Ndejje community, which was once called an Islamic community, continues to be transformed by the gospel of love of our Lord Jesus Christ through Glory Center Church. Ndejje cannot be called an Islamic community anymore. Ndejje belongs to Jesus! We are grateful that you and [I], we are part of this great transformation God is doing. We are so privileged to be partners. Glory and honor belongs to Him.

On this, we received an amazing testimony from a witch doctor called Nakangu. She stood up and said to some of the community members with her clear and loud voice that there are good and bad churches, but among the good churches she has ever seen, GCC is the best according to her. In addition, she said if she ever decides to become a born again (evangelical believer) she will join GCC. We believe that there are many people who have been transformed even though they have not declared it. Therefore, our struggle to keep the hope of the church alive is not in vain. Let us continue with the work my brothers and sisters.

Charles Kwagala @ Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever more, amen.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow & Friends Project Update

June 2018 Update (Edition 105)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

Faith or Fear?

Can you think of a time in your life when you were about to embark on an adventure and experienced mixed emotions, ranging from excitement and anticipation to fear and apprehension? I can remember as a child, my aunt taking me to Riverview, an amusement park in Chicago that has since closed. She would take me on one roller coaster ride after another. Now, I know my aunt loved me and I felt safe with her, but I think she enjoyed watching me scream in terror, “Stop, let me off!” during the entire ride. What made it even worse was that when the ride was over you could stay on for another ride at half price (I think it was a nickel). I did not enjoy the roller coasters as a young child, but I grew to like them as I got older. Facing our fears can help us to build character, but more importantly, it can help us to grow in our faith.

I have and continue to experience similar kinds of emotions as our team has considered launching another fund-raising project. On one hand, there is the excitement and anticipation of God leading us into another great adventure and the positive impact this could have on increasing the effectiveness of our partners in Uganda to carry out The Great Commission of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, there is an element of fear and apprehension: Is this God's plan or ours? Will people see this as a wise investment to further God's Kingdom work, or will consider it folly? Friends, what I can tell you is that we have carefully considered many factors and are confident that God is at the center of this plan, which is:

Help Glory Center Church Planting Ministries purchase avehicle (a used van in very goodcondition).

We first presented this idea in the March Update and have given details as to how we have arrived at that decision in the April and May Updates. So I won't take the time here to repeat those reasons, but I would encourage anyone interested to go back and read those updates on our website at http://www.menofwillow.com. If you prefer, I would be happy to e-mail them to you upon request.

I have included a picture of the van we rented on our visit to Uganda in 2016. The standard seating capacity is seven people, but as we found out on one occasion, it can accommodate twice that many. One of the important ways this van will be used is to transport the church's evangelism team as they go to monitor the water projects we have funded, as well as the various churches they have planted (which span a distance of 300 miles apart). You may ask, “Why would a church with limited resources be obsessed with starting other churches?” You can find the answer in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.

So here’s the goal: Raise $17,000 by October of this year. We currently have $3,000 in the account. We also have a matching gift offer that will match dollar for dollar, up to $3,000. This offer is good through August (see attached flyer).

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com


Men of Willow Project Update

May 2018 Update (Edition 104)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

When I was thinking on how to begin this update, these words from Isaiah 6:8 kept coming to mind:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Is God still asking questions like this of us today? I suspect that He does. We may not all be called to personally “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (Mark 16:15), but I do believe we all have a role to play.

I have asked Jeff Stupar to share his perspective about our partnership with a church network in Uganda and one very important way we can help them to be more effective in their ministry. Here's Jeff's report:

A few months ago, my son came home to visit … well, actually not to visit, but to use my house as a home base, where he could enjoy meals and borrow my car. On that particular weekend day, he kept the car most of the day and evening; my wife was also away, running errands with her car. On the one hand, it was very freeing in that I had to be self sufficient, since the vehicles were taken. On the other hand, I knew I was restricted in what my activity for that day would be. Luckily, my house is in an area where I can walk to a dozen or so restaurants, along with a coffee shop and health club. I can even walk to the gas station for a snack if needed. That weekend day a few months ago was comforting for me since I knew I still had everything within my reach. As I reflect back on that day, I wonder if I would have felt so comfortable if I was hungry, and was so far away from any food that it would have been impractical to try to walk. Or how would my comfort zone have been if I absolutely had to get to work some 35 miles away?

During our 2016 visit to Glory Center Church (GCC) in Uganda, our travel was difficult, but it was by car, and not by foot. Prior to going there, my favorite Ugandan ministry partner and I sent money ahead to rent a vehicle. From my recollection, it was an expensive rental. In fact, the cost there in Uganda was comparable to what you might pay renting a vehicle here in the States. Still, we traveled in air-conditioned comfort for trips ranging about 100 to 150 miles southwest of the church and another 100 to 150 miles northeast of the church over the course of a week’s visit. Our purpose was to visit the water projects that Men of Willow had donated to over the past eight years. Our goal was to keep our church partners accountable, and to hear a first-hand account of how the resources provided had helped in multiple communities. The stories were similar: the water projects had changed the communities and the work done was greatly appreciated. During our trip, we also visited pastors of churches who Pastor Charles was (and still is) mentoring. These churches are in the early stages – start ups – but contain a faithful core of believers. They are growing in numbers and in strength. I was amazed that the work we have been a part of has reached many more people than just those at GCC (even though the numbers of parishioners there is impressive). Pastor Charles is definitely committed to planting churches all across Uganda.

Fast forward to May of 2018, as our subcommittee has had many months to ponder which additional projects to pursue. One of the main discussion points in our meetings is to help the Ugandan church grow without creating a financial dependency on Men of Willow. We talk about this so often that it has become a rallying cry for the group. Various ideas have been discussed.

Just to make sure we were on the right track, we asked Pastor Charles and his team what their greatest need was. His answer challenged our team and we initially dismissed it. His answer was ... a vehicle! We spent several meetings discussing this possibility and we came up with a whole lot of reasons why this was a bad idea. For example, our thought process was that this did not fulfill our rallying cry of self sustainability. We rationalized that the vehicle would just cost too much and that operating costs would make the church even more dependent on future income. After a few months of prayer and deliberation, and after direct phone conversations with Pastor Charles, our subcommittee came to a different conclusion. What if we helped to fund a vehicle for GCC? What would be the heavenly effect of that effort? How many more people could GCC reach if it was able to drive to those places with regularity? How much better would the planted churches be mentored if regular visits could be arranged? How many more people could be reached for Christ if only the church had its own transportation? We stood back, sighed and then voted unanimously to make raising around $15,000 for a vehicle our number one priority for the year. Was it a whisper?

There is still a lot of time spent in our team discussing the future, and how our goal should be to help GCC become a self-sustaining ministry, not dependent on Men of Willow. And we believe this is a direction that will direct future fundraising projects. But maybe. just maybe, we are stepping aside to let the Holy Spirit provide a direction that, at first glance, might not seem all that practical. Since the guys on the subcommittee have a lot of gray hair, and since we all know and love Christ, it seems very probable that this direction is the right direction to pursue. We say that in confidence, since it was certainly not our original idea. We stand in unison, daring to depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance on this issue. Will you dare to join in this great adventure?

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Project Update

April 2018 Update (Edition 103)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

In last month’s update I introduced the idea of helping Glory Center Church purchase a good quality used van. (See attachment 1) for the section of the March update regarding this.) In the next several updates I want to explain why and how we arrived at this decision. The following is a message I sent to our committee prior to our meeting on February 3rd, 2018. I hope it provides you with some insight on our decision-making process.

Gentlemen, if you recall from our last meeting on November 25th, I introduced the request from Glory Center Church to help them get a vehicle. We did not spend much time on that, but I asked everyone to be in prayer, seeking God's direction on this matter.

I want to share the spiritual journey that I have been on regarding this issue since that time. In doing so, it is not my intention to persuade you, one way or another, although this testimony may appear to do so. It is my prayer that we will discern together just what He would have us do in this matter.

My Journey

When I first heard about the request from Glory Center Church (GCC) to help them get a vehicle, I was resistant to even bring it to your attention, let alone ask our supporters to give for such a cause, not because there was no valid need for one, but because our focus was on helping the church become financially self-sufficient with some kind of income-producing project (such as they have been doing with the egg-laying chickens and pigs. A goat project had also been presented a few years back, which is still a possibility.)

Having personally experienced the terrible road conditions in Uganda, I could visualize the high cost of maintaining a vehicle there. I initially thought of this only in terms of a financial burden and that this would not be the best use of donors’ money. But, as I mentioned in our last meeting, my view of raising funds for a vehicle for GCC would be different if I took into consideration how the Bible speaks about the urgency to share the gospel while there is still time. Here are just several verses that speak to this:

Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields of human souls are ripening all around us, and are ready now for reaping. The reapers will be paid good wages and will be gathering eternal souls into the granaries of heaven! What joys await the sower and the reaper, both together! John 4:35-36 (TLB)

Another reason for right living is this: you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of the Lord is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11 (TLB)

He who has said all these things declares: "Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20 (TLB)

Here is the challenge I have been struggling with. Can I really trust my natural instincts and common sense or do I need to be open to the possibility that what God says in Isaiah 55:8-9 He is saying to us today? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV)

I am also reminded of these words from Proverbs 3:5-6: If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. (TLB)

In light of these scriptures I have been trying to stay open to the whispers of the Spirit. While discussing my dilemma with a number of people (trying to discern the will of God in this matter), I have observed something that I did not expect. As I tried to objectively and neutrally explain the issue, I found that the thoughts and words coming out of my mouth sounded like I was trying to convince my friends that this was a worthy cause and wise investment. I was surprised by this apparent change of heart and perspective on my part.

I continue to seek God's leading in this, as well as other issues in my life. One thing I have found in trying to discern where and what God might have me do is this: If I sense that there is something I should do that I don't initially want to do or that I am afraid to do, there is a strong possibility that this is a message coming from God. The vehicle-funding issue is a case where I am inclined to believe this is true. In my struggles to discern God's will here, I have considered numerous arguments for and against … (See attachment 2 if you wish to read the arguments considered for and against helping Glory Center Church to purchase a van.)

The committee discussed this issue further during our meeting and voted unanimously to promote the plan.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Project Update

March 2018 Update (Edition 102)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

As I write this update the world has both been mourning the death and celebrating the life of Billy Graham. I suspect that most of us could pause for a moment and almost hear his voice proclaiming the message of The Cross of Christ. I can remember watching him on our black and white TV as a child. I can hear him now saying these words in his North Carolina accent: “The Bible says” and “God loves you!” While I was fascinated by his message, I did not respond to the invitation that he always gave. But looking back I can see that a seed had been planted. I thank God for sending his servant Billy Graham to deliver that first message of hope to me.

It wasn’t until I was 20 years old when a pastor, who had heard and responded to a similar message as a boy in Texas, sat me down, opened up his Bible and walked me through the scriptures that clearly explain God’s plan of salvation. Having heard about us from some members of his young church in northern Illinois, he took a chance one evening and drove 20 miles in the hopes that we would be home and welcome his visit. That was not my first reaction, but he must have whispered a prayer that God would open my mind and my heart.

After reading John 3 and Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9-10, he asked me if there was any reason why I would not want to accept God's invitation to eternal life. Since that day, I have heard many excuses for not accepting Christ. Fortunately for me, none of them came to mind on that night in May 1967 when my wife and I got down on our knees in our living-room and asked Christ to come into our lives … and He did! The seed that was planted years earlier had begun to sprout. Since that night when I became a child of God, I have been learning and striving (with many ups and downs along the way) to be a Christ-follower.

Now you may ask, “What does that testimony have to do with an update about our connection with a ministry in Uganda?” Well, I could go into a long explanation of the process I go through in writing these updates, but I will save that for another time. All I can say right now is that I am really pressed for time and I am desperately trusting that the Holy Spirit will miraculously convey a message He wants you to hear through or despite my limited writing skills.

Having said that, here is the connection: We have developed a partnership with a pastor and a church in Africa whose commitment to share the love of Jesus in word and deed is so inspiring that a group of us feel compelled to support their ministry efforts and boldly invite you to join us as we continue to explore the best ways we can do that.

As for notoriety goes, one would not think of comparing Pastor Charles Kwagala with Billy Graham. But I dare say that they are very equal in their passion to share the “Good News of Jesus Christ.” When I think of those who work in very difficult places around the world and with few material resources, as Pastor Charles and his team do, I am reminded of how Paul described the challenges he and his companions faced. These verses from 2 Cor.6:1-10 could very well have been written by the likes of Pastor Charles:

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. (TLB)

Friends, consider how Jesus’ final words to his disciples in Matt. 28:19-20 may apply to those of us who are recipients of His amazing grace: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (NIV)

In assisting this church as it works toward fulfilling Christ command to “go and make disciples,“ we can also be a vital part of what God is doing there. We are evaluating many needs and projects, trying to discern where God may lead us in the months ahead. One of the big challenges this church has is a lack of transportation. Our leadership team has spent several months exploring the practicality and possibility of helping raise the funds to purchase a used van. After much prayer and soul searching, we believe that this is something God would have us do.

So we ask you to prayerfully consider contributing toward this goal. We have not yet determined the exact cost, but I am thinking it will take at least $15,000. I know this is a lot of money, but we are convinced that God wants us to make the need known and trust that He will touch the hearts of those who He wants to give towards this. I will give you more details next month as to why we believe this is something worth investing in. So for now, I just ask you to join us in prayer that God will enable us to fulfill this dream.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.) If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Project Update

February 2018 Update (Edition 101)

 To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

Don't underestimate what God can do through a child

All four gospels record the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 men, plus an unknown number of women and children. John's version tells us that it was a little boy who offered to share his sack lunch with everyone else. Five loaves of bread and two small fish seemed insignificant among so many. But this boy believed that Jesus possessed the ability to multiply it. The Bible doesn't tell us, but I can imagine that some of the disciples laughed, maybe even ridiculed this boy's offering.

I mentioned this story to set the stage for a modern child-faith story that we received from our friends in Uganda. Here is the report as written by Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator of Glory center Church.

Hello dear friends. This is Prossy writing.

We are experiencing amazing moments filled with God's presence in our ministry to the extent that God has started speaking to little children to deliver His message to people.

We were all amazed when God spoke to John-Victor, a son to pastor Charles. [John is only 7 years old.] During the night he got a vision about the end time (when Christ has come back).

And the next day after his vision [John-Victor] woke up in the morning, went out and started to preach loudly, saying “Repent, Jesus is coming back soon; move away from your evil ways; repent of your sins.” We are still amazed [that] from that day on John-Victor's life changed. He is spirit filled, speaking words of wisdom. It looks like the days of John the Baptist.

On Sunday he even got courage to stand in front of the whole congregation and deliver this message to our people. He gave an altar call to all people who want to repent. Then the whole church got up and went up to the altar.

