Archive (2009 - 2015)

Contents

  1. 1 December 2015 update (Edition 75)
  2. 2 November 2015 update (Edition 74)
  3. 3 October 2015 update (Edition 73)
  4. 4 September 2015 update (Edition 72)
  5. 5 August 2015 Update (Edition 71)
  6. 6 July 2015 Update (Edition 70)
  7. 7 June 2015 Update (Edition 69)
  8. 8 May 2015 Update (Edition 68)
  9. 9 April 2015 Update (Edition 67)
  10. 10 March 2015 Update (Edition 66)
  11. 11 February 2015 Update (Edition 65)
  12. 12 January 2015 Update (Edition 64)
  13. 13 December 2014 Update (Edition 63)
  14. 14 November 2014 update (Edition 62)
  15. 15 October 2014 update (Edition 61)
  16. 16 September 2014 update
  17. 17 August 2014 Update (Edition 59)
  18. 18 July 2014 Update (Edition 58)
  19. 19 June 2014 Update (Edition 57)
  20. 20 May 2014 Update (Edition 56)
  21. 21 April 2014 Update (Edition 55)
  22. 22 March 2014 Update (Edition 54)
  23. 23 February 2014 Update (Edition 53)
  24. 24 January 2014 Update (Edition 52)
  25. 25 December 2013 Update (Edition 51)
  26. 26 November 2013 Update (Edition 50)
  27. 27 October 2013 Update (Edition 49)
  28. 28 September 2013 update
  29. 29 August 2013 Update (Edition 47)
  30. 30 July 2013 Update (Edition #46)
  31. 31 June 2013 Update (Edition #45)
  32. 32 May 2013 Update (Edition #44)
  33. 33 April 2013 Update (Edition #43)
  34. 34 March 2013 Update
  35. 35 February 2013 Update
  36. 36 January 2013 Update
  37. 37 December 2012 Update
  38. 38 November 2012 Update
  39. 39 October 2012 Update
  40. 40 September 2012 Update
  41. 41 August 2012 Update
  42. 42 July 2012 Update
  43. 43 June 2012 Update
  44. 44 May 2012 Update
  45. 45 April 2012 Update
  46. 46 March 2012 Update
  47. 47 February 2012 Update
  48. 48 January 2012 Update
  49. 49 December 2011 Update
  50. 50 November 2011 Update
  51. 51 October 2011 Update
  52. 52 September 2011 Update
  53. 53 August 2011 Update
  54. 54 July 2011 Update
  55. 55 June 2011 Update
  56. 56 May 2011 Update
  57. 57 April 2011 Update
  58. 58 March 2011 Update
  59. 59 February 2011 Update
  60. 60 January 2011 Update
  61. 61 December 2010 Update
  62. 62 November 2010 Update
  63. 63 October 2010 Updates
  64. 64 September 20, 2010
  65. 65 August 2010 update
  66. 66 July 2010 Update
  67. 67 June 2010 Update
  68. 68 May 2010 Update
  69. 69 April 2010 Update
  70. 70 March 2010 Update
  71. 71 February 2010 Update
  72. 72 January 2010
  73. 73 December 2009 Update #2
  74. 74 December 2009 Update #1
  75. 75 November 2009 Update
  76. 76 October 2009 Update
  77. 77 September 2009


Men of Willow Water Project

December 2015 update (Edition 75)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,


How far should we go?


I wonder if this question came up among the Magi during their long, arduous journey as they followed the star that would eventually lead them to the Messiah. And when they finally found him, they were filled with joy, bowed down and worshiped him, and presented him with gifts befitting a king. The Message version of Matt. 2:10 says, “They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!” Along the way, they may have had some doubts, uncertainty, weariness and fears, but these feelings were all replaced with overwhelming joy when they came face to face with the one they had traveled so far to see.

How far should we go? How long should we continue to care for the needs of people in far-away places like Africa? How many more times should we present the opportunity to be God's answer to the prayers and cries of those who struggle to just survive one more day because they lack access to clean water?


I know this question has occurred in my mind, and I suppose a few others as we continue on this journey that has taken us so much farther than we could have ever imagined. Wouldn't one water project have been enough? Who would have criticized us if we stopped at just one? In light of all the additional ministries we have had the privilege to be a part through our partnership with Glory Center Church since that first water system went into service, I shudder to think of all we would have missed, what blessings would have gone unclaimed, what needs would have been unmet, what praises and thanksgivings to God would have gone unspoken and what prayers would have been unanswered if we said “One is enough.” Yes, God could have used someone else, but he chose to give us the opportunity to demonstrate his love to some folks in Uganda.


So, how far should we go? How much longer? I do not know. What I do know is this: There is great joy when you find yourself, as did the Magi, in the right place and the right time, doing the right thing for the right reason. Remember these words of Jesus: Whatever you did [do] for one of the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did [do] for me.” Matt. 25:40 (NIV)


As we reflect on how much God has, and is doing through our “yeses” to his leading which is “far more than we could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” Ephesians 3:20 (The Message) how can we not be open and available to be used for more and more of that which has eternal value, that which brings glory and honor to our King.


I don't know what the Magi knew back then about Jesus or what compelled them to go to such great lengths to find “the one who has been born king of the Jews.” Matt. 2:2 (NIV)

We know him more intimately as Savior. If the Magi back then felt compelled to give gifts in expression of worship, how much more should we respond knowing all that Christ has done for us.

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they [you] may have life, and that they [you] may have it more abundantly.” As believers in Christ, we have received the greatest of all gifts. Now, it is our privilege to pass it on to others. There are a multitude of ways we can and should do this. Many of us have already joined together to bring hope and help to two other communities in Uganda. In addition to funding three water projects, we have also helped the church complete a school house along with the sponsorship of ten of the poorest children in the community to attend. This is coupled with a micro-enterprise poultry business whose profits will begin supporting the school within the next two years, making it self-sustaining and non-dependent on outside financial support. When we recently heard that nearly 120 children who were attending Sunday School at Glory Center Church were suffering from malnutrition, people gave generously to meet this need on an ongoing basis. 

(I have included several attachments from last month's update that give more details on what we have been.)

Uganda

Ndejje

Porridge Project


Having listed, what some may consider accomplishments (we dare not take credit for what God has graciously enabled us to do), the question may be posed, “When will we be done asking people to give for this need or that?” My answer is, “I don't know.” I know that at this time of the year we are bombarded with requests to help worthy and needy causes with our financial resources. I just ask that you prayerfully consider what God would like you to do. (We encourage you to support your church first before giving this cause.)


Water Project #4


As of this date we have $5,117 toward our goal of $25,000 to fully fund our fourth water project.

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


I want to wish you and your loved ones a joyful, Christ-centered Christmas.


Men of Willow Water Project

November 2015 update (Edition 74)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,
Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at
http://menofwillow.com


When I reflect back just over the past several months on how God's people are generously and compassionately responding to the needs of those less fortunate, I am reminded of the these words from an old patriotic hymn; “Our God is marching on.”

Have ever watched, listen to or read the news reports and found yourself wondering if there is any good news stories to be told. Well, if you attended Willow's 40th anniversary at the United Center on October 18th you heard a lot of “good news”stories. In addition to those that were highlighted, I imagine there are an infinite number of other stories we could share with each other how God's amazing grace has touched and changed multitudes of lives... and the stories continue to be written on our hearts and heaven's journals.

Regardless of all the bad news we here and the rampant evils around the world, we can be encouraged if we really believe these words of Jesus: “... I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.Matt.16:18b (NLT) “...I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NLT) No matter how grim today's headlines are, we can be assured that “Our God is marching on.”

Those of us who have experienced God's saving grace can not only be assured of a future filled with hope (that the world promises but is unable to fulfill), but we have the wonderful privilege to be agents of God's grace giving help and hope to others.


Attached to this update are several recent examples of “good news” stories that are a result of our obedience to God's leading and through our partnership with Glory Center Church in Uganda.

Another good news story in the making

If you have kept up with these updates you are aware that we are in the process of raising funds for our fourth water project. We have received $5,000 toward the $25,000 needed to bring clean water and the gospel message to a community of 4,500 people. When I visited this area of Uganda in 2011 I was appalled to see the only source of water was from two mudholes. The vision of people scooping water out of these pits haunts me to this day. It is within our reach to bring hope to these people, but only if many of us join together.

For more details on this project go to: http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-June-2015-Update-Edition-69-

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/


Good News 1

Good News 2

Good News 3


Men of Willow Water Project

October 2015 update (Edition 73)

Dear friends,

It was a short six years ago when God led us to begin raising funds for what we thought would be just one water project. If you have been following our story, you know that was just the beginning to an incredible journey that continues to be unveiled as we are learning to look and listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

Attached is a flyer that briefly describes what has been accomplished up to this point, and what we hope to accomplish in the coming months. During this month and next, members of the team will be revisiting some of the various groups that have participated in this endeavor since we began in 2009.

Every once in a while a song comes along that deeply impacts us. Although it is not a new song, I heard it for the first time last weekend at Willow. Since then I have watched the video and carefully listened to the words many times on YouTube. I wish I had the time and ability to produce our own video version with this song – one incorporating the many pictures we have of the people's lives that have been positively affected by the work we have been supporting in Uganda. But since I can't, I ask you to try to use your imagination as you watch this video of Tommy Walker's song, “We Will Remember.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzoxsxsIMCE

I hope this song inspires you, as it has me, to remember what God has done and to faithfully keep our minds and hearts open to whatever He wants to do in each of our lives in whatever time we have left in this life. May the words of PS.90:12 be our daily prayer. “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.” (TLB)

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

September 2015 update (Edition 72)

Six-Year Anniversary Edition

As I look back over the past six years and reflect upon this Journey the God has led us on, I am so thankful that He did not allow us to ignore His whispers. We have experienced the truth of what Paul states in Ephesians3:20:

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, thought or hopes.” (TLB)

What began as a hesitant response to an uncertain whisper has yielded: three (3) water-purification projects, making clean water available to nearly 10,000 people with the Gospel being presented to all who come for the water; construction of a school, along with sponsorship's for 10 of the poorest  children enrolled, as well as a poultry project, whose profits we hope will make the school self-supporting within the next two years.

From a purely secular perspective, one may mistakenly attribute these as accomplishments of human effort – nice people doing good things. But the reality is that these are the results of lives changed by a gracious, loving God – flawed, self-centered people being transformed, not by self-effort or good intention, but by the supernatural work of God's Spirit within them. This truth, expressed in Ephesians 2:8-10, is the only viable explanation for what we have had the high privilege to be a part of.

Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. 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)


The Story Behind The Story

At first glance one might see this as a story of what God has accomplished through us. But a deeper investigation will reveal what God has done in us. Herein lies the dynamic that has made the “doing” possible. I am coming to understand that the story behind the story is relationship building. I could spend a long time and go into great detail about this, but for now, I will keep my explanations brief.

First, is our relationship with God. Being and growing in our personal relationship with Jesus is first and foremost. If you are still reading this update it is highly unlikely that you would not wholeheartedly agree with that statement. But, truth be know, it is very easy to become so busy doing things for God, that we don't have time to really pursue our relationship with God. This journey into the unknown has stretched my faith and forced me (and I believe quite a few others) to grow deeper in our relationship with God. I believe that the work we are involved in here did not come from the mind of men, but from the heart of God. I commend all those who devote time and resources to helping others. But for us, we seek no commendation, for we adhere to the Biblical view that, “Good Works” are those works that have their origin in Jesus Christ. We recognize and affirm that apart from God's power there would be no story here to tell.

Secondly, is the relationship that has developed among supporters from the various groups and individuals that, for lack of a better name, we call “Men of Willow,” (for more information go to http://www.menofwillow.com/our-sto)

I continue to be amazed whenever someone makes a contribution to support the various projects we have presented. I know there are a lot demands on our limited resources and many worthy causes that ask for our support. So, whenever someone decides to make a contribution, more than anything else, I see it as a response to God's Spirit moving within them. Without the participation of those who have supported this ministry, both in prayer and financial contributions, there would be no story here to tell.

Thirdly, is the relationship that has unfolded with our friends in Uganda. Some may mistakenly think that this relationship exists strictly on the basis of what we can do for them. I cannot, in a few sentences, adequately explain why this is not all the case here. We have been very careful to insure that our relationship is based on our common faith in Jesus Christ and the desire to know Him better and to make Him known, not on material things. (For more details see attached article that includes a letter from Pastor Charles Kwagala to Bill Hybels)

It is through our regular communications with Glory Center Church in Uganda that we get frequent reports on how the local church is flourishing despite great opposition and limited resources. Through these we hear about lives being transformed by the power of God. We have heard and seen how the water systems are not only meeting the physical needs of the people there, but has also open the door to share and illustrate God's love with many who otherwise would not be willing to even consider that such a God exists. If it wasn't for the communications and relationship that has grown between us, we would not have any idea what God is doing there through our response to Him here. We would not know of some of the needs that God wanted to use us to meet. Among these, are the recently funded porridge project and necessary upgrades in the water system in Ndejje.

Apart from the relationship that has developed between us and Glory Center Church there wouldn't be much of a story to tell on our side. It would have quickly been forgotten and things that should be done left up to others, or worse, left undone. Fortunately, the story continues and here are a few portions of several of the reports we received from them that describe the amazing things that God has given us the joy and privilege to be a part of.

Water harvest project; It was like a dream, but now has become real. It is a journey we have walked tirelessly and we have now reached our destination. Good news! This renovation project is now complete and clean water is once again flowing in Ndejje from Glory Center Church. I believe this is going to preach the gospel of Christ more than we can ever imagine in this changing Muslim community. I know very well that this is going to be a net drawing many to Christ because water is a big problem in Ndejje. Therefore, our having and supplying water here all the time will be a very big chance to preach the good news of Christ Jesus. God has used this project to create a bond relationship between our church and the community. It has greatly helped us to penetrate this place with the gospel of Christ. As pastor Charles has said, “This is a practical gospel”, which has helped many to better understand God's love for them.

Friends, I do not know if you have ever made a difference in the name of the Lord somewhere else ( by saying this I am not minimizing the work you have ever done) but I want you to know that you are making a difference here in Uganda.

May God continue to bless you as you endeavor to do the work of God.

From Kaitesi Prossy


Report on Porridge project

Children ministry: It is a great joy when I shared with children about the miracle God did through the men of willow. Having porridge every Sunday with snacks! Wooooooow!!! This is the only way I can explain how these children reacted with a loud shout of praise. My friends, children have already increased in number even before the start of this project. After speaking with them about the miracle, they also told other children about it. One of our Muslim neighbors sent their children to Sunday School and these children pledged to buy a bar of soap next Sunday to wash cups. We see this as their beginning on the way to salvation and it prompted some of the adults to begin sharing their story how they were brought to God.

Wow, it was a joyful moment as we heard many testimonies from different people. One of the testimonies that especially touched me, but also made me laugh was from Pr.Kyalisiima Charles. He is one of our pastors at G.C.C Ndejje and this was his way to salvation. He told me they organized a conference in his community for both children and adults. They prepared food everyday that they met. He was still young at that time so he was so much attracted with eats. He made sure he attended every day but purposely to get food. This was a means that led to his salvation and from then up to now he never turned back from following God . He accepted Jesus from that conference and he started to grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He is very useful in the kingdom of God now.

As he was sharing his testimony with me, he recalled his son’s testimony Kyalisiima Ezra. He told me that his son had refused to attend Sunday school, but a year back, we had introduced a program of giving popcorn to Sunday School children. After introducing this program, Ezra was attracted and came to Sunday school because of the popcorn, but even when the program was stopped Ezra had developed a desire to go to of Sunday School and now he does not miss.

Today you may never know what a cup of porridge and snacks could do in this young generation of tomorrow, but it may be a net to draw them into the church of Christ tomorrow.


Report from teacher Faith of Sunday school

Wow!! God is never too early nor too late! But ALWAYS ON TIME! After a long time praying, God has answered us! I cannot forget the Sunday when I was in the middle of the Bible lesson when a group of five children fell asleep, and afterward they walked away because of hunger. I felt like, “oh my God! Can’t we really do anything for these young children?” The lesson seemed confused and meaningless to them. Their lack of nourishment was taking its toll on them. But now on this Sunday 2nd August 2015 is a very remarkable day in the children’s ministry. We were overwhelmed with joy and excitement as we saw how much the children enjoyed the food, and they were quickly joined by the smaller children who normally stayed with their mothers and fathers in church.

After the meal, a question was posed: “who will bring us soap for washing the cups?” I got more than four volunteers - amazingly a child from one of our Muslim neighbors promised to help! Then I asked, “Who will fetch water?” Like 15 put up their hands. I went on to ask, “Now who is going to help with washing utensils?” Seven of them raised their hands! The day was wow! And no stone was left unturned, everything was left tidy.

In due course, many other children will come. In addition, teacher has gained much trust in children for not making empty promises. Thank you donors! We see this is as a seed project that will produce much fruit.

Teacher Faith Kwagala


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/


Letter from Pastor


Men of Willow Water Project

August 2015 Update (Edition 71)

Whenever we ask people to consider making a contribution to provide safe drinking water or any other need, we take the responsibility to use that which you entrust to us very seriously. While we have a high degree of confidence in the honesty, integrity and competence in our ministry partner in Uganda, we continue to endeavor to maintain a relationship where accountability is a priority.

Of the many things that impress and encourages me to support this vibrant group of believers are these:

Their Mission Statement (based on James 2):

To reach to the outermost parts of the world with the glorious Gospel of the kingdom of God, particularly giving: Hope to the hopeless, Love to the unloved ones, and giving motherly and fatherly love to the vulnerable children. We believe by doing so, communities will be changed to the Glory of the Lord.”

Their courage and trust in God to build a church in a predominately Muslim community. I think these words from the Apostle Paul are very similar to the attitude and experience of Pastor Charles Kwagala and the founding members of Glory Center Church as God led them to bring the message of Jesus Christ into unwelcome, hostile territory:

...our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery. For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” 1Thessalonians 2: 2b-4 (NLT)

When we reflect back over the past six years and see how we have been given the awesome privilege of partnering with these wonderful devoted followers of Christ in Uganda, there is little doubt in my mind that it is God who has brought us together for such a time as this, and he isn't done with us yet. There is more to come.

Current Projects

There are 3 projects or needs that we have been focusing on for the past several months.

1. Upgrade the water system at Glory Center Church in Ndejje. Thanks to those who God led to contribute the needed $7,900 for this project. The work has been completed and clean water is flowing once again in this community.

2. Fund our fourth water project in Kimukunda. We are currently in the process of raising $25,000 for a rainwater harvesting system which will provide safe drinking water for a community of 4,500 people.

3. Provide breakfast for the nearly 120 children who attend Sunday School at Glory Center Church. Last month we became aware that many children come to church on an empty stomach. We learned that a modest breakfast of porridge for up to 120 children would only cost $12.00 per Sunday. When we presented the need and an opportunity to do something about, people responded. Enough money was donated last month to cover the nine Sundays in August and September. As I stated in last month's update, “Who knows what impact this may have on their young lives as they not only hear about Jesus' love for them, but taste it also.” (see pictures) This is an ongoing need that we hope to continue supporting.

If you feel led to contribute toward the water project or provide a breakfast for the Sunday School children 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

July 2015 Update (Edition 70)

Is this a wise investment?

This is a good question we should all ask ourselves before deciding how we should expend our resources. This is a question that we carefully consider before taking on another project and asking people to contribute. There are several factors we consider. Number one is, “Will this promote the Kingdom of God?” That is, will it strengthen the local church, share the gospel, minister to those in need in the name of Christ,etc. A second factor is this: “ Does this project have the potential of becoming self-sustaining?” We don't want to create a sense of dependency. Thirdly, has the ministry partner displayed competence, integrity and accountability? Simply put, can they be trusted?

Over the course of the nearly six years that we have been associated with Glory Center Church, we have found the church and its leaders to be well qualified, trustworthy and fully committed to leverage the resources we have given them to demonstrate the love of Christ in word and deed in a dark and difficult place. I am proud (in a humble way) to be associated with this church. It would take many pages to describe all the attributes of Glory Center Church and I wish you all could come with me when I plan to revisit them next year. (Perhaps this is something you may want to consider. I would be happy to speak with you about this.) But for now, let me try to give you a little insight into this church, beginning with its pastor.

About the pastor

Charles Kwagala was born in 1979 in the Raikai District of Uganda. In 1986 the AIDS epidemic swept through the region, taking the lives of six of his siblings. At that time his aunt offered to take one of the remaining three children to live with her in Kampala. Desperate to save at least one child, The mother decided to send Charles.

His aunt showed him great love and introduced him to Jesus. As he grew in his faith, Charles became involved in various ministries, including music and open-air evangelism. He and some friends started a ministry collecting clothes for orphaned children back in his hometown. This opened the door for them to go into schools and preach the gospel. One night Charles had a dream that the Lord was calling him to begin a church. Unsure of what that really meant at this young stage of his life, he decided to enroll in Bible school. While he was there he met and fell in love with a young lady, whose name well describes everything about her, “Faith.”

Charles and Faith were married in 2000 following graduation. Shortly after that they were offered a job as foster parents in a children's home. Their life was good. They both had the security of a job, a place to stay and a degree of comfort. But God had much more in mind for them. Something not so comfortable and an uncertain future lie ahead of them. Like the first disciples, they were willing to follow Jesus, wherever he led them, no matter the cost. They would find out soon enough what that would be.

Several years went by before God rekindled a fire in Charles' heart to start a church. He sought counsel from his pastor who then ordained him and sent him on his way without much more than a “good luck, you'll need all you can get.” Not long after that the organization that ran the children's home folded, leaving Charles and Faith without a steady source of income and a place to live. Not only was their security gone, so was that of their twelve foster children. Their passion for the children was so strong that they were determined to somehow, someway take care of them. They began a program in this young church to help them raise these children. The name they chose – “Help One Save the Rest” –may seem strange to us, but it is derived from that childhood experience of Charles when his aunt offered to lessen the burden his widowed mother had of raising her three surviving children by taking one. Thus, enabling Charles mother to take better care of two children, instead of jeopardizing the lives of all three. Aided by this program, the twelve foster children have been able to go onto levels of higher education, including several who have earned degrees. All are living productive lives and serving the Lord in various ministries. The school we support, Glorious Academy, with its thirty students, fits within this program.

In Uganda, there are multitudes of orphaned and single-parent children, much of it due to the AIDS Epidemic. Pastor Charles, Faith and the devoted members of Glory Center Church, despite limited resources and with a little help from us, are doing a wonderful work in sharing the love of Christ with these precious, beautiful children. Ask anyone who has ever been there and they will tell you how these children will instantly capture your heart. (see pictures)

When our water system went into operation in 2010, church attendance there was about 250. Today, the attendance is more than 500. Approximately 120 children come for Sunday school, most of them with empty stomachs. It would only cost about $12.00 per Sunday to provide all one hundred twenty children with a bowl of porridge. I wonder if God may be tapping some of us on the shoulder, or our well-fed tummies, to fork over (pun intended) and provide a meal or two for these children. Who knows what impact this may have on their young lives as they not only hear about Jesus' love for them, but taste it also. Interested?

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion - how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. (1 John 3:17-19 (New Living Translation)

Up until this past year, Pastor Charles, Faith and their five children lived in the church office. Fortunately, they now are renting a small three-room house. Not much more room, but a little more privacy. Even though the church has grown in size, it is located in an under-resourced area where the jobs are scarce and wages minimal. As a result, the church is not able to pay their pastor a regular salary. While pastor Charles passionately and selflessly leads his church to fulfill the Great Commission, he struggles with his role as husband and father to provide for his family.

In 2 Cor 6:1-10 the Apostle Paul describes the hardships he, and those who traveled with him, experienced while endeavoring to spread the “Good News” of Jesus. Whenever I read that I think of the many others who, in various degrees, have and are experiencing hardships while following Jesus. I especially think of people like pastor Charles Kwagala when I read these words of Paul.

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. 2Cor.6:10



I count it a high privilege to be counted among those who have been given the opportunity to come alongside this humble, but Spirit-filled man who exemplifies what God can do with those who are willing to trust and obey Him – people whose faith and actions reflect the words of this song.

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It's time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jNJ59o4QgE

Well, I am running out of space here, so I hope to provide additional insights about our friends and ministry partners at Glory Center Church, Uganda in future updates.

Water Project #4

In last month's update I gave the details to this project. This and all other previous updates can be found on our Men of Willow website. (see below). The budget for this project, that will supply clean water to about 4,500 people is $25,000. We are about 15 per cent of the way there already.

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/




Men of Willow Water Project

June 2015 Update (Edition 69)

Good News

Funds have been raised and transferred to Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda, to make improvements to the water system there. Construction is currently underway and the system should be back in operation very soon. They have asked me to send their sincere thanks to all who have prayed and given to make this possible. (pictures available on request)

A down-to-earth solution (literally!)

Our first three water projects were quite sophisticated, which was reflected by the escalating cost of each successive project. There is little doubt that these were premiere solutions to the desperate need for safe drinking water in each of the three Ugandan villages. While we have no regrets with investing a large amount of money for these systems – currently serving 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/



Men of Willow Water Project

May 2015 Update (Edition 68)

Beyond all human explanation*

Some folks might think these words are a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to describing the recent response to our appeal for contributions to upgrade the water system in Ndejje, Uganda. Generous? Yes! Surprising? Yes! Amazing? Yes! But beyond all human explanation? I can see that slightly exceeding our goal of raising $7,900 in a little over two months time may not seem that extraordinary. But a closer look reveals a 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 “beyond all human explanation.”

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 to 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 words “beyond all human explanation” best describe 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)

This past weekend, May 3-4, 2015 Willow Creek Community Church concluded its tenth annual Celebration of Hope. The initiative, that we call Men of Willow Water Project was born out of this event six years ago. While our fund-raising and ministry efforts are independent from the church, our hearts beat in unison for the cause of Christ in meeting the needs of the poor while proclaiming the eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ. We encourage everyone to fully support their church and its various ministries. I am thankful to the leadership of WCCC, who encourage groups and individuals to be open and obedient to God's leading whether it be directly connected to a particular ministry of the church or as a separate Spirit-led initiative. Toward the end of last weekends message at Willow, Heather Larson quoted these words from the book Walking With The Poor that sum up well the theme of this month's update.

At the end of the day, any transformation, justice and peace will be because God made it so. We are not the authors of change, nor the primary actors. It is the action of God, the triune God who is ceaselessly at work in all of creation and in the hearts and minds of all human beings. (I believe God accomplishes His plans mostly through those who are willing to listen and obey him; the choice is ours to make.)



What's next?

Next month's update will include more specific details on our planned fourth water project. But let me just say this: The cost of this new project is $25,000. It will provide clean water to 4,500 people in Kimukunda, Uganda. 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.



*I discovered this phrase in a book that I highly recommend The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major W. Ian Thomas.


Men of Willow Water Project

April 2015 Update (Edition 67)

What on earth are we doing for heaven's sake?

Dear friends, as I gave thought to what I should say in this update, the words of Paul in Titus 3:8 kept coming back to me.

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (NIV)

I imagine that there have been more than a few assignments that God has had for me, that I either ignored, refused or just didn't recognize. Based on my track record, I suppose it won't be the last time that I fail to follow God's leading. I can't help but wonder what joys and blessings have missed; what adventures, what testimonies, what stories that will never be told; what prayers that won't be answered; what needs that won't be met, simply because you or I may have missed a sign, didn't answer the call or were oblivious to the Spirit's promptings, or even worse... just said no!

Then there are those times when we got it right, when we responded to God's leading and experienced what the Apostle Peter called, “unspeakable joy.” There is nothing that can compare, nothing more satisfying, nothing more fulfilling than being an instrument in our Master's hands. While the effect of our obedience will not be fully revealed until we all gather together in heaven, God often gives us partial views of His glorious plans in which He has graciously given us the opportunity to participate in.

Such is the case in our partnership with Glory Center Church. This journey God has allowed us to play a part in bringing clean water and in helping to expand God's Kingdom through the local churches in Uganda over the past five and a half years (and still going strong) has been an incredible adventure of faith, joy and blessings. I am so grateful that I/we did not miss out on this. Heaven only knows the full extent of the results of our obedience. We continue to get reports that describe how lives are being changed for eternity through the water projects and school we are supporting. God did and continues to do something extraordinary through flawed, feeble, ordinary folks like us. What an incredible privilege it is to be an agent of God's marvelous grace. (Attached is a partial report from the school in Ndejje, Uganda.)

You could be God's answer

In our desire to provide safe water for some more folks in Africa, we need to first raise $7,900 for upgrades to the water system in Ndejje. After this, we want to fund a fourth water project at a cost of $25,000 that will make clean water accessible to 4,500 people in Kimukunda, Uganda.


As I mentioned in the March update, one of our guys has generously offered to match our contributions dollar for dollar up to $5,000. His offer is good through the end of April. I want to take this opportunity to passionately invite you to help us succeed in this worthy cause. Some have already responded, but more contributors are needed. With the matching gift, the value of your contribution will be doubled. The impact will be invaluable as those who come for the physical water will be introduced to Jesus, the living water.

Your support, whether it be offering a prayer for God to move in the hearts of others, or in your own heart to give toward this goal (or both) could make not only a world of difference, but an eternal difference.

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.