Since that time, John-Victor was invited to speak at another church and several people accepted Christ. You can watch a video of John speaking at Glory Center Church on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yCKC7QmIcCQ

This is just one of the numerous stories of children whose lives are being dramatically changed by the power of God through the ministries of Glory Center Church. There are many other needs and projects that we are evaluating and trying to discern where God may lead us in the months ahead. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our efforts in any way. On behalf of our leadership team, along with the thousands of people in Uganda who now have access to clean water, the school children who are being sponsored and the Sunday School children who are given a bowl of hot cereal each week, we give our thanks and praise to God.

Correction – In last month’s update I gave you a YouTube link to a video we produced. The mailing address for contributions has changed. Here is the corrected video: https://youtu.be/iO4cr1JRu1E

 

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Note new address.) (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com



Men of Willow Project Update

January 2018 Update (Edition 100)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

How was your Christmas?

This is a common question we ask or have been asked this time of the year. I can imagine the wide range of perspectives that could be given by various people trying to honestly answer that question. I would venture to guess that the one thing many of us have in common, in the midst of all the busyness and festivities of the season, is the challenge to keep Jesus as the main focus, and not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

I think that all of us who are Christ followers have good intentions, but we live in a world and a culture that makes it so easy to keep Him in at a distance. In an effort to be politically correct and not offend anyone, we are often greeted in the marketplace with “happy holidays.” There are some stores that have actually forbidden their employees to even reply with a “Merry Christmas” when a customer says it to them. Although I was happy to hear more “Merry Christmas” this year, as well as real Christmas music in some stores. I am bothered whenever I see a sign that says “Merry Xmas.” While some just think of using the X as an abbreviation, I think of it as a subtle way of eliminating an awareness of Christ.

If you can identify with me, as I struggle to recalibrate my relationship between Christ and the world in proper perspective, perhaps these words from John's gospel will be helpful:

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent John the Baptist as a witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is the true Light. John himself was not the Light; he was only a witness to identify it.

Later on, the one who is the true Light arrived to shine on everyone coming into the world.

But although he made the world, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them. All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God.

And Christ became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. And some of us have seen his glory—the glory of the only Son of the heavenly Father!

John 1:1-14 (TLB)

For most of us, this is not the first time you have read these words, in one translation or another. If we really believe they are true, how does that affect the way we think, act and live? For me, I find it helpful to see this being lived out in the lives of others, which serve as a good example for me. We could all share stories of such examples. Allow me to retell one of my favorite stories from our friends in Uganda at Glory Center Church.

A Light That Shines Through The Darkness!
The first water system that we funded in Ndejje, Uganda is quite unique. As far as I know, it is the only one of its kind in the world and there may never be another one like it.

What makes this particular system unique is that additional components were added so that the solar panels that powers the equipment can be transferred to supply electricity for the lights and sound system in the church. While there is public power available in this community, it is not very dependable and an expense this struggling church can hardly afford.

The value of this added feature became quite apparent one night. Here is the story we received from Prossy, a member of Glory Center Church.

She writes, “ Wednesday evening as I was coming home from school and I saw something that caused me to pause and give praise and thanks to God. I noticed that the power was off in the village and surrounding area. There was darkness allover. Then I looked up ( you know our church is up on the hill) the power was on, there were lights and music coming from the church. I felt the glory of God shining inside of me and I thought to myself, we really are the light of the world who are supposed to shine even in the darkness. In Ndejje at Glory Center Church, even if the hydro power goes off, it does not effect us because of solar powered water system. Glory be to God and bless the Men of Willow always. Every day as people come to get clean water to drink we tell them about Christ Jesus who is the Living Water. This message is making sense to them.”

While this story was originally told back in December of 2010, it exemplifies the passion that Glory Center Church has to make Christ known in all things they do. Since that time, a number of additional projects have been funded which have been reported in previous updates. These have enabled the church to expand its outreach in other communities, resulting in many lives being change for eternity.. This is why a number of us love to help support the various ministries of this Christ-centered church. This is one way we can participate in Christ's command to “go into all the world and preach the good news.” Mark 16:15 (NIV) We have produced and posted a ten-minute video on youtube that details the what has been accomplished over the past eight years: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=glory+center+project

I have also included a few pictures that we recently received. These include a community Christmas celebration where the gospel was presented and a number of Muslim children accepted Christ.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Note new address.) (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

 


Men of Willow Project Update

December 2017 Update (Edition 99)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

What are we doing and why are we doing it?

Over the course of the last eight years I, along with the others on our team, have had the opportunity to answer this question as it relates to our work in Uganda. I have asked this question to a number of people who have supported this ministry. Here are a few of the answers I got:

  1. Patrick's answer: We began by wanting to help people keep from getting sick from drinking dirty water and to help kids, especially little girls, get out of water hauling and into school. Then we began to support our church partner in more than water projects, engaged by their vision and drive to bring the Gospel, “giving hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved ones, motherly and fatherly love to the vulnerable children.” We started helping kids go to school who wouldn't otherwise and get food to eat when they wouldn't otherwise. We are helping them see the goodness of God and the reality of His promises. We do it for our mutual love of Christ and what He taught us about caring for each other. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
  2. Jeff's answer: We are partnering with a Ugandan church that specializes in evangelism and church planting to help expand the kingdom of God. This is done by first meeting people’s physical needs (practical gospel) and then by meeting spiritual needs (revealing Christ) to people without hope, living in a desperate part of the world.”
  3. Gary's answer: We are providing encouragement and the tools necessary to support Glory Center Church in its efforts to reach people who are far from God. We do this to be obedient to God … to seek those who are lost.
  4. Al's response: “I think it’s awesome to support Glory Center Church. Any funds I contribute to GCC, I know 100 percent goes directly to the people. Besides meeting immediate needs, the church is focused on bringing the Gospel to their neighbors. It’s a church that loves God and loves people, the Great Commission. People will be in Heaven because many Americans thousands of miles away gave what they could. We’re paying it forward. May the Lord’s will and work be done there and here.”

While contemplating this question for myself, this series of scriptures came to mind: Matthew 16:18, 25:34-40 and 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:13-15. As I read these verses, I can't help but see them being fulfilled through our partnership with Glory Center Church. It is what motivates me to continue giving you these updates about the redeeming work that God has invited us to be a part of and to reassure you that your contributions are being well used to make a difference in people’s lives now and for eternity.

One of the recent ways we have helped Glory Center Church is by sponsoring 42 of their leaders so they could attend the Global Leadership Summit in their own country. Here is a consolidation of testimonies from some who attended.

Report from GLS-Uganda

It is not possible to list all of the takeaways from all of the speakers at this GLS in a single paragraph, but here are just some of the thoughts expressed by a few of our sponsored GLS attendees:

People attending the GLS were touched by the speakers and believe that their ministries will be transformed by the experience. They feel better equipped and renewed, and have carried away fresh ideas and a desire to put those ideas into practice. These include being respectful of people regardless of status, being challenged to focus on prayer to align their ministry paths forward, being aware of church culture and being diligent to always keep this healthy. Other thoughts from attendees included words like blessed, helped and influenced, with the prayer that everyone might someday be able to attend and experience what they had experienced. One attendee was prompted to increase his leadership in young people, knowing that this investment would extend to future generations. And a theme of respect was cast: respect for all people regardless of age/status/education, etc. Along the same lines was the challenge to acknowledge everyone and greet all warmly, always maintaining good eye contact. A challenge was made: instead of being critical, be thankful and commend people for what they do well. GLS-Uganda ended with several persons acknowledging that they were positively changed by attending, expressing their appreciation for the sponsorship. Great thanks were conveyed to Men of Willow for the opportunity to be fed in this way, as evidenced by this parting comment from one: I thank God for the revelation he gave me from this Global Leadership Summit, and I ask Him for His grace to help me put everything I learned into practice for the Glory of His Name.

Christmas in Uganda

Glory Center Church is very intentional about sharing the gospel, and Christmas provides a great opportunity to do so. We are providing some funds so the church and its members can have a special Christmas celebration, which will give them a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to their neighbors, many of whom are Muslim. Please pray for hearts to be open to receive the gift of God's Son. I hope to give you a report on this next month.

Special thanks to those who contributed to this update.

There are many other needs and projects that we are evaluating; we are trying to discern where God may lead us in the months ahead. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our efforts in any way. On behalf of our leadership team, along with the thousands of people in Uganda who now have access to clean water, the school children who are being sponsored and the Sunday School children who are being provided with a bowl of hot cereal each week, we want to wish you and your loved ones a joyful, Christ-centered Christmas and a happy New Year.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Note new address.) (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Project Update

November 2017 Update (Edition 98)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

Defining Our Purpose

While these updates contain and conclude with an opportunity to make a financial contribution, that is not our main purpose. I would define the purpose of these updates to include five key elements: inform, confirm, encourage, inspire and challenge. I won't take the time now to describe what I think each of those mean, but I hope they will be evident as you read this report we received recently from our partner in Uganda.

Report from Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

Hello dear friends,

I praise the name of the Lord for this great day He has put before us. It is such a huge blessing that cannot be taken for granted.

On behalf of Glory Center Church Planting Ministries (GCCPM), allow me to extend these heartfelt words to you:

We are deeply pleased, blessed and happy that we are working together in this partnership of making disciples, helping the hopeless find the hope we have in Christ and the unloved to experience the love of Christ. It’s such a great deal of blessing that we are working with you Men of Willow who have a right heart to change the future generation by helping one who then God can use to save many others with.

We have heard and seen very many ministries here in Uganda coming into partnership with wrong/evil people (some come into such partnerships unknowingly) with diverted/different ideas of not serving the Living God, but with other intentions of satisfying themselves. Therefore, we thank God that He has given us such friends with a right heart of being faithful with every resource that falls into our hands for the benefit of God’s people (i.e. vulnerable children) and His Kingdom in general.

We believe that anyone can be changed to the image of Christ and with the living hope if there is a heart that is very determined to do so. Many can be saved, changed, made better thru one person, like Moses was used by God to the children of Israel.

With much pleasure, I thank you, the committee of Men of Willow and all MOW in general, for being with such a determined right heart to change and save the generation of tomorrow back to the glory and hope of God by “the helping one save many program” at GCCPM.

Many children have been changed and are still changing through your rightful hearts for the kingdom of God by paying [for] their school fees at Glorious Academy, porridge project, Sunday School shelter, feed the hungry child, etc. Many children’s lives are progressing with very many great testimonies.

Recently, a mother to a 3½-year-old girl called Sharifah Nassali, a pupil of baby class (she is not among the sponsored children, but very needy) came to our church office to appreciate us, saying that Sharifah has become an English and evangelism star where she is staying. She speaks good English and that she challenges the other children who speak vernacular language, the mother reported. The mother also reported that she preaches the gospel of Christ, mostly to other children. This girl doesn’t keep quiet with the saving gospel of Christ and she is not ashamed of it. [The fact is] that she knows the stream of her hope, joy, love and care that is in Christ. She is becoming a shining star amidst the darkened area where she is staying [in the Muslim community]. The mother reported all these with tears of joy from her eyes. This is a living testimony and a Christ-laid foundation in children. Remember, give me a child and I will change the generation; if we are to change the generation, children have to be trained and helped to reach there.

We therefore appreciate God with all He has managed through us all and Glorious Academy. The journey continues to change the generation for Christ alone.

Prossy Kaitesi, Church Administrator, Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

Dear friends, I trust that this report served to inform, confirm, encourage, inspire and challenge you so that you will be more attentive and responsive to whatever and wherever our Lord may lead you.

I don't want to close this update without thanking all those who sponsored 42 church leaders to attend the Global Leadership Summit in Kampala, Uganda on November 3-4. I will share some of their testimonies as we receive them.

On behalf of the committee*, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read these updates, pray for the ministry and entrust us to invest your contributions wisely and for the purpose and glory of God.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to: The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Note new address.) (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact me, Don Neuman, at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

*Committee members are Vern Boelkens, Patrick Walsh, Jeff Stupar, Gary Stevens, Larry Swanson, John Breault, Sherman Blair and Don Neuman. I also want to acknowledge Dave Toy for providing editorial assistance in these updates and Jim Burns for managing our website.

 


Men of Willow Project

October 2017 Update (Edition 97)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

Progress Report

Here is a brief update on several of our most recent projects and endeavors with Glory Center Church in Uganda.

#1. The building project for the Sunday School and future expansion of Glorious Academy is now completed (See attached pictures): I hope you are able to comprehend the impact this facility is having and will have in these children's lives. Many of them are from families that are struggling just to survive from day to day. They possess little more than the clothes on their backs. Now, to have a place that was built just for them reinforces the message that, despite the hardships they face every day, there is a God who loves and cares for them.

#2. Land purchase: Excavation continues to level this hillside property. The cost to haul away much of the dirt is being covered by those who need it for landfill. Construction of a wall by church members is under way (see pictures)! The initial plan is to enclose the perimeter with interlocking bricks and use the land for basketball and tennis courts. Since there are no similar facilities nearby, this will be a great opportunity for Glory Center's Youth Ministry to interact with young people in the community. Note: They have bigger plans for the property when God provides the resources.

#3. GLS-Uganda sponsorships needed: Many of us have been fortunate enough to be able to attend one or more of the Global Leadership Summits at Willow. We have experienced great teaching, worship and moments where the presence of God's Spirit was quite evident. Perhaps you heard something or spoke with someone or sensed the Spirit speaking to you in a way that changed the trajectory of your life. Maybe it was just some encouragement you received that kept you going when you really felt like quitting.

Now, as the Summit goes global, we would like to make this opportunity available to some who could not otherwise afford to go. I am writing to ask you to consider sponsoring one or more church leaders in Uganda to attend this year’s GLS on November 3-4 in Kampala. The cost is just $65 per person, which includes overnight accommodations. Your payment, made out to the Willow Creek Association, is tax-deductible.

To avoid any confusion as to where your contribution is applied, I will gather and hand deliver all checks* to the Willow Creek Association Office on or before Monday October 24th, along with a list of attendees that have been provided by our ministry partner in Uganda, Glory Center Church.

Checks should be made out to Willow Creek Association or just WCA (write Uganda GLS in the memo section) and mailed to me at:

Don Neuman

862 Diane Ave.

Elgin, Il 60123

*Note: This only applies to the GLS. All other contributions should be sent to The Cross Connecting Network (see address at bottom of update).

What's Next?

We are in the process of considering how we may best respond to the various needs and opportunities to support our partnership with Glory Center Church in Uganda. There is always an ongoing financial need for child sponsorship at $20 per month, as well our food program that GCC calls “Feed the Hungry Child.” (Most of the children in the Ndejje community get one meal a day.) Through our contributions, children who attend Sunday School are provided with a bowl of porridge. This is drawing more and more children (including children from Muslim families) to Sunday School, where they get fed physically and spiritually. We believe these are dollars well spent.

In closing, I want t share this note of appreciation we recently received from the pastor of Glory Center Church.

Hello dear friends, Men of Willow.