PROGRESS REPORT FOR GLORIOUS ACADEMY AND CHILDREN OF HELP ONE AND SAVE THE REST

We, the staff and children of Glorious Academy send you warm greetings and appreciations for the endless work you are doing in us. We never depart from school without praying for God to bless you as you have blessed us.

This it to report to you that Glorious Academy Nursery and Primary School is progressing in a way we never expected; but humbly we glorify God for all people whom God has used to be weapons to fight ignorance in children of Ndejje. Many people are admiring our children; their way of speaking English and even their behaviors, physically and spiritually. This year (in fact this almost happens every term) we have received more guardians requesting their children to be added on the program of Help One And Save The Rest. Even though we can’t help all the children, but what I know, is that we shall continue by the grace of God, to help as many as possible with the little resources we have. We can’t do everything but we can do something, so with that something, we believe to bring a change even in homes of the unreached children.


We, the teachers of Glorious Academy, would love to send to you our warm appreciations to whoever has contributed for our salary, food program for our pupils, schools fees and everything else. This is having a very great impact in our lives.


Thank you so much,

Faith Kwagala, Director of Glorious Academy


Don, this is Prossy. I am very appreciative for the work you all are doing in these children. Whenever I get a change of watching them, I see a very great change in their lives since they joined Glorious Academy. Children are happy and healthy – you can tell the difference and it shows in their faces.

When I was still young studying in my village, I remember I yearned so much to study and acquire education but school fees was a problem for me. Almost every day teachers would send me out of class because of not paying school fees. I used to cry and sometimes I lost hope, but I will never forget a lady who told me, “don’t lose hope even if they chase you from school today. Just go back tomorrow”. This word encouraged me to always go back whenever they chased me out of class and teachers used to wonder what was wrong with me. A seed of encouragement was sown in me by this lady, even though she never gave me any money, but it was just a word of encouragement. I can’t imagine the seed you are sowing in these children. What I know is that this is digging a tap root deep down in their hearts and they are changing day by day. Your words of love and resources means a lot to this young generation.

Humbly send our thanks, appreciations and love to our donors. Thank you for loving us. God bless you so much.

On behalf of G.C.C ministries, Prossy


March 2015 Update (Edition 66)

Clean water is flowing?

Three times in the past five and a half years I have had the joy and privilege to make this announcement: “Today, clean water is flowing.” First in Ndejje on July 12, 2010, second in Kitende on February 15, 2013, and third in Kabawanga on November 20, 2014. Our hope is that these water projects will continue to operate for generations to come and that they will be self-sustaining. But sometimes, even with the best of plans, things don't always go as planned. This is the case for our first project in Ndejje.

The water system in Ndejje has had numerous interruptions due to various causes. The primary cause is that the water line has been cut multiple times. The line is buried in a trench and stretches about 5/8 of a mile from the water source to the filtration system located at the church. A large portion of the line travels along the road. During heavy rains, parts of the road washes away, exposing the line. Sometimes the line has been accidentally cut during road repairs. Other times, we suspect that the line may have been deliberately cut by those who oppose the church that administers the water system, even though this safe water has been available to everyone regardless of their particular beliefs. I remind you that Ndejje is predominately a Muslim community, and while the water project has been very instrumental in improving community relationships, there are still those who are hostile toward the church that boldly proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. This situation sounds similar to what Paul described in 1Cor.16:9: “There is a real opportunity here for great and worthwhile work, even though there are many opponents.” Good News Translation

To avoid these recurring interruptions and costly repairs, and to ensure that those who have come to depend on the availability of safe water for their families, Glory Center Church has proposed a plan at our request. This involves developing a water source next to the church, adding a 10,000 liter clean- water storage tank and replacing the four-year-old batteries that are used to power the lights and sound system at the church. These batteries are recharged through the solar panels that operate the water system. Water from this upgraded system will be sold at a very modest fee (to cover any future maintenance expenses), thus ensuring its continuing operation. Once these improvements have been implemented, there should be no more need for outside financial support for this water system.

The cost for this upgrade is $7900. After completing this work, we hope to raise an additional $25,000 for our fourth water project, to be located in Kimukunda, Uganda.

Matching gift challenge

One of our guys has generously offered to match our contributions dollar for dollar up to $5,000. His offer is good through April 30. This is a great opportunity to double the value of our contributions and enable us to provide clean water for those who thirst. Remember Jesus words, “truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

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, S.C. 29466

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


Looking for assurance?

I love to hear, and also share stories about people's lives being changed by the power of God. These stories are often born out of painful or difficult circumstances. Acts 11:19-23 describes how the gospel was being spread because of persecution. When they heard about this back in Jerusalem, leaders sent Barnabas to Antioch to go check it out. Vs. 23 says, “When he arrived he saw evidence of the grace of God.”


We take the responsibility of using the contributions that have been entrusted to us very seriously.

We hold accountability as a high priority to our donors and from the ministries we support. One way we do this is to always be looking for “evidence of the grace of God” at work in these projects. The following is from a report that we received from our partners in Uganda. I hope this will serve as a confirmation to those who have already given and to those who might consider contributing to this cause, that your gifts are, and will have an eternal impact in the lives of people for whom Jesus gave His life on the cross.


One young man, whose name is Peter Kizza, who joined the Kitende Church [this is where our second water system is located] was going through a very difficult situation because he lost one of his legs to cancer. He joined the church and was given work of being a tap attendant. [water distribution operator]. God has used this young man in an amazing way.


Through him God has brought other young men and women to church and they are now joining ministries. At the beginning of February, he gathered a group of young people, some of which were drug addicts, into a football [soccer] team.


They came and played with the team of G.C.C. Ndejje. They had no shoes or uniforms of their own, but the joy of the Lord was shining on their faces because of the acceptance they received from the church and this team is growing. The Kitende Church has more life now than it did before because of these young people. This is a church you would admire to visit.


Peter is now the youth leader at Kitende Church. In my visit with him, he gave this testimony about the fruits they got from the football match. He said that among those who had gathered for the football match, four of them got saved and they are now good in attending church activities and services. The others have expressed an interest in learning more about Christ and sometimes attend church. I visited with Peter while he was making his craft bags. This is how he earns some money to support himself. As he stood up on one leg and proudly held up several of the completed bags he said, “my disability is not inability.”


I would like to appreciate our friends, the Men of Willow, so much for the good work you are doing within us. God bless you.

This is compiled by Prossy on behalf of Glory Center Church Planting Ministries


I hope this story inspires and encourages you to invest your resources in Kingdom causes, such as this.

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/


February 2015 Update (Edition 65)

The power of a “yes”

Every day we are faced with responsibilities, opportunities and decisions to make. We have options. We can say yes, no, maybe or wait. With each decision comes a consequence. Some good, some bad. My youngest granddaughter was misbehaving in the store one time (I think this happened on more than one occasion). Her mother warned her that if she didn't behave, there would be consequences when they got home. Not taking the warning seriously, my granddaughter continued doing her own thing, which resulted in them leaving the store abruptly. All the way home the question was asked, “What will my consequences be?” “We will talk about it when we get home,” came the answer. To which my granddaughter replied in a whiny voice, “But I don't want any consequences.” I think she was speaking for all of us when it comes to fearing bad consequences.


But then there are also those good consequences that accompany wise decisions, such as saying “yes” to God. Saying “yes” can set off a chain of events resulting in blessings, thanksgiving and praise that echo in the courts of heaven. It can release the power of God to accomplish His will in our lives and answer the prayerful cries of those who are suffering.


Responding to God is about relationship, not religion

Though He is God Himself, the Holy Spirit has chosen always to govern your behavior and exercise supreme control in every part of your being only by your own free choice and glad consent. It is this power of veto, this right to choose, which lifts you out of the animal kingdom and makes you the moral being that God created man to be. It is this and only this which enables you to love God and reciprocate His love for you. That is why your free “yes” to God, at any given moment, fills His heart with greater joy than all the thrilling wonders of a million universes thrown out into the vastness of outer space by the word of His power. Nothing else in creation has the capacity to love him, because nothing else has the capacity to choose Him. The privilege of being you is that you can know God and love God for yourself.” (taken from the book, The Indwelling Life of Christ, by Major W. Ian Thomas.)

While saying “yes” brings good results, saying “no” leaves dreams, hopes and needs unfulfilled. I have heard it said that if God wants to get something done then he will get it done, and he certainly can. But more often than not, he is waiting on us to do it. Such are the thoughts of Theresa of Avila, which are as applicable today as they were centuries ago when she wrote them.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”


Richard Stearns, in his book The Hole In Our Gospel, quoted these sobering words:

Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when he could do something about it.”

Well, why don't you ask Him.”

Because I'm afraid He would ask me the same question.”


As believers in Christ forgiven redeemed, restored and empowered by the Holy Spirit we have both a responsibility and the privilege to be agents of the love and grace of God in this world expressed in deeds and action.


The world we live in is a far cry from what God intended it to be. This point is illustrated when Jesus taught the disciples how to pray saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Wherever you find mercy, compassion, people caring for the hungry, thirsty, sick, the homeless, etc., it is because people responded to the promptings of God's Spirit, and said “yes.” Conversely, the absence of this tangible expression of God's love is usually a direct result of a “no.” Coming to this realization, Edward Everett Hale proclaimed, "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."


A little more than five years ago, a similar thought dawned on a few guys at a men's breakfast when we became aware of the millions of people around the world who lacked access to clean water. The cost of a water system far exceeded what one or even a few of us could afford. But we felt that God was leading us to challenge many others to join together to accomplish what we could not do alone. We had no idea who, or if anyone else would join us, but we thought if God was asking us to try, then we must say “yes.” Since that day many others have also said “yes”. Today, three water treatment systems are providing safe, clean water to nearly 10,000 people in Uganda. In the beginning, we weren't sure if people would give enough for just one project, let alone three.


Three?

Three sounds like a good number. We could stop and just rest in the joy of what God has done with all of our yeses. This is so much more than we ever dreamed would happen. So who could blame us if we said, “This is enough. We have done our part.” Well, I, along with the other four committee members, and possibly a few others out there may have a sense that God's Spirit has more for us to do.


This past year, we lost one of our men, George Rokusek, who had faithfully attended our monthly breakfasts and almost every month he would hand me a ten-dollar bill. He would then ask, “Are we going for number four?” It takes a lot of ten-dollar bills to fund a water project and George knew that. He also believed that, while he could not pay for one all by himself, he would not let that stand in his way of saying, “Yes,” if he felt the Spirit leading him to do what he could do and trust God to do what only God could do: move in the hearts of others to accomplish His will. This is true of any Kingdom cause. God uses ordinary people like you and me to accomplish extraordinary things. We dare not take any credit for what God has called and enabled us to do. We have the joy in knowing that we have had the privilege of serving the King of kings and Lord of lords.


Could it be that God wants to use us to bring clean water to another village in Africa? I am sensing He might. We want to be clear that we are following God's lead and not man’s aspirations. So, whether or not you feel led to contribute to a cause such as this, would you be willing to pray that, if God wants to use any of us to raise funds for another water project, He would impress this on the hearts of those who He wants to give toward that need. (I am asking for yours prayers here, not your money.)


A disclaimer

It is not my intention in this update to persuade you to support our efforts to fund another water project or anything else we hope to do. (Although that would be great.) I have deliberately omitted the reference to our fund-raising website on last month's and this month's update. (It will be back next month though.)


My purpose here is to challenge each of us to be tuned in to the promptings of God's Spirit and be ready and willing to say, “yes” to whatever He says. It could be scary. It could costly. It could disrupt our plans and mess with our agendas. More likely than not, It could be inconvenient. We may not fully see or comprehend the results this side of heaven. Looking ahead, I don't know what to expect. But looking back, I can say it has been well worth it. I hate to think what we could have missed if we had refused to say “yes.”


Whatever way we respond or ignore God's whispers, whether it is a “yes” or a “no,” a “maybe” or a “wait,” there will be consequences. I want the good kind. How about you?


Here is a song that has helped to keep me tuned in to God's whispers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmYOQ8h4wsM


If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100 or visit our website at menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Water Project

January 2015 Update (Edition 64)

Note: This month's update is not intended to make an appeal for financial contributions.*

Joyful Tears

As I reflect back on this past year, for some strange reason tears keep coming to mind. Not tears of sorrow, but of great joy. These may come as a surprise when we are unexpectedly brought to the deep realization that we actually heard and responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit – and God showed up. It is in moments like these that we get a taste of heaven's delight. If we could only see everything from an eternal viewpoint, unobscured by all the things the world promises but can't deliver, we could sincerely say with the psalmist “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Ps.16:8)

Twice in the book of Revelation we are told that when we get to heaven God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. I used to think of these as tears of sorrow. But when we arrive in heaven and meet our Lord face to face, those tears of sorrow will immediately be changed to tears of joy as Paul expressed in Romans 8:18, “In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us.” (Philips)

The busyness of our daily lives constantly competes for our attention, making it difficult to focus on the fullness of joy that awaits us in heaven. But from time to time, in those moments when somehow, almost miraculously, we sense a prompting of God's Spirit; when we willingly respond to it, we experience a bit of God's presence and delight from his Spirit living in us that moves us to tears joy. Many times these tears don't quite make it to the surface, but we know they are there aching to expose the deep emotion inside as we become aware of God's grace flooding through our souls. We may not say the exact words David said, but the sentiment is there: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Ps. 103:1 (KJV) When was the last time you experienced this kind of emotion – tears of joy?

When I think of the wonderful things that God has given us the privilege to be a part of in Uganda through our dear friends at Glory Center Church, I have to admit that this joy has brought drops of moisture to my face on a few occasions, while at other times they were too shy to come out in public. I am also deeply moved by the amazing generosity shown by all those whose sacrificial contributions are changing lives for now and eternity.

Then there are the tears that echo back and forth from one who may be the recipient to the one who allowed the grace of God to flow through them. Such is the case of some folks in Uganda who were recently surprised by God's love expressed in some Christmas gifts they received through our partnership with the local church there. Here is the report they sent us.


Greetings to you our dear partners. I want to gladly inform you that the program you sponsored
of feeding the hungry child, led many into tears of joy.

For example
the guardian to Nakitende Mercy and Nabukalu Hope; she is called Norah
Ssande. On that day she did not manage to come along with these 2
children but she just sent them to come for their gifts, but when
these children returned back home with all their packages, she called
Pastor Charles there and then she started crying while saying, “what
you done has led me into tears! I never ever expected this; can
you please send my thanks to all who have done this?”
It was great joy between the children and Glory Center Church when
Feed the hungry program was carried out on 24th Dec 2014 at around
9:30am. This was sponsored by Men of Willow and Glory Center Church.
Apart from children of Glorious Academy, we invited other
needy children through the local council leader Mr. Busuulwa Abdullah
and more children were added on to get Christmas packages. Among the
items given out were; food (banana/matooke), meat (beef), tomatoes,
onions and some other small spices and also clothes, shoes and
bedding’s were given out to both guardians and children.
We preached the gospel to many and before giving out these gifts,
pastor shared gospel of Jesus Christ with children and guardians. I
strongly believe that this penetrated into their hearts, and with time the
seed that was planted will bear fruit.

From Prossy on behalf of G.C.C., Glorious Academy


Can you imagine children and their guardian or parent, if they are fortunate to have one, overjoyed to receive Christmas gifts comprised of just some tomatoes, onions, bananas, a little meat, a few clothes, but no toys or electronic gadgets? It didn't cost us much to help some children who may, for the first time in their lives, receive anything at all for Christmas. This opened the door, and hopefully some hearts, for God's love to be understood a little more clearly by the recipients. For us, it is the joy of knowing that God has enabled and given us the privilege to serve Him by providing some basic needs to some children in Africa. I am reminded of Jesus words in Matt.25:34-40 (NIV)

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)

When you really think about these words of Jesus and how it applies to each of us personally, it should cause us to at least get a little choked up – and if no one is looking, maybe allow a tear or two to trickle down our face once in a while. Maybe the attached pictures will help you comprehend the significance of responding to the promptings of the Spirit.


Invitation to participate

First and foremost, we ask for your prayers. This is something everyone can do. All it will cost you is a little time. Pray for God's power to work through our friends in Uganda so that they can effectively proclaim the “goods news of Jesus Christ.” Then pray for God's protection and provision. They are doing a great job for the Kingdom of God with very little resources.

In last month's update I mentioned the need to raise an additional $750 by the end of January to make improvements and enlarge the capacity of the poultry husbandry facilities. The profitability of this project is critical because the future of the school depends on it. The school not only provides a beginning education for the children in Ndejje (some who could not afford to go elsewhere, even if there was another place to go), but is also an evangelistic tool that helps the church reach out with the love of Jesus in this predominately Muslim community.

I am happy to announce that this goal has been met. We praise and thank God for all those who responded to this and all the other projects that have been presented to date. While the need for financial support is always there, I imagine many of us have been overwhelmed by year-end appeals to give to a multitude of worthy ministries. So I would like to conclude this update by saying this month I make no request for your financial contributions. Instead, let's just focus on the blessings God has given us and the resources to bless others – and be tuned into whatever he has for us in the coming year.

Keep a handkerchief handy just in case!

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100 or visit our website at menofwillow.com






Men of Willow Water Project

December 2014 Update (Edition 63)

A long way to go and a short time to get there

I have so much that I want to tell you, but little space in which to do it in. For that reason I have included several attachments for those who would like more details. This update includes the following four subjects.

#1 New water project – Kabawanga

#2 Global Leadership Summit (GLS) – Kampala

#3 Glory Center Project Update – Up and Running!

#4 Invitation to participate – prayers and contributions



1. Mukama yebazibwe!!! (Praise The LORD!!!)

This what they are saying throughout Kabawanga and the two adjoining communities as clean water began to flow for the first time ever in this remote part of Uganda. The commissioning service for our third water-purification project was held on November 20th. (See attached report from Water Missions)

This safe water project has four taps. one at Grace Educational Centre serving 552 students, one at Zaake Secondary school serving 220 students and taps in the communities of Bisanje and Kuuzi.

I have attached an additional report which provides deeper incite into the scope of this water project, as prepared by Prossy of Glory Center Church.



2. Global Leadership Summit

As you may know, the Leadership Summit held at Willow Creek Community Church in August is being taken to countries around the world. For the past several years we have helped church leaders who could not otherwise afford it attend the GLS in Kampala, Uganda. This year we were able to sponsor 36 people. The reports that we are getting back from those who attended the two-day conference are very encouraging and reassuring that your support has and will in the days, weeks, months and years ahead prove to be extremely helpful in developing and improving the leadership of the local church. If you are wondering why we care about helping churches on the other side of the world, I encourage you to click on this link to watch Bill Hybels' message from the 2012 Leadership Summit entitled, “The Local Church Is The Hope of the World.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j6bkyUP6zQ (If you don't have time for the whole message, at least listen to the section 15:20 to 24:07.)

3. Glory Center Project

If you recall, this project has three parts:

  • Completion of a three-room school house. (paid)

  • Sponsorship for ten of the thirty children attending the school (all children have sponsors).

  • The poultry husbandry project. This a micro-enterprise project designed to generate income to help operate the school after our three-year sponsorship is over. This project has received initial funding and is up and running. We thank God and express our deep appreciation to all who have given for this, as well as the water projects and sponsorships to the GLS.

4. Invitation to participate

First and foremost, we ask for your prayers. This is something everyone can do. All it will cost you is a little time. Pray for God's power to work through our friends in Uganda so that they can effectively proclaim the “goods news of Jesus Christ.” Then pray for God's protection and provision. They are doing a great job for the Kingdom of God with very little resources.

Secondly, we humbly ask that you consider a financial contribution to support the various things we want to help them accomplish. Specifically, we want to raise an additional $750 by the end of January to make improvements and enlarge the capacity of the poultry husbandry facilities. The profitability of this project is critical because the future of the school is depends on it. The school not only provides a beginning education for the children in Ndejje (some who could not afford to go elsewhere, even if there was another place to go), but is also an evangelistic tool that helps the church reach out with the love of Jesus in this predominately Muslim community. Given another page or two, I could share with you some wonderful stories about how children and families lives are being changed for the better through this school.

Thanks to all who have endured the reading of these monthly updates through another year, and thanks to all who have responded to the Spirit's promptings to support our partners in Uganda.

May the Christ of Christmas fill you with inexpressible joy and in the coming year may the promise of His return overflow your hearts with an abundance hope.

If you feel led to contribute to this ministry 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, S.C. 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 phone (847) 452-1100 or visit our website at menofwillow.com



Men of Willow Water Project

November 2014 update (Edition 62)


As I begin to write this update I am thinking about the church leaders who are on their way home from the various Leadership Summits (GLSs) that are being held around the world this week, with more to continue in the weeks and months ahead. I am happy to tell you that, together, we were able to help 36 leaders from Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda, as well as a few pastors from nearby churches attend the GLS in Kampala on Wednesday and Thursday, November 5-6. I truly believe that the small investment we made will bear huge dividends in the kingdom of God. As Bill Hybels has said, “When a leader gets better, everyone wins.”

Here is a note from Glory Center Church's senior pastor.


Hello, my friends. I praise the Lord so much for your loving kindness towards me, my people and the work of God here in Uganda. Thank you for caring about training leaders. I am very happy for all the people who have been sponsored to go to the Summit. I have communicated to Godfrey, who is handling our list in the Leadership Summit and I requested him to get time and say thanks before all the congregation to the donors who have sponsored us, and he promised to do that. You really deserve
to be appreciated openly. To me it is very important to notice and appreciate people who have done something good.

May the Lord God be with and keep you,
may He make His face shine upon you.
Your faithful friend, Kwagala, Charles


When I think about these leaders (a number of whom I met), the deep devotion and commitment they have to serving the Lord, sharing his love with words and action with little resources under difficult circumstances, I am both grateful and extremely humbled that God has given us the opportunity to encourage and, in a small way, to partner with them in the endeavor to fulfill “the great commission.”


Hope for the world?

In the closing session of the 2012 Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels described why he is, and why we should be so passionate about helping churches around the world develop and improve their leaders. He said, “ The Message of Jesus Christ is the only power on planet earth that can radically and permanently change the composition of a human heart and 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.”

Considering the implications that this is indeed true, Bill went on to say, “If the local church is the hope of world because it stewards the only message that can transforms human lives, then we have to get our churches to reach their absolute fullest potential. If the local church really is the hope of the world then each of its attenders really matters because they're the church. So we have to help every person live full on for God ... And as God gives us capacity, we have to help every single church on planet earth reach their redemptive potential.”

This is, of course, quite a lofty goal and many of us could tell stories where churches seem to have lost their vision. But the fact remains that Jesus said, I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. 16:18 (TLB)


When I talk with church leaders from third - world countries and hear their stories of people who have come to know the saving power of Christ – many of whom have done so at the risk of being disowned by their families, beaten, imprisoned and even killed – I am inspired and motivated by their faith. So helping some of them to participate in a Leadership Summit, where they can get refreshed, encouraged and re-motivated, I would say is the least I can do. This is the fifth year in a row that we have done this. Has it been worth it? I plan to include some reports from those who attended the Summit in Kampala in next month's update so you can determine for yourself if it is.

As I have said before, I realize that not everyone who may read these monthly updates has felt led to get involved in what we are doing. I understand that. We are not all called to be involved in (supporting) every Kingdom cause.” But I would like to ask that you join with us in prayer that God would pour out His blessings and anointing on Glory Center Church Ministries, protect the children, deliver them from the evils in this world and use the water projects to not only provide physical water, but also introduce people to Jesus, the Living Water. 


If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100 or visit our website at menofwillow.com

October 2014 update (Edition 61)

Clean water is coming!

This has been the hope for the people of Kabawanga, Uganda which will soon become a reality. After overcoming a multitude of obstacles, our third water-purification project with Water Missions International is nearing completion. We anticipate that the people of Kabawanga, along with the adjacent communities of Kuzzi and Bisanja, will have access to clean water within the next several weeks. (See pictures)

We have been anxiously waiting and looking forward to this day for a long time. Our partner, Water Missions International, does not take any shortcuts or settle for “good enough” with its water projects. These are much more than digging a quick borehole that may produce a limited supply of questionably safe water that could dry up in a few years. (We saw a couple of those when we visited Uganda.) These projects are designed to produce more than 10,000 gallons of contaminate – free water for generations to come, integrated with sharing the “Living Water Message with all who come for the physical water – producing life change now and for eternity.

Desperate enough to try Jesus?

For a Muslim, becoming a Christian it is a very serious and dangerous decision. It is not taken lightly, for it most likely will alienate one from his or her family. It is not unusual for those who come to trust in Christ to be beaten, locked up or thrown out of their family's home with nowhere to go. So those who do are willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of knowing Christ. They are desperately searching for a hope that is real. Such is the case of two Muslim youths in Ndejje, Uganda. Here is the story we recently received from Prossy Kaitesi of Glory Center Church:

Sponsorships needed for GLS Uganda I recently sent out an appeal to help some of our friends in Uganda attend the Global Leadership Summit in Kampala on November 5-6. The cost is just $40.00 per person. For those who might be inclined to help with this, or just want more information, I have included that in an attachment

In last month's update I said, “I realize that not everyone who may read these monthly updates has felt led to get involved in what we are doing. I understand that. We are not all called to be involved in (supporting) every Kingdom cause.” But... If, per chance, you have patiently read this far into this, another not -so - brief update, I ask that you join with us in prayer that God would pour out His blessings and anointing on Glory Center Church Ministries, protect the children, deliver them from the evils in this world and use the water projects to not only provide physical water, but also introduce people to Jesus, the Living Water.

Am happy that the light is now shinning more among the people in our village knowing the truth and knowing that Christ is real. One Sunday back, a Muslim youth (boy) came to Pr. Kyalisiima as the service was going on and told him that he wanted to accept Jesus. After the preaching, this boy was led into a prayer of confession in our Lord.

Another case happened when a Muslim girl who had been tormented by demons for a long period of time was brought to pastor Charles by a pure Hajat* requesting him to pray for her because they had tried everything, but nothing helped her. Demons used to attack her and she used to be like a dead person for some good hours. She would also have a strange headache and this used to hinder her from either reading books or doing anything. And for that reason, her father was fed up with paying school fees for her because she was always tormented every time she could go to school. But God is good. Pastor prayed for her and this affliction has not come back to her again. It was so amazing to her with being delivered from such tormenting because she was finally healed. Hallelujah! We have a powerful God!!!. She has now gone back to school, but before going back, she brought 20,000 UGS ($7.60 U.S.) as a thanksgiving seed to build the house of God. All her relatives are now believers and say, “Really, Jesus has power.” Amen. Glory be to our God.

*About pure Hajat: Here in Uganda there are Muslim people who go to Mecca as their holy land. If it's a man, he is called HAJJI. If a woman, she is called Hajjat. So a pure Hajjat is the one who went to Mecca.

So for this devout Muslim to bring someone to a Christian for help would indicate their desperation and willingness to consider the possibility that Jesus is Lord.

The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14b)

These words from Jesus are recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels, illustrating God's heart for children. It is because of Christ's example that we are passionate about helping some of these precious little ones. Attached are some pictures of the school children we are sponsoring, as well as providing them and their guardians with some needed food. Below is a part of a recent report we received from Glory Center:

Help One and Save The Rest (this is what Glory Center calls its ministry to children which includes, but not limited to the school) has now gone beyond giving education to these children, but also giving them food. We thank God for Men of Willow who have helped to make this possible. Most of the children who are under this project have been sleeping without food and had no hope of getting any until recently a support came from Men of Willow for those who were in critical condition of lacking food have now been able to get some.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100 or visit our website at menofwillow.com



Men of Willow Water Project

September 2014 update

Five-Year Anniversary Edition














TOGETHER WE'RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

This has been our theme phrase for the work we have been involved in over the past five years in the country of Uganda. What began as a hesitant response to an uncertain whisper has yielded: three (3) water-purification projects, making clean water available to nearly 10,000 people with the Gospel being presented to all who come for the water; construction of a school, along with sponsorships for 10 of the 30 children enrolled, as well as a poultry project, whose profits we hope will make the school self-supporting within three years.

In addition to these, we have sponsored more than 60 pastors and church leaders to attend the Willow Creek's Global Leadership Summit in Kampala over the last three years, collected and shipped over 600 pairs of shoes to Uganda, prayed for and encouraged those who have become our dear friends who are proclaiming the love and hope we have in Jesus Christ in a dark and difficult place. Some have also been prompted to provide funds for various needs, such as a food program for children who have often gone to bed hungry. Through personal visits to Uganda, phone conversations and hundreds of e-mails, we have developed a relationship of mutual faith, encouragement and trust, while overcoming ethnic and cultural barriers.

Together = God & us

In our response to the Spirit's whisper, we dare not take any credit for the great honor and privilege that God has given us in being part of his divine plan. This was all his idea to begin with. He graciously invited and chose to use us to be an answer to the prayerful cry of those who thirsted for clean water. But in the process, we got more than we expected or hoped for.

Initially, we thought that God just wanted us to use some of the resources that he has blessed us with to bless others. What we discovered along the way that he also wanted to do a work in us, enlarging our hearts and drawing us increasingly closer to him. This truth was confirmed once again as I was having lunch recently with Bob, who went to Uganda with me and also headed up the shoe project. In reflecting on the impact this experience has and is having on us, we both got a little emotional (in a manly way, of course) as we marveled at this journey, this great adventure we have been on with God's spirit leading us.