Thank you for the great work you are doing for the kingdom of God. I want to give God the glory that has continually trusted us with life and not only that but also with resources to expand His kingdom. It’s a blessing. We are blessed to have you on our side in this great commission we are fulfilling. With your helping hand, I will never grow weary in reporting that we have reached and we are still reaching to many souls with the glorious gospel of the kingdom of God, bringing hope to the hopeless and we have managed to show love to the unloved ones; putting a smile on sorrowful faces. It is really the love of Christ we are carrying on our shoulders and thank you for helping us. We appreciate so much the fact that you have continued strongly holding our hands up while fighting this present darkened world.

I would like to send my lovely greetings to all your families of Men of Willow. You are precious to this good work of God and we pray that He continues to bless you with the heart for His Kingdom.

Charles Kwagala @ Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever more, amen.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Note new address.) (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Project Update

September 2017 Update, Eight-Year Anniversary Edition

 

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

Much has been accomplished over the past eight years; attached is a summary of some of the major accomplishments. Add to that the countless inspiring and life-changing stories for which all glory and praise belong to God alone. Many thanks goes out to all who have supported this ministry in any way.

What if we said no or just ignored the call of God?

The rest of this page would be blank. Physical and spiritual needs may have gone unmet. The love of God may not have been made known, Our hearts may have grown cold and unresponsive to those who are suffering. And our relationship with the God, who has given and blessed us abundantly, might have become stagnant.

We would have missed out on an adventure whose story will only be fully revealed in Heaven, where we will have all of eternity to hear and share story after story after story of lives that have been transformed by the power of God. I can imagine us experiencing what Peter calls “unspeakable joy” when someone is telling their story and our Savior points His finger at us and then back to that person, signifying that He used us, flawed as we are, to make a difference in that person’s life. (This is just me dreaming what it might be like and not to be taken as a statement of fact. But I wonder if we may be surprised, despite all our sins being exposed, in hearing Jesus say to us, “well done my good and faithful servant.”

What we do know is that we have an incredible, magnificent future to look forward to in Heaven. This is a certainty for all who have surrendered our lives to Christ. I challenge and encourage you with these words of Scripture that keep me going whenever I grow weary, discouraged and overwhelmed:

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God. If you want to keep from becoming fainthearted and weary, think about his patience as sinful men did such terrible things to him. After all, you have never yet struggled against sin and temptation until you sweat great drops of blood. Heb. 12:1-4 (TLB)

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God. Eph. 5:15-17 (J.B. Philips)

While there remains a multitude of needs at Glory Center Church, this update includes no specific appeal for funds. We are in the process of determining what project or need we may support next. Our primary focus today is to praise and thank God for what he has done and the privilege that He has given us to join Him in helping those in need.

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2356 Salt Wind Way, Mount Pleasant, SC 29466 (Note new address.) (Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com




Men of Willow Project Update

August 2017 Update (Edition 95)


To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

This is a continuation in our update series entitled Africa Revisited.

Part 13: Another Dream Fulfilled!!!

Our goal to fund the completion of the building project at Glory Center Church, Uganda, has been met. For this we give our thanks to all who have responded to the need, and praises to God who has given us the opportunity and the resources to make this dream come true.

As mentioned in previous updates, this building will accommodate the 120+ children who attend Sunday School, as well as future classroom expansion for Glorious Academy. For us here in the U.S., It is difficult to fully comprehend the impact that a project like this has and will have in a community like Ndejje, Uganda. I think this portion of a recent report we received from the church there will provide us with some insight.

 

Special greetings to our dear partners, Men Of Willow! God bless you so much for standing with us in the work of God. On behalf of Glory Center Church Planting Ministries (GCCPM), Prossy Kaitesi, Church administrator. I have prepared this report:

Children’s ministry: This is one of our fastest growing ministries now; spiritually, physically and emotionally. Spiritually, we are all amazed at how these children are advancing in scriptures. I remember one Sunday, teacher Faith was absent and we selected one of the church members (he is called Fred) to go and teach them. He was very amazed at how these children were challenging him with advanced scriptures. He informed us that he failed to teach them because children were so challenging and confident. He therefore decided to pick one of them to teach under a selected topic. He wondered how these children could quote scriptures so well. No wonder that is why it has produced good servants of God.

We are all amazed how children are growing; how they quote scriptures from the Bible, and how they can pray. They are now a challenge to many [including the adults, to learn and memorize Bible verses].

I could wish also to report to you that the Sunday School ministry is experiencing a positive change. They are growing in number and not only in number, but also we are starting to receive children from families of higher class living since the shelter was built and also [because of] the ongoing porridge ministry. *[See attached for more information on our porridge project.]

We need your prayers for the developmental challenges as we need more teachers, chairs, Sunday School literature and also [to reconstruct] a toilet.

We thank God for everyone who is participative in this Sunday School ministry.

 

Friends, I hope this report stirs your heart like it has mine and also serves to confirm that our partnership with Glory Center Church is producing much fruit for the Kingdom of our God. On behalf of the committee*, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read these updates, pray for the ministry and entrust us to invest your contributions wisely and for the purpose and glory of God.

While there remains a multitude of needs at Glory Center Church, this update includes no particular appeal for funds. Our primary focus today is to praise and thank God from whom all blessings flow!

 

If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

**The committee members are Vern Boelkens, Patrick Walsh, Jeff Stupar, Gary Stevens,

Larry Swanson, John Breault and Don Neuman. I also want to acknowledge Dave Toy for providing editorial assistance in these updates and Jim Burns for managing our website.



Men of Willow Water Project

July 2017 Update (Edition 94)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

This is a continuation in our update series entitled Africa Revisited.

HadijjahNabbaale's story

Part 12: Life Changing Experiences

We can all reflect back on our lives and remember various things that we were exposed to that have had a negative or positive impact on us, then and even now. What we experienced during childhood can have a pivotal effect on how we live the rest of our lives. The writer of Proverbs gives us this instruction: Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:16 (Amp)

We are currently sponsoring 18 children, enabling them to attend the school operated by Glory Center Church in Uganda. I am amazed to look into their smiling, angelic faces, knowing that each has his or her own heartbreaking story. It makes me wonder what kind of future they will have. (Attached is a story of one of our sponsored children that illustrates why we our passionate to help them.)

For anyone who may be interested, there are several more children in need of sponsors at a cost of $20.00 per month. I can provide you with biographical details upon request.

Besides the need for clean water, food and a place to live, there is a deep need in every person to feel that they are loved, accepted and a have sense of belonging. For many of the children in the village of Ndejje, Uganda, Glory Center Church is the place where those needs are being met.

We are now striving to raise funds to complete a building project for the expansion of Glorious Academy, as well as a place for the Sunday School to meet. Until recently the group of up to 120 children who gather for Sunday School have had to meet outside, exposed to the elements. It is hard for us to imagine the tremendous excitement and joy they now show in having a place to meet in, even though it is currently unfinished. (See attached pictures.)

The majority of children who attend Glory Center have very little in the way of possessions or a permanent place that their families could call home. This makes the church much more meaningful to them and to their future. It is a place where the children can socialize under the guidance and example of godly teachers and leaders. As opposed to what they are exposed to and learn on their own, this may be the only place where they are taught the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. It is here where they are learning that there is a God who loves them and invites them into a forever relationship with Him where they are fully loved, accepted and belong. We have heard this saying, “The local church is the hope of the world because it has been entrusted with the only message that can change the trajectory of the human heart.” (The message that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth and the real life).

So here is our opportunity to continue coming alongside this church to make a difference that could have an eternal impact on many lives. Whether it be for this Kingdom cause or another, I encourage you to be open to whatever God has in mind for you to do and be with the life He has given you.

The cost to complete the building is $2,800. We have a matching gift offer which will match every dollar given up to $1,400. That offer is good through the end of July.

If you feel led to contribute toward this project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

June 2017 Update (Edition 93)

 

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

This is a continuation in our update series entitled Africa Revisited.

Part 11: Two Sides of Hope

We are currently sponsoring 18 children, enabling them to attend the school operated by Glory Center Church in Uganda. For anyone who may be interested, there are more children in need of sponsors at a cost of $20.00 per month. I can provide you with biographical details upon request. There is also a need to expand the school’s facilities. The budget for phase two of this project is $2,800.

I have included a picture of the sponsored children that was taken last Christmas. Each child has a story that could make us both smile and cry. There is a good side and a bad side. Time does not permit us to share all these stories in this update. But I would like to share one child’s story here.

Take a look at the picture and focus on the girl holding up the right side of the sign. Her name is Lorine. With her face partially blocked, we are left with just our imagination as to whether or not she is happy or sad. Keep that thought in mind as you read her story as we received it, without editing. (Note: while English is the official language in Uganda, it is not the common language.

Lorine's story as prepared by Prossy Kaitesi, Church Administrator, Glory Center Church Planting Ministries:

Lorine is a six-year-old orphan girl, who is studying at Glorious Academy in Primary One. She joined Help One and Save the Rest after the death of her mother who died of HIV AIDS. However, before joining, Lorine stayed a long way away from Kampala with her maternal grandmother.

Lorine used to survive under the care of her mother who sent basic needs to the grandmother to cater for Lorine until she died in 2016. Her death was during the second school term, and marked a starting point of hopelessness (and miserable living conditions) for Lorine.

After the death of her mother, the maternal side rejected Lorine and the father had to struggle taking his daughter home, even though his room was very small for them and another wife. When she joined her father’s home, she was treated harshly by the stepmother.

Her life turned tragic, as she was forced to wash clothes for all people at home under the instruction of her stepmother. You can imagine this six-year-old girl washing clothes for four people! The moment she made any mistake, Lorine was yelled at and was beaten like a wild donkey. This caused so much fear for her, that she could not want to go back home after school. On February 16, 2017, an incidence occurred when she was afraid and refused to go back home, but instead kept wandering around the community of Ndejje.

When I was coming from town, I found her near the road and I asked her what was wrong. She just looked at me with her eyes full of fear and tears. She looked very sad at me. I felt very bad and I knew there was a problem. Asking her deeply, she said, “my mum (stepmother) has chased me from home.” I found it so hard to understand that the stepmother would really reject this six-year-old little girl, and send her away from home with no place and no one to care for her.

So Pastor Charles and I took Lorine back home to find out if this was true. When we saw the step-mother she insisted that Lorine couldn’t stay with them anymore. That was the end of her staying with her dad and stepmother. However, I thank God for the good welcoming hand and heart of Pastor Charles and his wife Faith. They told the lady to leave the girl with them and they welcomed her warmly into their home.

We praise God that Lorine is now happily staying with the family of Pastor Charles and gradually gaining her confidence. She is being helped by professional parents to help fight her trauma. To give some information about Lorine’s father (Bbosa William), he was raised up a total orphan by Pastor Charles’ mum. He does not have either a mother or father. Most of his relatives died and the only person he could run to is Pastor Charles. He has no stable job, and is just in survival mode.

I don't know what thoughts or emotions went through your mind as you read Lorine’s story. What I hope you would see is that there are two sides. With hope at the center. On one side there is hopelessness; on the other side is hopefulness. On one side there is an absence of hope; on the other side there is hope being lived out. In this life, these opposites are not separate from one another; they coexist.

The hope that is being offered to these children is somewhat limited: a beginning education, love and support from godly teachers, some food and safe drinking water. This is a role in which we get to participate. At the end of the school day, the children have to return to a place where hope is lacking. But at least part of their day is a pleasant experience that leads them to believe and see that there is a God in heaven who deeply cares for them. Despite the pain, suffering, heartbreak and rejection that some of these children, like Lorine, are experiencing in their young lives, this does not define who they are. They are learning the truth that they are each a chosen child of the Most High God in whom they can fully trust and live in the kind of hope Paul prayed that all of us, young and old, from every nation, tribe and tongue would experience:

May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope. Romans 15:13 (J.B. Philips)

Well, I have failed once again to make this a short update. I do hope that, in some way, it is successful in encouraging you and me to be more and more open to the promptings of the Spirit of God for whatever He may have for us to do. In this update and the story told, it was my intention to create a picture in your mind what God sees – not a sad, hopeless story, but one that illustrates a God who heals and restores broken hearts, a God who invites us to be His agents of healing grace to hurting people, especially to vulnerable children. This is the great privilege that He gives us to make a difference, for now and eternity.

If you feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

May 2017 Update (Edition 92)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

This is a continuation in our update series entitled Africa Revisited.

Part 10: From Bad to Good to Better to Best

There are a lot of emotions that I have had and continue to experience as a result of our visits to Uganda. Perhaps the word that best summarize these various emotions is, “overwhelmed.” I imagine that anyone who has been on a mission trip could give a similar testimony. This is even more so true for those who have developed an ongoing relationship with the indigenous people who struggle to survive in third-world countries. It is the purpose of these updates to help you visualize yourself being there with us, seeing what we saw and feeling what we felt. Through your prayers and support you are playing a vital role in this ministry.

Now, let's consider four aspects of being overwhelmed.

(Special thanks to Jeff Stupar for helping me compose this update as I am recovering from a recent back injury, You don’t want to see what I might write while on pain meds.)

Overwhelmed by the Bad

One aspect of being overwhelmed by the bad is a sense of hopelessness. When you see all the needs without any apparent solution, the deplorable living conditions, the lack of clean water (people scooping water out of open pits where animals drink and defecate), the shortage of food (many children get only one meal a day), the poor education system, the high population density, the lack of income-producing jobs, the sickness (especially AIDS), the countless orphans or one-parent children, the immorality and pagan beliefs, it is hard not to be overwhelmed. But this is no excuse for doing nothing. Every man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that all things and at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2Cor 9: 7-8 NIV)

The bad is only made worse when compared to the opportunities and living conditions we have here at home in the Chicago suburbs. Granted, things are not perfect, but most of our problems pale in comparison to what we see in Uganda. A young child no older than seven years old looking after a younger sibling is commonplace. Stories from locals abound speaking of horrific abuses to children during witchcraft rituals. The thought of children living without basic necessities of life and often on their own is heartbreaking. In one particularly difficult situation, two crippled parents who could barely move themselves from place to place had no recourse but to constantly live in survival mode without any form of healthcare support. Their sons were not able to attend school but instead went out daily to hunt for sustenance.

We heard stories of how some kids have perpetually bad stomachs caused by eating and drinking from the wrong sources, without any access to medicines that could end their distress. Local teachers also told stories illustrating the devastating effects that dysfunctional home life has had on many of these children. Other systemic problems in Uganda include widespread under- or unemployment with no possibility for self improvement. Without sufficient income, many families are impacted by alcoholism, horrible living situations and dangerous environments. These needs are so acute and so unimaginable that one easily could be overwhelmed, concluding that nothing could possibly be done to ease the suffering. The easiest thing to do would be to throw up our hands and do nothing.

Overwhelmed by the Good

But that’s not the mantra of Men of Willow. Instead of throwing up our hands, we have dug in deeper and deeper. Let’s first look at the good The people of Uganda display such dignity, most evident in the brightly colored clothes the women wear and the respectful dress clothing the men wear every day. It is amazing to consider a people who have such pride in their appearance that they dress impeccably, even though it must be incredibly difficult to maintain that appearance in the midst of their struggles.

Additionally, friendliness abounds in Uganda, and the church members’ zeal for God and energetic worship is very inspiring. Services go for a few hours and never seem to lose their energy. Experiencing this worship, you would never know the difficulties these local people deal with every day. Their faith is enviable, as they rely on God daily to keep them safe and provide for their needs. In the market center, we saw the shop owners’ pride as they continually swept their shop entrances to clear away the red Ugandan dust with small homemade “brooms” made from clumps of bound straw. They showed incredible respect for us and were sincerely appreciative of us coming to their world and interacting with them. The children treated us like celebrities; most had smiles wider than you can imagine. These children have very little, but they are happy; there is definitely some joy in their lives. They swarmed around us and were very intrigued by what we did and said. It was overwhelming to feel such love and appreciation. Uganda has been named “The Pearl of Africa.” This should not just be a reference to the land, but also to the wonderful people like the ones we met.

Being overwhelmed by the good might mean that, even though it seems like most efforts will be in vain, we can do something to whittle away at the problems. Partnering with a church like Glory Center accelerates our efforts since Glory Center is a center of spiritual and social life in this Ugandan community. Regardless of all of the problems of this present world, the church is keenly aware of what Jesus has done … and this awareness is being spread to the community. People’s lives are being changed for eternity, an overwhelmingly good thing. In this environment, we are overwhelmed in remembering that God sent His Son to sacrifice His life for us.

Overwhelmed by the Better

So, how does this story get even better? Partnering with a church with such strong leadership as Glory Center allows us to experience the passion and love Pastor Charles has for the lost. He continues to keep the fire burning, demonstrating selfless love for those in physical and spiritual need. We all know the most famous passage in scripture: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV) But do we know the verse that follows this great truth? For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17 NIV)

God is being exposed to the people of Uganda, in their extreme need, person by person. Truth is being imparted to them, helping them understand that they are not under judgment, but rather they are loved by a God who intimately knows them. How overwhelming it that? As a partner to Glory Center, Men of Willow should be overwhelmed by this amazing work which started with one water system, but has grown to helping multiple communities and many people by providing clean drinking water, even through the drought periods. If you could only see the appreciation that leaders of this community have for Men of Willow, you would be moved and changed forever. Overall, we have not been overwhelmed by the situation, but rather we have been overwhelmed by the fact that we have the living God who is at the center of everything we accomplish. God has helped Men of Willow and Glory Center maintain accountability of all funds provided. Results are publicized, and in a 2016 visit, we saw firsthand the impact that our donations have made. Even though we experience occasional problems, through God’s mercy we have been able to overcome misunderstandings and cultural differences. And this leads us to being overwhelmed even further …

Overwhelmed by the Best

We all know that the best is yet to come … when we can live in paradise with our Lord and Savior. We know that we can’t fully reach the best on earth, with all of the troubles that are here. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2Cor 1: 3-4 NIV)

Isn’t it amazing that God can use a group of men 8000 miles from Glory Center Church to come beside and help them effectively reach the lost for Christ? And how does this happen? It happens by meeting a physical need first, like the work God has entrusted us to do, including not only the water-purification systems, but the porridge project, child sponsorships, bibles for developing leaders, sending leaders for training at the Global Leadership Summit, building relationships and even helping purchase land for future church expansion. After having their physical needs met, these people have become more open to hearing about spiritual things.

Some day in heaven, I can picture a beautiful scene, where Men of Willow and Glory Center Church believers will no longer have this vast expanse of land between us. We will be able to interact daily and worship God together, forever. That, to me, is being overwhelmed by the best.

If you feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

April 2017 Update (Edition 91)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

This is a continuation in our update series entitled Africa Revisited

Part 9: Making a Difference in Me and You

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Cor8:9 (NIV)

 

How long do you plan on trying to do this? People will get tired of being asked to give for yet another cause.”

These words of concern were expressed to me shortly after we began a fundraising initiative in 2009. At that time, we had no idea if or when we could raise enough money for what we thought would be our one and only water project. Now, nearly seven and a half years later, I am amazed to see that people are not getting tired. They are not getting tired of hearing about and supporting the various projects through our partnership with a local church network in Uganda. In fact, more and more people are joining the effort. A great example of this can be found in our most recent project, which was to help Glory Center purchase a plot of land adjacent to their church. More than $18,000 was raised within a two and a half month period, with a large portion received from first-time givers. I am happy to announce that the land purchase has been safely andsuccessfully completed.

Excavation has already begun to level the land as shown in the attached pictures. (Details about this project were included in last month's update, but I am adding the attachment again for those who may not have read it.)



This is another example of what can be termed as a “nearacle.” I have to confess that when Jeff Stupar came to me and said he felt God was leading him to take on this project, I had some doubts. I wondered whether or not people would be interested in giving for such a need as land for a church 8,000 miles away. I am inspired by these words Paul wrote in Eph. 3:20: “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” By now I should not be surprised when God does such a work in human hearts that causes them to gladly give to a need beyond themselves. Yet, I must admit that I continue to be completely amazed whenever He does.

 

A Model of Generosity

I am fascinated with how the churches in Macedonia responded when they heard about how the believers in Jerusalem were struggling to survive. I think their actions and attitude serve as a great example to us today. This inspiring and remarkable story is found in 2 Corinthians 8. Having been made aware of the needs of others, Paul describes their response like this in verse 2: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”

I find it intriguing that in the middle of their sufferings, despite their hardships, they had “overflowing joy.” Keep that in mind as we look at Verses 4:“they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.” (NIV) Another translation says it like this: “they appealed to us most urgently that they should be permitted, as a favor to them, to be sharers in the task of bringing relief to those consecrated to God.” (God's New Covenant)

From exploring 2 Cor. 8-9, I suspect that Paul, in view of their circumstances, had no expectations that the Macedonians would participate or feel any obligation to give toward the relief offering that was started by the Corinthian (gentile) believers for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Somehow they got wind of it and the Spirit began a stirring in their hearts. It seems like they almost had to beg Paul to allow them to be a part of it.

Now, I can't honestly say that anyone has come to me begging to allow them to give some money. But, in light of these verses, I can see how God has, and is doing a marvelous and mysterious work – a work of developing compassion and generosity for people they may never meet, but only hear about. We have had a number of people ask how they could participate in what we are doing. This has often happened, not because we were making any appeal for support, but simply while we were sharing our story. I can see a similar work of the Spirit going on here as it had in the Macedonians.

What I have been personally experiencing for myself, and also seeing in my friends is this: a key attribute in generous giving is overflowing joy. The more we live in an awareness of all that is ours in Christ (our risen and soon to return Lord and Savior), the more our priorities will reflect an eternal perspective. It is here, in this state of mind, accompanied by this overflowing joy, that God is doing a transformational work in the human heart. He is changing our ought to's into our want to's. How else could we explain why people would give, over and above supporting their church, other good causes and personal needs and wants, to help some people in Africa? Paul goes on to use the Macedonians as an example to encourage the Corinthians. May God do the same in each of us.

I have found that songs like this help keep me focused on an eternal perspective:  https://youtu.be/VXp6xcY5IqU

There is much more that we can learn about the joy of giving from 2 Cor. 8-9. I hope you will take a few minutes to read through it and consider how it may apply to you.

While there remains a multitude of needs at Glory Center Church, and contributions are always welcome and appreciated, this update includes no particular appeal for funds.

 If you do feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

March 2017 Update (Edition 90)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family,

This is a continuation in our update series entitled Africa Revisited

Part 8: Making a Difference (Continued)

My purpose in writing these updates is three-fold: First and foremost is to share with those of you who have supported this initiative through your prayers and or financial support, what God is doing through our partnership with Glory Center Church Planting Ministries in Uganda. We have a strong sense of obligation to keep you informed on how your investment in Kingdom causes is being used and the physical and spiritual impact it is having.


The second purpose in these updates is to inspire and encourage you through reports, stories and testimonies of lives and hearts that are being transformed by the power of God. It is our desire that in doing so, we may be divinely motivated by an unquenchable desire to grow deeper and deeper in our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to become more tuned in and responsive to the whispers of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


The third purpose is to invite you to partner with us through your prayers and financial support as we inform you of various needs and projects. As always, we do not encourage anyone to give to this ministry in lieu of supporting your local church.


Now, I want to share part of a recent report that we received from our ministry partner in Uganda, Pastor Charles Kwagala of Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda. I trust that his words will serve to reaffirm that our partnership is truly making a difference.


Dear friends and all Men of Willow,

I greatly praise the Lord our Savior Jesus Christ for all He has done for us; most especially the gift of salvation. To Him be the glory now and forever more, amen.

I would like to update you of all the progresses in the ministry as we struggle in reaching out to the uttermost parts of the world, with our vision of transforming communities by helping people to live Christ centered lives. The progress in these years has been tremendous since you came on board and you have added value and transformed our mindset. In this, I mean the way we looked at ourselves as ministers. This has brought much mental power and enthusiasm in the way we are reaching out to people. I would like to let you know that we have extended the love of Christ to the communities like that of Butogonya, Kitende, Kimukunda, Nyanama, Ndejje and Nankuwadde. These communities and many more have been transformed and they are centers of transformation in those parts of our country.


About our leadership: What can we say; we have the greatest leadership in all the communities where we are. Our young men and ladies are the most influential leaders where they are because of the Leadership Summit. The glorious gospel of the kingdom of God is no longer at the community level as it was in 2010. The ministry is now extended to the National level and we are very ready because we have well trained leaders who can keep the ministry of God up there.


I have a testimony: My office has become a training ground for the pastors. Pastors come, usually with their wives for leadership training. It started slowly but it has increased. Not only pastors, but also they come with their team to be trained at Glory Center Church. Every month, I get more than four pastors who come for leadership training (guidance) and they give testimony when they go back. What is the Lord doing, what the Lord has done in these years, it’s marvelous.


Glory Center Church's Ministry to Children: I love and enjoy this project. When I see children being transformed  those who were once unloved but now loved, those who were once abandoned but now accepted, those who could not smile but now have a smile, those who could hardly get meals are now having meals, children who were once hopeless are now getting hope, those who had never tasted parental love are now being loved and learning to love others – my heart melts with joy for what this project is doing. And I humbly thank God for giving me and my wife a heart for children and I appreciate everyone who is supporting this ministry; it’s a great one. I know Christ is happy because of all the children who were transformed, those who are being transformed and those who are to be transformed. Please continue to pray for teacher Faith who is standing in the middle of this project. The challenges are many but the results each day are giving us joy.


Generally, I could say we give a round of applause to the Almighty God who has provided and has given a chance to share our purpose, power and resources by transforming somebody’s life for the sake of knowing Christ. Our God deserves glory and honor for all that he has enabled us to do. Great thanks to you our partners and donors and to ministers of GCCPM, great work is still ahead of us but we have to trust God more than what we have been doing.

I wish you the best my dear friends for standing with us.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever more, amen.

Charles Kwagala @ Glory Center Church Planting Ministries


Report on Land Purchase

In last month's update we presented the opportunity to help Glory Center purchase a plot of land adjacent to the church. I am excited to be able to inform you that there has been a tremendous response to meet this need. I have attached the report from Jeff Stupar, who took the lead on promoting this project

Link to REPORT

If you feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com




Men of Willow Water Project

February 2017 Update (Edition 89)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family, this is a continuation in our update series entitled

Africa Revisited

 

Part 7: Making a Difference: (continued)

In last month's update I told you about the special Christmas celebration that Glory Center Church had for many of the children in their village. (see that update here: http://www.menofwillow.com/updates)

 

I was planning on going a different direction in this update, but we have received addition information on the Christmas celebration I think is well worth sharing with you.

 

First, this was not an inexpensive celebration. The cost exceeded the funds that we had collected and sent for that purpose. So Pastor Charles and his family decided to take much of the funds that we had collected specifically for their Christmas and use it for others. I tell you this so that you will better understand their sincere desire to share the love of Christ, both in word and deed. I also want to point out that Pastor Charles, who is a very humble man of God, did not tell me that they shared much of their gift so that others could be blessed. I found that out from reading a financial report that the church administrator sent us.

 

Secondly, numerous other children, many of whom do not attend church or Sunday School, were welcomed to join in to go on the trip out to the countryside for the festivities that included gifts, food, games, and of course, the story of the real meaning of Christmas. (read attached report to see the effect this is having at the church.)

 

Thirdly, after they arrived in the rural area of the community of Butambala and were preparing the food, Pastor Charles' wife Faith sensed a whisper from the Holy Spirit. She noticed some neighbors watching from a distance. She and the rest of the group could have easily ignored them. They could have rationalized that these neighbors, although they were curious as to what was going on, would most likely refuse an invitation to join in this Jesus celebration since they were Muslims. But no such thought entered the mind of this women, whose love for God and love for people is so evident. She did not see these people,whose faith differs so much from hers as an obstacle, but an opportunity to help them see the reality of Jesus in the lives of those who have received His amazing grace.

 

So, urged by his wife, Pastor Charles walked over to these neighbors and invited them to join in the celebration. To his surprise, a number of them did. Fortunately, there were enough gifts for all the additional children who they had not anticipated. Now I can't say that I have ever seen a miracle or that this was one. But this does have a little bit of a resemblance, on a smaller scale of course, how Jesus took a little boys lunch and stretched it to take care of all the others who had gathered to listen to his teaching.

 

These Muslim neighbors enjoyed the celebration so much that they begged Pastor Charles and members of the church to come back to do another celebration for everyone in the community, to which Pastor Charles said they would. Some might consider this presumptuous on the part of this pastor to assume that somehow, someway, someone will provide the resources to be able to do this. (That thought has even crossed my mind.) But getting to know Pastor Charles over the past seven years, I see a man of uninhibited faith in the God that Paul describes in Eph.3:20

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.(TLB)

 

This is the kind of faith I want to have, but I have a long way to go. I am grateful for all those who, by their own actions, are demonstrating what this looks like. They are helping me grow in that direction.

 

Our next major project

Before closing this update, I want to inform you of an important way we can help Glory Center Church expand in their community. Among the numerous needs that Jeff Stupar and I noticed on our visit there was the limited space that the church has to expand. Even though there is basically good relations between the Muslims and Christians in this predominantly Muslim community , it appears that there is an effort to box the church in so that it cannot grow beyond its current physical boundaries. But a door of limited opportunity has opened up. A plot of land adjacent to the church is for sale at a cost of $15,000. We had a independent appraisal done to verify that this was reasonable market value.

 

We currently have a $5,000 matching gift offer, of which we have already received $2,750. A group of donors has declared, even though it will be quite a stretch on their pocketbooks, this project will get funded by March 31st. But they would like to invite others to join in this worthy cause.

I have attached a flyer withmore information on this project.

 

If you feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

 




Men of Willow Water Project

January 2017 Update (Edition 88)

 

Africa Revisited, Making a Difference Part 7: Christmas in Uganda

If you asked me why I am passionate about our partnership with a local church network in Uganda, I could give you a long list of reasons, as well as share many stories and examples with you. In this update I will restrain myself and focus on just one.