The same is true whenever we have had committee meetings or conversations with others who have been personally touched by this ongoing story. We are in awe and amazed that God would use our feeble and flawed efforts to make a huge difference in the lives of people on the other side of the world; and at the same time ever-increasing our capacity to know his love and experience his amazing grace. Could this be what Paul was praying for in Ephesians3:14-19?

When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God—some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth—that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.


Paul concludes this lofty prayer with this declaration in vs.20:

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (TLB)

The emphasis is on God's ability to take what little we have to offer and accomplish so much more than we can possibly imagine or dare to dream. I believe that anytime someone responds to God's whispers the Spirit's promptings – it has eternal significance far beyond what we can comprehend this side of heaven.


So, as we celebrate this five-year anniversary, reflecting on what we can see as accomplishments, we still, more than ever, realize that our hope does not rely on what men have done, but on what God is and will be doing beyond what we can see, beyond our lifetime and into eternity.


I realize that not everyone who may read these monthly updates has felt led to get involved in what we are doing. I understand that. We are not all called to be involved in every Kingdom cause. I just love to share the story and invite everyone to rejoice over the lives that are being touched by His love and grace.

Thank you for taking the time to read this report; I pray that it will serve to encourage and challenge you to be open to whatever it is that God has for you to do.


In this five-year anniversary update, I make no appeal for any contribution other than your prayers for God's blessings and anointing on Glory Center Church Ministries, Uganda. (Future updates will include specific needs and opportunities for financial support.)


If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100 or visit our website at menofwillow.com


Men of Willow Project Update

August 2014 Update (Edition 59)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Turning Enemies into Friends?

As I write this update, wars, violence and atrocities continue to be reported around the world. Arabs against Jews in the Middle East, Muslims against Christians in northern Nigeria, as well as many other places. These are just two of the multitude of examples where one group, religion or ideology is violently opposed to another. Diplomatic efforts seem futile, offering little hope for peaceful coexistence.

But I am happy to tell you about a place where people of opposing beliefs are getting along with each other. It is not because of government diplomacy, mediators or either side dismissing their own beliefs to please the other. It was not too long ago that hatred and disdain were the norm there. You can imagine how well Glory Center Church was welcomed by the predominately Muslim community of Ndejje, Uganda when the church started on August 11, 2001. (Not really) Their evangelistic efforts were met with much resistance, animosity and hostility. But over the years, the church has grown and it has slowly gained the acceptance, respect and admiration of the community.

How did this change of attitude develop?

First and foremost, I would attribute this change to the love of Christ among the members of Glory Center Church as they consistently share His love with everyone they meet. Over time, the community has come to see this love as genuine and sincere. Among the numerous ways that the church demonstrates this love tangibly, here are three examples:

#1 Shortly after our first water- purification project became operational in July 2010 at the church, a local Muslim council leader named Mum Levi came to pastor Charles Kwagala and told him, “Your church is making a positive impact in this community.” Then he said something that you may never hear anywhere else. He added, “I am praying that your church will prosper.”


#2 More recently, we received this report about another local leader, who is also a Muslim. He came and expressed his appreciation for the work the church is doing among the youth in the community. He said to the Glory Center congregation, “You have helped so much in changing the youths who were robbers to become good strong Christians, who have acted as very good examples which has attracted the interests in other youths.” He went on to show his appreciation for pastor Charles, who, by example, has helped them live a better Christian, exemplary life. This is so encouraging and it has given the youths more courage and vigor to stand as good examples, just as the Bible openly tells us that we are a city built up on a hill and this city cannot be hidden. This retaught me a very valuable lesson: wherever we are, we can easily be seen and noticed by others in the world. We are a light helping others to see. If we don’t carry the light to others, then we are not good examples in this world and those around us will remain in darkness.


Again I was so amazed and amused by the way in which this Muslim leader(Mr.Busuulwa Abdullah, was touched and driven to give Christian literature to our church as gifts. Can you imagine this? He emphasized that Christians should read, especially the youth because they are young leaders of tomorrow and so they have to be founded with much knowledge. He really gave us good books and we thank God that He has softened the hearts of those who were against the gospel of Christ; to those stayed in the darkness, the light has come to them and they are now accepting and knowing the truth and the power in it. Praise the name of our everlasting God.


 Analytically to my observation, it’s through the practical gospel we have carried in the community like giving safe living water to the community, helping the needy with the little resources we have. To note in this matter, for all the years we have existed as a church, we have been calling this leader to come to our services and sometimes we were not granted a chance to even speak with him, but this time he himself requested of us to come and visit our church and speak to the congregation. We humbly thank God that this man, who has been been very strong in his Islamic belief, is now recognizing the power of Christ to change lives through the local church.


Sent by Prossy Kaitesi church administrator, Glory Center Church, Ndejje, Uganda.


Here we see the truth of Proverbs16:7 being fulfilled in real life. “When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” The world could learn a lot from this community.


#3 The last example is the preschool, Glorious Academy at Glory Center Church that we have helped with in the construction of a three-room school house, as well as sponsoring 10 of the 30 children attending the school. I am happy to announce that all 10 children have sponsors supporting them. (Refer to previous updates for more details about the Glory Center Project)


These children come from heartbreaking and very difficult circumstances. None 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 school to go to where they can become prepared for elementary school ( if they should be fortunate enough to ever go to one), get a meal and 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 embrace the One who can change them for now and eternity, our Lord Jesus Christ.


While we have reached our goals of funding the various projects we have been talking about, many needs still remain, such as a food program for the under-resourced. Some have already responded to this need even though we have not said much about it. Could it be that God's Spirit hasn't been waiting for us to bring it up before He touches some hearts about this? If you feel a prompting to give toward our work in Uganda with Glory Center Church, or if you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman athttp://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847) 452-1100.

 

To make a tax-deductible contribution go to

 http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/.

July 2014 Update (Edition 58)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

As I reported in last month's update, we have reached our goal of raising the funds to help Glory Center Church in Uganda complete construction of a three-room school. The children are becoming more and more excited as construction nears completion in the next few weeks. (See the attached picture of students in front of the church.)

Glory Center Project - Sponsoring the Children

The third phase of this project is to secure sponsorships for ten of the 30 children who will be attending the school. These ten children have experienced great hardships in their short lives, but giving them the opportunity to attend this Christ-centered preschool will make a huge difference in their lives. The cost to sponsor a child is just $20.00 per month for a maximum period of 36 months. After that time, the goal is for the school to be self-supporting. This has been explained in previous updates. If you would like to review the plan, Glory Center Project, you can find it in the November 2013 update under “New Venture.” http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-November-2013-Update-Edition-50-

Selecting The Children

It was not an easy task for the church to determine the ten children for whom they would seek sponsorship. There were many applicants. Here is a brief explanation we received from the church administrator as to how they went about the task.

We have taken much time investigating children to be sponsored because people tend to lie and give false stories about their children when they hear of sponsorships. So we had to take much time and responsibility to analytically scrutinize children who are really in need of being sponsored. We had to visit their homes over and over again, collecting different information about them and I know we have got children who are really in need of getting hope through education.

I included this statement to illustrate the priority this church has towards honesty and accountability to us who have helped support their ministry. I realize and value the trust you have put in us with your contributions and I assure you that your investment is well used to further the Kingdom of God.

Attached are two documents with the names, pictures and a brief description of the children to be sponsored. (The descriptions are unedited, just as I received them from GCC.) We ask that you consider sponsoring one of these children on a monthly basis. ( Seven of the ten have already been sponsored, leaving only three.) Your one-time or occasional contributions are also always welcome, as there are many needs to be met in and around Glory Center Church. (Contact me for specific needs beyond the children sponsorships.)

In closing this update, I ask the you reflect on the words of this song and request that you lift up a prayer to God for blessings and protection for the these vulnerable children in Uganda, as well as for children everywhere.

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight – Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Pray also for the ministries of Glory Center Church, that God would give them an open door to share the good news of Jesus Christ in their area.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847) 452-1100.


Children to be sponsored for Glorious Academy (Children & Stories 1-6) <- click to open details

1. Faith Linda (Mercy) Favor age 3 - 1/2 (Page 1)

2. Jeremiah Makayi age 3 (Sponsored) (Page 2)

3. Mercy Natkitende age 5 (Sponsored) (Page 3)

4. Hope Nabukalu age 3 (on right side) (Sponsored) (Page 4)

5. Davis Nuwarinda age 4 (Page 5)

6. Winifred Patience Nanyanzi age 5 (Page 6)

_________________________________________________________________________________


Children to be sponsored for Glorious Academy (Children & Stories 7-10) <- click to open details

. Mercy and Hope with pastor Charles (Page 1)

.Mercy and Hope with guardian Nora] (Page 2)

7. Daniel Luutu age 4 (Page 3)

8. Prince Magambe age 3 (Page 4-5)

9. Hadijah Nabukalu age 3 (Sponsored) (Page 6-7)

10. Whitney Nalubiri age 5 (Page 7)


Note: Of the seven sponsorships that have been pledged, only four have chosen a specific child to sponsor. The remaining six are available for you to choose.






Men of Willow Project Update

June 2014 Update (Edition 57)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family, welcome to another exciting, but not so brief update.

Update on the Updates In this edition I want to share with you additional information on previous updates.

#1 Glory Center ProjectFor the past few months I have been sharing with you our hopes and plans to come alongside Glory Center Church in Uganda to help them with their preschool, Glorious Academy. (This is where our first of three water projects is located.) The details of this project and past updates can be found on our website at http://www.menofwillow.com/. I am happy to announce that we have reached our goal of raising the funds to help the church complete construction of a three-room school. (see picture) Pastor Charles expressed his thanks for our support in these words:

I request that you extend my heartfelt thanks to all who have been touched by God towards this school. I know that some of them have never experienced the life of suffering these children our living in, but they decided to give generously. Even though they may never meet these children, they are doing an everlasting work and it will be great in heaven when Christ rewards them for what they have done to help the children of Ndejje. Please send my thanks to everyone who puts even a penny in extending hope to the hopeless vulnerable children. Pastor Charles

The last phase of this project involves $20 monthly sponsorships for ten of the 30 children who will be able to attend the school. This support will only be needed for 36 months. After that, the school will be supported by profits from the poultry husbandry. Please respond to this update if you are interested in sponsoring one of these children. As the apostle Paul asked the Colossians to pray that the door would be open for him to proclaim the gospel, (Col.4:3), we ask that you would whisper a prayer for Glory Center Church, so that God would empower them to effectively share the hope we have in Christ in a dark and difficult place.

#2 JeremiahIn the April update I reported the story of the three year-old boy who was abandoned by his mother. He was being raised and taught by his father to hate and despise all women. Then he was brought to Glorious Academy where Faith Kwagala is the teacher. In that report I stated that the love of Christ flowing through her was beginning to have a positive effect on this little boy's heart. Click on link http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-April-2014-Update-Edition-55- for more details from the April update.

Here is a report we received from Faith Kwagala that gives us a little more insight in Jeremiah’s progress:

We can testify about what Glorious Academy is doing in the children of Ndejje and one of the testimonies is about Makayi Jeremiah. Jeremiah is 3 years old in baby class. When he first came to our school in February it was unbelievable the hatred and animosity he had toward women. But by the grace of God Jerry has improved and by the end of the term of April he has become one of the best students and his attitude and demeanor has completely changed.

Jerry comes from a single father’s family of 6 siblings and he is the last born who was abandoned by his mother when he was only 4 months old. Ever since he has been with his dad who had developed hatred and mistrust with everyone, especially women. Jerry could not allow being hugged; not a hand shake or a greeting from a female person except if you are giving him something to eat.

But with time, after teachers watched all his behaviors at school, they developed a strong attachment to him. With that Jerry changed gradually. After two weeks, he could say goodbye to a teacher but the biggest thing that changed Jerry was assistance which was offered to [help] him with his big shorts which were tied with a yellow rope because,(see picture) after making short-call [using the latrine], he could not tie the rope himself. This help contributed much to his change. Another factor which changed him is the assistance of the cup of tea that was offered to him at his breakfast. Again assistance and care was timely given to him to make short-calls whenever he needed it. As the term was ending, when his stomach ran out of control he wet his pants, so the teachers washed all his clothes and bathed him. Jerry was very happy with this. He never expected such care from a female. (When he came to them, flies were swarming over him and he was helped.)

Finally we can say Jerry has improved and has improved the teachers’ skills as professionals more than before. As we talk now Jerry can give you a hug, high five and high ten and say goodbye when he is going back home. He no longer cries bitterly. You can pat his shoulder when you are appreciating him and he does not run away.

May God strongly bless the people who blesses the young children like Jerry (Matthew 18:14). This was compiled by Tr. Faith Kwagala

#3 Learning to care and give Little children are naturally selfish and self-centered. They have to be taught to become generous and to care about others. In last month's update, I wrote about how my four-year -old granddaughter has been developing a heart for God through the influence of a godly mother, accompanied with the benefit of going to a Christian preschool. Click on link http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-May-2014-Update-Edition-56- for more details from the May update.

I used her story to illustrate the value of attending a Christ-centered preschool and why I am passionate about making this available to the children of Ndejje, Uganda. But there is one more thing I would like to tell you about that God is doing in my granddaughter's heart.

Some months ago, when we began the initiative to raise funds for the school in Uganda, my daughter talked with my granddaughter about helping some children in Africa to be able to attend a Christian preschool like the one she was attending. My granddaughter agreed and suggested that they give $1.00. My daughter explained that $1.00 would not be enough to make a difference and that they should give more like $40.00, to which my granddaughter replied that was way too much. So my daughter began to tell her how many of the children in Africa live in poverty and don't even have clean water to drink. When hearing this, as if it was too much for her to imagine, my granddaughter said, “Can't we talk about this some other time?” (The suffering of other children was too much for her to comprehend.)

A few months went by without much more discussion about the subject when my granddaughter asked her mommy if there were any chores that she could do to earn some money for the school in Uganda. (My daughter wisely gave her time and freedom to make the choice for herself.) In the weeks that followed, my granddaughter gladly did numerous jobs and excitedly put the money aside until her grandmother and I came for a visit. On the night before we were left to come home, my granddaughter proudly handed me an envelope (see picture) with the $34.00 she had earned.

I share this story with you not to brag on my granddaughter (well maybe a little bit), but more so to emphasize the value of Godly influence on children when they are young and impressionable. Some of the children who will be attending Glorious Academy do not come from Christian homes or even homes where there is much love and security. So the school may be the only place where they will begin to learn about the one true God who loves them, and it is there where they will experience his love through the compassionate care of their teachers. I sincerely believe the small investment we have made in this church will produce eternal dividends.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847) 452-1100.


Men of Willow Project Update

May 2014 Update (Edition 56)


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Glory Center Project

For the past few months I have been sharing with you our hopes and plans to come along side Glory Center Church in Uganda to help them with their preschool, Glorious Academy. ( This is where our first of three water projects are located.) The details of this project and past updates can be found on our website at http://www.menofwillow.com/. To date we have received $4,685 toward the $5,958 needed to reach our goal. That leaves us with $1,273 to go. We need your help to make this dream come true.

Why should we care?

With so many needs and demands on our resources you may consciously or subconsciously ask the question, “Why should I care?” A short answer is that Jesus cares, but we don't have the capacity or resources to care for everyone that He cares for. And I don't expect everyone who gets this update to give to this cause, among the many worthy causes that are in need of support. I don't completely understand why I am so passionate about helping this church or the needy children in their community. I think it could be, in part, because we have gotten to know this church and its leaders over the past four years since we first helped bring clean water into their area. Or maybe it's because I have looked into the faces of these precious children as they excitedly crowded around this “Muzungu.” (a respectful term for white person.) This is how I reported the effect they had on me and Bob when we visited Uganda in September 2011. (I am planning on going back next year. Join me if you are dare to have your world rocked.):

If you asked us what one thing stands out most that we had experienced on our trip to Uganda, our answer would emphatically be the children. Wherever we went, they swarmed around us with looks of great excitement on their faces. They didn’t have their hands out in expectation or asking anything from us. They are not beggars, even though they are living in extreme poverty. They captured our hearts. Aim a camera at them and they would crowd in together like they were expecting candy to shoot out at them. Then when you show them their picture, they would jockey for position to get a good look at themselves with such astonishment as if this was the first time they saw a picture of themselves. Their joy was contagious. I think this is how God intended life to be when Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” These children are so trusting and loving. What a shame when their innocence is violated by the evils in this world. It must break the very heart of God whenever a child is mistreated or abused. Jesus said that it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and drowned then to offend these innocent, vulnerable children.” (For more on that story go to http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-June-2012-Update)

Up close and personal

In addition to my experience in Uganda, there is something else that has had a dramatic effect on my passion for children. I know of a little girl who is now four years old. Her unmarried birth mother knew during the early stages of pregnancy that she would not be able to raise this child. Fortunately she did not use the money the father gave her to abort the precious, but unwanted life inside her. So she gave the baby up for adoption to a wonderful single Christian women. ( see attachment for more on this story.)

The little girl was raised in a Christian environment by three godly women. At age three she was enrolled in a Christian preschool. One day while playing with several other little girls one of them asked her, “What is your daddy's name?” She replied, “I don't have a daddy.” Her mother, pained by her daughter's answer, quickly stepped in to explain that everyone has a daddy, but not all daddies are involved in their children's lives. The girls seem to accept that explanation and went back to their playing. But a few minutes later, after giving this some thought, the little girl spoke up excitedly and said, “But I do have a grandpa daddy.” For those who don't know the story, I am that grandpa daddy! It has been the joy of my life watching this precious little girl grow to understand that she not only has a “grandpa daddy” who is crazy about her, but she has a Father in heaven who will always be with her no matter what – one who loves her with an everlasting love that is richer and purer than any human could ever love her, even this “grandpa daddy.”

This is what we want for these children in Uganda. They live in deep poverty, and few have a mum and or daddy to love and care for them. They lack proper nutrition and medical treatment. More than a few go to sleep with empty stomachs. They have so little and we have so much. They are lonely and afraid with not much hope for tomorrow, let alone the future. But there is a church there that cares for them, whose people are doing everything they can with the very limited resources that they have so these children can have the opportunity to attend a school that will prepare them well for primary school and where they can also learn that there is a Father in heaven who loves them.

God has given us the opportunity to come alongside this church, help them to complete some classrooms, hire a few teachers, provide some food and offer them a preschool education from a Christian perspective. See our donation page for more details and/or if you are prayerfully considering contributing to this cause. http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/or phone (847) 452-1100.

P.S. On a recent Sunday morning, my granddaughter asked her mother if she could go to Sunday school instead of the big church. (It had been a long time since she had gone because she complained that the boys were too rowdy.) My daughter responded, “Sure, but why do you want to go back now?” My granddaughter said, and I quote, “My life has changed, and God told me to go.” This is from a four- year old. I don't know what is going on in her little heart, but I seriously doubt that this would have come from a child who had not been exposed to and taught about the things of God. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (NLT) I believe this is what God wants for every child brought into this world. While it is beyond our ability to help every child to learn about the God who loves them, who wants to be their “Abba Father,” it is well within our ability to help some. I believe that God wants to use some of us to help some of them. Could it be that you are one?


Men of Willow Project Update

April 2014 Update (Edition 55)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us athttp://www.menofwillow.com/

Will it make any difference?

I am not comfortable with asking people to contribute their money to any cause. Yet, this is what I have spent much of the last four-and-a-half years doing. Accompanied by a committee of four other men, we have timidly but unashamedly urged people to contribute to the needs of those who do not have access to clean water. This has and will make a huge difference in many people’s lives, not just now, but for generations to come. Together we have raised funds for three water-purification projects. This is two more than we had ever hoped to do. But God impressed upon people’s hearts to do more and we have. We could stop here and feel satisfied that we have done more than our fair share of helping the people in Uganda. However, we have a sense that God is leading us to one more venture. It is much less expensive, yet it has unlimited potential to further the Kingdom of God.

So now we are turning our attention and efforts toward helping Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda, with their preschool “Glorious Academy.” The question that comes to mind is, “Will it make any difference?” (For details of this project or to make a contribution, go to http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/

When I hear stories about the children whose guardians want to send them to this school I am convinced that it willmake a difference in their lives. For example, a little boy named Jeremiah was recently enrolled in the school. The teacher, Faith Kwagala, noticed that he had a deep animosity towards her. She could see a hatred in his eyes. She wondered what could cause such a young boy to be like this. She found that his mother had abandoned him and his father. In his anger and bitterness, the father has expressed his hatred for all women, an attitude that is now being passed down to his children. Can you see the irony of this situation, how God is working to redeem the wounded heart of this young boy and maybe even his father? The boy who has learned to hate women now has a woman teacher. But not an ordinary woman teacher. You see, Faith Kwagala is filled with the love of Jesus and, slowly, Jeremiah's hatred is diminishing and his hardened heart is softening. I am reminded of the words of Hebrews 12:15 which says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Will God's grace or his father’s bitterness form the man that Jeremiah will become? What do you think?

So, if you are wondering if your contribution toward this school could make a significant difference in a child's life, I can’t guarantee that it will. But it will certainly increase the odds. Only God can heal and restore a wounded heart, but he uses those who worship and serve him to do it. While I can't absolutely guarantee that every child who goes to this school will turn out to be a productive member of society, I am willing to put money on it.

Here is a money back guarantee: If you make a contribution to this project and are not satisfied with the results, of which we will keep you informed, I will personally refund your money. (Don't tell my wife about this.) I urge you to consider making a contribution to this cause which will help make a huge difference in some children's lives.

P.S. I am happy to announce that construction has finally begun on our third water project in Kabawanga, Uganda.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/or phone(847) 452-1100.



Men of Willow Project Update

March 2014 Update (Edition 54)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com

With the help of some other groups, we have reached our goal to fund a third water purification project. As mentioned in earlier updates the location of this project is Kabawanga, Uganda, which is approximately 120 miles southwest of the capital city of Kampala. It is a remote area with no electricity. So the solar-powered system is very practical and economical to operate. This project will make clean water accessible to two adjacent communities as well. I expect to give a construction schedule in next month's update.

Beyond Water 

Having raised funds for three water purification projects through our partner Water Missions International, we now feel led to focus our attention on helping out the local church where this all began, Glory Center Church (GCC) in Ndejje, Uganda. It was here in July 2010 that our first water project went into operation. For the past several months I have been telling you about the school that we would like to help them start. More details can be found at our fund-raising website. Since this type of project lies beyond the scope of work that Water Missions does, we have partnered with another organization that also has non-profit status. This saves us the time, expense and much paperwork that comes with having our own non-profit status.

Check out our website to read the details of how we plan to assist Glory Center Church's desire to reach out to the community by providing preschool education for their children in a Christian atmosphere. Although Ndejje is predominately a Muslim community, the church is having a positive impact there in various ways, including providing clean water. This school will be one more tool God can use to demonstrate the love of Christ in a tangible way. To contribute to this cause or just find out more information, again, go to our secure website at http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/ All contributions are tax deductible.

Note: The poultry husbandry portion of this project is fully funded and has been up and running for several months. GCC plans on selling the first group of 240 chickens around Easter. (See attached pictures). We are now focusing on raising our portion of the funds needed to complete the classrooms.

I urge you to consider making a contribution to this cause which will help make a huge difference in some children's lives.

If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100


Men of Willow Project Update

February 2014 Update (Edition 53)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com

I have been struggling to get up enough strength and presence of mind to write this update. It is approaching three weeks since I had open-heart heart surgery. The doctors say I am doing very well, but it is taking a while for me to get back up to speed. I am still kickin, but not raising much dust. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your prayers and encouraging words. It has been a blessing to me and my family.

In light of my condition, this will be a brief ( or at least briefer than my usual) updates. I will start by referring to last months update.

In the last three updates I spoke about a new venture which is to help Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda start a school. In four years we have raised over $101,000 for water projects that have brought relief to those who thirst not only for physical water, but also for the Living Water Message. People are hearing about the one true God who loves them and sent His Son to die so they can live eternally. Many hear the message and some accept the hope that Jesus offers. Then what? What do they do with this new life in Christ? This is the role that the church must fulfill and that is exactly what Glory Center Church is doing.

Here is a report we recently received regarding their annual youth forum.

Hello Friends, this is Prossy. I am writing to give you a update about our ministry at Glory Center Church. We had our annual youth festival on the 19th of January. On this day we have competitions between our four youth groups; Exodus, Revelation, Wings of Angels and Walls of Fire. They compete in the following categories: Poem, group singing, composed song, Bible quiz, preaching, creative dance, traditional dance and miming. This is followed by a time of eating and fellowship.

This year we were very serious in terms of security since we had several attacks by those who oppose the gospel of Christ. So we hired two policemen to keep law and order in this place.

This is one of our biggest crusades we have each year, gathering more than 500 people. Many souls have changed and turned to our Savior Jesus Christ through this event. This time around many people attended the festival and many people's souls were helped through all the activities we had. When pastor Charles asked those who would wish to accept Jesus as their Savior, many rose up to confess their faith in Christ. We thank God for this.

Friends, though these activities are in the form of entertainment, all are designed to reach out to the youth in our community and the surrounding communities in our endeavor to reach out to the uttermost parts of the world with the glorious gospel of the Kingdom of God, particularly giving hope to the hopeless, giving love to the unloved ones and sharing motherly and fatherly love to the vulnerable children. Basically, as you know, the hope for all people is Christ. So all the things we do are designed to reach people who have lost their hope in one way or another by preaching to them Christ as restorer of lost hope. Remember the local church does it well to bring hope to the world as pastor Bill [Hybels]always says.

We congratulate Revelation group for winning the competition, followed by Exodus and Wings of Angels, then Walls of Fire. Every group was appreciated with a gift and the best was given a goat.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. May you be blessed in Christ.

Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator G.C.C. Ndejje, Uganda

Here is a small, but dynamic church, doing their best to carry out the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 218:18-20. The church and its members are not looking for a handout, but welcome us in partnering with them in a small way by helping them start a Christian school to reach out to the secular community around them. While few of us are able to actually “go into all the world and preach the gospel”, this is a practical way that we can do our part. See our donation page for more details and/ or if you are prayerfully considering contributing to this cause. http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/.

You can also view a documentary that Glory Center Church has produced on 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pQ2DPShB6o&feature=em-upload_owner

Thanks and may God abundantly bless you.


Men of Willow Project Update

January 2014 Update (Edition 52)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com

In the last two updates I spoke about a new venture, which is to help Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda start a school. In four years we have raised over $100,000 for water projects that have brought relief to those who thirst not only for physical water, but also for the Living Water Message. People are hearing about the one true God who loves them and sent His Son to die so they can live eternally. Many hear the message and some accept the hope that Jesus offers. Then what? What do they do with this new life in Christ? This is the role that the church must fulfill and that is exactly what Glory Center Church is doing.

In the shadow of the capital city of Kampala, among the poor and vulnerable, in a community that is predominately Muslim and where witchcraft has been practiced for centuries, seemingly overcome by spiritual darkness, there shines a light of hope. When Jesus said in Matt 16:18: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” I wonder if he envisioned little churches like this faithfully carrying out His commands to go and preach the Gospel, make disciples, and do this in the face of opposition and overwhelming odds with very few resources.

In the village of Ndejje, there is a light on the hill, literally. When the power is off in the community, which it often is due to frequent power outages, there is always light and music coming from the church. This is because the same solar power that operates the water system there also charges a set of batteries that can then be used to power the lights and sound system in the church. One night when coming home from school, Prossy, a leader in the church, noticed that all the lights in the area were out except the one coming from the church on the hill. Deeply moved by the Spirit of God, she whispered to herself, “We truly are the light of the world that is shining in the darkness.” It was my privilege to see this for myself when I went there to visit. I still get chills when I think of it.

This church and its leaders have grown close to my heart and I have tried to tell you about them over the last four years since we funded our first water-purification system there. They have done a wonderful job utilizing it to minister to the needy people in the community and furthering the Kingdom of God.

Now I am asking you to help this church expand its ministry by starting a school called Glorious Academy. The cost is miniscule compared to that of a water system. It will only take another $3,500 to complete the three-room school that will accommodate 30 children. It's a small beginning that I believe will produce great results. Many of these children are destitute, having lost one or both parents to Aids or some other disease. Some of these little children wander around in the neighborhood with little adult supervision, making them vulnerable and easy prey to the evils of this world. The church has a desire and a plan to help as many of these little ones as possible. That is where you and I come in. We can partner with this church to make a big difference in the lives of these precious children.

These passages from the Message describes how much Jesus valued children: “ The people brought children to Jesus, hoping that 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. 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)

“He put a child in the middle of the room. Then cradling the little one in his arms, he said, 'Whoever
embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me.”'

(Mark 9:36-37)

Just as I was typing these verses, my four-year-old granddaughter came up to me and wanted to sit on my lap. Concentrating on the task at hand, I almost passed up the opportunity to hold her in my arms. I was busy trying to finish this update. But, as I stopped what I was doing and held this precious child I thought, what would Jesus have done in this situation? I cherished the next few minutes that she could sit still long enough for me love on her a bit. Too quickly she was off to another adventure. Then my mind drifted back to those days I spent walking and talking with and holding the precious children in Uganda. They are very special, as all children are. Some day I hope to go back, and when I do, I hope to see a school that we helped build and hear the children singing “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” in that wonderful African English accent of theirs.

Please don't pass up the opportunity to be a part of this. Click on the link to take you to our web-page where you can contribute online. http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/

Thanks and may God abundantly bless you.