 

As I mentioned in last month's update, we currently have 17 children who are being sponsored for the school at Glory Center Church. Our share of the cost is $20.00 per month. The sponsors also gave an extra $30.00 per child for the Church to purchase Christmas gifts for them. Additional funds were also given by Men of Willow, along with other items donated by friends and church members in their area, so that more children could be included in the gift giving. By comparison to what our own children and grandchildren ask for and expect, these were very meager gifts. But to these children, their gifts were received as valuable treasures.

 

But what really made the day extra special was what we would refer to as a “field trip” out into the rural area of Butambala. This is where the poultry project is located, about an hour's drive from Glory Center Church. Here the children had plenty of room to run, explore, play and climb mango trees. It took several buses to transport the more than 60 children and adults. A great meal was prepared on- sight that even included soda pop and cake for dessert. (See attached pictures.)

 

Now, it is important to understand that, for most of these children, this was their first time riding in a vehicle of any type; their first time to travel beyond the village limits; their first time to have what they would consider an extravagant meal; and maybe even, the first time for some the luxury of enjoying a bottle of pop. In addition to the festivities, I am confident that Pastor Charles Kwagala made the most of this opportunity to make sure that everyone there heard loud and clear what the true meaning of Christmas is.

 

I don't think these children will soon forget that day of celebration and the One whose birth we celebrate. They enjoyed the bus ride, the presents, the rare abundance of food and the playtime. It is our hope and prayer that God will use this experience to further convince them that, while they may not have a mommy and or daddy here on earth, they do have Heavenly Father who knows them by name and loves them with an everlasting love. What a joy it is for us to know that God has given us the undeserved privilege to demonstrate His love to others, like these children in Uganda.

 

I doubt if anyone would have thought Pastor Charles to be selfish if he chose to spend that Christmas day at home relaxing with his family. Instead, along with the full support and participation of his wife, children and other members of their church, they put forth a lot of time, resources and energy to make this Christmas Day very special to many other children. For Glory Center Church, this was not just an event, but an ongoing day-to-day, every day living out God's command to love and care for others, especially for orphans and fatherless children.

Many of these children come from heartbreaking and very difficult circumstances. Few of them have both a mommy and daddy to love and take care of them. Some have neither and have been taken in by compassionate caregivers who have barely enough for themselves. Most go to bed hungry. So having a church family where they have a real sense belonging as well as learn and experience God's love through wonderful Christian teachers is more valuable than we can imagine.

 

The efforts of this church, with what limited resources they have and with a little help from us, does not go unnoticed or unappreciated by the rest of the community. They look at this church and wonder, “What is it that makes them care about others like us?” You and I know what motivates these believers, and hopefully many others in the community will come to know and embrace the One who can change them for now and eternity, our Lord Jesus Christ. (If you want to know about what God has done to create a passion in me for children like this, see attached story.)

 

There are many other needs and projects that we are evaluating and trying to discern where God may lead us in the months ahead. In February I will give you the details on our next major project. But for this month we just want to focus our praise to God for all He has and is doing through our partnership with Glory Center Church Planting Ministries.

 

If you feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com



Men of Willow Water Project

December 2016 Update (Edition 87)

 

Africa Revisited, Part 6: Making a Difference for the Children

 

During our visit to Uganda, Jeff and I got a firsthand look at how the local church there is carrying out its mission statement, that includes these words: giving hope to the hopeless; love to the unloved ones; giving motherly and fatherly love to the vulnerable children. We believe by doing so, communities will be changed for the glory of the Lord.

 

It is difficult to adequately describe just how much our partnership with Glory Center Church's ministry to the children is having on these little ones. I have included several pictures that I hope will give you a sense of being there with us. I want you to understand that Jeff and I were there representing, not ourselves, but everyone who has been a part this. While they saw us in person, they were well aware that we were just two of the many people from America who care about them.

 

I will briefly tell you the story that goes along with picture number three. This took place following the morning worship service on the last day of our trip. We found ourselves surrounded by the children who had come in after attending Sunday School, which meets outside on a rented lot near the church. As we were trying to say goodbye to everyone, Jeff felt a little hand reach up and grab one of his. Then another child grabbed ahold of his other hand. This spontaneous act of affection caught us by surprise. I think this is a great illustration of what God intended for this world to be like...

 

I imagine that most, if not all of us have seen paintings of Jesus blessing the children, as recorded in the first three Gospels. Mark's account provides us with deeper insight into the passion that Jesus had for children. Many versions use the word “indignant” to describe how Jesus felt when he saw the disciples forcefully turning people away from bringing children to be touched and blessed by Jesus. They evidently thought that Jesus' time and attention should not be wasted on little children who had nothing of value to offer Him. But Jesus quickly and bluntly set his disciples straight. I think the Message version does a great job in helping us visualize what took place on that occasion. It says:

 

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. (Mark 10:13-16)

 

I find it interesting that it says “people,” instead of parents, who brought the children to Jesus. Could it be that some of the children were orphans or had just one living parent, like so many of the children we have met in Uganda? While we don't know when Jesus lost his earthly father, Joseph, we can imagine how it may have increased his empathy for those children who had lost theirs.

 

Now, look at these verses found in Mark 9: 36-37: Then he placed a little child among them; and taking the child in his arms he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming my Father who sent me!” (TLB)

 

These verses should leave little doubt in our minds of the value Jesus placed on children. It certainly has not gone unnoticed by our friends and leaders of Glory Center Church. The Children's Ministry is a high priority here. Hopefully, someday these children will be willing and able to help others as they have been helped. Hopefully, they will develop Godly character from those who have taught them by good example. Hopefully, these children will grow up to be productive members of society and devoted Christ followers from being loved and encouraged by those who are. This includes you and me. You may never meet them face to face, but these children know that there are people here in America who love and care about them – and that means more to them than we can possibly imagine. I trust the attached pictures and this video clip of our visit with the Sunday School will serve to illustrate this. https://youtu.be/N5PKmwVDlhQ

 

Great News!

1) Lately, I have been concluding these updates by telling you how much we need to complete our fourth water project. I am happy, no, overjoyed – to be able to announce that this project will be completely funded this month. The remaining three rain-water harvest stations should be in place by Christmas. What a great gift this will be to the people of Kimukunda, Uganda.

 

2) $3,000 was given last month to purchase a commercial-quality tent that will accommodate and protect up to 200 Sunday School children when it rains at Glory Center Church. (An alternate plan is being considered to put an addition onto the church. This would not only accommodate the Sunday School, but also provide a permanent framework for expansion of Glorious Academy.)

 

Sponsorship for Glorious Academy students have increased from ten to seventeen in the past several months. The support for the latter two items were quite amazing since we did not intentionally promote these issues. I love it when God shows up unexpectedly like that.

 

There are many other needs and projects that we are evaluating and trying to discern where God may lead us in the months ahead. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our efforts in any way. On behalf of our leadership team, along with the thousands of people in Uganda who now have access to clean water, the school children who are being sponsored and the Sunday School children who are being provided with a bowl of hot cereal each week, we want to wish you and your loved ones a joyful, Christ-centered Christmas and a happy New Year.

 

If you feel led to contribute toward this ministry, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

November 2016 Update (Edition 86)

 

Africa Revisited, Part 5: Making a Difference Through the Local Church

 

By the time you receive this update the 2016 Global Leadership Summit (GLS) in Kampala,Uganda has taken place. A number of us joined together to help 48 people attend this great conference. I sent out an e-mail to all the sponsors whose generosity made this possible. One of them responded with this comment/question:

 

Don, I was surprised to see that 36 of the 48 attendees were from Glory Center Church (GCC). Do they have that many leaders and how did they determine who should go?

He later sent me a note that said, Don, you probably cringe when you see an e-mail from me questioning why and how people in Africa do things the way they do.

 

While answering questions like these can be time consuming, challenging and add one more thing on my already full to-do list, I value and appreciate the opportunity to do so as best I can.

Here is an edited portion of the answer I gave:

 

Hi Bob. I appreciate your questions and I am glad to provide, what I hope you will find to be a helpful and informative explanation.

Regarding the number of people who will be attending the GLS from GCC Ndejje, as well as their two other branches, the thing I have observed about this church through the monthly reports they send us, communications with Pastor Charles and in our visits there is this: Glory Center Church is not a church with a lot of attenders (spectators). By this, I mean that they are extremely intentional about making disciples and fully committed to carrying out The Great Commission. This requires leadership development. The congregation is divided into three ministry groups. Members are expected to participate in one of these three groups. They meet frequently to discuss and plan ways they can carry out various ministry efforts in and beyond Ndejje. In addition to these groups, they have the four youth groups: Exodus, Wings of Angels, Walls of Fire and Revelation. Each of these groups have their own leaders. I imagine that some who were chosen to attend the GLS have been identified as upcoming or potential leaders.

 

Bob, I always have a sense of responsibility to the donors to be sure their contributions are being well used. Whenever doubts arise, I communicate these to Pastor Charles and Prossy [the church administrator] to get clarification. In doing so, I think there have been times it has caused them some discomfort and concern that we do not trust them. But I reassure them it is for their benefit when we are able to honestly tell our donors that we hold accountability in high regard. Pastor Charles humbly answers our questions and explains their reasons for the way they do things which, due to cultural differences and limited resources, may not always align with our way of thinking. What I do know is that they, as all Christ followers should, live with a great sense of urgency. I believe we can summarize their way of thinking like this:

Do what you can with what you have and don't let difficulties or lack of resources limit your vision. After all, we serve the Living God, with whom all things are possible. Therefore, by all means, at all times, with every opportunity you have, be about the business of "Going and making disciples." If you have enough resources to build a nice place of worship, then do it. But that is not priority #1. Glory Center Church takes Jesus' words in Acts 1: 8 very seriously.

 

Which brings us back to the question: Why has Pastor Charles chosen those particular individuals to attend the GLS? I believe it is because he sees the potential in them to carry out Jesus' instructions, whether it be in their Jerusalem (Ndejje), Judea (Kitende), Samaria (Butogonya, Kimukunda), or wherever God leads them to plant new churches and preach the gospel in word and deed. In preparation for this, as well as filling the needs in the existing churches as they grow, leaders need to be developed and the GLS is a great opportunity that we have provided for them to do that. I think we can trust that Prossy and Pastor Charles have determined wisely those who should attend the Summit. What impact will the GLS have on these people and what impact might they have in the Kingdom work of God? Heaven only knows and one day, so will we. As the old hymn says, "What a glorious day that will be!"

 

It is my hope that each of you who have partnered with us, through your prayers and/or financial support and encouragement, will take great joy in knowing that we are instruments in God's hands making a positive difference in this world.

 

If you feel led to contribute toward the $6,700 balance needed to complete our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or by mailing a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

 

The rest of the story

The background for the explanation I gave to my friend's questions came out of an experience Jeff and I shared with Prossy (the church administrator), Patrick (the Sunday School Director and our driver) and Pastor Charles Kwagala. This took place on day three of our recent visit there.

 

After inspecting the poultry project outside the village of Butambala, we walked a few hundred feet up a hill to a shady spot that had been prepared for us with benches and mats to sit on. Pastor Charles asked us to bring our Bibles. There was a pleasant breeze and a view as far as the eye could see across the valley that rose up into mountains on the other side. It was a serene setting and we had a sense that we were on holy ground. We spent a little time reflecting on our visit thus far and the ways God has worked in each of our lives that has brought us together now. This produced an atmosphere of unity. We didn't feel like Americans and Africans or whites and blacks. While we were five very different people, we became one in heart and soul in Christ. I must admit that I was not as fully aware of that then as I am now when I take time to reflect back on it. In some way, our experience could be compared to that of Jacob recorded in Genesis 28:16: “...Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. ” (KJV

After a while, Pastor Charles asked us to open our Bibles to Matthew 28: 19-20. He said, in his usual soft, humble voice (except when he is preaching, where he can be very bold and assertive.): “I want to share with you the burning passion God has placed on my heart.” He then read aloud those words of Jesus, known as The Great Commission. He asked us to focus on these two words: Go, Make.

We spent some time listening and discussing just what that really looks like.

It was out of that experience that I could, with a high degree of confidence and admiration of our friends at Glory Center Church Planting Ministries, respond to Bob's questions the way I did





Men of Willow Water Project

October 2016 Update (Edition 85)

 

Africa Revisited, Part 4: Making a Difference

 

Making a Difference Over There

The reports continue to confirm it! Our personal visits have served to verify it! The message of Jesus Christ is being heard more clearly, and the local church is having a greater impact due, in part, to our partnership. Glory Center Church Planting Ministries in Uganda is boldly declaring and demonstrating the love of Christ. God has given many of us the opportunity and privilege of coming alongside them – to make a positive difference, for now and eternity.

 

In the September update, I shared the dramatic story how God used the needs of people 8,000 miles away to change a life here. In the July update, I itemized the various projects that we have funded. In the August update, I focused on our second water project in Kitende and how God gave us the privilege of turning a dream into reality. These past updates can be found at http://www.menofwillow.com.

 

Similar stories can also be told about our third water project in Kabawanga and about our fourth water project in Kimukunda. (The Kimukunda rain-water-harvesting project is currently 70 percent operational.) Jeff Stupar and I had the joy and honor of meeting with community leaders in each of these villages during our visit there a few months ago. They praised God for the gift of clean water and asked us to pass on their deepest gratitude to all who have helped to make this dream come true for them and their families. (See attached pictures.) As we sat under the shade of a tree and listened to the report from the Safe Water Committee in Kimukunda, I was reminded of these words in Isaiah: “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them: I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them... So that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” Isa. 41:17, 20 (NIV)

These verses were written many centuries ago, to another people in a different place. I could not help but think how applicable they were here today, in Kimukunda. What has been a predominately pagan community is now becoming more open to the gospel.

 

Try to visualize yourself sitting there with us. (See video: https://youtu.be/B89hotmBknM) Now, imagine the Spirit of God whisper these words in your ear: “I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one,” and, “It will happen that in that very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' ” (Romans 9: 25-26 (NIV) in which Paul quotes from Hosea). This is what is really happening through these water projects: People who have been far from God, are now coming closer.

 

Friends, pause for just a moment and consider what an awesome, incredible opportunity God has given each and every one us – to be His instruments, making a difference for now and eternity in this fallen world. Please do not take this as a sales pitch to support just what we are doing in Uganda. But accept it as a challenge to be open and responsive to whatever and wherever God leads you to get involved. The older I get and the more friends I lose, I become increasingly aware that tomorrow is promised to no one and that we should live each day with a sense of urgency.

 

Special Report: GLS Uganda

I am thrilled and grateful to be able to make this announcement: Thanks to the overwhelming generous response of many of you, we will be sending 48 church leaders to the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) in Kampala on November 4-5. This is seventh year in a row that we have been helping those in Uganda (who otherwise would not be able) to attend the GLS in their own country. The teaching and encouragement they receive from this event empowers them to improve and develop quality leaders that are so desperately needed to build and maintain thriving churches. The benefit from their attending this conference is greater than we can imagine. This is one more way that we can participate in carrying out “the great commission” that Jesus gave to all of us in Matthew 28: 19-20. (I am anxious to share an amazing experience we had during our recent visit in Uganda that revolves around this scripture. But I will reserve that for a future update.)