Men of Willow Water Project

December 2013 Update (Edition 51)

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family, 


Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com

Tis the Season for Giving and Receiving.

As a child I was really into the receiving part of Christmas. The giving part? Not so much. I am not sure how I old I was, I think it was somewhere between 11 and 13, that a transformation began to take place. I had a little money from a part-time job and I was slowly developing this strange desire to give more than to receive. I spent many hours going from store to store looking for the just the right gift at the best price for my family members and any potential girl friends. I began to experience the difference between the happiness of receiving and the joy of giving. Joy lasts longer and it's more fulfilling. (If any of my family members happen to read this, I still like the receiving part too.)

It is during this time of the year that I think people are most loving and generous (except when their fighting over the last item on the store shelf). I attribute this to the impact of Jesus coming to this earth, the Light of God's glory shining through the darkness of a fallen world. Even those who do not believe are, unknowingly, effected by it. (See John 1:1-14; 3:19)

If love and generosity can be attributed to God's presence in a fallen world, even to those who refuse to believe, how much more should it have an impact on us who do believe. This is not a sales pitch for you to give to our cause of providing clean water for those who do not have access to it or building a classroom for some children in Uganda. This is my testimony, and I think that of many others: when we are moved by the Spirit of God to give to any Kingdom cause it:

#1 gives us great joy in knowing it has eternal value.

#2 gives us great joy in knowing we honor and recognize the One who gave His all for us.

#3 gives us great joy in knowing His light is being reflected through us — a light the world desperately needs, but doesn't yet know it.

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus tells to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The Apostle John further challenges us with these words: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.” (1 John 3:17-19)

This is All We Ask

Pray that God will move in the hearts of those who He wants to give toward:

#1 The school at Glory Center Church in Uganda (Glorious Academy Preschool) discussed in last months update. Click on link http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/ for more information.

#2 Water Projects – additional funding is needed to install our third water-purification system in Kabawanga, Uganda.*

In your prayer's, be open to the possibility that God may be leading you to give toward either of these projects or another Kingdom cause. Your response or lack of one can make a difference for now and for eternity.

*For directions on how and where to make your contribution to our next water project, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.


Men of Willow Water Project

November 2013 Update (Edition 50)

Note from Don

I realize I have been long winded once again in this update. I appreciate and value your time. Some have made the comment that I write long e-mails. So I ask that you don't think of this as an e-mail, but a newsletter that was sent via e-mail.

Looking for the Right Word

I have been looking for the best word that describes the tremendous impact our investment in the water projects are having and will continue to have in Uganda.

Whenever a community gets access to clean water that they never had before, many good things begin to take place. The one thing that is obvious is that they get access to clean water. Along with that is better health and less time and labor in walking long distances to fetch water. This water is not safe to drink so it must be boiled, requiring further effort in gathering or purchasing materials for a fire. This daily or twice daily task often prevents children from attending school. So access to clean water can have a positive effect on the economics and education in these communities. I want to remind you that these water-purification systems are durable and designed to provide water for many years to come with minimal maintenance. Future generations will benefit from your giving.

Evangelism is another important aspect of the water projects. As I have said before in past updates, when people come for the water that meets their physical needs they are told about the only one who can meet their spiritual needs, Jesus Christ. They come for water to quench their physical thirst, but are offered much more – eternal life in Christ!

I could go on and on to tell stories and describe many benefits that have flowed from the financial contribution you have made, bringing hope and help to the communities of Ndejje, Kitende and (soon) in Kabawanga, Kuzzi and Bisanja in Uganda. In financial terms, the investment we all made in these water projects is producing a phenomenal rate of return. In spiritual terms, the rate of return is incalculable; it is priceless.

So what word would you use to describe how a relatively small investment can be utilized to produce many times more its original value? I thought of the word “leverage,” defined one way as “the use of a small initial investment to gain a relatively high return.” Another definition is to “use borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable.” The words “borrowed capital” remind us that the resources we have really belong to God. We only have the ability and responsibility to use them well while we are here. (See the parable of the talents in Matt. 25:14-46 and also John 6:5-13 where Jesus feeds five thousand with a little boy's lunch.)

A mechanical definition would be to use something small (such as a pry bar, block and tackle or hoist) in such a way as to move something larger or greater than itself. The $30,000+ cost of a water project is more than most of us could afford individually. By ourselves, we couldn’t do it. Only by many of us joining together did this become possible. And, I might add, the value and benefits the water projects provide far outweigh the cost and effort it took to make them a reality.

Another word I thought of is “capitalize.” One definition is “to take advantage of something and use it for gain; make the best use of an opportunity.” Proverbs 17:19 (TLB) says, “When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord—and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!” Jesus said in Luke 6:38 (TLB): “For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

These words can be interpreted in different ways, both positively and negatively. I hope you will be able to see the point I am trying to make here. It is that God is honored and many people are blessed when we choose to use what God has entrusted us with to further His Kingdom. What Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20 is what is being experienced through your giving: “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)


A New Venture

For the past four years we have been focusing on raising funds for water-purification projects through our partner Water Missions International. Our third water project in Kabawanga is now in the design and development stage. A number of people have expressed a desire to continue toward funding a fourth water project. The opportunity to give to this cause will remain open as long as people are moved by the needs of those who lack access to clean water. If you are interested in giving the gift of safe drinking water, see the instructions at the end of this update.

Glory Center Projects

At this time we want to present an additional way we can make an impact in a community.

Our first water-purification project went into operation in July of 2010 at Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda. Since that time we have communicated with church leadership several times a month. Several of us have gone to visit them and we can testify that they are, spiritually speaking, the real deal.

It is because of this relationship with and admiration we have for Glory Center Church that we feel led to raise awareness of the opportunity to support some of the many needs they still have. It is not our intention to create a sense of dependency, but rather a partnership. Therefore, we would like you to prayerfully consider investing some of your resources in the following projects.

Project 1–Poultry husbandry. Raise $2,285 for the poultry husbandry program. ($2,000 has already been given and this portion of the plan has begun to operate.)

This is an income-producing (micro-enterprise) project in which the church purchases and raises chicks and then sell them back at a nice profit from the organization from which they purchased them. This process would repeat every five to six months, thus producing a continuous flow of income.


Project 2–Glorious Academy Preschool. Raise $3,700 to complete construction of classrooms for Glorious Academy that would accommodate 30 children. (Glory Center Church will raise the remaining $536 of the $ 4,236 total needed.) This program was stopped a few months after Bob and I visited there because they lost their place to meet and lack of operating funds.


Glory Center has an unfinished three-room building attached to the rear of the church.* To use this space for the preschool the building needs a roof, windows, doors and a floor. The cost for this is $4,236.

(The original plan was for this to be Pastor Charles residence. He and his wife, along with their five children and a foster child still live in the church office with two small adjacent rooms. These are basically sleeping quarters and a tiny kitchen area. I point this out to remind you of the sacrificial commitment Pastor Charles and his family are making to grow this church. He has chosen not to take a regular salary from the church.)


Project 3–Sponsor children for preschool. Get sponsors to donate $20.00 a month for nine months per year for two to three years.

The preschool can accommodate up to 30 children from the community, many of whom come from Muslim families. These families value education so much that they are even willing to send their children to a Christian school. To operate the school, feed the children, provide scholastic materials and pay two teachers, the church needs outside sponsorship for ten of the 30 children. This would cost $20 per month for nine months out of the year, or $180 annually per child. The goal is to follow this model for two to three years, after which the profits from the poultry husbandry program would be able to support Glorious Academy and eliminate the need for outside sponsorships, thus resulting in a self-supporting ministry.


If you feel led to contribute towards this worthy cause you can make your tax-deductible contribution by clicking here:http://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/


Water Project Contributions

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clickinghttps://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willowin the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman atmenofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

On behalf of all those who now and will soon have access to clean, safe water, we give a sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Don Neuman, along with Vern Boelkens, Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Jim Tofilon and Patrick Walsh


Men of Willow Water Project

October 2013 Update (Edition 49)

The Living Water Message

Jesus used the physical need for water as an opportunity to talk about spiritual needs. The story is recorded in John 4:7-14. The conversation begins like this:

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

"Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This is the kind of conversations that are taking place at our water projects in Ndejje, Kitende and soon in Kabawanga and the two adjacent villages of Kuzzi and Bisanja, Uganda. As people come to get clean water to drink, there is someone at the tap ready to tell them about the one true God who offers them eternal life.


Dreams sometimes do come true and prayers are answered (adapted from the October 2010 update)

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner heard a voice (a whisper.) It said, “If you build it, they will come.” That pertained to building a baseball field. In the movie we see baseball players of days gone by come back to life to play again to fulfill a dream. The movie, of course, was fiction.

But today we see a similar story being played out in real life. While we may not have heard God whisper the exact words “ If you build it, they will come,” that is just what is happening right now in the Ndejje and Kitende, Uganda. People are flocking to the Glory Center Church where the “Living Water Treatment Systems” are pumping clean water every day.

The whisper we heard was “what if.” What if all of us joined together to raise funds and partner with Water Missions International to provide safe water to a community in need? Men from all across Willow teamed up to make this happen  from the various Men's Breakfasts, to C.A.R.S., to Computer Connection as well as numerous others responded.

The initiative that began in August 2009 became a reality in July 2010 in Ndejje and February 2013 for Kitende. It was built and people are coming, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and in years to come; clean water will be flowing because you gave. (This will also be true for our third water project in Kabawanga.)

In the movie, players who had been banned from baseball, accused of intentionalally losing the 1919 World Series ( the Chicago Black Sox Scandal), came back to life and had a second chance to play again, thus fulfilling a dream. But it was nothing more than a fantasy. There is, however, a similar dream that has and is becoming a reality. We can read about it in Ephesians 2:4-7 (TLB) which says:

But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead — only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved — and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms — all because of what Christ Jesus did. And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ. 

This is God's dream. It has and is and will continue to become a reality in the lives of all who hear and accept his offer of eternal life. Today in Ndejje and Kitende, they are understanding that message a little more clearly because they are not just hearing Christians talk about their faith, but they are drinking from it. In Kitende alone, more than 1600 gallons of water is being distributed every day. “If you build it they will come” is indeed a dream come true and prayers answered. Much more than a whisper in a fictional movie, here is an invitation that is really true:

Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride. Whoever hears, echo, “Come!” Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink. Drink freely of the Water of LifeRev 22:17 17 ( The Message)

They come for water to quench their physical thirst, but are offered much more – eternal life in Christ!

A deep, heartfelt thanks to all who have given to make this dream come true.


The opportunity to give to this cause will remain open as long as people are moved by the needs of those who lack access to clean water. If you are interested in giving the gift of safe drinking water here is how you can do that:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go tohttp://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clickinghttps://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have anyquestions or want more information, contact Don Neuman atmenofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.


Men of Willow Water Project

September 2013 update

Four Year Anniversary



How did we get here?

It would take a long time and many pages to answer that question. But if you like to read and have a lot of time on your hands, go to our website at http://www.menofwillow.com/home and read all the updates going back to the beginning.


It is truly amazing what God has done through our response to His leading. Note: The emphasis here is on what God has done. He is the one who deserves all the credit; He gave us the opportunity and the resources to be an answer to the cries and prayers of those who thirst. We had a choice to respond or ignore the needs. Because we chose to give for this cause, two communities in Uganda ( and soon in a third) now have access to clean water. Along with the water comes an open door to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Our giving has cost us little and has produced much, as we have leveraged material resources for eternal gains.

Consider how this passage of scripture is as applicable to us today as it was when Paul wrote it to the Corinthians. Don't just read through this quickly, but carefully try to take in all that it means for us today, in the here and now, in our lives and the people of Uganda whose prayers for clean water have been answered.

He who gives the seed to the sower and turns that seed into bread to eat, will give you the seed of generosity to sow, and, for harvest, the satisfying bread of good deeds well done. The more you are enriched by God the more scope there will be for generous giving, and your gifts, administered through us, will mean that many will thank God. For your giving does not end in meeting the wants of your fellow-Christians. It also results in an overflowing tide of thanksgiving to God. Moreover, your very giving proves the reality of your faith, and that means that men thank God that you practice the Gospel that you profess to believe in, as well as for the actual gifts you make to them and to others. And yet further, men will pray for you and feel drawn to you because you have obviously received a generous measure of the grace of God. 2Cor. 9:10-14 (J.B. Philips)


The opportunity to give to this cause will remain open as long as people are moved by the needs of those who lack access to clean water. If you are interested in giving the gift of safe drinking water here is how you can do that:

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selectingMen of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman athttp://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847 452-1100).

Men of Willow Water Project

August 2013 Update (Edition 47)

The Power Of A Whisper

It was at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit in 2009 where I first became aware and woke up to reality that there are millions of people on this earth that don't have the same access to clean water that we so often take for granted. Then I, and many of you were introduced to Water Missions International (WMI), a non-profit Christian engineering organization that provides water and sanitation solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas.


WMI's water-purification systems can filter and deliver 10,000 gallons of clean water every day. Because the equipment is solar-powered and very durable, it only costs about $100.00 a year to operate and maintain. But the start-up costs is around $30,000. When most of us heard that, we concluded that there was no way we could get involved. But then God planted this thought: What if all the guys in the various men's breakfast groups around Willow joined together to do what we couldn't do alone. You might call that a whisper from above.


If you have been following our story you know that this initiative caught on and has expanded to many other groups and individuals, such as C.A.R.S. And Computer Connection Ministries. Even though our collective group is called Men of Willow, it is not exclusive to men or to Willow. All have been and are welcome to join with us as we have helped bring clean water to two communities in Uganda and soon to a third. It has been an amazing adventure to see people respond to the need, hear about all those who needs are being met and to give thanks together to God for making this all possible. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read 2Cor. 9: 6-15 and reflect on how this scripture is being lived out here and now.


More Than Water


Because these water-purification systems bring clean water to their communities through the local church, a wonderful relationship has developed. I, along with several others have visited Glory Center Church in Uganda. We have seen with our own eyes the great work God is doing among these African friends of ours. We continue to receive monthly reports that describe how the churches there have grown and impacted the community through the water systems. This has opened the door of opportunity to share the gospel with many who otherwise would not listen.

It is because of the relationship with and admiration we have for Glory Center Church that we feel led to raise awareness and opportunity to support some of the many needs they still have. It is not our intention to create a sense of dependency, but rather a partnership. In the coming months we will be presenting various “Glory Center Projects.”


Project #3 Update


We are happy to announce that Kabawanga, Uganda, will be the recipient of our third water-purification system. The adjacent villages of Kuzzi and Bisanja will also be served with taps in multiple locations. Due to the scope and size of this project, the cost will exceed the $33,775 that we have raised so far. Water Missions will be seeking other partners to join with us to fully fund this project. More than 3,600 people will soon have access to clean, safe drinking water when our third water system is is installed and operating. Glory Center Church, which operates our first two projects in Ndejje and Kitende has happily agreed to be our liaison in this community. There is much work that lies ahead before this project becomes a reality. We will keep you informed as it progresses.


Are we going for #4?

This is a question that some have asked us. Frankly, we had doubts that there would ever be a first water project, let alone a second and now a third. Could there possibly be a fourth? Every month at the Elgin men's breakfast, one of the men hands me a ten-dollar bill and asks me if we are going for a fourth water project. Apart from what we have experienced in these past four years, I would be very skeptical about raising another $30,000 for one more water project. At only ten dollars a month, it would take 250 years. But what God has enabled us to do thus far was not the result of one person giving, but of many. Of the nearly $100,000 that has been given to date, about 25 percent was from contributions of $100.00 or less. Few of us could afford to give the full amount needed and that is what is exciting about this. We accomplished together that which we could not do alone. Every contribution played a part in meeting the need.


Another, perhaps more important aspect of this is that all those who gave did so as they were moved by the Spirit of God. Give that some thought for a moment or two. While it is significant to those who have and to those who will get the gift of clean water, how much more significant is it to God and us that we hear and respond to the promptings of the Spirit in our lives, whatever that may be for each of us. Men can build buildings and machines that will last for a time, but God saves and changes lives for eternity.

So whenever we are moved to help someone in need as prompted by the Spirit, there is always a greater purpose and plan that God has in it. Is it God's plan and purpose for us to continue raising funds for another water project? I don't know. There are many needs around the world that require financial resources. This is certainly one. It would be helpful to hear from all of you. It would be best for all of us to have an open ear and open heart for what God wants for each of us.


Well, that's my sermonette for this month. Take it for what its worth and be thankful that it will be four weeks before the next one.


The opportunity to give to this cause will remain open as long as people are moved by the needs of those who lack access to clean water. If you are interested in giving the gift of clean water here is how you can do that:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847 452-1100).


On behalf of all those who are now and will soon have access to clean, safe water, we give a sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Don Neuman, along with Vern Boelkens, Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Jim Tofilon and Patrick Walsh


Men of Willow Water Project

July 2013 Update (Edition #46)

Beyond Expectations

For the third time is less than four years, we have raised the funds to provide another community in need with a water-purification system. Once again, we have exceeded our goal and have raised $33,403.00 for project #3.

The total contributed thus far is now $98,603.00. This is an extraordinary feat for a bunch of regular guys (and gals), many of whom are retired, living on a fixed income and giving above and beyond their support to their church. But we dare not take credit for what God has done. David's prayer of thanksgiving is as applicable to us today as it was back then. His prayer and ours is this:


Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 1Chronicles 29:11-14 (NIV)

The opportunity to give to this cause will remain open as long as people are moved by the needs of those who lack access to clean water. If you are interested in giving the gift of clean water here is how you can do that:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847 452-1100).

As I have mentioned in the past, these water-purification systems are not wells or boreholes which have limited capacity to pump water and is not necessarily free of pollutants. These solar-powered systems can filter and produce 10,000 gallons of contaminate-free water a day. Along with that is a plan to share the gospel with everyone who comes for this life-sustaining water. We have done this through our partner Water Missions International. I described this in more detail in the September 2012 update. Open this link to read “The Anatomy of the Water Project.” http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-September-2012-Update


Report from Ndejje and Kitende, Uganda

Here are excerpts from a recent report from Glory Center Church's Prossy Kaitesi


[Report from Ndejje]

Glory Center Ministries sends our sincere gratitude towards our partners, friends, Men of Willow who have been able and are still able to stand with us in expanding God’s kingdom by reaching out to the uttermost parts of the world with the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are grateful that through the water projects we are bringing hope to the hopeless and share love with unloved ones. You can imagine communities which had no safe water and hopeless for it, with high outbreak of diseases because of lack of safe water to sustain their lives; it’s now really encouraging and whether some like it or not, we are preaching the glorious gospel of the Kingdom of God.

[Report from Kitende]

This is what the Secretary of Makandwa-Kitende told me. The community was hopeless with no safe water and many outbreaks of disease in the community due to bad water. Also big distance to get water was a burden to the people, mostly children. School drop outs of children caused by the problem of big distance to the water source always caused the children to be late going to school and some got tired of being beaten at school so they refused to go back.

The conversation I got from the secretary of Makandwa-Kitende was really hopeful and full of joy. He told me that water was becoming a burden to the community but I don’t how I can thank Glory Center Church for the good coordination with the donors to help our community. The government and some organization used to promise us to solve the problem but all was in vain.

We thank God for the continuous change He is bringing to the communities through G.C.C. ministries, Men of Willow and other believing parties of Christ.

I thank God that Men of Willow have joined and partnered with us to reach to the uttermost parts of the world for the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to be preached, as well as giving hope to the hopeless through the water projects.

On behalf of Glory Center Church Ministries, Prossy Kaitesi

God bless you more and we love you.

Project #3 Update

We are in the process of working with our partner Water Missions International, to determine the location of our third water-purification project. We hope to announce the name and details next month.

On behalf of all those who are now and will soon have access to clean, safe water, we give a sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Don Neuman, along with Vern Boelkens, Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Jim Tofilon and Patrick Walsh


Men of Willow Water Project

June 2013 Update (Edition #45)


Almost There

If you have been following these monthly updates you know that we have been on a journey that has brought clean water to two communities in Uganda and soon to a third. As of this date, $32,136 has been given to Water Missions International for our third water-purification project. Even though this amount exceeds our original goal of $30,000, the opportunity to give to this cause is still open, as the actual costs will, most likely, be higher. We are now in the process of determining the location for this water project.

If you are interested in giving the gift of clean water here is how you can do that.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847 452-1100)


Is this worth taking a risk for?

As I write this update, our church is in the middle of a series entitled “Risk.” This got me to thinking about this journey that we have been on and it prompted me to look back and reconsider if all this was worth taking a risk for. This was a question in the back of my mind when we first began thinking about raising money for a water-purification project in August of 2009. I was not at all sure if the thought was a whisper from God, or just an admirable idea without the possibility of achievement. As a group of us gathered together, prayed for God's leading and began sharing the idea, it became obvious that we were indeed being led by the Spirit of God. While this journey has not been without a few challenges and difficulties, we can look back and confidently say it has been worth the risk of obeying the Spirit's call on our lives. Not only has this initiative made it possible for three communities in Africa to have access to clean, safe water for the first time and the opportunity to better understand that Jesus is the Living Water, but in the process, God has enlarged our own hearts. We have experienced, in a deeper level, what Jesus spoke about in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”


In this life, our giving has been rewarded in the joy and knowledge that we receive in knowing that God has used us as his agents of love and grace to make a difference in people”s lives, both physically and spiritually. In the next life, in heaven, is where we will fully experience the ultimate reward of our efforts. We take no credit for what God has enabled us to do. For all we have has come from his hand. He has given us the opportunity to choose and to use our resources as we wish – for self or for others, for those things that will soon deteriorate or for those things that will last, for our agenda or for God's. I am grateful for all of you who have joined together to make clean water available for generations to come in these various communities in Uganda. Perhaps the day will come when we meet some of these people face to face in heaven where they might say to us, “Thank you for responding to the promptings of the Spirit.” Or better yet, Jesus might say to us, “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25: 35, 40)


So, to answer the question, “Was all this worth taking a risk for?” I am thinking that the greater risk would have been to ignore the whisper from God and to pass it off as a mere whim. Just think what we would have missed?


Grateful for your partnership,

Don Neuman, along with Vern Boelkens, Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Jim Tofilon and Patrick Walsh


P.S. The significance of the insignificant


On June 3rd , the new Willow Creek Care Center will open its doors to serve those who are struggling in our area. This ten-million-dollar building project was made possible by the generous contributions of many people. I imagine there are a multitude stories that can be told of how God moved in people's hearts to give for this cause. Some had the ability to give a very large contribution and others could give only a small amount. Regardless of the amount one was able and led to give, each played an important part in accomplishing the goal. Here is the story of one.


When the people of Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda, heard about Willow's plan to build a new Care Center, they asked if they could help. Their church was the recipient of our first water project and, even though they were very poor, they wanted to express their gratitude with a sacrificial contribution to our building project. So in May of 2011, a group of us had the honor of presenting a check from them to pastor Bill Hybels. (More details about this can be found on our website at http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-May-2011-Update)


While their gift was costly to them, to say it didn't go very far towards constructing our building would be an understatement. Materially, it would certainly be considered an insignificant amount. It was as insignificant as was the five small loaves of bread and two small fish offered by a boy to feed five thousand hungry men, (as well as all the women and children present) in John 6: 5-13. But we know what Jesus did with this small offering. No contribution to a Kingdom cause is insignificant in God's eyes.


If you walk through the main entrance of the Willow Creek Care Center, you will see a special wall. It has thousands of names written on it to welcome our guest and to say, “We care about you.” Among the many names, you will find this one. “Glory Center Church, Ndejje, Uganda.” I ask that you pray for them and the work God is doing there as they pray for us and the work God is doing here. When they say “Mukama yebazibwe,” we say “Praise the Lord.” For it is together that we all recognize and give honor to God who enables and calls each of us to support His Kingdom work, locally and globally.


I will close this long P.S. with an African saying I read in Richard Stearns book, The Hole In Our Gospel: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito.”


Men of Willow Water Project

May 2013 Update (Edition #44)

Hello friends. Welcome to this month's update. For the past three and a half years, we have been on a journey that has brought clean water to two communities in Uganda and soon in a third. As of this date, we are within a just a few thousand dollars of funding our third water-purification project.

Please join us today in giving the gift of clean water.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://www.menofwillow.com/ and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at http://www.menofwillow.com/ or phone (847 452-1100)



Kitende Water Project

Something amazing is happening in the Ugandan community of Kitende. People are coming to Glory Center Church to get clean water, thanks to all those who gave generously to this cause. It is hard for us to imagine that what we take for granted is an amazing thing to them – turn the faucet and clean water actually comes out. Here is a description of what is taking place as written by Nick Matovu, pastor of Glory Center Church Kitende, the site of our second water-purification system (and a branch of Glory Center Church, Ndejje, where our first system is located.)


Praise, honor, majesty and power be unto our God now and forever!!! He is the Lord God Almighty!!!

Great thanks to Him for the wonderful works He is doing among us, for He has surely done great things. I personally have to emphasize this as the pastor of the church because of such great joy that I am feeling deep down inside my heart.

One of the things God has done that is really causing me great joy is the salvation of more people through the water project. If you remember my previous report I talked of the stiff resistance that we encountered and experienced before installing the water project in the community. At the end of the project however, many have changed their attitude to positive towards the church. Today, a vast number of people, big and small, young and old no longer go down to the community spring for water. About 70% of the community inhabitants now draw water from the safe water project taps at one of the two distribution points. The jerry can which used to cost 700 Ugandan shillings [UGX][.27 cents U.S.] is now 100 UGX [.04 cents U.S.] This has reduced the burden of fetching water from a long distance, which is not safe, and also the high expenditure for water.

With the addition of the water project, our church attendance and membership has increased. I am happy to report that more youths and adults have joined our church. Some are new believers, others are those who had drifted away, but are now choosing to renew their faith and commitment to Christ. We are now taking up the task of growing them in the faith.


Living Water

While it is the physical water that the people are coming for, they are receiving something that is far more valuable. Pastor Nick explains:

Since the official opening of the water project many people have heard about Jesus, as more are on their way we will continue to share with them the living water message. They are recognizing and appreciating the presence and importance of the church in this community. Many are seriously considering the call of God for salvation through Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior!!! I know this is a result of intense prayer, supplication and spiritual warfare, which is nullifying the territorial spirits of Kitende; including underdevelopment, witchcraft, drug addiction, alcoholism, adultery, fornication, etc.

My authentic thanks to the Men of Willow, our dear donors, for enabling us to reach out to our community with the living water message through the safe water project.

Nick Matovu, pastor of Glory Center Church, Kitende, Uganda.


Friends, I hope that this information serves to assure you that your contributions have been put to good use and are having a life changing and eternal impact in this community. As I mentioned at the beginning of this update, we are close to funding a third water-purification project. Your contribution will help us to bring clean water to one more community in Uganda.

Photos provided by Water Missions International


Men of Willow Water Project

April 2013 Update (Edition #43)


Hello friends. Welcome to this month's update. For the past three and a half years, we have been on an incredible journey that has brought clean water into two communities in Uganda and soon into a third as well. Many people from various men's groups such as, the regional Willow Creek Men's Breakfast Groups, the C.A.R.S. Ministry and Computer Connection, along with friends and family members, have joined together and given of their resources to help those who thirst. (Let's not forget the women. We couldn't do this without you.) We invite you to join us in this initiative. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com. Photos courtesy of Water Missions International.


The Living Water Message

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “ If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37-38 NIV

This is the message of hope that is a vital part of each of our water projects. People are drawn by their thirst for the water that will meet their physical needs. But when they come, they are told about the One who can meet their spiritual needs, Jesus Christ. They are coming and they are hearing and they are believing. The investment we have made in these water projects is paying eternal dividends. While there are many demands and requests for our limited resources, including many legitimate needs we have for our families, it is our contributions to Kingdom causes that are the ones that will outlive us.

The Privilege of Giving

We live in the land of plenty and there are plenty of things on which to spend our money. That's good. We are indeed blessed. It's good for the economy that we buy stuff. But should we not use some of the resources God has given to us for that which is good for the economy of His Kingdom?

I am talking about over and above what we give to support our church. It certainly begins there. We can settle for that and be satisfied that we have done what is required. But we don't have to stop there. I am reminded what Paul wrote to Timothy. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1Timothy 6:17-19 (You may not be considered rich by American standards, but compared to most of the world we all are.)

I have found, along with many of you, that giving to kingdom causes is a great privilege that God has given us. When we look beyond ourselves and actively look for more ways to honor God with more of our resources we experience what it means to “take hold of life that is truly life.”

Former president of the Moody Bible Institute, Joseph Stowell wisely said, “You can't take it with you, so send it on ahead.” The older I get, the more I realize how close heaven is and what little time I have to choose how to use what he has given me. So whether you decide to give to this cause or any other, consider it a joy, honor and a privilege to do so, and it can be an investment in the Kingdom of our God.

An Example To Consider

Try to imagine, if you can, living in a country where a child must get up at dawn to walk a long distance to fetch water. It is not safe for human consumption, but it is the only source of water they have. Now, picture this being your own child carrying up to 40 pounds of water. On long and laborious walk the urge is great to quench their thirst with this filthy water, but it will produce undesirable consequences. Yet the thirst is almost unbearable. If this is not bad enough, read what awaited one girl whose task of fetching water caused her to be late for school. This is the real life experience of Prossy Kaitesi as told in her own words:


Water Project Ndejje:

I thank God for water project in Ndejje which has helped to save people’s lives, mostly children. I have thought and recalled of my old days when I was still young in our village, Ssenya-Masaka district. We used to fetch water from a very far place to our home carried on our head. This developed me some problems health wise, like chest pain and going very late at school of which I had to be paid with beatings. Looking at children of Ndejje community being helped from such health infirmities; it’s my joy.

This means that you are doing much in saving people’s lives, mostly for children who are tomorrow’s church of Christ, not only spiritually but also physically in having a healthy life without infirmities and having their future education being saved from afflictions like absenteeism, late coming at school because of water distance and sickness. So, you are not only preaching the gospel spiritually but also improving physical health of people’s lives.

We thank God for our great committed friends of Men of Willow in U.S.A. In great joy, I wish the best of you.

On behalf of Glory Center Church, Ndejje, Prossy


Water Project Kitende

Within the first six weeks of operation, which began on February 15th, The Kitende water-purification system has treated and distributed more than 34,000 gallons of clean water.

Next month I will give a more detailed report how the water system and the church are transforming the community there.


Water Project #3

Our goal to fund a third water project is getting very close. As of this date, we have $20,757 toward the estimated $30,000* needed. We have been informed that one of our donor's contribution will be triple matched by his employer; this will put us within a few thousand dollars of our goal. So if you would like to play a vital part in bringing clean water to one more community, now would be a great time to do it. Regardless of the size of your contribution, it will help make a tremendous difference in peoples lives not just for a little while, but for generations to come.


Please join us today in giving the gift of clean water

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847 452-1100)

* This amount represents the minimum required. Each project is unique and exact cost can only be determined following a community assessment by Water Missions International.


Men of Willow Water Project (Edition #42)

March 2013 Update


Hello friends. Welcome to this month's update. For the past three and a half years, we have been on a journey that has brought clean water to two communities in Uganda and soon in a third. We invite you to join us in this initiative. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.


Seeing Is Believing

After months of planning, praying and overcoming many obstacles, construction of the Living Water Treatment System is complete and clean water is now flowing in Kitende, Uganda. The Commissioning Service that officially opened the project was held on February 15, 2013. Safe drinking water that we so often take for granted is now available for the first time in this community. This was made possible because many of us joined together and gave generously through our partner Water Missions International (see attached publication).




There was skepticism and doubt by many in the community when they first heard that clean water would be coming to their village. They had heard these promises before. They thought this was just another empty promise by a politician asking for their vote or a con artist looking to cheat them out of what little money they had. But as construction progressed and community members were invited to participate, hope began to rise. “Could it really be true that we will finally have clean water in our village?” became the talk among the people.


We received this report from pastor Charles Kwagala:


“I have been in Kitende on 31st January for a conference ( hosted by Water Missions Uganda) and it happened that I talked with some community members. They told me that they have never seen something in this community that has brought so much harmony, joy and happiness as this water system has.” He went on to say, “ You can't believe the excitement I saw on people's faces caused by this project. This is really a practical gospel as I always say. I wish you could be here. You would burst out in tears of joy.”


The water system is operated by Glory Center Church, Kitende, parented by Glory Center Church, Ndejje, where our first water-purification project is located. Pastor Charles speaks of this as “a practical gospel” because it gives the church a unique opportunity to share the message of Christ as the “Living Water” to many who may not otherwise come to a church. The availability of clean water being associated with the church adds creditability to the message of Christ in this community where witchcraft and pagan beliefs have had a foothold . God did what the government could not do.

This illustrates what we have heard so many times around Willow: The local church (proclaiming and living out the gospel of Jesus Christ) is the hope of the world! Click on link to see pictures. http://www.flickr.com/photos/watermissionsuganda/sets/72157632170517098/


Project #3


As of this date we have $17655.00 toward our goal of $30,000 to fully fund our third water-purification system.

During the course of raising funds for these water projects, we have seldom directly asked anyone to give. We have asked people to pray about and consider giving. I have closed many updates with, “If you are inclined to join us, here's how you can do that,” but rarely an outright plea to give. So allow me this time to be a little more bold. Why not join us right now, today, by making a $20, $50, $100, contribution, or more and bring clean water to one more community in Uganda. A number of us have signed up to give monthly contributions. If 120 people (that would be one out of every four people who attend the various men's breakfast, plus C.A.R.S. And Computer Connection) gave just $20 a month for the next five months that would give us the remaining $12,000 needed to fully fund a water system that is capable of providing clean water for a village of 3,000 people. You could make a world of difference in someones life for less than the cost of a daily cup of McDonald’s coffee. Starbucks? Forgettaboutit!



Please join us today in giving the gift of clean water.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847 452-1100)


Men of Willow Water Project (Edition #41)

February 2013 Update


Hello friends. Welcome to this month's update. We need your help in getting this story out. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.


What difference does this make?

I am unable to comprehend the fact that, in this day and age, there are nearly one billion people around the world who do not have access to clean water. While we are close to funding our third water project, it seems like so little when compared to the millions who remain without. But I am reminded of a story which helps me put things in proper perspective. It has been told in numerous variations. Here is one.


The Starfish Story

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.


She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”


The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,“Well, I made a difference to that one!”


The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. - adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eisele


I don't know how much of that story is true, but I do know that our story about the difference God has enabled us to make in two communities in Uganda and soon to be in a third is true.



Making A Difference – A True Story

Here are some excerpts from recent reports that we received from Prossy Kaitesi on behalf of Glory Center Church, Ndejje, Uganda


It is great news for us who believe, support, contribute and preach the living water message to see that the project in Kitende is now close to completion. On 3rd January 2013, Pastor Charles and Pastor Nick met with the leaders of Kitende community together with the team of Water Missions Uganda to go and see the progress for the water project. Pr.Charles reported it was so encouraging and all the community leaders said that they thought it was a lie to get water, but they confessed with joy that they are so grateful for such improvement which they never thought would happen in this community. So they gave their thanks to the donors, church and Water Missions.”


A word of the year to men of willow! You may be far in distance but you are helping to bring many souls nearer to the kingdom of God. Distance doesn’t matter in this case for unchanged souls to be changed through your efforts by providing safe water to Ndejje, Kitende and other communities. So whoever joins in contributing towards the cause of providing safe water, you are doing a great work in the kingdom of God and so you are royally privileged in partnering with us in sharing the glorious gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”


With all the bad things going on in this world, it is a great privilege to be able to report this good news.

Together, we are making a real difference in a real place, in real people's lives, for now and eternity. God gets the credit, glory and praise. We get the joy of knowing that we are instruments of blessing in God's hands.


If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the $12,675 still needed to fund our third project, here's how:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847 452-1100)


Men of Willow Water Project Edition #40

January 2013 Update

Hello friends. Welcome to the first update of the new year. We need your help in getting this story out. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.


This is our 40th edition of the Water Project Updates, which began in October 2009. Since that time, we have raised more than $82,000 and funded two water-purification projects in Uganda. As of this date we have $17,021 toward the $30,000 needed to fund a third project. A heartfelt, sincere thanks to all who have given so generously to this cause. As we move closer to reaching this goal we will begin to work with our partner, Water Missions International, to select the location for this next project.


When is enough enough?

When we first sensed God's leading to begin raising funds to provide clean water for some community in a third-world country, we had no idea that people would give as generously as they have. Our hope to be able to help one community became a reality when our first system went into operation in Ndejje, Uganda in June 2010.


If that is as far as we went, it certainly would have been considered enough by most of us. But we had surpassed our goal of funding one project by more than $8,000. This, accompanied by the positive results coming out of Ndejje, the encouragement of many to continue on to fund a second project, and a strong sense of God's leading, compelled us to keep the initiative going.


By November of 2011 we had, once again, exceeded the goal of funding a second project, but contributions continued streaming in. Having exceeded our dream of providing clean water for not just one, but two communities, could we expect, hope or dare to dream that we could do this once more? Wasn't two enough?


I have had no lofty ideas that we could make clean water accessible to all the multitudes of those who thirst. There are those who do have the faith, courage and vision to do so, like our partners at Water Missions International. My hope and dream is this: to continue together with the Men of Willow, some friends and our families, with God's help to bring clean, safe water to one more community. When that day comes, (I believe sometime in 2013), you and I might again wonder, Is this enough, Lord?


I don't know if you are like me, but sometimes I get tired, discouraged and weary of the many demands on my resources and appeals to support one cause or another. We can easily begin to view life through its troubles and burdens. Or we can live with anticipation of the blessings and opportunities God gives us to be difference makers in this world as agents of His love and grace.


I find these words of Paul helpful whenever I need to put life in proper perspective.


This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike 'What’s next, Papa?' God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us - an unbelievable inheritance!” Romans 8:15-16a (The Message)


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 translation)


If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the $12,979 still needed to fund our third project, here's how:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. If you have any questions or want more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100


May God richly bless and prosper you throughout this coming year.


Don Neuman, along with Vern Boelkens, Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Jim Tofilon and Patrick Walsh (Men of Willow Water Project Committee)


Men of Willow Water Project

December 2012 Update

Hello friends. Welcome to this month's update. We need your help in getting this story out. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com


The greatest of gifts

Our passion to fund a third water project is driven by much more than providing life-saving clean water. It is about communicating the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. The good news that was proclaimed 2000 years ago is as relevant today as it was back then.


Luke 2:10: “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (NKJV)


God's gift of eternal life is, unquestionably, the greatest gift that can be given or received. There is nothing else that can come close to matching it in value and endurance. The announcement that the Savior of all mankind had arrived was delivered by special messenger: “I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.” Luke 2:10 (The Message)


Can you imagine being there to hear this announcement? Can you imagine being the one chosen to deliver it? This is a privilege that is ours today. Whenever people come to Glory Center Church to get clean water, they ask about the sign on the filtration system that says, “Donated by Men of Willow.” This is an opportunity for the church to tell these seekers about the God who loves them and moved in the hearts of some people far away to give so they can have this water. They are amazed that we would do that. But the explanation is given: “This is what God does through people who trust him.”


A gift that lasts

Can you remember any of the gifts you received for Christmas last year? While they are all appreciated and bring joy for a time, few are long remembered. It is the expression of love that endures.


In the past several years, I made it known to all my family, that if they were planning on giving me anything at all for Christmas, to just make a contribution to the Men of Willow account at Water Missions International. I could want nothing more than for my family to be a part of bringing clean water to a community that is suffering and children dying because all they have to drink is contaminated water. I know that this is a practical gift that will outlive me and bless thousands of people. But even more important, it will open the door for them to hear about the one whose birth we are about to celebrate, Jesus the Savior has come!


Our gift to God

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” As believers in Christ, we have received the greatest of all gifts. Now, it is our privilege to pass it on to others. There are a multitude of ways we can and should do this. Many of us have already joined together to bring hope and help to two communities in Uganda. We are more than a third of the way towards funding yet another water-purification project. I know that this time of the year we are bombarded with requests to help worthy and needing causes with our financial resources. I just ask that you prayerfully consider what God would like you to do. (We encourage you to support your church first before giving this cause.)


Project #3

As of this date we have $11,346.00 toward our goal of $30,000 to fully fund our third water-purification project. f you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the $18,654.00 still needed to fund our next project, here's how:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100


My gift to you : This shorter than usual update.


I want to wish you and your loved ones a joyful, Christ centered Christmas.

Don Neuman along with Vern Boelkens, Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Jim Tofilon and Patrick Walsh (Men of Willow Water Project Committee)

Men of Willow Water Project

November 2012 Update

Hello friends. Welcome to this month's update. We need your help in getting this story out. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com


Project # 2 Kitende, Uganda ( See attachment)

Construction has begun on the treatment house. The community continues to gather needed materials. The estimated completion date is prior to December 25th. What a Christmas gift that will be when clean water begins to flow in Kitende! Please pray that the forces of evil will not delay this project any further.


Project #3

As of this date we have $10,521.00 toward our goal of $30,000 to fully fund our third water-purification system. In October, members of our team went out to most of the regional breakfasts, Computer Connection and C.A.R.S. Ministry groups to give project updates. These were met with an enthusiastic response. This is more significant than it may sound; it was three years ago that this initiative was launched through these same groups. At that time, we had no idea what God had in store for us. Back in October 2009 we didn't know if a first project could be funded. Now we are optimistic that even a third one will be.


If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, here is how you can do that. For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write Men of Willow in the memo section. For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

_________________________________________________________________________________

More of the story ...Beyond expectations

Eph. 3:20 states: “God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (The Message) This verse has become quite evident in this initiative. God has chosen to use a bunch of regular folks to accomplish his will in ways we could have only dared to dream. We initially thought this was about bringing clean water to those in need. But it quickly became apparent that there was a lot more to it than just water, as important as that is. In this update I want to focus on the relational impact on these water projects.


The relationship

Our hope in funding the first water-purification project was to be able to maintain some contact with the community where it was installed. We had promised to keep people informed about the impact that clean water was having there. What we had expected as “some contact” soon became a relationship and a deep friendship. In the monthly reports that we receive from Glory Center Church, they express their gratitude and urge us to “Tell the Men of Willow we love them.” They have extended to all of us an open invitation to come and visit them. It's only 8,000 miles away.


We were hoping that many of you would have had the opportunity to meet pastor Charles or Prossy, the church administrator, at the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) in August (held at Willow Creek), but they were unable to obtain visas. Maybe next year. So the next best thing is to tell you their story. This month I will tell you about pastor Charles.


The story of pastor Charles Kwagala

The founder and lead pastor of Glory Center Church, Charles Kwagala is a humble, soft - spoken (except when he gets to preaching) gentle man. He is 38 years old. I am old enough to be his father, and I told him I would be proud to have him as my son. He has become a very dear friend and even though you may have not met or talked with him yourself, he knows that I am just one of the many friends his church knows as the Men of Willow (women included - we couldn’t do this without your support too) You can watch a video clip of pastor Charles on our website.

Pastor Charles was born in Kimukunda, (pronounced Chimukunda) a village in the Rakai district of southwestern Uganda. Richard Stearns describes the living conditions in Rakai in the opening pages of his book, The Hole In Our Gospel. “That district, Rakai, is believed to be ground zero for the Ugandan Aids pandemic.” Most of Charles siblings fell victim to this plague.

Charles is one of only three surviving children out of twelve. His mother's sister came to her and offered to rescue one child by taking him away from this devastation to live with her in Kampala. (This idea of offering relief was later developed into a ministry at Glory Center Church called “Help One and Save the Rest.”) This aunt showed him great love and kindness. This was a very welcome and reassuring change from the sickness and death that was taking place in Rakai. It was there in Kampala that Charles was brought to church and introduced to Christianity by his aunt. Within a short time, he became “a born again.” This is the term they use to clearly differentiate between being a genuine Christian or just religious.

Charles quickly became involved in the music ministry and open - air evangelism. After observing how much zeal he had developed for serving the Lord, his aunt told him one day, “you are going to have many children in the Lord.” One night shortly after that he had a dream that God was calling him to start a church. At that time he was still very young and saw that he couldn't manage the work. Within a month he said, “the fire died down but the dream remained.”

Two years later, he and six friends started a ministry of gathering clothes that they would then take to Rakai and distribute through the schools to the orphans and the poor. This opened the door for them to preach the gospel to the kids, even in the Catholic schools there. They continued this work for about four years. His plans to go to Bible College were complicated when the mother of one of his six friends died. Charles said that she called him into her room and told him, “I am going to die. But I am leaving you with these kids. Don't leave them!” Somehow Charles managed to take care of them while earning a certificate in Theology at the Reformed Theological College in Kampala.

This is where Charles met his wife Faith. They were married shortly after graduation on November 18, 2000.They were offered a job as foster parents in a children's home in Ndejje. Faith was 22 and Charles was 25. Two years later the Lord came to him again telling him to start a church. He said, “this time the fire was irresistible.” Their foster parents job provided a small income while Charles began to organize and establish Glory Center Church nearby. They were responsible for taking care of twelve orphans and even after the children's home closed down, Charles and Faith continued to raise the children, establishing the“Help One and save The Rest.” ministry mentioned earlier. From what I understand, this is something like a foster - parent ministry. With a multitude of destitute and orphaned children in the community the church is doing the best they can with the meager resources they have.

Despite the fact that pastor Charles and Faith are living in the church office (a small corner of the church) with four children of their own and one more on the way, and do not receive a regular salary from the church, they have taken in another child, 13 year old Esther. (you can read her story in the July 2012 update on our website) If you would ask Charles what he is most passionate about, I think he would answer like this:
“To reach to the outermost parts of the world with the glorious Gospel of the kingdom of God, particularly on giving hope to hopeless; Love to the unloved ones; Giving motherly and fatherly love to the vulnerable children . We believe by doing so, communities will be changed to the Glory of the Lord.”


In fact that is the Mission Statement of Glory Center Church and it comes out loud and clear in all our correspondence. Even though there are cultural and ethnic differences and thousands of miles that separate us, there are many similarities between this church and its senior pastor and Willow Creek Community Church. Both are passionate about evangelism, children's and youth ministry, spiritual growth, leadership development, and they each have multiple sites. Pastor Charles continues to challenge his congregation to believe that all things are possible with God and then go out and live like you really believe it.


God has given us the great honor and privilege to come alongside this devoted pastor and his church by equipping them with two water-purification systems. Besides that, there is a relationship of mutual encouragement, love and brotherhood in Christ. For the last two years we have sponsored members of Glory Center Church, enabling them to attend the GLS in Kampala. This year there will be a total of 36 sponsored attendees, including pastors from their neighboring churches.


If you have been to a Leadership Summit, then you know how meaningful it can be. But here at Willow, we are accustomed to great teaching and worship, maybe even taking what we have for granted. Now try to imagine those who don't have access to what we have, some experiencing it for the first time. In Uganda, a country that has been devastated by war, corruption, AIDS, witchcraft and poverty, what might appear to some as hopeless is really fertile ground for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in a small way, we are participating in God's “Great Commission” there. I want to ask you to prayerfully consider joining us by investing some of your resources in this project. It will make a world of difference.

I will close with these words of appreciation from our friend, pastor Charles Kwagala.


Hello friend Don and all Men of Willow, its a great blessing for me as a little known African preacher to have church friends like you who always take time to read my stories of how I am trying to reach to utter most parts of the world with the glorious gospel of the kingdom of our Lord.


I want all Men of Willow to know this: at Glory Center Church we take your participation in this matter as a great deal and a blessing. I want you to be assured of this: we have used your money (water system and solar) to expand the kingdom of God.


Allow me to say this: aside from myself and the wonderful dedicated congregation God has given me, you are the first people who have supported this work of God from outside. Thank you so much. May God bless you all. Due to your encouragement, the church has expanded. We have planted another church as you know in Butogonya and another in Kitende. When I sat down to think about this great harvest of souls we are now having, definitely I realized that it is Glory Center Church members and your encouragement that has made such a great impact. Just to know that I have friends who love me and appreciate what we are doing in the Lord, I believe it has pushed the work of God ahead. Please remember me in your prayers. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, friends.


From pastor Charles

Men of Willow Water Project

October 2012 Update

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Note: See attached flier


Is this a pipe dream?

That was a thought that entered my mind back in September of 2009. That is when we first pondered the idea of asking the guys as the Willow regional breakfast groups to raise $30,000 for a water-purification project. Now three years later, having funded two such projects, we feel led to continue on toward providing clean water for another community.


We are now one-third of the way toward funding a third project. With an additional $20,000 needed, it may sound like an unreasonable expectation, considering these hard economic times. The question comes up again,“Is this a pipe dream?” By definition, that means a conception or image created by the imagination and having no objective reality; an illusory or fantastic plan, hope, or story. But some of you know that the origin of that phrase refers to the fantasies brought about by the smoking of opium.

(I'm sure that no one reading this has ever been under the influence of any mind-altering drugs or alcohol. Have you?) But I understand if some may think our judgment is a little impaired by hoping you will support this cause.


But we have been on an amazing journey, being led by the Spirit of God and encouraged by the many people who have already joined together and leveraged their resources to raise over $75,000 so far.

It is true that we have been operating “under the influence” of something. People did not give that much money because we have been so persuasive. God is the only explanation for what is happening among us. We are motivated to do this by Jesus words: “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt.25:34-40


This is what we are asking of you. Take the time to read through the attached material and ask God if this is something to which he would have you contribute to. We are appealing to about 400 people. If half of you gave $100.00 each or $20.00 a month for 5 months we could do this. We could do this together.


Will you be one of those? On page two of the attached flier are instructions on how to make your contribution if you are inclined.

Thank you,

Don Neuman, on behalf of the Men of Willow Water Project Committee 


 

Men of Willow Water Project

September 2012 Update

Three year Anniversary Edition



To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com

Ephesians 3:20 states: “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) Over the past three years we have experienced the reality of this verse in action.

A hesitant response to a whisper that we were initially unsure of has resulted in two life-giving water projects, and a third on the way. Many of us have joined together, obeying the promptings of the Spirit, and have given nearly $75,000 to date. That is truly amazing, especially when you consider today's economic conditions. We did this to help people who we may never meet, who live in places we may never go, so that they can have the same access to clean water that we often take for granted.

This outpouring of love should not be attributed to our natural sense of compassion and generosity. If that were so, we could take credit for it. God forbid! It was in response and recognition of the undeserved blessings that God has bestowed on us. Moreover, it was the Spirit of God moving in the hearts of those he wanted to give for this cause. In saying that, I realize not everyone may be motivated or led to support the same thing. We just ask that you enjoy the story, pray for us and be open to God's leading, whatever that may be for you.

If, however, you feel a little tug at your heart, we ask that you consider the possibility that God wants you to join with us. You can be an answer to the prayers of those who thirst for clean water and Christ, the Living Water.

Project three: We continue to receive encouragement and contributions to fund a third project. As of this date $9,611.00 has been given toward the estimated $30,000 cost of a water-purification system. If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, here is how you can do that.

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100


The
Anatomy of the Water Project

In last month's update I explained the process we went through in choosing Kitende as the location of our second water-purification project. In this issue I want to describe the scope of the project. (I have attached the complete project plan developed by our partner, Water Missions International, for those who want to read all details.Note: Issues in question have been resolved. See August 2012 update.) 

The water-purification system should not be confused with a well, which has limited output and water that is not necessarily purified. The water-purification system is part of a “Community Development Project” that includes, health and hygiene training, micro-enterprise, community participation, ongoing evangelistic effort and, of course, a virtual endless supply of purified water. Allow me to give a brief description of each of these aspects of the project. I will use the abbreviations for Water Missions International (WMI) and Water Missions Uganda (WMU)

  1. Health and hygiene training: WMU staff will conduct a two-day seminar on this subject in the community. This includes training others to carry on the work of H&H. These teachings will be new to many people there and will produce dramatic life-changing results throughout the community.

  2. Micro-enterprise: WMU staff will conduct three days of training on the water-purification system with the Safe Water Committee. The water from this system will be sold at a modest price. A paid operator will be present to distribute water at each of the three distribution points. It may come as a surprise to some that the water is not free, but it is no surprise to the people of Kitende. They are use to either walking long distances down into the valley and carrying a heavy load of contaminated water back uphill or paying a high price for clean water. So the availability of clean water close to home at a modest price will be a very welcome sight. However, no one will be refused water if they are unable to pay for it, and water is equally available to all without discrimination. The maintenance and upkeep of the system will be the responsibility of the community/church after the first year of operation, thus the need to produce revenue and independent of outside support.

  3. Community participation: While the water system is located at Glory Center Church in Kitende and they assume ultimate responsibility for its operation, distribution and maintenance, the community has a voice on the Safe Water Committee. WMU recognizes the importance in involving the entire community in the project and in giving everyone a sense of participation and ownership. The Community donated the property where the water storage tank sits at an elevation above the church property. They will also provide material and labor in the construction of the system. This has a sort of resemblance of what took place in the book of Nehemiah where everyone participated in the construction project.

  4. On-going evangelistic efforts: The WMU pastor will conduct a two-day evangelism and discipleship conference. The association of the water system to the church adds credibility to the church's desire to share the love of Christ in a community where a gospel-preaching church has not previously existed. Islam, Witchcraft, drunkenness and immorality have kept this community in the dark. Now, people will be drawn to come get clean water where the operators will gladly tell them about Jesus, the “Living Water.” To the unbeliever, Christianity is merely a different philosophy until they have an opportunity to get close enough to understand that it is true. Besides providing for their physical needs, it provides an opportunity to see the reality of God's love. The water system, accompanied by the purchase of the land for the church will go a long way in ensuring that the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ will be a shining light in Kitende for many years to come.

  5. A virtual endless supply of clean water: The official name of the equipment is LWTS (Living Water Treatment System), developed and installed by WMI. (Learn more about their ministry at http://www.watermissions.org/.)This equipment can produce up to 10,000 gallons of crystal clear, bacterial-free water a day from water you would not want to put your foot in, let alone drink. Solar panels will power the system, making it independent of undependable and expensive external power sources. The pump will transport water from a spring about a half a mile away to the church, where it will be filtered and stored in a 10,000-litre holding tank. From there it will distributed in three locations, one at the church, one at Kingsway school about a quarter mile away and a third toward the community trading center. This will make clean water more accessible and affordable to all.


Living in another reality

When we turn on the tap in our homes we expect clean, safe water to flow. We give it little thought until the rare occasion that our water source is turned off or contaminated. But, for a moment, try to imagine never having a faucet to turn on; having to walk down to a river, pond, stream or just a hole in the ground filled with stagnant water (see picture); having to carry it back home and boil it, or suffer serious consequences; or having your children die from typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and a host of other water -related diseases. This is the fate of many people around the world.

For the people of Ndejje and (soon to be) in Kitende, Uganda, life will be safer and healthier because many of us chose to contribute to a water project in these communities. We did this because we were moved by the Spirit of God to give some of the resources that He has blessed us with so we could bless others.

Now, in these communities, the gospel will be heard a little louder and understood a little clearer and God's Kingdom will grow a little larger and His will be done on earth a little closer as it is in heaven and God will be honored a glorified a little better...

It is difficult to comprehend the statistics that tell us that currently every 20 seconds a child dies of water-related diseases. This is an improvement over the last two years from every 15 seconds. While the number of people in the world who do not have access to clean water exceeds one billion it seems that there is little we can do to help. It appears that the need is too great and our resources too small. But ask the people in Ndejje and soon in Kitende if together we have made a difference in their community. We may not be able to solve the world water crisis, but we can make a difference in one more community. Please consider joining us in this endeavor.

Thanks and praise to God who called and enabled us to be His agents of grace in this world.

Thank you and congratulations if you have endured another of my lengthy updates.

Don Neuman on behalf of the Men Of Willow Water Committee which includes Rich Hartman, Bill McGraw, Vern Boelkens, Patrick Walsh, Jim Tofilon and myself.


Men of Willow Water Project

August 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.org .


Project two : Kitende

Last month I announced that we have chosen the community of Kitende, Uganda, as the sight of our second water-purification project. In this update I want to describe the process that we went through in making this decision.


Why Kitende? Water Missions International (WMI) has systems in over 40 countries, with full time staff in nine countries. Uganda being one. When we began the initiative to raise funds for a water system we made a promise to keep people informed about what their contributions were for used and the effects that it would have on the community where it went. To do this we had to choose a location where leaders in that community would have the ability and willingness to stay in touch with us, e-mail being the most viable way. This narrowed our choices considerably. Another important qualification was that the message of Christ be a vital component of the water project.


If you have been following our story for any length of time you know that this well describes our first project at Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda. So when we began looking for a location for our second water-purification system we wanted similar results. It just so happens that Glory Center Church was beginning a new work in a community about 15 miles away, a community with no church and in need of water. This is an area that Bob and I visited on our trip to Uganda last fall. We saw the people and the need for clean water. But the problem or concern that we had was that at the time the church had no building, no congregation and they were only renting the property, which was for sale. But the price seemed too far out of their reach.


Faith beyond reason?

We knew that bringing a water system to this community in an association with this new church would certainly have a great impact. But we did not want to rush into a situation that we would later regret. We knew the quality, integrity, accountability and commitment of the leadership of Glory Center Church. We saw how they had successfully planned and established another church in Butogonya a little over a year before. Bob and I also had the opportunity to visit there and were amazed at how quickly the church grew in a community that was described as “polygamist and drunkards.”


The power of God to change lives was quite evident. Based on that example, we felt a certain degree of confidence that the church in Kitende would have the same success. But the question in our mind was, “Is it too early to determine if investing $30,000 or more in a water system at this new church would be a wise decision?” I expressed this concern to Charles Kwagala, the pastor of Glory Center Church. I explained that Americans tend to approach things primarily from a practical viewpoint, using sound business sense, but with faith often taking a back seat. Whereas believers in Uganda lead with faith, trusting God to provide that which is beyond their means.


This sounds a lot like what Paul wrote in 2Cor. 5:7: “We live by faith, not by sight.” While I believe those words were inspired by the Holy Spirit and are therefore true, I struggle to live by them. This journey that has brought me into contact with these people who literally live by “every word that comes from the mouth of God ” (Matt.4:4) has stretched my faith to new limits. Does not faith contains a certain element of uncertainty and risk? At the same time, I think we should also take all necessary steps to ensure that our decisions don't lack wisdom and sound judgment.


I presented all the information I had along with records of our communications with Glory Center Church to the committee. We prayed about it and decided to monitor the development of the new church in Kitende for at least two months before making any decisions. During that time we asked the church there to send us weekly updates which they did. Their reports were inspiring as they described how people were coming to Christ and a new congregation began to form.