 

If you feel led to contribute toward the $6,800 balance needed to complete our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

 

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

September 2016 Update (Edition 84)

Seven -Year Anniversary Edition

Africa Revisited, Part 3:Making a Difference

 

Making a Difference Here

I have many more details and stories to share with from our recent trip to Uganda, stories showing how lives are being changed through the various projects that we have supported. But in this edition I want to share with you how God used the needs of people over there to change a life here. I think it is very appropriate to share in this Seventh-Year Anniversary Edition.

 

Many people have contributed in various ways to bring us to this point and many stories of life change could be told. Here is a portion of Mark's story (as best as I could reconstruct it out of the notes I had taken from hours of conversations we had as he prepared to give his testimony at our local Men's Breakfast on Saturday, September 10,2011.

 

To say that Mark lived a troubled life would be a gross understatement. He was abused as a child by those whom he should have been able to trust to protect him. His hopes of becoming a professional baseball player were interrupted by service in the Army. That dream ended abruptly when he was wounded in Vietnam. After being shot, he had to crawl through the jungle for three days, experiencing the terror of narrowly escaping capture, before being rescued.

 

Reflecting back on his life up to that point, Mark told me:

 

You either have to accept that God exists or he doesn't. And if he does exist, then where was he when I was being abused? I found it easier to believe there was no God. Vietnam re-enforced that belief. You have heard that there are no atheists in foxholes. Well, that was not my experience. When I saw the carnage, I could not conceive the idea that there was a God. But I did believe in evil. Growing up, all the church people I knew were pedophiles, or at least that was the perception I had developed from personal experience.

 

Coming home from Vietnam wounded, exposed to Agent Orange, seeing my friends die instead of us soldiers receiving a hero's welcome, we were met with protestors. I tried to make sense out of all that had happened to me. I wanted to live a normal life, as best as I could figure out what that meant, but I was haunted by my past. Over the years, especially when I experienced stress, it was manifested in bizarre behavior. I have been diagnosed and misdiagnosed with various mental illnesses, but no amount of counseling or medications seemed to help. At times, my behavior became so bad and weird it was suspected that I was demon possessed. We tried exorcism. It didn't help. You can imagine how this took its toll on my friends and family, as well as my own state of mind.

 

During my second marriage, I met a guy named Russ Holmes. His son and my stepson were in Little League together. We developed a friendship and got to know a little of each others stories. Over the course of many conversations, the subject of church came up. Russ had visited Willow Creek Community Church a few times and he invited my family to go with his sometime. Even though I considered myself a passive atheist, I agreed to check it out. (I doubt that I ever would have accepted Russ's invitation if we have not developed a friendship first.)

 

When I went and heard Bill Hybels speak, it impressed the #@% out of me. I had never heard anyone speak so clearly and transparently as he did. I began buying tapes. I was hungry to learn and hungry to hear the truth. Russ told me that he heard that the church had men's groups. He asked me if I would go with him if he found one. I said yes. So we got involved in a group. I found it to be a safe place where I could feel free to open up without fear of being judged. I felt that I was heading in the right direction, but I still had many problems.

 

I remember that it was a weekend in May 1992. I had been going through a hard time. After the church service I went to the prayer room. It was there that I invited Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I left that room expecting to live happily ever after just like in the fairy tales. That did not materialize. I am reminded of what Paul said in Romans 7. As much as I desired to live and act like I thought a Christian should, I couldn't do it. I continued in various groups. I struggled as hard as I could, but matters got worse.

 

This all came to a head in 2008. While I was hospitalized (one of a dozen times over the years), a doctor suggested that I be tested for something called Addison's Disease. I went into the hospital in a wheel chair, but was able to walk out three days later. I was told that while there was no cure, it could be treated. I felt so relieved, thinking that, finally, here was the answer to everything that was wrong with me. (Or at least that was the hope I could cling to.) I was not crazy! I was not possessed! There was a real physical cause that could explain my bizarre behavior.

 

I began to feel happy and hopeful about knowing the answer to the whys. But then I found myself becoming angry because it took so long for the doctors to find out what (I wanted to think) was the source of all my problems. I had lived for so many years being misdiagnosed which resulted in the lack of proper treatment. I had lost jobs! I lost my home! I lost my family! I lost many friends! I was being consumed by my anger. Fortunately, there were a few friends and groups that refused to turn their backs on me, even when it appeared that I did everything I could to alienate them.

 

For example, I recall the day when one of these friends took me out for breakfast. While sitting there in a restaurant, although I never intended to vent my anger, I got blindsided by the rage that was flaming up inside me. I began to take it out on everything and everyone I thought deserved it, including my friend who cared enough about me to bear my wrath. (Put up with my @#%&) Sometime after that, this friend revealed to me that he went home and told his wife about what happened. He said to her, ”If it were up to me, I would never see or speak to Mark again!” He wife responded, “Then why would you?” To which he said, “Because if we really believe that God is in the business of healing and restoring broken lives, and if we are committed to allow Christ's love and grace to flow through us, then what choice do we have but to be willing to carry one another's burdens.”

 

I went home from that breakfast and felt like a ton of bricks hit me. I sensed God saying to me, “Mark, you are an #@%!. You are such a jerk! I have sent you people and you are chasing them away. I love you, but you are an !@#*. As bad as I felt about that day, it became a turning point.

 

I began to listen for God's wisdom. Instead of focusing on my pain, I began to care that I hurt people. I realized that I had to let go of the anger, bitterness and resentment that was blinding me from seeing God's hand on my life. I started to see that anger could not deliver me. It could not heal me. It could not help me. I began to understand that I needed to trust God to do a work in my life that I was not able to do on my own.

 

A transformational change began to take place in my heart. My circumstances did not change. In fact, they got worse. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. In spite of that, I felt hope that there was a part of me that was getting better. Physically, I am not getting better. But spiritually and emotionally I am. I have Addison's Disease, bone cancer, a neck injury that causes me constant pain, bad legs, etc. That may never change. But I stand before you today (September 10, 2011) a new man.

 

For most of my Christian life I was a taker, focusing on myself and my pain. I did not have the capacity to give or to really care about others. I really don't think I knew how. But last year (2010) that began to change. I was given a DVD that showed people around the world who did not have access to safe drinking water. God used that to break my heart when I saw children who only had filthy water to drink. This, in itself, was a miracle. God found a way to soften my hardened heart, open my eyes so I could begin to view life from new perspective.

 

Through my apparent mental illness and bizarre behaviors I had become ostracized by my friends, family and even the church. I was living alone in a low-income apartment building. The few friends I still had referred to my small apartment as “The Cave.” There were days, and still are that I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. When I could, I volunteered in several ministries, which gave me some sense of belonging. But I had a desire to go and grow deeper. When I heard about the Men of Willow Water Project, it ignited a spark within me. Living on disability income I didn't have much to spare, but this was something I wanted to support. I sensed that it was something I needed. So I showed up at the home of a friend who was part of the team trying to raise funds for a water project with a $20.00 bill in my hand. I told him that this was all I could afford, but I wanted to be a part of this.

 

Initially I saw this as helping some children to get clean water, but in the process God began doing a work in my heart. I began thinking that if I could afford $20.00 this month, then maybe I could afford to give $20.00 every month. So I set up my bank account to make automatic monthly contributions. I am not trying to turn this into a commercial for the next water project, although I am all for that. But for me, this has had a tremendous impact on my relationship with Christ. So much so that I recently had the privilege to lead two guys who live in my apartment building to Christ. A few weeks before, I had asked them to volunteer on a project that would be used for a “Walk for Water” fund-raising event. When they were done, they asked me, “Are we Men of Willow now?” They are not “Creekers,” but this gave them a sense of belonging. Their life experience was, in some ways, similar to mine, outcasts from society.

 

I have another friend, John, who lives down the street from me. When I shared my enthusiasm for the water project, he got the vision and started giving $20.00 a month. These guys don't go to our church, but they think of themselves as Men of Willow. Is that all right with all of you? I have tried to encourage others to join me in giving $20.00 a month. I did the math and figured out that if we could get enough people doing that, maybe we could fund a new water project every year. I am not sure if, or how many others have joined me in doing that. But I believe it is something well worth contributing to.

 

While I am excited about Men of Willow and providing safe water for those in need, the real story here is that I am living closer to God and He just happened to use this to get my attention. I don't know how much time I have left or how much strength I will have from day to day, but with whatever God gives me I want to praise and honor Him.”

 

Four years and eleven months after Mark gave that testimony, God took him home where he is now experiencing that which the fairy tales promise, but only God can deliver, “living happily ever after.” Until his recent death, Mark Ewen continued to struggle with physical and mental illness. But he also continued to serve God in various ministries whenever he could. Mark unexpectedly inherited some money a few years ago, of which he gave at least 10 percent to various ministries. This included the funds for the Poultry Project (a micro-enterprise business whose profits will help to operate Glorious Academy Preschool), as well as monthly school sponsorship for a little girl named Hadijjah. (She cried when she heard that Mark was gone.) He also contributed monthly to the Porridge Project that supplies a meal for the nearly 120 children who attend Sunday School at Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda. Computer Connection, a ministry of Willow Creek Community Church, in honor of Mark's many years of service with them, has expressed their desire to complete the last year of Marks' three-year sponsorship commitment.

 

While Mark did live a troubled life here on earth, it gave him a perspective and desire to care about others who struggle with life’s challenges, both here at home and also to some friends he had gained in Uganda. This is just one of the many stories that could be told about how God has used the needs of others to get our attention so that he could bring about change in us. I believe what God did in Mark's heart, He has done and will continue to do in some others here as well. I would love to hear and share your story.

 

If you feel led to contribute toward the $6,800 balance needed to complete our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

 

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

 


Men of Willow Water Project

August 2016 Update (Edition 83)

To the Men of Willow, our friends and family

Africa revisited, Part 2: Prayers Answered – Dreams Become Reality

Imagine yourself standing out in an open field of overgrown weeds in a rural village in a far away land where many of its inhabitants lived under the influence of witchdoctors, superstitions, pagan beliefs and practices. Imagine these people getting sick and blaming their illnesses on evil spirits, not realizing that its cause is really from poor hygiene and contaminated water.

 

Now, try to imagine dreaming, praying and daring to hope beyond all hope that one day there would be a thriving church filled with many of those same people lifting up their hearts and voices in praise and worship to the one and only true God that has delivered them from the dominion of darkness and brought them into the Kingdom of His beloved Son that Paul speaks about in Col.1:13

 

That was dream that Pastor Charles Kwagala shared with Bob Mohn and me about five years ago as we stood on that very spot in Kitende, Uganda. The fledgling group of believers that had already begun to meet and worship on that spot of rented land, sitting on homemade benches out in the open air, exposed to the elements, to say that they had a whole lot more faith than material resources would be an extreme understatement. Their confident expectation that God would somehow make a way where there just seemed to be no way was a testimony to us that they, despite the obstacles, challenges and lack of resources were determined to trust God and relentlessly cling to the words of 2Cor.5:7, that declares, we live by faith, not by sight. I have always been inspired by that verse, but am a long way off from really implementing it in my day-to-day life like they were.

 

To Bob and me, from a merely human perspective, that dream seemed more like wishful thinking than a possibility of ever becoming a reality. But deep down in our souls, we had a vague sense that these Christ followers knew quite a bit more, experientially, about the workings of God than we did.

 

Now, imagine waking up to see that dream come true, people from all around that area coming to the church or one of the several other taps to get safe, clean water and then hearing about Jesus' love for them. Imagine this same Jesus moving in the hearts of some folks 8,000 miles away to become instruments of His amazing grace by giving of their resources with which He had blessed them with, to purchase the land that now is home to a thriving church and a water-purification system.

I wish that, somehow, you could visualize yourself standing there with Jeff Stupar and me a few weeks ago and see this dream unfold into reality (see attached pictures). It was such a surreal experience to witness what God has given us the privilege to be a part of. I almost thought of pinching myself to be sure that I wasn't dreaming, that I was really there worshiping and praising God for answered prayer and fulfilling the desire of many hearts: that clean water would be used as a means to proclaim the riches of God's amazing grace and that people who were once far from God are coming to put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Living Water. As we worshiped alongside these dear fellow believers, our hearts and emotions were overflowing with joy and gratitude to God who had miraculously brought us together for His divine purpose. As images flashed through my mind of this dream becoming reality, it was like watching a caterpillar being transformed into a beautiful butterfly through the process of metamorphosis.

 

Although I did not realize it at the time or the five years that followed, but now as I reflect back, I am realizing what a profound impact that first visit in 2011, has had in my life, as well as the others who have been a part of this story. I am learning that when we are responsive to the whispers of the Spirit we can really experience God's promises at work in our own lives, such as this in one in Prov. 3:5-6: Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

I believe there is plenty of evidence that God has kept us on track as we have endeavored to be open and responsive to the opportunities He has given us through our partnership with Glory Center Church In Uganda. What I have tried to do in this update is give you a little insight of a dream turned into reality in the village of Kitende (pronounced Chi-ten-day), Uganda. This was made possible because many of us joined together in prayer and financial support. This story of dreams coming true is being duplicated in other places and various ways. I hope to share some more of those stories with you in future updates.

 

Lastly, I want to point out that we still need $7,100 to complete the remaining three of the ten planned rain-water-harvest stations needed to provide close access to clean water for everyone within the 72 square miles that make up the community of Kimukunda (pronounced Chim- oo- kunda). I encourage you to prayerfully consider being a part of what God is doing to answer the cries of those who thirst.

If you feel led to contribute toward the completion of our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

 

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com

 

P.S. Correction to last months update: The date that the Kitende water project began operating should have said 2013, not 2011. 

July 2016 Update (Edition 82)


To the Men of Willow, our friends and family

Africa revisited, Part 1

Five years ago I had the privilege to go on my first trip to Uganda with my friend, Bob Mohn. Our purpose was to get a first-hand view of the water project that the Men of Willow, our friends and family had raised funds for. The water-treatment system had been in operation for about a year at that time and we had been developing a relationship with the local church where the water system was located. The reports and communications we had received from them inspired us to get out of our comfort zone and personally go there to actually see the impact and progress that the water system and the church was having in this community. Although we had already begun working on raising funds for a second water project before our visit, we really had no idea what God had in mind for us to learn and do since our going there in 2011.

Now, five years later, we are amazed, overwhelmed and grateful for the privilege and opportunity to be a part of what God is doing through a faithful group of dynamic believers in Uganda. When I reflect on the various projects that many of you have been investing in, and all that may not have been if we did not respond to the Spirit's whispers, I have to admit that I get a bit emotional (in a manly way of course, as I reach for another Kleenex). This, my friends, is what Jesus saved us for. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph.2:10 (NIV)

In the coming months, through these updates I will try to describe the details of the impact God is making through our partnership with Glory Center Church Planting Ministries. My traveling partner on this trip, Jeff Stupar, and I have come back with our hearts and minds full and many stories to tell. It is a not an easy challenge for me to put these in writing while keeping it reasonably brief, as you know from many of my previous updates. But I will try. Since I am still recovering from our 11 day journey, that included 24 hours of flying and layovers to get back home, I will just give you a summary of what has been accomplished in the past five years – God deserves all the credit. We get the joy from being tools in His hands.