Accountability!

Our committee as well as our partner,Water Missions International, takes the responsibility of using the the contributions entrusted to us very seriously. It is important to point out that we have a unique relationship with WMI that we value highly. While most donors leave the choice up to WMI as to where to direct their funds, we fully participate in the decision-making process. We have an open line of communication with Water Missions staff in the U.S. and in Uganda. I meet monthly with Lauren Jernigan, Regional Coordinator with WMI, who is also a member of Willow Creek Community Church. While there are numerous other Christian organizations worthy of our support, I doubt a group like ours would have such a close relationship and direct input. We know exactly where each dollar goes. So if you have given or feel led to give as we continue toward funding a third water project, you can rest assured that we will be accountable for using it wisely to further the Kingdom of God.


Making the right decision

Without providing more details than most people would care to read, I can just say we did everything within reason before deciding to ask Water Missions Uganda to install our second water system in Kitende. This was only after WMI had done a community assessment, developed an extensive project plan, consulted with lawyers and verified the viability of the project.


One of the biggest obstacles was securing land rights. The best option was to purchase the property where the water system would be housed. This is the same property that the church is currently renting and on which it holds services. While they have already begun constructing a house of worship, there is always the possibility that someone might come forward to claim the property, especially if a water system were installed, greatly increasing the value of the land. We did not want to leave the door open for that to happen.


With this land acquisition, the church will hold indisputable title to the property. Both the committee and WMI feel that decision fits well within our mission purpose, which is to provide access to physical water while sharing the message of the Living Water in Christ. We communicated our decision to the church in Uganda. Here is the response we received:


Hello friend, and all friends of Men of Willow,

I don’t know how I can express my heartfelt gratitude to you together with the entire family of Glory Center Church, but I can summarize that you have done a very great work of evangelism in Kitende. You have transported and extended the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus in this community. With this, our zeal to reach out to the uttermost parts of the world has been boosted together with you and I know we shall reach to more parts. Thank you, God’s blessings to you. Long live men of willow.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever more, Amen.

From your brother, pastor Charles”

The anatomy of a water project

As usual, I have been unable to be brief in these updates. There are still some more details that I want to share with you about this project, but these will have to wait until next month. Until then we ask that you prayerfully consider contributing to our next water system.

Project three: We continue to receive encouragement and contributions to fund a third project. As of this date $9061.00 has been given toward the estimated $30,000 cost of a water-purification system. If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, here is how you can do that.

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.org and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

Men of Willow Water Project

July 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Spread the word. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.org .


Project Two : Kitende

Our goal to fund a second solar-powered water-purification system has been met. I am happy to announce that we have chosen Kitende, Uganda, as the recipient of our second water project. This is the site of a new church planting, of Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda where our first water system is. In next month's update I will give you the full details; in the meantime, a number of people have expressed a desire to continue on toward funding a third water project. Our answer to that question is, “Why not?” We have the opportunity and privilege to give a cup of clean water (thousands of them) in Jesus' name to those who thirst. We are nearly 1/3 of the way there. If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, here is how you can do that.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.org and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to Water Mission International's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.


Reflections From Africa – Part 8-B

The Children of Uganda (continued)


Hope at the Tap

Over a year and a half ago, a girl wandered into the village of Ndejje. She was dirty, frightened and alone. No one knew where she came from or who she belonged to. Having no place to stay, she was found sleeping in the church. (The church is wide open and has no doors.) When church members alerted the authorities, they were informed that the girl's caretaker had already been there and said she didn't want her anymore.

For a long time, they referred to her as, Kisaakye. It was months later that we found out her first name was Esther. She was twelve years old, did not speak English and had never been to school. My heart went out to her and I took a special interest in her. My granddaughter Emily is the same age as Esther and I couldn’t imagine that being her life.


One of the families from the church invited Esther to live with them. Pastor Charles wanted to take her, but the church office where he and his wife Faith were living with their four children was already overcrowded. During her stay with that family they said that Esther would keep to herself and cry a lot. You can imagine what terrible things she might have gone through living on the streets of Kampala.


So one day Esther just wandered off. They found her some time later just sitting alongside the dirt road. Pastor Charles asked her what she was doing there and where was she planning to go. Her only response was to hold her hands over her face and cry. He asked again, “What do you want? What can we do to help you?” She looked up at him, tears running down her face and sobbed, “I just want to die.”


Pastor Charles decided that the only thing to do now was to take her into his home, crowded as it was. Slowly, over time she began to feel for the first time in her life, like she was loved. Esther began attending Glorious Academy preshool. Even though she was more than twice as old as the other children, she joined in and was a quick learner. After about a year she expressed her desire to join children her own age and transitioned well into that age group.


From time to time, we would get an update on how she was doing. I remember one report that brought tears of joy to my eyes; when they simply said “Esther is doing well and she is happy.” Knowing what she had been through, I thought that this significant change in her life was attributed to the love and encouragement of pastor Charles and his family, that had taken her in and made her feel part of their family.


If that is not exciting enough, listen to this. Remember when Esther said she just wanted to die? She had given up and had lost all hope. Now, about a year and a half later, guess who is standing at the water tap sharing the hope she has found in Christ with other children who come for water? It is Esther Kisaakye! I can't say for sure that it was this same water that drew the abandoned Esther to Glory Center Church in the first place, but it very possibly was. This is just one of numerous stories that confirm that the money we invested in a water system is paying huge dividends.


Demonstrating the love of Christ

The members of Glory Center Church recently demonstrated the love of Christ in yet another way, by collecting and distributing shoes, clothes and school supplies to many children throughout the village who do even go to their church. This may not sound unusual to us in the U.S. who have an abundance by comparison. But the members of Glory Center did not give of their surplus; they gave despite their poverty, and they did it joyfully. They have been able to help more than 45 of the neediest children in the community become equipped for school. Along with meeting their material needs, they also shared the gospel with them through the church's puppet team. This resulted in more than 30 children and a few adults accepting Jesus as their Savior!


So when you hear the words, “The church is the hope of the world,” and you wonder what that really means or what that looks like, here is a great example. I am grateful that we, by providing the gift of clean water have had the privilege to partner with this church in Uganda. This is making a wonderful impact for the Kingdom of God in a community that is predominately Muslim. They always ask me to give their thanks to the Men of Willow, and we all together give our thanks and praise to our God, from whom all blessings flow.


With heart-felt gratitude on behalf of those whose thirst will be quenched because of your generosity,

Don Neuman


Pastor Charles, wife Faith, daughter Hannah, sons Andrese, Samuel and baby John and Esther Kisaakye back left.

Esther Kisaakye holding pastor Charles son John.

Me and Esther ( she is holding a doll that was a gift from my wife.)



Men of Willow Water Project

June 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Spread the word. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.comor http://www.menofwillow.org

Project Two

Our goal to fund a second solar-powered water-purification system has been met. We have been working diligently with our partner, Water Missions International to determine the best location to install it. We anticipate making that announcement in July. In the meantime, a number of people have expressed a desire to continue on toward funding a third water project. Our answer to that question is, “Why not?” We have the opportunity and privilege to give a cup of clean water (thousands of them) in Jesus' name to those who thirst.


If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, here's how you can do that.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

Reflections From Africa – Part 8-A


The Children of Uganda

It has been eight months since Bob and I went to Uganda: the images of the children are still vividly etched in our minds. If you asked us what one thing stands out most that we had experienced on our trip our answer would emphatically bethe children. Wherever we went, they swarmed around us with looks of great excitement on their faces. They didn’t have their hands out in expectation or asking anything from us. They are not beggars, even though they are living in extreme poverty. They captured our hearts. Aim a camera at them and they would crowd in together like they were expecting candy to shoot out at them. Then when you show them their picture, they would jockey for position to get a good look at themselves with such astonishment as if this was the first time they saw a picture of themselves. Their joy was contagious. I think this is how God intended life to be when Jesus said, "let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” These children are so trusting and loving. What a shame when their innocence is violated by the evils in this world. It must break the very heart of God whenever a child is mistreated or abused. Jesus said that it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and drowned then to offend these innocent, vulnerable children.


But my heart warms when I think that we helped make life a little easier and safer for the children in Ndejje. They don't have to spend their days fetching contaminated water from down in the valley. They don't have to drink water that will make them sick. I know that you have heard me say this before but I want to remind you that "clean water is flowing in Ndejje." And it will continue to flow for years to come because many of us joined together to bring clean water to their village. Along with you, I have seen pictures and heard their stories how life is better today in their community and how people are hearing about the "Living Water in Jesus." But now, I have seen it in person. I drank from it and it is good!


Although many Muslim children of Ndejje are forbidden by their parents from attending Glory Center Church, yet some have risked punishment for the sake learning about Jesus Christ. They are fascinated at the joyful songs that are sung, Bible stories that are taught and preaching that reveals the God who loves them and invites them to be his children and become a part of his family. They are drawn to this place that gives them a sense of hope and belonging. It is especially meaningful for the many orphaned and abandoned children in the area.


Glorious Academy is a pre-school operated by the church and directed by Faith Kwagala, the pastor's wife. She is a certified teacher. Even though this is clearly a Christian school, there are a number of Muslim parents who want their children to get a good education and are even willing to send them to a Christian School, especially since there is no other pre-school in the area.


The Sunday School meets under a tree. Bob and I were able to join them. Except for the contrasting fact we were white, older and taller, we seemed to fit right in. While we were singing, reciting Bible verses and listening to the lesson, I noticed several Muslim boys slowly passing by and watching. They kept moving closer and closer, slowly, as if they weren’t intentionally joining the group for fear their parents might be watching them. I thought this was so great, but then I was really surprised as they began to fully participate in singing the songs and reciting the Bible verses. This obviously was not their first time in Sunday School.


Afterward, we carried the benches that we were sitting on back into the church. Bob grabbed a hold on one end of a bench and a Muslim boy had a hold of the other. Can you picture this? A white guy from America and a Muslim boy from Uganda together carrying a bench into a church. A church that in no way resembles our churches back home, but is, in every sense of the word, a house of worship. Never mind the dirt floor, the holes in the roof, the irregular pieces of metal siding placed here and there. It didn’t matter that we were 8,000 miles from home and worlds apart culturally. We were united as one in the Spirit standing on holy ground and when the worship began God showed up. I could see his radiance on the faces of all who filled the place, not the least of whom were the children, who attentively sat through the service lasting over two hours.


In the nine days we spent in Uganda we never saw a child in need of discipline. They were well behaved, polite and kind to each other. In the various places we visited we saw young children caring for and carrying younger children on their backs ( See pictures). I heard of cases where parents had died and their children had no one left to take care of them but themselves. As I looked into their faces I couldn’t help but wonder if this was true of some of them. In any case, they watched out for one another.


In speaking at Glory Center Church in Ndejje, I complimented the parents on how well behaved their children were. I said that I would like to take them all home with me, to which everyone enthusiastically applauded. But I quickly added I was afraid that our country would ruin them. They laughed, but I was not completely sure that they understood what I meant. In many respects, the children would be better off with the advantages we have with housing, education, modern healthcare, proper nutrition and some ice cream once in a while. But there is something I observed in their culture and simplicity of life that I admired and envied. I do hope that living conditions will improve for the children of Uganda, but without losing their values, culture and identity that, for me, reflects Uganda's nickname as “The Pearl of Africa.”


The Water Project

Those who benefit most from the water project are the children. It is their job to fetch water every day, sometimes twice a day. Can you imagine a child five to six years old carrying a five- gallon container of dirty water one half to three quarters of a mile uphill to their homes. Their young bodies are very susceptible to the nasty things that are in contaminated water. But now the water is safe and closer to their homes.


The water is available, without prejudice, to all who come. Glory Center Church is very committed to sharing the love of Christ with everyone in the community. While many people gladly come for the water, there is always a church member there to tell them of Jesus, the “Living Water.”

There are many exciting stories that have been reported to us about what takes place at or because of what they refer to as “the Tap.”


In next month's update I will tell you about a bittersweet, yet heart-warming story of “hope at the Tap.” Until then, I encourage you to be listening for, and responsive to the promptings of the Spirit of God in your life.


Thank you for taking the time to read this update and pray for those who thirst.

Don Neuman on behalf of the Men of Willow Water Committee

Other members of the committee are Rich Hartman, Bill Mc Graw, Dominic Bialecki, Patrick Walsh, Vern Boelkens and Jim Tofilon.

Men of Willow Water Project

May 2012 Update

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Spread the word. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

Project Two

Our goal to fund a second solar-powered water-purification system has been met. We are working diligently with our partner, Water Missions International to determine where this system will go. In the meantime, a number of people have expressed a desire to continue on toward funding a third water project. Our answer to that question is, “Why not?” We have the opportunity and privilege to give a cup of clean water (thousands of them) in Jesus' name.

If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, read on, but please remember to support your church first before giving to this cause.

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

Reflections From Africa – Part 7

The Youth Ministry

Following our luncheon with the area pastors ( that I wrote about in the last two updates), Bob and I were invited to a meeting with the Glory Center Youth Leaders. We were familiar with their youth ministry through the reports we have been receiving from the church since the water system was installed in July 2010. At that time, we were told that Glory Center Church had about 250 members and was one of the fastest growing churches in that area. I was surprised at the large number of youth leaders they had for a church their size. But like Willow Creek, they have a strong emphasis on reaching out to the youth - giving them purpose and direction - and they understand the importance of well trained, caring and dedicated leaders.

The opportunities for good education are limited in Uganda. Unemployment and inflation is high. What Bob and I saw left us wondering what kind of future awaits the youth of this impoverished country. What did give us a glimmer of hope was what we heard Glory Center Church was doing to help prepare its young people for adulthood, albeit with very few resources, but much heart.

The youth leaders were excited to have a chance to share with us about their ministry. Growing up, neither Bob nor I participated in a church youth group and we have not been involved with the youth at Willow. So when they asked us to speak about and answer their questions about what Willow's youth ministry is doing, I leaned over and whispered to Bob that we had no business talking about our youth ministry to them. But Bob whispered back and said, “We'll wing it,” and so we did. I don't know if anything we said was helpful, but they appreciated it anyway. We did encourage them and told them how much we admired them for what they were doing with their youth and their devotion to Christ.

Glory Center Church has four youth groups. I love the names they have given them: Exodus, Revelation,Walls of Fire and Wings of Angels. Every year they hold a youth festival that, among other things, features competitions among the groups in categories such as Bible knowledge, poems, choir songs, composed songs, preaching, miming and traditional dance.

This youth festival draws over 600 people every year, many of which are non-believers, including numerous Muslims. Last year, each group was awarded a female piglet for participating. They were then challenged to work together to raise the pig, helping them develop a sense of responsibility and business experience by the time the pig was eventually sold at the market.

These groups put a lot of time and effort in preparing for the competitions. What I think is so great about this is where they do most of their practice: out in the open in various places throughout the village, rather than in the church. In this way, they are able to boldly share the gospel with the crowds that gather to watch them. And crowds would gather. Unlike the U.S., few people have televisions and video games to keep them occupied. They don't stay cooped up in the house. So when something interesting is happening outside, the word spreads quickly and people are glad to have some entertainment. The Glory Center Youth leverage this opportunity for the Kingdom of God. This has been an effective way for them to attract more youth into their groups. Teenagers are looking for a purpose and they will find it somewhere. If the church doesn't reach out to them, the evils of this world will. Glory Center Youth are actively fulfilling Jesus command to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23 KJV)

What began in 2004 with 21 members has grown to nearly 200 youth. Because the Ndejje community is predominately Muslim there is much resistance to the church there. It takes extraordinary courage for a teenager from a Muslim family to become a Christian. Such is the case of a girl by the name of Sophia. This is how her story was reported to us. “One of the Exodus member called Sophia from a Muslim family was beaten by the father when he came back home and didn't find her there. So when she came back he asked “did you accept Jesus?” She said “yes!!” So she was beaten 10 strokes in order to deny Christ. Appreciate her with me because she never denied our Lord Jesus.”

Sadly, she is not the only one to be persecuted for taking a stand for Christ at Glory Center Church. Some have been disowned by their families and put out on the street. Although poor themselves, church members have taken them in and raised them as their own. In many places around the world, becoming a Christian is very costly and quite a serious decision. This is why I admire them so much. I am ashamed to think how casual I often take my commitment to Christ. My young friends in Uganda have certainly inspired me and demonstrated what it looks like to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus.

Over the last eight years, the Youth Ministry at Glory Center Church has helped many young people come to faith in Christ, build Godly character and become productive, responsible citizens. Unlike many African youth who get married very young, many Glory Center youth are waiting while they are being prepared for parenthood. There have been more than a few from these groups who have gone on to become ministers. Timothy is now the pastor at Good Word of Life Church and Frances leads the youth ministry at Glory Center. Ambrose is an evangelist and Prossy and Juliet went to Universities and received degrees.

Frances describes the dynamic of these groups: “ the solidarity these groups have created among its members where by each member gets close to his colleagues in the group in that when one is in need of anything the other members are greatly concerned and they take the responsibility to check on him or her even before their families.”

Passing the Torch

If all that Bob and I accomplished in our meeting with the youth leaders at Glory Center was to give them some encouragement and whatever advice two old guys could come up with, it was appreciated. Well, that is what they told us anyway. While we still communicate with Frances and encourage him in any way we can, we know this has limited value. Fortunately that is not the end of the story.

When we returned to the U.S., Bob told his godson Joey about our trip, including the meeting we had with the youth leaders . Joey was first introduced to Willow years ago, probably at Dadsfest, because he thought it was “so cool” to get a hot dog at church. Today he is a youth leader at Willow. After hearing about the youth ministry at Glory Center Joey decided to begin corresponding with Frances - one youth leader to another, one side of the world to the other - with cultural and ethnic barriers bridged through their common faith in Christ and ministry to young people. I don't know what will come of this new relationship, but is it exciting to think of the possibilities.

One last thought: For all of you who have prayed or given to this cause, I want to remind you that this is not just the story of Bob and Don going to Uganda to visit with our friends at Glory Center Church; this is your story too. This is the story of the Men of Willow, along with some of our friends and our families that became aware of those who don't have access to the clean water and then doing something about it. With so many needs in the world and so many ways to spend our money, there is really only one explanation for what is happening here. It may have been the need for water that got our attention, but it was only when God got a hold of our hearts that caused people to give as they were prompted by the Spirit. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) In promoting this cause we don't ask people to give their money, we just ask that you be open and responsive to God's leading in your life, whatever that may be. This is God's project and we are all grateful that he has given us the privilege to be a part of it. To God alone be the glory.

Thank you for taking the time to read yet another long update.

Don Neuman


April 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,


Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.


Reflections From Africa – Part 6b - (continued from March 2012 update)

Honoring The Pastors

( In last month's update, I began to describe our experience in a luncheon we hosted for some local pastors while on our trip to Uganda. You can find the beginning of this story in the March 2012 update athttp://menofwillow.com/Updates.aspx.


Picking up where we left off last month:

In the first part of our luncheon with the Ugandan pastors, we expressed our desire to visit each of their churches and worship with them, but time did not allow for that. Bob read from John's account of Jesus feeding the five thousand from the meager lunch offered by “a lad.” We then handed each of them some Ugandan shillings (which amounted to little more than a one U.S. dollar) and asked them to place this in their offering plate on Sunday. We were quick to explain our purpose in doing this. We told them that during our visit to Uganda our hearts were stirred by the overwhelming needs. We also expressed our frustration, as Jesus' disciples did that day about their, and our inability to provide the resources to meet those needs. While we could not ignore this apparent fact, we did not want to dwell on what they or we could not do, but to focus on the One who enables each of us to accomplish all that he calls us to do. We prayed that God would multiply the offerings and efforts of his followers as he did the loaves and fish that day, so that his work would prosper throughout their country.


In our short time in Uganda, Bob and I were learning more about the biblical faith as described in Heb. 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is not something that can be understood or explained on a strictly intellectual level; it is believing God for that which is otherwise unattainable. We saw, in these ministers a commitment to Christ that was not dependent on or when God answered their prayers and met the multitude of their needs. These needs are real and urgent, such as feeding their families, taking care of the sick and orphaned children that are dropped off at their doorstep,and proclaiming the hope we have in Christ to those who can't see it, and don't want to hear it. While they deeply desire to see instant answers, quick solutions and visible, immediate results, the lack of these does not seem to have any negative bearing on their faith. Their faith is grounded in an eternal perspective that enables them to cope well despite of all the adversities and hardships they face every day. The words of 2 Cor. 6:10 describe them well. “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”


This brought us to the point in our program that, from a human standpoint, we were apprehensive. But spiritually, there was a sense of peace and assurance that God was in control. We pointed out that it is all because of what Jesus did and our common faith in him that made it possible for us to sit at this table together as brothers in Christ. We were reminded that each one of us came to know and receive God's saving grace because someone showed us the way. We expressed our admiration for these men who have responded to God's call on their lives to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and shepherd the flock that he has entrusted to them .


I then read these words from Romans 10:13-15, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”


Pastors” , I added, “God has called each of us to be his servants in various places and various ways. Jesus was the greatest example of what it means to be a servant. John writes about something that took place at the Last Supper that gives us an example of what this looks like.” I then read these excerpts from John 13:1-17:“Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love...he got up...and began to wash his disciples' feet...when he had finished... (he said) Do you understand what I have done for you? he asked them. You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth , no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”


After reading this I asked, with a bit of fear and trembling, if they would remove their shoes and socks and allow me the honor and privilege of washing their feet. I did not know what to expect and, by the looks on their faces, neither did they. God surprised us all as we had a strange sense that we were in the upper room that day and Jesus was washing all of our feet as well as our souls.


As they hesitantly began to respond to our request I heard one pastor gasp, as if to catch his breath, and another took out a handkerchief to wipes the tears that began to flow from his eyes. I dared not look at anyone else for fear I would lose it. I wasn't prepared to wash their feet with my tears and I knew that Bob and I together didn't have enough hair to wipe them dry.


You have heard the saying, “What would Jesus do?” We did not have a basin of water or towels, but we did have wet wipes and I hoped this would meet with Jesus' approval. The mild humor we all found in using these helped relief the tension, enabling us to more fully enjoy these solemn moments. We prayed words of encouragement and blessing over each man while I exchanged used wipes for clean ones from Bob as we went around the table.


This foot washing was not something I had looked forward to doing, not because I thought it would be too humbling to do so. I was just afraid they might be offended or not receptive to it, so I struggled to obey the whispers of the Spirit. (Foot washing is something I have participated in only two others times in my life, and then with people I had know for a long time.) I may have asked dozens of times something like, “God, I am not sure I heard you right. Can you tell me again?” I didn't tell Bob about it until the night before, partly,because I wanted to be very clear that I understood correctly if this was really what God wanted us to do. (We were taking a huge risk with people we hardly knew and so culturally different from us) It was also partly because I was afraid that If I told Bob about it before we got on the plane to Uganda, he may have found a reason to stay home. And lastly, it was also partly because I had hoped that God would see my willingness to obey and yet spare me as he did Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. Alas, it was not to be. But I am glad that God was patient and persistent enough to allow all of us that day to have an “upper room experience” where his presence and pleasure was unmistakably felt.


Following this, Bob and I took turns reading verses of encouragement and strength over these men from God's word. I hope you will take the time to look these up and read them for yourself. They are always relevant, but especially when we become discouraged and tempted to give up.

Heb. 12:1-3, 2Cor. 6:3-10, 1Cor.15:58,Jude 24, 1Peter 5:10-11 and 1Tim. 1:17


From a strictly human point of view, the effect that these pastors are having in their communities may be seen as insignificant. It is doubtful that you will ever read or hear about any miraculous work of God through their faithful ministry. But if we dare believe in another reality, that of the Kingdom of God, we must view things from an eternal perspective. When Jesus instructed his followers to “go and make disciples of all the nations,” he didn’t add, “as long as it appears that you are making an impact.” What he did say was, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mat. 28:19-20


Today, if you are a Christian its because followers of Jesus Christ have continued to faithfully proclaim the Gospel from generation to generation, from the day of Pentecost until now and on to the end of the age. There are many ways which we can play a part in fulfilling the Great Commission in our lifetime, both at home and around the world. Our tithes and offerings to our church are certainly the first place to begin, and we strongly encourage that. In addition to doing that, a number of us have joined together to help bring clean water to communities where people are suffering and children are dying because it is not available to them. When you come alongside a pastor and a church in an under- resourced country with the gift of clean water, it not only provides for the physical needs of a community, but it greatly enhances their evangelistic efforts. Because of the impact that our first water project is having in Ndejje, Uganda, we were compelled to continue on toward funding a second project. This has happened, and we are diligently working with Water Missions International to determine where it will go.


Thank you for taking the time to read this update. I hope it serves as an encouragement for you to seek and surrender to God's will, whatever that may be for you.

To God be the glory,

Don Neuman


If you are interested in joining with us to fund a third project, which we are well on the way to fulfilling, here is how you can help:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

 


March 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Spread the word. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us athttp://menofwillow.com.


Project Two

Our goal to fund a second solar-powered water-purification system has been met. We are working with our partner, Water Missions International to determine where this system will go. In the meantime, a number of people have expressed a desire to continue on toward funding a third water project. Our answer to that question is, “Why not?” We have the opportunity and privilege to give a cup of clean water (thousands of them) in Jesus' name.


If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, read on, but please remember to support your church first before giving to this cause.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.


Reflections From Africa – Part 6

Honoring The Pastors


Since becoming at Christian at 20 years of age, I have admired and appreciated the role of the pastor. There was a time when I considered quitting my job and going to bible school to become a minister. In hindsight, I would have made a lousy pastor. In many ways, I do have a pastors' heart, or should I say a heart for pastors. But I lack the temperament, among many other things, required for the job. So I became a steel erector, where if something doesn't easily fit into place, you beat on it until it does. While that is a common and acceptable practice in ironwork, it doesn't go over too well with people in the church. The pastors' job may appear to be envious, but a closer look reveals burdens and responsibilities few can bear. I have been close enough to a few pastors in the U.S. To know how difficult it can be.


This burden is far greater for those who pastor in third-world countries where resources are few and living conditions are extremely difficult. When we were planning our trip to Uganda, we wanted to have the opportunity to honor and encourage a group of ministers in the difficult job they had. Bob and I had been asked to teach and preach a number of times on our trip, (a responsibility for which we felt very inadequate.) But one thing we thought we could do well is to encourage our friends there. Part of this plan was to host a luncheon for pastors from various local churches in the Kampala area. We could accommodate up to twelve people. Twelve seemed like a very biblical number. Ironically, only eleven showed up, which included us two white boys.

It was a great privilege for Bob and me just to be in the company of these men who exemplified faith in God to a depth with which we were unfamiliar. Most of them received little or no regular income from the small, struggling churches they served. They had difficulty feeding their families while they faithfully fed their flocks. Most had no formal training, but were sure of their calling. They do the best they can with what they have, while fully relying on God to provide. This level of dependence is something that most of us know little about in the U.S.


So you can imagine how Bob and I were affected by being in the presence of men who illustrated what it means to “walk by faith, not by sight.” These were humble servants of the Most High God who unselfishly serve His people. I discerned in the brief time we had with these men that they did not seek recognition or honor; at the same time I sensed that it was Bob and my assignment to give it to them. (see 1Tim.5:17)


It had been in our mind to do something like this for many weeks before our trip, but God gave us the specifics only the night before the event was to take place. This was a good exercise of faith and waiting on God for two guys who like to be well prepared and organized. I had been wresting with an idea for several months leading up to this meeting. But I hesitantly shared it with only one of the men's groups I was in. As we discussed it, this question came up: “What is your motive.” I was initially offended by the question but I knew it had value. Paul instructed us to “examine ourselves,” to look at ourselves objectively in order to determine if the things we do are for God's glory or for our own recognition (see 1Cor. 11:28-31, 2Cor. 13:5).


With that in mind, I hesitate to even tell you about this, and I wouldn’t if I felt that Bob and I would get credit for something that was totally God's idea. We wanted to follow God's leading, even when it is uncomfortable to do so. We were aware of our lack of knowledge and the cultural differences between us and our honored guests, so we began our meeting by welcoming each one and announcing that what we were going to do that day may seem to be a little strange to them (as it would also be to us.) But our intent was to be led by the Spirit of God and not by what makes us comfortable or confident.


Our meeting was set to begin at 10:30 am and conclude promptly at 1:30 pm, with lunch being served at 12:30. (We had a 2:30 meeting scheduled with the Glory Center youth leaders in Ndejje) We thought this would allow plenty of time for everyone to get to know each other. That didn't work out as well as we had thought. Our mistake was to assume that pastors are always on time! They were not. In their defense, they had trouble finding the guesthouse where we were hosting the luncheon. Apparently, there were two other guesthouse locations in the Kampala area and street signs and house numbers are not commonly displayed in Uganda. Our last guest arrived just in time for lunch. So we had to make some adjustments to our plans.


We all sat at a long rectangular table. Bob and I took our place toward the foot of this table. We each took turns with formally introducing each other. Casual introductions had already been made as each guest arrived over a one and a half hour interval. Bob and I welcomed our guests and gave a brief explanation of what brought us to Uganda. We explained that, while we were not official representatives of Willow Creek Community Church or the Willow Creek Association (WCA), we were an expression of the church in action by responding to the need for clean water in places such as Uganda. For this cause numerous groups throughout our church, along with friends and families, had joined together to raise awareness and funds for the solar-powered water-purification system in Ndejje. This group collectively came to be known as Men of Willow. We told them about our partnership with Water Missions International and the relationship that has developed between the Men of Willow and Glory Center Church. We explained that our purpose for this meeting was simply to honor and encourage them in the ministry to which God had called them.