#1 Water project #2 in Kitende began operation in 2011.

#2 Water project #3 in Kabawanga began operation in 2014

#3 Water project #4 in Kimukunda - phase 1 consisted of the first four of 10 planned rain-water harvest stations and began operating in January 2016. Phase 2 consisted of three more rain-water harvest stations that were being installed during our visit last week and should be complete on or shortly after you receive this update.

#4 GLS sponsorships - We have sponsored as few as 15 and as many as 40 people each year for the GLS in Kampala in the past five years. We plan on continuing to seek sponsorships again this year. Their Summit is held in November, which provides a great opportunity in developing leadership skills in the local churches. Without our support most of those that we have sponsored would not be able to attend.

#5 Glorious Academy Nursery and Preschool - We raised funds to help them complete a three-room school accommodating 20 students, 12 of whom are currently sponsored at $20.00 per month. (Sponsorships for two additional children have been added in the last week. The amazing thing is that we were not even asking for more sponsorships, though they are welcomed. People were just moved by the Spirit while we were sharing the story of what God has invited us to be a part of.)

#6 Poultry Project - This micro-enterprise raises egg laying chickens. Glory Center plans on expanding this operation from 500 to 1,000 chickens within the next year. At that time, we are expecting the profits from this project to begin to fund the school without outside support, making it self-sustainable.

These are the statistics in black and white. There are many heartwarming stories behind each one of these, accompanied by a few heartbreaking stories as well. I will be sharing some of those in the months to come. For those who have a few minutes or lots of time, Jeff and I would love to sit down with you or your group and tell you what we have experienced on this trip. We also have more than a few pictures and videos. I will include some in this and future updates, as well as our website.

But for now allow me to say this:

First, everywhere we went the people lifted up their praises to God and asked us to give you their heart-felt thanks for what you have done. I was especially moved to find out that the people in Kitende waited five hours to see us due to traffic delays and change in our schedule. Even though we could not understand the language that many of them spoke without an interpreter, we did recognize the words of thanks to the “meen of weelow.”

Secondly, I am so happy to be able to tell you that every project that we have invested in is working. Some better than others, but they are all working. This is not to be taken for granted, because we are working in very difficult situations where the needs are overwhelming. It is hard to imagine from here in America just how much of a difference our partnership is making in people's lives over there. Being his first time in Uganda, Jeff helped me to realize this fact more deeply. His optimism, enthusiasm and generous heart and attitude of “don't focus on what we can't do, but what, with God's help, we can do,” has given me a renewed vitality to continue heeding the promptings of the Holy Spirit, wherever He leads and whatever He wants to do in my life. I trust that might include some of you. Whether our endeavors inspire you to join us or to get involved in some other Kingdom work, may God's will be done on earth, in each of our lives, as it is in heaven.

Lastly, I want to point out that we still need $7,500 to complete the remaining three of the ten planned rain-water-harvest stations needed to provide close access to clean water for everyone within the 72 square miles that make up the community of Kimukunda. I encourage you to prayerfully consider being a part of what God is doing to answer the cries of those who thirst.

If you feel led to contribute toward the completion of our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman atmenofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


June 2016 Update (Edition 81)

 

A Nearacle?

Thanks to all who have responded to the promptings of God, we have exceeded our short-term goal of raising $2,000.00 to take full advantage of the double matching gift offer. This means that we will be able to install three more rain-water-harvest stations in Kimukunda, Uganda. These additional stations (phase 2), along with the existing four (phase 1), will increase the percentage of people who will have access to clean water from 40% to 70%. Considering that this is just one of multitudes of communities that have not only suffered for generations from lack of safe drinking water, but also had little hope of ever getting any, the residents had perceived themselves to be forsaken by God and man. But now they are rejoicing in what may be termed as a “nearacle.” 

I don't know if you have ever heard that word before, but since it kept popping up in my head, I thought that God might want me to use it in this update to describe the amazing things we have had the privilege to be a part of as instruments of God's grace for those who thirst. I had never heard that word before either, so I was surprised to find it in the Urban Dictionary, where it gives this definition: “When something astounding happens, but it's not quite a miracle, it's a nearacle.”

 Some folks might think using such a word is a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to describing the response to our appeal for contributions to this fourth water project. Generous? Yes! Surprising? Yes! Amazing? Yes! But a nearacle? After all, it may not seem that extraordinary when you consider that it has taken a year to raise $17,500 toward our goal of $25,000. But a closer look reveals an invisible power at work behind the scenes.

A simple explanation from a secular mindset might describe the process something like this: People decided to give toward a need that was made known to them just because they felt like doing something good for someone else. Well, this may be the case with many causes. But allow me to give a brief defense as to why I truly believe we can accurately describe the results of our fund raising efforts as a nearacle.

With so many hurting people in the world who desperately need our help, so many worthy causes, so many demands on our resources for personal and family needs, I find it amazing that anyone would give toward our cause, unless ... they are moved by the very same Spirit of God that has led us to promote this and other projects in partnership with a small, but dynamic group of believers 8,000 miles away in Uganda. Our role, in response to God's leading, has been to inform you of the need and the opportunity to get involved and make a difference in the lives of some people who are struggling to survive. I believe God has called and given some of us the honor and privilege to be His agents of love and grace to a particular group of people who might otherwise have gone unnoticed and uncared for by the rest of the world. It has been our prayer that God would move in the hearts of those who he wants to give toward this project. I am inspired and grateful for each one who has decided to be an answer to those prayers as the Spirit of God prompted them.

This is why I believe the word nearacle well describes what is happening among us. We acknowledge and give God all the credit for what has been accomplished. His fingerprints are all over this. The Apostle Paul's words in Ephesians 2:10 help us to see this in proper perspective. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. (TLB)

I realize that God leads each of us individually, in different ways and for various causes. This is just one. We can ask for nothing more, nor hope for nothing less than for each of us to be tuned in, willing and obedient to whatever God asks of us, whether it be giving of our time, talents or possessions. I know personally that it is easy to get distracted, discouraged, depleted of energy and to focus on our own problems, needs and challenges. On those occasions, (which I experience more often than I care to admit), I ask myself this question: “Am I living for now or for eternity?” Then I grab hold of a promise from God's Word, such as Galatians 6:9 which says: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)

I and Jeff Stupar will be traveling to Uganda from June25-July 4th. This will give us the opportunity to get a first-hand view how each of the various projects that we have been led to support are being used to fulfill God's divine purposes. I believe that the stories, pictures and videos that we come back with will serve to confirm, assure and inspire each of us to continue to follow the promptings of God's Spirit.

In the meantime, I want to point out that we still need $7,500.00 to complete the remaining three of the ten rain-water-harvest stations needed to provide close access to clean water for everyone within the 72 square miles that make up the community of Kimukunda. I encourage you to prayerfully consider being a part of a nearacle.

If you feel led to contribute toward the completion of our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

 


Men of Willow Water Project

May 2016 Update (Edition 80)


Half -way there

If you have been following these updates you are aware that we have been striving to raise funds to complete our fourth water project in Uganda since we first began in 2009. The details of this current project can be found in last month's update: http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-April-2016-Update-Edition-79-

Matching gift offer update

We have a double $2,000 matching gift offer that is due to expire on June 1st. Every dollar that we give will be matched twice, up to $2,000. For example, a $100 contribution will be matched by an additional $200, thus increasing the value of your gift to $300. This is a great opportunity to make the most out of your investment, whether it be $10, $25, $50, $100 or more.

 As of May 10th, we have received $900. That means we need an additional $1,100 to take full advantage of this offer.

What difference does it make?

If there is any doubt in your mind that this rain-water-harvest project is making a significant difference in people's lives and in fulfilling God's redemptive plan, I hope that the following report will serve to reassure you that this is something well worth investing in.

Kimukunda water harvest project report on phase 1 (wriiten by Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator of Glory Center Church Planting Minitries (GCCPM), Ndejje, Uganda April 12, 2016)

 Hello dear fellow servants, partners and ministers in the Kingdom of the Most High God! It’s pretty awesome for me again to communicate to you, the treasured ones of the Kingdom of God. Here is my report regarding the Kimukunda water project.

I communicated with one of the water committee leaders in Kimukunda and his report about water consumption was tremendous and inspiring. He said from a “dream into reality” getting clean water in their community is a big miracle because we have never had clean water before now. He said it has helped them getting safe and clean water, which is decreasing challenges among families. All the four water-harvest stations are in good condition, providing safe and clean water to the nearby families. People are appreciating and enjoying the closer/nearby water sources [compared to] the longer distances to the muddy water sources they have had to walk to and from, carrying the heavy containers of dirty water. This is not only just clean water that they are now getting, but as they come close to these sources [of clean water], they also come closer to Christ. Their hearts are no longer far from Christ as each day they draw closer to the knowledge of knowing Christ as the source of living water and eternal life.

 Men of Willow, may it be counted to be righteous work you do in ministry in your partnership with us, G.C.C.P.M and the children of Uganda. On behalf of G.C.C.P.M, Prossy

So far, we have been able to provide a source of clean water to 40% of the people in this rural community of Kimukunda, Uganda that covers about 72 square miles with a population of 4,500. Our prayer and hope is to provide the gift of clean water to the remaining 60%.


 If you feel led to contribute toward the completion of our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

 f you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

April 2016 Update (Edition 79)

Investing in the Kingdom

To the men of Willow, our friends, family, and all those who have supported our endeavors through prayer and financial support: We praise God for each of you who, over the past-six-and-a-half years have responded to the promptings of the Spirit by investing time and resources to bring help and hope to our brothers and sisters in Uganda. I truly believe that when we give towards Christ-centered ministries and causes, we are doing much more than making a mere donation or contribution. I think the word “investing” is more accurate because this action can have a lasting, eternal impact that far surpasses the initial investment. We can already see the tremendous effect that our water projects are having in each community, but the full impact will only be revealed in heaven. These words of Jesus should help us to view life with the proper perspective and to utilize the resources He has given us accordingly:

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. (Matt:6:19-21, The Message) That is what motivates us to continue in our efforts to, among other things, raise funds to complete the water project in Kimukunda, Uganda.

As I reported in last month's update, the first phase of this project has been completed and clean water is now flowing from the first four rain-water-harvest systems strategically located around the community. Believers in Kimukunda are being joined by those who would appear to be as far from God as you could possibly get and together they are now giving God thanks and praise for this much needed resource. The local church there has gained recognition and credibility as the agent which God has worked through to answer the cries and prayers of thirsty bodies and souls.

With a community of 4,500 people over an area of 72 square miles, the need for the remaining six systems is crucial to adequately provide for the needs of all the people. Spacing these systems equally throughout this large community will help make clean water more assessable to each resident, thus reducing the time and energy it takes to meet this daily need. The water gatherers are mostly elderly women, as well as children who often must forfeit schooling because they have had to walk long distances to fetch water that is highly contaminated. You can imagine the sickness and diseases that drinking or even touching that kind of water can cause.


Because God has opened our eyes to this need... and opportunity to make a positive and possible eternal difference in people's lives... and because we have been presented with a simple, relatively economical solution (one that has proven successful and efficient in phase 1)... and because the Lord has blessed us in many ways: we feel compelled to invite – no, urge – you to prayerfully consider investing in this project.


Matching gift offer update

As of April 4, we have received $670 toward the $2,000 matching gift offer (see details below). That means we need an additional $1,330 to take full advantage of this offer.


Phase 1 of this project has been successfully completed, but we still need an additional $15,000 to build the remaining six rain-water-harvest systems. That is just $2,500 for each system, which is far less than the cost of a well. (Overall, this project is designed to provide clean water to a community of more than 4,500 people.) To help us reach this goal, one of our guys has generously offered to match every contribution up to $2,000. Additionally, his employer will match what he gives. So for every dollar we give, two more will be added to it. If all of us together would give as much as $2,000, the matching gift offer would grow to $6,000. That would leave us with a balance of $9,000 to raise, which is still a big gap to fill. But God has demonstrated to us over and over again that if we just make the need known, keep people informed of how God is changing lives through our obedience to Him, and keep praying and trusting Him to supply us with the resources to give, then we can rest in the hope that Paul had in the faithful believers of his day when he wrote these words to them: There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (Phil.1:6, The Message) Obviously, the promise of this verse goes way beyond our water project, but I sincerely believe that it is well a part of His overall plan. I don't know when or how He will do it, or all those that He will do it through. But I want to extend an invitation to you to consider if this may be something worth investing in. I believe it is.


Note: It is not our intention to encourage anyone to give to this cause in lieu of supporting the ministries of your church.


If you feel led to contribute toward our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE

or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)


If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman atmenofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

March 2016 Update (Edition 78)

Great news from Kimukunda

The theme of last month's update was, “Hope is on the way!” Well, I am excited to report that, “Hope Has Arrived!” In less than four weeks from the time we sent the funds for the first phase of the water project in this community, the leadership team from Glory Center Church has been able to complete installation of the four 10,000-liter rain-water harvest systems. Compared to the length of time it took to complete our three previous projects, this is extremely impressive. While this project is much more basic than the others that we have funded, it is substantially less expensive and it will sufficiently provide safe drinking water to a people who have struggled for generations to get any quality of water at all.


Earning the right to be heard

What we have hoped and prayed would result from this project is happening. By providing access to clean, safe drinking water in the name of Christ the door is being opened much wider for the gospel to be heard, understood and accepted. Franklin Graham speaks about this same evangelistic passion that we have in his book, Rebel With A Cause.

He says on page 187 (A few words have been omitted for the sake of brevity): I personally believe that when we respond as Christians to [the various needs of suffering people,] we earn a hearing for Christ. When people are down and out – whatever their circumstances – and we stop and help, they will listen to what we have to say. We have earned their respect. I want to take advantage of such opportunities to do everything I can to clearly, convincingly present Jesus Christ and His claims.

Some people who hear this object: “That's not fair, Franklin. You shouldn't take advantage of people in their weakness!”

I answer that I would never take advantage of them for personal gain. But you better believe I will take advantage of every opportunity to reach them with the gospel message that can save them from the flames of hell.

If we provide suffering people with [only physical help] and then walk away, what have we really done? They will probably still [have more physical needs]tomorrow. The greatest thing I can do is introduce them to Jesus Christ. Then they will have real hope to deal with the often difficult and tragic realities of life.”

This is exactly the same intent and commitment we share with Glory Center Church: to fully leverage the water project for the Kingdom of God. Along with them, we make no apology for this. This is carrying out the great commission! While all of us cannot go into all the world, we can certainly partner, in various ways, with those who are struggling to do what they can with what little resources they have. We have been receiving exciting stories and reports on how this water project is already having a tremendous impact even before clean water has begun to flow in Kimukunda.

THE SHOUTS OF JOY: KIMUKUNDA WATER HARVEST PROJECT REPORT (Phase 1)

Here is just a portion of a recent report we received from Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator, Glory Center Church, Ndejje, Uganda: (See attachment for full report)

Prossy writes, Hallelujah to the Lamb of God, my heart and whole of my life is extremely filled up with shouts of joy to the King who Reigns forever and ever ore. I am very happy to inform you that installation of the first four of the ten proposed water-harvest systems in Kimukunda were finished on the 22nd day of February, 2016.
It is my prayer for God to bless the Men of Willow and all people who have given for this project.
Proverbs 29:2 says:“When the righteous are in authority, people rejoice but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (KJV).
Brethren, I thank God that the rule of wickedness in the community of Kimukunda has been thrown down through water-harvest project. Men of Willow and all the friends who have sponsored this water project, I know you may find it difficult to comprehend just how much of an effect this project is having in this community. But please try to understand this: The devil’s wickedness is being put down and now the atmosphere is full of rejoicing and exaltation’s of what the Almighty God has done.
I was told that the people, not just the born-again (evangelical) Christians, but also others, like those who are well known to abuse (drugs, alcohol, physical and sexual abuse) and those who have refused to believe in God are now turning their words into shouts of joy to God, glorifying Him with their own words (I have also witnessed this), thanking the righteous God for bringing such a big blessing in their community.

The Kimukunda community, apart from having the problem of water, has been dominated by witchcraft and pagan beliefs and practices with only a few born-again believers. These people have been suffering for years with the problem of water before God (through His Son Jesus) came in to intervene in the community through this project. The church has had limited impact and voice in the community. However, as I write this, people are rejoicing, respecting the gospel of Christ, and the Kingdom of God is now in control and expanding with the shouts of joy. God’s people are now given authority to overcome the evil in this community just as it is written in Luke 10:19.

Friends, the stumbling block for the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was broken and is still being broken by your kindness in giving towards this project and the glory of God is being manifested in Kimukunda. Everywhere we went, the talk of the day was about the water project. All is good and continuing to be good in Kimukunda because of the water harvest project. I fear to think how it would have been if the vision of giving water to this community was not taken on!

PROSSY KAITESI In Love with Jesus My Good Shepherd, Ministering @
Glory Center Church Planting Ministries Ndejje Branch

After reading this great report I was reminded so much of this song written by Martin luther, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Here is an updatedversion:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNeP7bGagqg

Matching gift offer

While phase 1 of this project has been successfully completed, we need an additional $15,000 to build the remaining six rain-water harvest systems. (This project is designed to provide clean water to a community of more than 4,500 people.) In order to help us reach this goal, one of our guys has generously offered to match every contribution up to $2,000. Additionally, his employer will match what he gives. So for every dollar we give, two more will be added to it. If all of us together would give as much as $2,000, it would amount to $6,000. That would leave us with a balance of $9,000 to raise, which is still a big gap to fill. But God has demonstrated to us over and over again that if we just make the need known, keep people informed of how God is changing lives through our obedience to Him, and keep praying and trusting Him to supply us with the resources to give, then we can rest in the hope that Paul had in the faithful believers of his day when he wrote these words to them, There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Phil.1:6 (The Message) Obviously, the promise of this verse goes way beyond our water project, but I sincerely believe that it is well a part of His overall plan. I don't know when or how He will do it, or all those that He will do it through. But I want to extend an invitation to you to consider if this may be something worth investing in.

If you feel led to contribute toward our fourth water project, you can do so online by clicking here: DONATE

or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman atmenofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com



Report fro Kimunkunda water project


















Men of Willow Water Project

February 2016 Update (Edition 77)

Hope is on the way!

These words bring comfort and reassurance to those who find themselves in distress. The people of Kimukunda, (pronounced Chimukunda) Uganda, have suffered for generations due to the lack of safe drinking water. Many have had to walk very long distances to fill their water containers with filthy, contaminated water that you and I would not put our feet in, let alone drink. Even in the very few places where they have a well, people (mostly children and elderly women) must wait their turn in long lines to pump water – water that is not free of bacteria or other things. It takes every ounce of energy they have to laboriously operate the hand pump. They then have the difficult task of hauling the water back home (a full jerry can of water weighs about 40 lbs.) Then there are those times, that happen all too frequently: the water runs out before everyone has had a chance to fill their containers.

So imagine the joy and excitement when a delegation from Glory Center Church met with community officials and residents recently to announce that help is really on the way. No more political rhetoric with another promise, howbeit with good intention, but ultimately producing no results. This time will be different. This time the promise will be fulfilled. Help is on the way thanks to all who have responded to the promptings of the Spirit to meet the needs of those who thirst.

Here are a few examples from a recent report we received that describes how these people are gratefully responding to news of the coming water project:

Mr. Kizito Lataaya, a community leader, stood up in our meeting with tears in his eyes, praising God and thanking Glory Center Church and their partners, Men of Willow, for doing such a good work to bring clean water to this community. He went on to say, “We have struggled for years with this problem. During the dry season we had to buy water which was very expensive and many people could not afford it. This is truly an answer to prayer.”

While visiting in the home of Pr. Margret Nalogona, she exclaimed with great joy, “May God reward the people who were moved to bring water to this community. Our families have been suffering from sickness and disease by drinking contaminated water.” She then got a jerry can that contained water and poured it in a basin. I was shocked to see the muddy water. She then said, “Long live Men of Willow. This is a true demonstration of their faith to provide water in this community.”

I am surely convinced that Kimukunda will not remain the same way we found it. The gospel is already being preached much more than before. The people are giving praise and thanks to God and for His church. We have actually heard some of the people say, “If it was not for this church [our branch in Kimukunda] we would not have got this chance. However, glory is to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who has made this to come true.

Composed by Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator of Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

As I read those words I was reminded of that day in October 2011 when Bob Mohn and I visited this church. We had just seen the only two sources of water they had for miles around... nothing more than open pits containing greenish muddy water. We were overwhelmed by their need for clean water and told the congregation that we would like to be able to help them get it. But there were many obstacles in the way and many other places that were also in desperate need for water. We did not know if or how much more our people would give to help other people who they may never meet this side of heaven, who live in conditions we can hardly imagine, and in places we would not even care to visit. But God put a burden on our hearts for these people that are dear to His heart – and many of you have shared this burden and have become an answer to prayer, and an instrument of God's grace. This is the truth and I can still hear the words as we looked into their eyes and said, in essence: “We have seen and understand that you are in desperate need for clean water. We can make no promises, but we urge you to ask God to provide a way, and we will do the same.”

Now, we can rejoice together with the people of Kimukunda that God has begun answered their prayers and ours. But we still have a ways to go. While the total cost of this project is $25,000, we have transferred the $10,000 that has been raised so far to our partners in Uganda so they can install the first four of the ten rain-water harvest systems that will be strategically located throughout the 72-square-mile area that comprises the community of Kimukunda.

You may have noticed that have I used the phrase, “Help is on the way” a few times, but in the title of this update I chose to use the phrase, “Hope” is on the way! Both phrases are a vital part of what these water projects provide. In addition to distributing clean water, the tap operators are trained and committed to passionately share the gospel with all who come. Having their physical needs met people are more open to believing and accepting the hope that only Jesus offers. When they wonder and ask why some people from the United States would care enough to help bring clean water to their community the answer comes: “This is what people do whose lives have been transformed by the only true God who loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We, who have received the gift of God's amazing grace, have been given the awesome privilege to share with others from the abundance of what He has given us, both in material and spiritual resources. Reflect on these words in Ephesians 2:10 and consider what God has done, is doing and what He may want to continue doing through us as we exchange our plans for His: “It is God himself who has made us what we and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.” (TLB)

In light of this truth, I think how appropriate it would be for each of us to make a prayer like this our very own.

“O Lord, what an amazing opportunity you have spread out before me – a chance to make a difference for you in a desperately hurting world. Help me to see the needs you want me to see, to react in a way that honors you, and to bless others by serving them gladly with practical expressions of your love. Help me to be Jesus' hands and feet, and through your Spirit give me the strength and wisdom I need to fulfill your plan for me in my own generation. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.” (Taken from the book, Out Live Your Life, by Max Lucado)

If you feel led to contribute toward our fourth water project, you can do so online at:

http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/ or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

January 2016 Update (Edition 76)

The following are two thank you notes we received from our friends in Africa.

 

New Year's greetings from Glory Center Church, Uganda

Please extend my greetings to all the Men of Willow. Tell them how much I admire and long to meet them and how appreciative I am for what they do in helping us to keep God's work moving forward. God helping us, we will continue to bring hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved ones and sharing motherly and fatherly love to vulnerable children.
I WISH ALL OF YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016. MAY IT BE A YEAR OF ABUNDANCY!!

Charles Kwagala, Sr. Pastor @ Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

I want to wish you all a happy new year 2016.
I do want to appreciate you for all your kindness to us through 2015.
Please send my sincere thanks to all the Men of Willow.
I wish all of you the best year of abundance.
With all my heart I appreciate you so much for loving us and I want to let you know that we surely love you with all our hearts. God bless you more with many years.
Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator @ Glory Center Church Planting Ministries

A Year of Abundance

These are the wishes our friends in Uganda have for us. But, it is also what they hope and pray for their own families and neighbors to have. What this actually means for us and for them is quite different. For many of them, abundance would be considered as having a place to call home, more than one meal a day, a pair of shoes and some clothes that fit and are not worn out, and a sufficient amount of clean water. Anything beyond that might be considered extravagant.

 

If we could only provide our families with the very basic necessities of life, I don't think we would consider it abundant living. By sharing some of the abundant resources God has given us, we have and can make a big difference in the lives of those less fortunate than us. If you have been keeping up with these monthly updates, you are aware of the various ways we have partnered with our friends in Uganda to, as Pastor Charles has stated, “helping us to keep God's work moving forward. God helping us, we will continue to bring hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved ones and sharing motherly and fatherly love to vulnerable children.”

 

Water Project #4

A big part of our efforts has been in helping to provide clean water to three communities. We are prayerfully optimistic that construction can begin on our fourth water project by April 1st. The project will cost $25,000. We began the month of December with about $5,000 and ended the month with $10,587, leaving a balance needed to fully fund this project of $14,413.

 

We praise and thank God for each and everyone who has given toward this great need. Our prayer is that God will move in the hearts of those whom He wants to give for this much needed cause. Our prayer is that many more will join us. Regardless of the amount you are able to give, by many of us joining together, we can turn this dream into a reality. God can use us to answer the prayers of those who thirst.

 

I cannot close this update without pointing out that there is another aspect of “abundance” that goes beyond providing the material and physical needs. I think you know what that is. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they (you) may have life, and that they (you) may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV) Additionally, 1Peter1;3-9 gives us a more detailed description of what the abundant life is all about:

 

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him – with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation. (The Message)

This is what motivates us to continue our partnership with Glory Center Church; each of their various ministries in which we have invested is committed to not only provide help in this life, but hope for the next. In this, I am reminded of a song that well describes the recipe for abundant living.

It is customary to begin each year by making New Year's resolutions (most of which are short lived.)

As you consider the words to this song, “Jesus at The Center of It All,” perhaps it can be a resolution worth our striving (by God's help) to keep.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8HOOfTXmlg

 

If you feel led to contribute toward our fourth water project, you can do so online at:

http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/ or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

(Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.)

 

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com


more than ten thousand people – we believe that there are other options whereby we can meet the needs of even more people at a lower cost.

In the nearly six years that we have been involved in raising funds for water projects, we have learned a lot (and we keep on learning). We have closely followed the progress and positive impact that our water projects are having in each community. We have seen how these systems are making a big difference in the quality of life by bringing safe drinking water into the community, eliminating the need for women and children to walk long distances to fetch water that is highly contaminated. (This is a task that requires time, time that could be put to more productive use, such as school for the children and working for the adult. Without an education or time to make an income, these people are stuck with just trying to survive from day to day, without much hope for a better way of life.)

Along with making a big difference in their physical lives, those who come for clean drinking water, like the women at the well in the seventh chapter of John, are introduced to Jesus, the living water. This has been our objective from the beginning. By staying in touch with the communities where these projects have been located, we have been able to build an ongoing relationship with them and pass on reports to you about lives being changed through power of God.

We praise and thank God for giving us the privilege to serve as agents of His amazing grace and we believe that there is at least one more place He wants to use us in bringing safe drinking water where it is desperately needed: Kimukunda.            (pronounced Chimukunda), a remote area about 120 miles southwest of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

Kimukunda's source of water is two filthy, contaminated water holes (pictures available upon request). The images of people filling their water containers from them has been etched in my mind ever since I visited there in 2011. This is where we wanted to put our third water project, but there were several issues that prevented Water Missions International (our partner at that time) from putting a water system in that community. Since then we have come to understand that there is a variety of solutions to providing clean water, and that the most sophisticated and expensive system is not always the best answer.

In this case and in this location, where the average annual rainfall is more than 60 inches, we have been presented with a plan to utilize a rainwater harvesting system. No fancy bells or whistles, no expensive pumps, solar panels or well drilling, but simply collecting water from the sky.

Now for the details

The proposed plan is to install ten water tanks throughout the village. Each tank will hold 10,000 liters of water, so the total water supply will be 100,000 liters of water to serve a community of 4,500 people. The tanks will be installed on a concrete foundation next to buildings with a large roof surface. A gutter system will divert rainwater into the storage tanks. Screens will prevent debris from entering the tanks. The water will then be chemically treated. Government health officials will train operators and monitor the water quality. During the dry season, or whenever rainfall is insufficient, water will be purchased and trucked in from a nearby town to keep the tanks full. Once the project has been fully funded, it will be self-sustaining by selling water at a very affordable cost. A vital part of this plan, as well as our other projects, is evangelism. So, at each of the ten water tanks, a trained evangelist will distribute the water and share the gospel with all who come.

This project will be administered by a Safe Water Committee comprised of born-again believers from the Kimukunda community. The committee will be accountable to our partner, Glory Center Church, who in turn will be accountable to us. The budget for this project is $25,000, which is far less than the cost of our last project that serves three adjoining villages with a total population of 3,000 people. The rainwater-harvesting plan is a simple, but more-than-adequate solution to the water needs in Kimukunda. As we have seen with our first three water projects, we expect to see a vibrant growth in the local churches in this community by opening a door of opportunity for them to share the gospel through the tangible gift of clean water.

In previous updates, I have quoted and referred to a statement made by pastor Bill Hybels: “The Message of Jesus Christ is the only power on planet Earth that can radically and permanently change the composition of a human heart. Because God entrusted that message to his church to steward and to proclaim to the four corners of the world, that means ...the local church is the hope of the world.”

Another statement that Bill has made is this: “There is nothing like the church when the church is working right.” Glory Center Church in Uganda is a great example of what these statements really looks like in action. (I could go into great detail to explain why this is true, but I will save that for another update.) Suffice it to say, Glory Center Church and its members have well earned our respect and confidence in their commitment and ability to manage our fourth water project.

If you feel led to contribute toward this project you can do so online at:

http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/ or mail a check to:

The Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com

or visit our website at http://www.menofwillow.com/