So by now you may be impatiently asking “What is this strange thing that took place?” Or maybe you’re wondering just how long this update will be. Here is my dilemma. Last month I promised that this month's update would be shorter. I want to keep that promise. But it is difficult to adequately tell this story within the promised time limit. Therefore I have no choice than to continue this story next month. For now, let me say that it was a memorable occasion where God displayed his love and grace because of, or in spite of, our reluctant obedience.


To be continued...



February 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for February 2012. There are about 125 people on our mailing list, with copies forwarded to many more. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Spread the word.Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.


Project Two

Our goal to fund a second solar-powered water-purification system has been met. We are working with Water Missions International to select a location. In the meantime, a number of people have expressed a desire to continue on toward funding a third water project. Our answer to that question is, “Why not?” We have the opportunity and privilege to give a cup of clean water (thousands of them) in Jesus' name to those who thirst.


If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, read on, but please remember to support your church first before giving to this cause.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

Warning: reading time for the rest of this update is approximately 11 minutes. I realize this is quite long, but I hope you find the experiences I share worth your time. I promise that next month's update will be shorter.


Reflections From Africa – Part 5

Exposed to Reality

You have heard the saying, “pictures don't do it justice.” I had seen pictures of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, but they could not capture the magnitude of these natural wonders of the world. Pictures can't take the place of seeing them in person. The same is true of poverty, sickness and suffering. Over the years, I have seen pictures and heard news reports and pleas for help, but they did not affect me as did this face-to- face experience. On day four of our time in Uganda we went to the Rakai District. Many consider this as ground zero for the Aids epidemic. This is where Pastor Charles was born. It took us five hours to make the 125- mile trip.


Upon arrival in Kimukunda (pronounced Chimakunda) we picked up Julia,the pastor of the local church, and assistant pastor Kyaliisma from Glory Center in Ndejje, who arrived in Rakai the day before to help organize things. Our next stop was the village watering hole. They led us down a path through the bush to a large dug out hole in the ground that was filled with, what looked more like stale chocolate milk than it did water. Several miles away there was another watering hole filled with light olive- green-colored water. There should have been a sign on each of these bearing a skull and crossbones. While we were there, two men came to fill their containers. I had seen pictures of watering holes like this. I had no doubt that they existed, but it was eye-opening to see this firsthand: the only water these people had, the water they depend upon to sustain their lives, can easily make them sick or even kill them if not properly treated.


Driving through the countryside, we passed a house where 19 people had died of Aids. During our visit with Pastor Charles' elderly mother, he walked us over to the back of her yard. With deep emotion he pointed out the graves of his father and nine of his brothers and sisters, six of whom died of Aids. We realized that this was a solemn moment, not to be rushed. Bob and I put our hands on his shoulders and prayed for God's grace to comfort and strengthen him. Unaware of it at the time, this was part of a series of events that day that shook Bob and me to the core of our being. Comfort for us would no longer be a priority.


From there we visited with Lawrence Ssenyonga,a man whose wife had left him and their two children after he went blind following his being cursed by a witch doctor. We gave them a few small gifts that seemed totally insignificant to us, but which were received with gratitude and joy. After traveling a few miles, we visited a family with six children whose father had died of Aids and the mother, Teddy Nabaweesi, is now HIV positive. You can imagine what the fifteen -year- old daughter might have to do to provide for her siblings when their mother dies. Without help from the local church she could become another Aids victim. Here again, we left them with a few gifts, giving us a sense that we could at least offer them a little encouragement amid the harsh reality of their lives. (We hope you are beginning to understand the inadequacies and frustrations that were building up within Bob and me). While these experiences were far from enjoyable, they were beneficial; God was performing open heart surgery on us.


To our relief, we were able to spend the next hour or so worshiping and speaking at the Kimukunda branch of Glory Center Church. This temporally got our minds off the painful things we had witnessed.

It felt good to worship among people whose joy overflows in the midst of such heartbreak and hardships. God had given Bob and I the privilege to come to this remote village to encourage them in their faith. They, in turn, defined faith for us. Shortly after the service Pastor Charles informed me that we needed to be on our way back to Kampala. Another five hour drive.


It was then that I came face to face with one of my greatest fears about going to Uganda. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and as I turned around, I was greeted with a smiling face and a plate of local food that had just been prepared out back of the church. To clarify, my greatest fear was actually what may have happened to me on the drive back if I ate that food, especially since public toilets are few and far between in Uganda. At the same time, I did not want to offend our hosts. I found myself in an awkward position. As I held the plate of food, I stammered that it was time for us to leave (which I have learned is just a relative term in Uganda) and suggested that I might need this order to go. Well, I don't think they understood a word I said and I wonder what they thought of this “Muzungu” with the bewildered look on his face. Fortunately, someone who was aware of my predicament came to my rescue and told them that I had a sensitive stomach. Graciously, the person bearing the plate of food turned away as abruptly as she came and handed it to someone who would appreciate it more than me. To this day, I regret not trying a bite. But I am not sure if I would have had greater regrets if I did. I found out later Bob that somehow had stayed close enough to Pastor Charles to avoid such an incident.


Visit with the Witch Doctor

Pastor Charles is one of twelve children born to the same mother and father. His sister Sharon just happens to be a witch doctor. In planning our trip, I had asked if we would be able to meet her, but I didn't get an answer until we were on our way there. I did not know what to expect or how receptive she might be to us pale faced foreigners. I did not know if we would be looking into the face of the devil himself. This time I would make sure it was me and not Bob who stayed very close to Pastor Charles. On our way back to Kampala, we turned off what they call the main road and drove deeper into the bush country. Along the way, we had to stop several times as herdsmen moved their long- horned cattle out of the way. We were out numbered. Besides, they had the right of way and were in no hurry.


Just before arriving at our destination, Pastor Charles turned to us and said,“There is something I need to tell you.” I thought to myself that since it was too late to turn back, now was a fine time to reveal the dangers of what we were about to face. What he had to tell us was that his sisters husband is an alcoholic. I thought, “this is great!” If either one is unhappy with these two strange-looking visitors, they might chase us away with a spear or a broken beer bottle.


But that wasn't the case. They were both very cordial. Sharon did not speak or understand English, so Pastor Charles interpreted our conversation back and forth. She expressed gratitude for us being a friend to her brother and said she was glad to meet us. Or was it she planned to eat us. I wasn't sure I heard right. Sharon's husband told us several times as he enthusiastically shook our hands that we were very welcome in their home. They invited us in and motioned for us to sit down on the mats that lay on top of the straw floor. Bob came close to sitting on a chicken that was nestled against the wall. That would have really fowled things up. There was also a turkey-sized bird running back and forth and squawking behind a curtain that I assumed was the kitchen area.


After everyone took their place on the floor, Pastor Charles had a few words with his sister. He then turned to me and said it was OK for me to share the gospel with her. “Me?” I thought. No one informed me that “I” was to be prepared to witness to the “witch doctor.” What if she didn't like what I said or how I said it or what she heard through my interpreter? What if she was offended by my feeble attempt to point her toward Christ? I just might end up in hot water, literally. (Just kidding.) We felt safe and welcome, but unsure enough to realize how much we really needed to depend on God as this moment. I shared with her the words of John 3:16 and how that applied to her. As I did, she had this look on her face that appeared to be saying, “ Yes, I think this is true, but I am not ready to surrender control of my life.” There was obviously a cultural and language barrier and my inexperience that made it difficult to communicate with each other. So my comments were brief and I thought, at best, we were just watering the seed that Pastor Charles had already planted.


What keeps haunting me about our visit were Sharon's last words to us. She made a reference to her and Charles' nine brothers and sisters who had died before them, six of whom had suffered horrifically and finally succumbed to the Aids virus. I have often thought that this might be her excuse for not believing in Christ. I have since communicated this to Pastor Charles also telling him that I have felt a strong compulsion to prayer for her to come to Christ. I also pray that as God changed Saul to Paul, that he would convert Sharon, the “witch doctor” to “Sharon the pastor”, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Charles has written back to confirm that she is moving closer to trusting in Jesus. For someone so entrenched in the darkness to come to “the Light” is a long shot. Will you pray for the “Witch Doctor?”


I almost forgot to mention one more surprise. Just when I thought our visit was over and it was time to leave, I was informed that Sharon had prepared a meal for us. This time I could not escape. I would not offend our host; too much was at stake. A bowl of what looked like small pork ribs was handed to me. I took one and passed the bowl, but all eyes stayed on me to see how I was going to get out of this jam. Fortunately, the rib was small, lean and rather tasty. I made it through this test and hoped for no ill effects on our long drive back. Bob, being a strict vegetarian, escaped one more time. I never did find out exactly what I ate.


By the time we finally got back to the guesthouse, we were mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. This was, without question our most trying day. We came face to face with death, disease, hardship and evil to depths we had previously only heard about from the safety and comfort of our homes. This is a disturbing reality that makes me want to pull the covers over my head and hope I wake up to find it was only a bad dream. But, in the midst of all we experienced, I must point out and remind myself that we also saw a hope and a faith that is rising out of the ashes of destroyed lives - a glimmer of light in the darkness. Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Matt.16:18 KJV. From our perspective in this world, it may appear, or even seem obvious that hell is prevailing. But we know how the story ends and we our confident in the “One” who will prevail.


But what happens between now and then? It has been said that the only thing needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. I am inspired by those I have met in Uganda who have so little in the way of material things and yet have so much in the way of faith – a faith that keeps on despite how hopeless things may appear. A faith that is like that magic candle on a birthday cake. The one you try to blow it out that keeps on relighting. What Bob and I experienced in Uganda is both painful and yet exhilarating. A new reality was awakened within us. I hope the flame that was ignited there keeps on burning in our hearts.


Thank you for taking the time to read this and for being a part of the story.


PKG (Partner's in the Kingdom of our God)

Don Neuman

 



Men of Willow Water Project

January 2012 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for January 2012. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

Thank you for forwarding these updates. More and more people are hearing about and becoming part of this story.

Project Two

Our goal to fund a second solar-powered water-purification system has been met. We are in the process of determining where this system should go and we will keep you informed about that. In the meantime, a number of people have expressed a desire to continue on toward funding a third water project. Our answer to that question is: “Why not?” We have the opportunity and privilege, once again, to give a cup of clean water (thousands of them) in Jesus' name.

Reflections From Africa – Part 4

Precautions

Is it safe to go there? This was the main question asked when we first started talking about going to Uganda to visit our friends at Glory Center Church ,where our first water system is located. When Bob told his wife he was thinking about going with me the conversation went something like this:

Mary Beth: You’re thinking about going where?

Bob: Uganda.

Mary Beth: To do what?

Bob: Visit a church.

Mary Beth: Why?

Bob: This is where the water system that we helped pay for is located.

Mary Beth: What do you know about these people?

Bob: Well, I have read the e-mail correspondence that Don has had with them and they sound very friendly.

Mary Beth: Is Uganda a safe place to go?

Bob: I am not sure.

Mary Beth: What about communications? What about medical facilities? What about terrorists? What about disease? What about food? Where would you stay?

Bob: I'm not sure. I will have to look into that.

Mary Beth:How long would you be gone?

Bob: We haven't decided yet.

Mary Beth: Is there a group or organization that you would go with?

Bob: No. It would be just me and Don.

Mary Beth: Are you nuts???



With those kinds of questions and concerns, you can see that it was a miracle that our wives ever agreed to allow us to go on this trip. Over time, most of the questions were answered and fears eliminated, as best they could be. We assured our families and friends that we would take all necessary precautions and that we would not allow each other to do anything foolish or dangerous. My wife was very happy that Bob was going with me, knowing that he possessed more common sense that I did.

We each went to a travel medical clinic to get all the necessary shots to protect us against various diseases and medication to prevent malaria. We brought plenty of sunblock and insect repellent. We became informed about all the things to do and avoid doing while traveling in third -world countries. We talked with people who had been to Uganda and we learned a few words in their native language. We were as prepared as we could be. But we suspected that there might be a few surprises in store for us. In next month's update, I will describe what we experienced on day four of our trip to Uganda. This was the single most dramatic day of our trip and it shook us to the very core of our being. What we were exposed to had a life-changing effect on us, as you will see in the rest of this update.

Fatal infection


Despite of all the precautions that we took, we could not avoid being infected. The preliminary diagnosis confirms that this could be fatal. Only time will tell. It's a little scary to think about death, especially your own. It is the fear of the unknown, not being in control of your life.

While what we have been infected with is life threatening, it is not bad news. It is good news. For this is not an infection of malaria, meningitis or AIDS that affects the body. It is an infection of faith affecting our souls. It is an infection that causes a death that produces life. Unfortunately, we live in a world that tries to cure us of such infections. I hope that no treatment is found for what we were exposed to in Uganda. In fact, I hope to pass this infection on to others.

Of course, this life-threatening infection is not limited to third-world countries; we have all been exposed to it many times here. This exposure has had a great effect on me, but over the course of my life I have built up a certain amount of immunity to it. In Uganda, we were susceptible to a more aggressive strain of faith. I have not and hope not to develop any immunity to this.

Paul described this fatal infection of faith resulting in death-producing life. He writes in Gal.2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This goes along with what Jesus said in Matt.10:39: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.”

It is through dying to self that we enter into the “abundant life” that Jesus promised in John 10:10. It is in surrendering our will for his; our plans,dreams,aspirations and agendas, so that God can fulfill his purpose in us. This is quite contrary to the way the world thinks, and as believers living in this world, we are constantly exposed to its influence. But those living all out for Christ know what is true and what is not. (I must personally confess here that there is a big difference between knowing and doing and I struggle with that. I am still in the dying process.)

Author Roy Lessin clarifies this difference:“The mind of God is different from the thoughts of man. As we follow him we discover that we lose to gain … surrender to win … die to live … give to receive … serve to reign … scatter to reap. In weakness we are made strong … In humility we are lifted up … In emptiness we are made full!” I think that this true. I will strive, with God's help, to live the rest of my life as if it is – dying to self, alive to God. Allow me to encourage you as I challenge myself to “take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1Tim.6:19

If you feel inclined to be part of this story and contribute toward the next project, read on, but please remember to support your church first before giving to this cause.

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.


December 2011 Update

 



To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for December 2011. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

Thank you for forwarding these updates. More and more people are hearing about and becoming part of this story.

Great News!

I am happy to announce that, for the second time in two years, we have received enough money to fund a solar-powered water-purification system. We are now in the process of exploring possible locations.

As was the case for the first system installed in Ndejje, we actually raised significantly more than enough to fully fund this second water system. The question has been asked, are going to go for number three? All I can say is that if God leads, we will follow. This initiative began with a prompting from God. We will strive to continue to discern his will and respond to his whispers. We hope you will do the same, whatever that may be for each of us.

While our initial goal was to fund a water system through our partner, Water Missions International, we soon discovered and try to communicate that this is not so much a fund-raising project as it is a faith adventure with God. So we hope you will enjoy and be encouraged by the stories and give only if moved to do so.

Reflections From Africa – Part 3

Caught in the undertow of God's grace!

Having attended the last four Leadership Summits at Willow Creek, I began to think that there was more to life than I was living. So I became cautiously willing to step out of the boat, but not too far or too deep... just a little beyond my comfort zone. Slowly, like an undertow in the ocean, the current of God's Spirit began to pull me deeper and deeper into his divine plan. While his plan initially appeared to be the quest to provide clean, safe drinking water where it is lacking, I would soon discover (as many others have)that God had a greater purpose in mind.

While this adventure we have been on for the last two years is not the first time that most of us have recognized God's greater purpose for us, it has certainly sharpened my understanding of it , which is for each of us to be in an ongoing intimate relationship with God. From heaven's point of view, it matters little what we do or accomplish if it doesn't flow out our union with Christ.

It is easy to fill our schedules with doing things for God and lose sight of our need to be with him; this became even more apparent to me on our trip to Africa. We can get so accustomed to our environment that it sometimes becomes necessary for God to either cause or allow something to take place in our lives to re-awaken our desperate and constant need for him. There were many things we experienced in Uganda that drove this truth home, and I continue to reflect on them. Here is one.




In “The Body” experience

Worshiping in Uganda at Glory Center Church is quite different from what I am used to. As visitors, Bob and I were culturally and ethnically worlds apart from our hosts. To say we were a bit out of our element would be an understatement. But somehow we felt very much at home. We were one in the body of Christ. I had heard that they have long services and I was concerned that we might not be able to handle that. Our days and nights were reversed due to the eight hour time zone difference. But, as we discovered, time is not a major issue there. The three-hour service didn't seem that long. Maybe it was because we weren't preoccupied with any other plans for the day, or distracted by all the material things we have or want back home. They have little of that, but more of what we really needed.

Here in this place of worship - which from the outside looked more like a run-down utility building on an old farm than it did a church, with its irregular sheets of metal siding, reddish dirt floor and a holey roof - there was an unmistakable Holy presence. A presence that the world knows nothing about and considers us to be foolish for believing in the “One” whom they do not know. But there was no doubt in our minds that this God we worship and serve and believe in showed up in power and glory. We felt his arms lovingly wrapped around us as we listened to worship songs sung mostly in a language we did not understand. It was here that I was able to visualize what John described in Rev.5:9: “and they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (NIV) I am also reminded that, no matter how corrupt this world gets or what the skeptics say, the day is coming when “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Phil 2:10-11 (NIV)

I realized, once again, but this time much deeper and clearer, that this journey we have been on is about a whole lot more than water. The term “living water” has often been used to describe the message shared with those who seek clean drinking water at Glory Center Church. I am learning that this is not just a evangelical term, but a reality that applies not just for those who are far from God, but also for us who have known him for a long time. In this case, God is using the need for physical water to get our attention, and then he draws us in closer to fill us afresh with the“Living Water”, which is Jesus Christ.

More than H2O

I have shared this with you so that you may realize that what we (Men of Willow) are about is more than just providing safe drinking water. There are people living in places that we wouldn't want to visit, let alone live there. We have much and they have so little. Yet, we saw something in these struggling churches in the countryside and remote villages: they posses a quality of faith and a living relationship with Christ that makes me think that we may be the ones who are impoverished and they, in their poverty, have something of great value to offer to us. Could this be what Paul was talking about in 2Cor.8:14: where he writes, “ ...you're shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come outeven.” (The Message)

There is a spiritual dynamic here that the unbelieving world doesn't understand. As believers, we may not always be aware of it. But imagine, if you will, what occurs every time a community gets access to clean water from the hands of God through the obedience of his children. It may not be the exact words, but the sentiment is similar to the words of Isaiah 12:1-5: “In that day you will sing: I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! In that wonderful day you will sing: Thank you! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world.” (NLT)

So consider the rejoicing that takes place in heaven and earth whenever a need is met in the name of Christ by those who have become both recipients and agents of his grace, compassion and love.

If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, read on, but please remember to support your church and its ministries first before giving to this cause.

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

I cringe whenever I see the word “Xmas.” That is the holiday the world celebrates. Let's not replace Christ with an “X”.

I wish you a joyous and Christ centered Christmas.



November 2011 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for November 2011. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

Thank you for forwarding these updates. More and more people are hearing about and becoming part of this story.

Reflections From Africa – Part 2

How did I get here?

That was the thought going through my mind on Sunday, Oct. 2nd. I found myself in a worship service at Glory Center Church in Uganda struggling to choke back the tears of joy while wondering how did this “Mzungu” ( African term for white person) end up here. Picture this: Here I was - a pale white guy from America, never been on a mission trip, a reserved worshiper - far from Charismatic - participating in an all - black African Pentecostal Church 8,000 miles from home.

As my traveling friend Bob said numerous times, “we were way out of our comfort zone.” Yet there was a strange feeling of warmth and peace accompanied by the assurance we were exactly where God wanted us to be on this day. We were so glad that we didn't miss it. We had found ourselves in the undertow of God's grace.

An unseen, but very real force had been at work drawing us deeper and deeper into God's purpose. We knew that we were not alone in this adventure, for everyone who had prayed or given to fund the solar-powered water-project in Ndejje had, in a very real sense, come with us. If it wasn't for all those who have been a part of this story with us, we wouldn't even had known that this church and this place and these people existed, let alone actually come here.

The members of Glory Center Church know that we did not come alone either. They have asked us, once again, to tell the Men of Willow and friends, “we love them and thank them for the gift of clean water.”

A message from a-dove?

Earlier that morning, I was contemplating on what I might speak about in my feeble attempt to deliver a sermon at this church in Uganda. ( Again, I am thinking, “How is this happening?”) I had given several messages that week at Glory Center's other locations that I could have used. I don't think they were expecting much from me. They knew I was not a preacher, and if they didn't they would soon find out.

In my uncertainty, and with time running out, it dawned on me that I should get down of my knees and ask God for direction ( what a novel idea). While I prayed, a noisy bird outside my window distracted me. Then I had this strange thought: Could God be telling me something here? I don't know what kind of bird this was and I couldn't see it. It made a distinct sound, something like this; “cooo,cooo, cuckoo,cuckoo.”

As strange as it may seem to you ( it seemed strange to me too), but I thought this was the message God gave me that morning. I was reminded of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

So that is what I talked about that morning as I read from 1Cor.1:18-31. (Please read it for yourself.) They all had a good laugh when I tried to mimic the sound the bird made. I then went on to explain what I thought God was trying to tells us; and we were all encouraged by the truth in God's word.

We are not crazy, are we?

I shared some thoughts with the members of Glory Center Church that I would like to share with you.

First of all, the world does not understand why we as Christians do what we do. The world doesn't understand why the church in Ndejje - with a dirt floor, holes in the sheet-metal roof and people with very little in the way of material possessions, is full of people who are very grateful for all they have, which now includes clean water, meeting seven days a week, worshiping as if they had everything their hearts could desire and planting new churches while their pastor won't accept a regular salary.

People around there ask, “Why do you do this?” They think these church people are crazy! I am reminded of a group of young people going house to house selling tomatoes in August to raise money to start a church in a movie theater in Palatine. People thought they were crazy! Then there were some young couples getting second mortgages on their homes to buy land to build a church in South Barrington. People thought they were crazy! Wherever the message of Christ is proclaimed and we keep saying “The local church is the hope of the world,” people will say we are crazy!

When Bob and I felt compelled to journey to Uganda, some people thought we were crazy! When we first started talking about raising $30,000 for a solar-powered water-purification system back in August of 2009, some people thought we were crazy and I wasn't so sure we weren't. Then, having funding one system, we attempted to raise funds for another. Again, we were crazy! Yes, it was crazy to think that enough people would give enough to do build a second system. Especially when you consider the state of our economy, and that many of the contributors are retired folks living on fixed incomes, and that what we gave was over and above our giving to our church and support of other ministries. It was crazy to think it could be done again.

But here we are. The first project in Ndejje has been up and running since July of 2010, less that 12 months from when we began. Our goal for funding a second project has not only been met, but exceeded, leading me to think that maybe, just maybe, God doesn't want us to settle for only two water projects. I don't know. That would really be crazy!!!

Fools for Christ

I don't presume to know what God's future plans are for me, let alone anyone else. I do know that for much of my life, I was more concerned about what others thought about me than what God thought. But as I reflect back on what God has been doing in our lives in the last two years (and obviously a long time before that as well) my trip to Uganda and those verses of scripture by which God used a bird to remind me of, I have come to a conclusion that is further reinforced by what Paul wrote later in the same book;

“Stop fooling yourselves. If you think you are wise by the world's standards, you willhave to become a fool so that you can become wise by God's standards.” 1Cor. 3:18 NLT.

I am not confident that I have the courage, strength or fortitude to live the rest of my life with reckless abandon for God. Knowing my own weakness and sinfulness I don't possess the boldness to say that I am a “fully” devoted follower of Christ.” But with God's help I will strive to live the rest of my days crazy in love with Jesus. What about you? Crazy if we do. Crazy if we don't.

“If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God.....For Christ's love compels us.”2Cor.5:13-14NIV




As of this date we have received $ 32,609, exceeding our goal of $30,000 to fully fund our second solar- powered water-purification system through our partner, Water Missions International.




If you feel inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the next project, read on, but please remember to support your church first before giving to this cause.




For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

October 2011 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for October 2011. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

As of this date we have received $23,429 toward our goal of $30,000 to fully fund our second solar- powered water-purification system through our partner, Water Missions International.

Reflections From Africa – Part 1

Defending the Gospel

On my return flight from Uganda I found myself in an awkward position. I had a copy of a book entitled “The Book That Transforms Nations.” It is about the power of the Bible to change any country. The man sitting two seats over from me asked if he could look at it. After a few minutes he handed it back to me and asked me if I thought China might become a Christian nation someday. I said I had hopes that it could to which he replied, “I hope not.” He then began to give a dissertation on why he thought that the Bible offers no practical help for the suffering. He sighted American policies ( a “Christian Nation”) that he claimed did much more harm than good with its foreign trade policies, the hypocrisies of those who claim to live by the Bible, and the futility of faith to make any practical difference. He said the real answers come only from the field of Psychology.

It was then I knew I was in trouble. If I could I would have got Tony Campolo on the phone and handed to this guy. He would have set him straight. But it was just me and him with a fellow sitting between us ( an American) who offered a little support.) It became obvious that this man was intellectually superior to me. (Contrary to what some may give me credit for, I just ain't that smart.) Like Nehemiah, I whispered a pray to God, “Help!!!” I felt like David against Goliath. But along with David, I believed our cause was were defending. I just didn't have any stones handy. Or did I?

I pointed out that the majority of humanitarian aid around the world is from people and organizations that are inspired and motivated by Biblical principles. I gave him the example of what the Men of Willow had done in Ndejje and that we were close to funding another water project. I told him we did this in response to the Bibles influence in our lives. I then asked him what he, as an individual, was doing to make a difference - was he part of the solution or part of the problem. He had to admit his efforts were quite limited. I then asked him if he believed in an afterlife which quickly ended further discussion. I wonder why?

It was a thought provoking conversation. I have no idea what effect it had on him or the fellow sitting between us, but it has giving me a lot to think about. Are we well prepared to defend our beliefs? Do we do it by words or actions? The needs are so great and efforts so inadequate. That is one of the feelings we felt while in Uganda. Everywhere we went we saw poverty and need, Yet the people were relatively happy. Maybe it was partly because they have known of no other way of life, but for those we met, there was faith. Not shallow, superficial faith, but genuine sincere faith. Extreme faith. You could tell be the way they worshiped and prayed. They were aware of their needs for better living conditions and they longed for that. But their lack did not effect their faith and joy of life. Yes, there is much hardship and sorrow there, but there is also joy in knowing Jesus and that is what they cling to.

Inadequate.

That is one of the words that describe what Bob and I felt when we saw the overwhelming needs in Uganda. Everywhere we went there were people carrying water jugs. They were either going down to get it out of dirty streams, ponds or swamps, or they were coming back with a heavy load of contaminated water. This is a daily task. We are trying to provide one more solar-powered water purification system. When I saw the need I thought 10,000 systems would barely make a dent in the overall picture. It seem like so little, for many, too late. From a strictly human perspective, our best efforts offer little hope. But we are not limited to human perspective, are we?

I am reminded of a story that is recorded in all four gospels. It is the story where Jesus miraculously feeds five thousand. And that was just counting the men. John's Gospel tells us that it was “a boy” who provided the five loaves and two fish which Jesus then multiplied to feed thousands. When presented with the need the disciples thought it impractical for them to come up with the solution. Jesus saw otherwise.

Our approach to promoting the water projects has not been dependent upon our ability to raise funds. We have rarely asked anyone directly to give to this cause. We just inform people of the need and the opportunity to become part of this story. Then we ask God to move in the hearts of those he wants to give to this project. We do our part and God does his. Like the boy with the loaves and fish, it seems so little in light of the need. What God does with what we offer is far beyond our comprehension. Out of our hands into his. He turned water into wine, fed multitudes out of lunchbox, made manna fall from the sky and made water gush forth from a rock in the wilderness. I wonder what he will accomplish with our offering of a solar-powered water-system? It is not what we give, but what he does that will really make a difference. We just have the privilege and joy of being a part of the story.

If you are inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the $ 6,571 still needed to fund the next project you can do so as follows:

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.

September 2011 Update

Two year anniversary edition.


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,
This is our update for September 2011. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.


As of this date we have received $23,764 toward our goal of $30,000 to fully fund our second solar- powered water-purification system through our partner, Water Missions International.

It was two years ago in September 2009 that we officially kicked off the initiative Men of Willow Water Project. What began as a reluctant response to an uncertain prompting of the Spirit has resulted in life-sustaining clean water flowing in the Ndejje community, Uganda. This solar- powered water- purification system went into operation in July 2010, less than one year from when we began inviting people to be part of “Our Story.”

Our story is not one that you will probably ever read about in the newspaper or hear about on the radio or television. Those are reserved for bad news or sensational stories. But to us and the beneficiaries of the water project, our story is quite dramatic. God, the creator of the universe, chose to use us for his glory and to make a difference in a place where people were suffering and children were dying for lack of clean water. But life has changed in Ndejje and it will change soon in another place. Our story is about God moving in the hearts of his people to give to a cause and purpose beyond themselves. It's about water and about building relationships. It's about the here and now and it's about the eternal. It's about meeting physical needs and about meeting spiritual needs. It's about crossing oceans and about overcoming economic, cultural and ethnic barriers.

While you may not hear about our story through the media, I believe it is being talked about in the courts of heaven. In Luke 15:10 Jesus said, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels over onesinner who repents.” This is what is happening in Ndejje. Whenever people come to Glory Center Church, where the water system is located, they hear about Jesus, the Living Water. Lives are being saved, both now and for eternity. You may not read about this in the local or national news, but you will see these names written in “The Book of Life.”

There will come a day when our name will appear in the local paper. This section is titled “Obituaries.”

On occasion I will skim through them. I wonder who these people were, what they did, who they left behind and where they will spend eternity. In our life here on earth we are given time, relationships, resources and opportunities. There is phrase in Garth Brooks' song “Pushing Up Daisies” that says “There's two dates in time that they'll carve on your stone, and everyone knows what they mean. What's more important is the time that is known as that little dash there in between.” What we do with the gift of life God has given us matters for eternity. Each passing day brings us closer to getting our name in the obituary column. We have little choice in the matter. We do have a choice , however, in what we do between now and then.

As much as I would like to see us fund another water project, these words are not meant to guilt or even persuade you into giving to this cause. God doesn't need me to convince you what to do with your resources. He has many good causes that need support; this is just one. I would ask nothing more of you than to be open to God's leading for your life, and the resources he has given you.

Take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul in Eph. 5:15-16 “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the evils of these days. Don't be vague but grasp firmly what you know to be the will of the Lord. (JB Philips)

If you are inclined to be part of the story and contribute toward the $6,236 still needed to fund the next project you can do so as follows:


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100.


P.S. I will be traveling to Uganda, along with my friend Bob Mohn on Sept. 23- Oct 4. We will be visiting Glory Center Church and exploring possible locations for the next water project. Please pray for a productive trip. If you are interested in a copy of our schedule please let me know and I will e-mail it to you.

 

 

August 2011 Update

 

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

 

As of this date we have received $22,644 toward our goal of $30,000 to fully fund a Solar Powered Water Purification System through our partner, Water Missions International.

 

Many times people will ask us how the well project is going. We respond by pointing out that this is not a well. This is a community development project where water is pumped from its source to a central location and filtered at a rate of up to 10,000 gallons a day. Along with health and hygiene training the message of the “Living Water” in Christ is shared with all who come. Instead of women and children having to walk long distances, usually downhill and back up to fetch filthy, contaminated water, take it home and boil it, clean water is made available close to home. Even those who still come from far away are happy to get this safe water and they are met by friendly people who want to share the love of Christ with them in word and in water.

We have seen and heard how this has dramatically impacted the Ndejje Community in Uganda, where our first project is located. You can actually watch a video of Pastor Charles Kwagala of Glory Center Church expressing his gratitude for giving them the gift of clean water. This can be found on our website at

http://menofwillow.com/default.aspx , along with other pictures and information.


At the heart of our endeavor to fund a second project are the words of Jesus “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink....I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these....you did it for me.” Who of us would not gladly offer a drink to Jesus if we met him on the street?

There are many ways that we can help people who God cares about. This is just one. But it is a significant way that we know, by first hand experience, will make a big difference in a community that does not currently have access to clean water.


Many have joined us in this cause. Would you prayerfully consider being a part of this? I don't use the word “prayerfully” lightly here. We have rarely asked anyone directly to contribute to this cause. That is because we believe that this is God's project, His idea and His dream. Our role is to get the word out about the need and the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing. The convincing is the work of the Spirit in each of our hearts. While we would hope that everyone who reads this will make a contribution we also realize that this is only one of many projects and causes that need financial support. That is why we simply ask that you be willing to seek God's leading, whatever that may be. And if you do feel prompted to support this project you can do so as follows:

For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100


July 2011 Update

 

This is our update for July 2011. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

Each month we continue to move closer to our goal of funding a second solar powered water purification system through Water Missions International. To date we have received $22,119 toward the $30,000 needed. Having passed the two-thirds mark makes it more believable that this dream will come true -- true for us, but even more significantly, true for those who otherwise may never have access to clean water.


Recently our committee was reflecting upon the value and effect that the first water project has been having in Ndejje. The more we thought about it, the longer the list became. Here are some of them. Improved health through clean water.

  • Decreased time and labor required to walk long distances to fetch and boil contaminated water.

  • Save time and labor that now can be put to better use, such as schooling for children or employment and housekeeping for the women. (It is the role of women and children to fetch water taking up much of their day.)

  • Improved economics by reducing the need for fuel (firewood or coal) to boil contaminated water.

  • Evangelism – the Living Water Message is shared with all those who come to the church to get water.

  • Improved community relations with people of different beliefs. The church has endeared itself with the prominently Muslim population, as well as others, by making clean water available to everyone without discrimination. This has become one of the fastest growing churches in the region.

  • The church has gained the respect and admiration of believers and non-believers alike from communities near and far. (Numerous people have come and offered land to build a church in their communities. Many of these people are not even believers.)

  • This has opened our eyes, hearts and minds to what God is doing beyond our little world.

  • God has blessed us with a sense of accomplishment and usefulness in helping to make a difference in the lives of others as we have honored God with the resources that he has given us.

  • We have been blessed in the relationship we have with Glory Center Church which has been filled with mutual encouragement, gratitude and joy.


This is the short list with only brief descriptions about how God had given us the opportunity to bless and be blessed through this water project. And the story continues to grow. If you had a couple of hours, we could sit down and go into greater detail. We receive so much more information in monthly reports from Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda, where the water system is located. We also communicate with pastor Charles Kwagala three to four times a month. Through these communications we have been able to confirm that the investment we made there is paying big dividends.


These are just some of the reasons why we enthusiastically continue to encourage people to prayerfully consider joining us in making this dream come true for another community. I am absolutely convinced that this is really God's dream and we have been given the opportunity and privilege of being a part of it. For this to happen, it will take a few people giving a lot, a lot of people giving a little, or maybe a combination of both. A number of us have signed up to give a modest, affordable amount each month. If you feel led, join us by making a one-time contribution or by setting up automatic payments directly from your bank or through Water Missions website.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution, go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section. For questions or more information, contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (847) 452-1100    

June 2011 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,


This is our update for June 2011. You play an integral part in getting this message out. Don't let it stop with you. Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested.

 

Each month we continue to move closer to our goal of funding a second Solar Powered Water Purification System through Water Missions International. To date we have received $19,359 toward the $30,000 needed. When you take into consideration that we began the year with $8,400, and most of the contributions have come from those who are giving over and above their support of the church and other ministries, and many of those who contributed are retired and living on a fixed income, and these are difficult economic times for all of us, it is quite significant that we have made this much progress.


Making a significant impact in the world.

With all the demands on our resources -- the things we need, the things we want and what others want from us -- I find it amazing that people continue to give to this project. Sometimes I wonder what it is that would prompt someone to do so. Is it because we have been so eloquent and persuasive in our communications about this cause? I don't think so. That hasn't been our strategy or desire. I can think of several factors: One is that people have become aware of and moved by the desperate need of those who lack access to clean water. A second factor is our desire to make a difference, to do something of tangible and lasting value, something significant. The definition of the word significant is this: marked by or indicative of notable worth or consequence. Synonyms include: important, big, consequential, considerable, meaningful, momentous and substantial.


All these words are descriptive of the water project that we funded in Ndejje, Uganda. I encourage you to read again the past updates that include reports and stories from Glory Center Church, where the water system is located. In their own words they have told us, in no uncertain terms, the significant difference this has made in their community. You can find these on our website athttp://menofwillow.com/Updates.aspx (The February 2011 update includes a letter from the pastor in Ndejje that describes just how meaningful our friendship is to them.)


Supreme Significance

Ultimately, what is most meaningful is not the difference that God has enabled us to make in the lives of others, but the work he is accomplishing in ours. For we did not give our hard-earned money to help people on the other side of the world because we are great humanitarians, or because we are naturally generous. Whether we were aware of it or not at the time, our giving was in response to the promptings of the Spirit of God. Any element of compassion that we have is a reflection of the heart of God.


So, whenever we are moved to action by the needs of others, it is not us just being kindhearted. It is really the grace of God flowing through us. It is the Spirit bearing fruit in our lives. This is what we, the Men of Willow, have recognized from the beginning. God gets all the credit and glory. We have the joy of experiencing God working in our lives and then blessing others. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: 35-41:


I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink ... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”


Can you grasp the significance of that? We are not just providing water for people we don't know in a far away place that we may never meet( in this life at least.) We are really doing this for and to our Lord.


Our Motives

So, when we send out these updates or share the story of what we are doing here, our purpose is not to coerce, manipulate, persuade or guilt anyone into supporting this project. (Although, at times, our enthusiasm may be identified as this.) We are just excited that God has given us the opportunity to be a part of this and we want to extend the invitation. We realize that not everyone is moved or called to respond similarly to the needs around us. If you are one of those people, just enjoy the story and rejoice in what God is doing. But for everyone who reads this, I would just like to ask you to consider the possibility that this may be one of those needs for which God wants you to respond. There are people praying right now, asking God to send help. Could you be an answer to their prayers?


For more information on what is involved in a water project visithttp://www.watermissions.org/water-project-anatomy.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution go to http://menofwillow.com/Contributions.aspxtions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (847) 452-1100 

 

Men of Willow Water Project


May 2011 Update

 

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for May 2011. Please forward this to anyone who may be interested. For more information about this project, visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

It was about this time last year that we chose the community of Ndejje, Uganda, as the recipient of a water purification system through our partnership with Water Missions International. This solar- powered system began operating in July of 2010, making clean water available to more than 1500 people. The equipment is operated and maintained by Glory Center Church. In addition to providing a higher quality of life for the residents of this community, it also has enhanced the evangelistic efforts and developed good will between the Christians and the 75% Muslim population.

Having initially received significantly more than enough for one project, and seeing the tremendous impact this has had in Ndejje, we are now striving to fund another water system. To date we have received $18,589 towards the $30,000 needed to fully fund another project. It is hard for us to comprehend that there are millions of people around the world who do not have access to clean drinking water. While we can't help everyone, it is within our power to help at least one more community. These systems can filter and deliver up to 10,000 gallons of water per day. This would be adequate for a village of up to 3,000 people.

To do this we still need $11,411. For many of us that is way beyond our means. But together we can do it. For example 114 people giving just $20.00 a month for 5 months would raise the needed funds. There are already a number of individuals who are contributing each month now. We ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us in this project. There are people right now praying to God for help. We could be the answer to their prayers.

For more information on what is involved in a water project visit http://www.watermissions.org/water-project-anatomy.

For directions on how and where to make your contribution go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking https://my.watermissions.org/donateand selecting Men of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

An Unexpected Response

On the surface, whenever we think about helping someone else in need, especially in far away, under-resourced places, we may get the feeling that this is a one- way relationship: we are the giver, they are the recipient. Sure there is an expression of gratitude by the recipients, and we in turn are thankful that God enabled us to make a difference lives of others. But, if our giving is of pure motives, we really don't expect anything in return ( certainly nothing of monetary value). But here is a story that illustrates the depth of our relationship with the church in Ndejje, Uganda.

Vern Boelkins recently visited Uganda, where he had the opportunity to visit Ndejje. After the trip he sent a follow-up e-mail to Pastor Charles Kwagala of Glory Center Church. In that e-mail Vern mentioned Willow Creek's Celebration of Hope.

Pastor Charles responded and asked if this was something his church could participate in. At first, we thought he wanted to know if this was something that they could receive help from. But that is not how it turned out. Here is a copy of a letter that we hand delivered to Bill Hybels from Pastor Charles on Sunday May 1st .

From Pastor Charles Kwagala

Glory Center Church, Ndejje, Uganda To Pastor Bill Hybels

Willow Creek Community Church, U.S.A.

Hello pastor, thank you for the work you are endeavoring to do in God's Kingdom.

I know you don't know me but I will begin by introducing myself.

I am pastor Charles Kwagala, pastoring Glory Center Church located at Ndejje-Uganda 5 kilometers off Entebbe road. We are an evangelical church and we do most of evangelism throughout most of our programs and we also care and cater for vulnerable children.

Men from your church were inspired and prompted by the Spirit of God to raise money for the water project through Water Missions International.

The water system went to Ndejje-Uganda at our church where I am pastoring. Men of Willow began to communicate to me and Prossy, the Administrator of the above church and by that we have developed a very wonderful relationship.

I and 15 leaders from our church were able to attend the GLS [Global Leadership Summit] conference in Kampala at Hotel Africana last November 2010 and we were so much touched by the teachings. God bless you sir.

Sir, I heard about the Celebration of Hope 2011, although our church is small and struggling financially, we want to help Willow with their building program.

We request you to allow our gift, we had collected it but failed to get postage fee not until our leaders suggested selling one computer we had, and so we did.

I mention this to let you know that even though it looks small, but it is from our hearts and big before our sight, and we felt the joy of giving.

We only request you one thing to remember us in your prayers.

Yours in service of Christ,

Pastor Charles Kwagala

I am tempted to point to this act of sacrificial giving from Glory Center Church to encourage and challenge you to make a generous contribution to the next water project, but I don't want to diminish, in any way, the profound demonstration of their love and gratitude for us.

So let me close by saying this: As we reflect what God has allowed us to be a part of in providing a water system in Ndejje and the relationship that has developed between us and Glory Center Church, this, in and of itself, has been more than worth all the efforts, prayers, time and money. I don't know if the people in Ndejje have ever sung the words of the song “Changed” by Aaron Niequist. But even if they haven't, they have expressed the same sentiment the song shares: “I have been blessed, now I want to be a blessing.”

While it may appear that the current focus of Men of Willow is primarily about raising money for another water-treatment system, that is truly only secondary. Our efforts are ultimately about responding to God's leading in our lives and leveraging all our resources for His Kingdom, whatever that may be for each of us. This is just one of the ways we can do that.



April 2011 Update

 

As you know, the water system that we paid for in Ndejje is having a tremendous impact in that community. Each month we receive reports from Glory Center Church where the water system is located. Here is an excerpt from the most recent report as written by Prossy Kaitesi, the church administrator.


“I will continually say that God richly bless the Men of Willow. You are a blessing to us and Ndejje community. People are always questioning how this system works, the technology and so they keep on asking how they can acquire it. But we always tell them about the Men of Willow and our Great God and there we end up with a chance of preaching to them the gospel. Can you imagine that even non born agains have come to us willing to offer us land to plant churches because of this water system, and not just one or two, many have come to us? So, to us it is an iron tool for the gospel.”


Ever since this water system went into operation in July 2010 we have heard and reported how it has made a significant difference in the lives of the people of Ndejje. There should be absolutely no doubt in our minds that our contributions were well spent, both for now and eternity. Today, tomorrow and for thousands of tomorrows clean water will be flowing in this community. People who are far from God are hearing, seeing and drinking in the love of Christ as they come to get clean water at Glory Center Church. Now we are looking forward to providing a water system in another place where people are suffering and children are dying for lack of uncontaminated drinking water.


During the month of April we are focusing on Willow's Celebration of Hope. During this time we are being challenged to Stand, Serve and Give. See http://coh.willowcreek.org/ for more details. We encourage all those who call Willow home to fully support and participate. Giving for this cause should have priority over your giving to the next water project.


Having said that, I want to give you an update on where we are in our goal towards funding another solar- powered water purification system. To date we have received $17,289. That leaves us with $12,711 to go for the $30,000 needed. We are getting closer, but there is still a long way to go. The sooner we reach the goal, the sooner we can help bring safe water to a community that currently does not have access to clean water. But there is more to this than money. Behind every contribution there is a story, a decision to respond to the prompting of God. I am always amazed whenever I hear of someone making another contribution to this cause because it represents a work of God in someone's heart. With so many demands on our resources, so many things to spend our money on, so many causes that need support and, on top of that, the tough economic times we are going through. I think it is near miraculous that we have even got to this point. I don't know how long it will take to completely fund this next project, but we will continue to encourage people to join us. We will also continue to give you reports from Ndejje and on the impact the water system is having in their community.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution go to http://menofwillow.com and click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selectingMen of Willow in the designation box. You can also mail a check to Water Missions International, P.O. Box 31258, Charleston, SC 29417. Write “Men of Willow” in the memo section.

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

 

March 2011 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family,

This is our update for March. Please forward this to anyone who may be interested.

For more information about this project visit us at http://menofwillow.com.

Good reports continue to come in from Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda about the tremendous effect the water treatment system is having in their community.

We are now looking forward to providing access to clean water to another place and people in need. As you read the attached file, that was distributed at the Men's Breakfast Groups last month, we hope you will consider making an investment in this project that will deliver life sustaining clean water and the “Living Water Message” in Jesus Christ.


For directions on how and where to make your contribution go to http://menofwillow.com click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box.

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

 

 

February 2011 Update

 

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Families,

This is our update for February. Please forward this to anyone who may be interested. For more information about this project visit us athttp://menofwillow.com.

Our primary method of communication is via e-mails. Our mailing list is relatively small. As we send updates out to individuals and group leaders that is as far as the message goes unless you pass it on to others.  We also encourage you to  visit our website, where we not only feature news  about the water project, but also include information and upcoming events to help men connect and grow in their relationship with Christ. So please help us get the word out.                       

It seems like most of what we hear  from the media is bad news. I have a friend who took a picture of a car engulfed in flames on I-90 near Elgin a few years ago. He contacted the  news  to see if they would be interested in the picture. This was their response.  “Unless someone was seriously injured or killed, it would not be newsworthy.” Well, I think some good news is worth broadcasting.

This month we are taking the message on the road. We will be visiting the various  Willow Men's Breakfast Groups, the CARS  Ministry, Computer Connection and anyone else who will listen. Whether or not you're open to contributing financially to provide clean water to those who are in need, I hope you will take joy, along with us, in celebrating our ongoing journey in bringing life and hope in the form of clean water. You can track our story to date at our website. Click on “Updates” to read all the monthly reports going back to the beginning in September 2009.

Unless you are just now reading about this, you know that the first water project that we funded is in Ndejje,Uganda. We have received information and reported  on the tremendous impact that the water treatment system is having in this community. In addition to that, we have developed a great relationship with Glory Center Church where the system is located and where water is distributed to all who come. The following is a letter we recently received from Pastor Charles Kwagala that illustrates the value they place on the relationship that exists between us.                                                                                                     



Hello friend Don and all Men of Willow,

It's a great blessing for me as a little known African preacher to have church friends like you who always take time to read my stories of how I am trying to reach to utter most parts of the world with the glorious gospel of the kingdom of our Lord.


I want all Men of Willow to know this: at Glory Center Church we take your participation in this matter as a great deal and a blessing. I want you to be assured of this; we have used your money (water system and solar) to expand the kingdom of God.


Allow me to say this: Aside from myself and the wonderful dedicated congregation God has given me, you are the first people who have supported this work of God from outside. Thank you so much. May God bless you all.

Due to your encouragement, the church has expanded and we are now planning to buy 100 additional chairs and we planted another church, as you know, in Butogonya.

When I sat down to think about this great harvest of souls we are now having, definitely I realized that it is Glory Center Church members and your encouragement that has made such a great impact.

Just to know that I have friends who love me and appreciate what we are doing in the Lord, I believe it has pushed the work of God ahead. Please remember me in your prayers.

I am now leading prayers with different departments from our church every Tuesday from 7:00pm- 10:00pm . We are repenting, engaging in spiritual warfare against principalities in Ndejje, praying for our country, people to get jobs and financial break through and seeking God for more anointing of serving Him and keep the fire burning with in us.

Our men in church have been inspired by Men Of Willow and they are now meeting together to form a group.

MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU FRIENDS.
From pastor Charles

(Excerpts of letter from Pastor Charles Kwagala on January 26, 2011 )



Just to think that we have had the privilege to be used by God to bless and be blessed by sharing some of our resources to help these believers who are lifting up the name of Jesus in a dark and difficult place, is truly humbling and rewarding.

We believe that we can do this again. There are other places where people are suffering and children are dying for lack of clean, uncontaminated water. They are crying out to God for help. Would you be willing to ask yourself this question : “Could I be the answer to their prayers?”

Some of us have already asked ourselves that question, and we know what the answer is. The cost of a solar powered water treatment system is $30,000. We currently have almost 40% of that in the Men of Willow Account at Water Missions International (WMI). That still leaves us 60% or about $18,000 short. That's a lot. Individually, it seems like an unrealistic challenge. But by many of us joining together we can do it. Any and all contributions are welcome. A number of people have signed up to give a monthly amount that is affordable and does not interfere with other commitments and obligations. It would take the equivalent of 75-80 people giving just $20 a month for 12 months to fund the next project.

For directions on how and where to make your  contribution go to  http://menofwillow.com   click on Contributions. Or you can go directly to WMI's online donation page by clicking

https://my.watermissions.org/donate and selecting Men of Willow in the designation box.

    For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

 

January 2011 Update


To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Family

 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that 2011 be a year of great blessing for you. For the people in Ndejje, ( Nay-Jay) Uganda this Christmas has been, and this coming year will be much better, in many ways, than years past. I know that I have said this in previous updates, but I think it is worth repeating, Clean water is now flowing in their community. Prior to the installation of the Living Water Treatment System last July they never had access to safe, clean water. Thanks to many of you who gave they no longer have to walk long distances to get filthy, bacteria laden water that is unfit for human consumption.

Here is a description that we received from Glory Center Church, where the water system is located, about the evangelistic impact it is having in their community:


“The Solar powered water system
These two systems are still doing great wonderful work in preaching the gospel.
The water system is saying “here is the ever flowing river with water of life which is Jesus Christ,” and the solar power, that is also used to supply electricity in the church is saying “here is the light of the world come out from the darkness.”
Why am I saying this? Its because water is ever there at church of Christ and people always come for it. The same for the solar power because the local hydro power is not dependable. So this is a great implication, that its only at the church of Jesus Christ where people can find the living water and light of the world. Glory and honor always to our God and thanks to the men of Willow.”

Written by Prossy Kaitesi, church administrator, Glory Center Church

We currently have over a third of what is needed to provide a treatment system in another community where people are suffering and children are sick and dying because they don't have access to clean water. We ask that as you read this, that you stop for a moment and prayerfully consider contributing to this cause without taking away from your giving to the church or other ministries you are already committed to support. There are several ways you can do this.


#1 You can mail a check to Water Missions International P.O. Box 31258 Charleston, SC 29417 ( write Men of Willow in the memo section of your check)


#2 Online Banking from your account to Water Missions International using the above information..


#3 Water Missions website https://my.watermissions.org/donate Select Men of Willow in the designation box.

All contributions are tax deductable.

 

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwilllow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

The Men of Willow Water Project Committee members are Dominic Bialecki, Bill McGraw, Vern Boelkins, Rich Hartman, Patrick Walsh and Don Neuman.

December 2010 Update

 

To the Men of Willow, Our Friends and Families



A Light That Shines Through The Darkness!

The water system that we paid for 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. It is very similar to the other “Living Water Treatment Systems” that Water Missions International has installed in 40 different countries. It can filter and produce up to 10,000 gallons of clean, safe drinking water a day. It transforms deadly and polluted bacteria-laden “yuck” into crystal clear water. The system is powered by solar panels and cost only $100.00 a year to maintain.

What makes this particular system unique though is that additional components were added so that the electric current that powers the equipment can be transferred to supply power 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 recently. Here is the story we received from Prossy, a member of Glory Center Church.

“ Wednesday evening as I was coming home from school 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.”

The investment that we made in this water treatment system in Ndejje is paying huge dividends, both physically and spiritually. This is just one of the many stories we are hearing from our friends at Glory Center Church in Uganda.



The Best Gift I Ever Received!

Over the years I have received many nice gifts for Christmas, but I just can't remember what most of them were. But I clearly remember the gifts that I got from my children and grandchildren last year. It is always a challenge to find that special gift that someone really wants or needs. Last year I made it easy. I told them that if they were thinking of getting me anything at all there was nothing I would like better than for them to make a contribution to our water project. To my joy and delight they all did. While I appreciated and valued each gift I was especially touched by the gifts I received from two of my granddaughters. Emily, age 11 gave me a tube that, at one time was filled with M&M's that now contained $20.00 in quarters. Abby, age 7 proudly presented her gift in a small decorative box with the sacrificial amount of $5.75. Their expression of love to me came out of the meager savings in their piggy banks.

I can think of no better gift as I look at the picture of the Water Treatment System in Ndejje with a sign above it that reads, “Donated By Men of Willow.” This practical gift will be supplying thousands of gallons of water every day for years to come to our friends in Uganda.

I informed my family that I would be very happy with the same type of gift this year. One of them said to me, oh, are you still doing that? I said, absolutely.



Give the Gift of Water!

We currently have nearly a third of the amount needed for a second project. The reports we are receiving from Ndejje that describe the positive effect the water project is having in that community and the overwhelming need for more systems like this around the world compel us to move forward to funding a second project. This will cost$30,000 and that is a lot money. We have within our reach the ability to do this only if many of us join together. We have seen and heard the difference this has made in Ndejje and there is another place where people are suffering and praying to God for help. Could we be the answer to their prayers?

We ask that as you read this, that you stop for a moment and prayerfully consider contributing to this cause without taking away from your giving to the church or other ministries you are already committed to support. There are several ways you can do this.

#1 You can mail a check to Water Missions International P.O. Box 31258 Charleston, SC 29417 ( write Men of Willow in the memo section of your check)

#2 Online Banking from your account to Water Missions International using the above information..

#3 Water Missions website https://my.watermissions.org/donate Select Men of Willow in the designation box.

All contributions are tax deductible.

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwilllow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

The Men of Willow Water Project Committee members are Dominic Bialecki, Bill McGraw, Vern Boelkins, Rich Hartman, Patrick Walsh and Don Neuman.


November 2010 Update



To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family


A Practical Gospel !

Last months update concluded with this statement: “Today, in Ndejje, where the majority are Muslim, they are hearing that message ( the Gospel) a little more clearly because they are not just hearing Christians talk about their faith, they are drinking from it.”

We continue to get reports from Ndejje that re-enforce that statement. Shortly after sending out that update we received a letter from Glory Center Church that included these words:

“ We thank God for the open door of evangelism through the Water Project, which has changed peoples perspectives. A Muslim local counsel leader said the church has made a positive impact in the community and he prays that the church will expand. We have never received such a confession from a Muslim. The Water Project is making a big difference. God bless you friends.”

“This is a practical gospel” says Pastor Charles Kwagala. ( see video on the home page)

The “Living Water Treatment System provides two major benefits in the Ndejje Community. One is physical and the other is spiritual. Life sustaining clean water that meets the physical needs is obvious to everyone. Not so obvious is the need for salvation to those who are lost. To effectively communicate the gospel message you need to speak in a language people understand. A language that goes beyond words. For many of the people in Ndejje, they are now beginning to see the love of Christ through clean water. This is what Pastor Charles is referring to as a practical gospel.

To see and hear of the value and impact that this Water System is having in Ndejje serves to reinforce our desire to fund another Project through Water Missions International. We have a strong sense of God's leading and our confidence rests in his hands. We ask that everyone who reads this update pause for a moment and prayerfully consider giving to the next project so people in need will have access to clean water and the opportunity to hear the message of the Living Water in a language they can clearly understand.

We currently have a little over $8,000 in our account at Water Missions International toward a goal of $30,00 to fund a second project.

Please prayerfully consider supporting the next water project with you tax-deductible contribution. Checks should be made out and mailed to: Water Missions International P.O. Box 31258 Charleston, SC 29417 Be sure to write Men of Willow in the memo section to apply to this fund.

Please do not contribute to this fund in lieu of you tithe or any other church sponsored initiative.

For questions or more information contact Don Neuman at menofwillow@gmail.com or phone (847) 452-1100

The Men of Willow Water Project Committee members are Dominic Bialecki, Bill McGraw, Vern Boelkins, Rich Hartman, Patrick Walsh and Don Neuman

October 2010 Updates

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

 



In the movie Field of Dreams Kevin Costner heard a voice ( a whisper.) It said, “If you build it they will come.” That pertained to building a baseball field. In the movie we see famous baseball players come back to life to play again to fulfill a dream. The movie, of course, was fiction.

But today we see a similar story being played out in real life. While we may not have heard God whisper the words “ if you build it they will come”, that is just what is happening right now in the Ndejje Community in Uganda. People are flocking to Glory Center Church where the “Living Water Treatment System is pumping clean water every day.

The whisper we heard was “what if.” What if all of us joined in together to raise funds and partner with Water Missions International to provide safe water to a community in need. Men from all across Willow teamed up to make this happen--- from the various Men's Breakfasts, to C.A.R.S. ,to Computer Connection and numerous others responded.

The initiative that began in August 2009 became a reality in July 2010. It was built and people are coming, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and years to come, clean water will be flowing in Ndejje because you gave. This project is fully funded and self-sustaining.

The goal was to raise $30,000 to fund a water project. You gave more. The question is what do we do with the balance in the Men of Willow account at Water Missions International. ( about $8,000) We have heard from a number of people who have suggested that we continue to raise funds for another project.

We realize, that for many of us, these are difficult times. We realize that there are many demands on our resources. We realize that there are many good causes that request our support. We realize that not everyone may be interested in giving to another water project in some part of the world thousands of miles away, but there are some. We want to keep the door open for those of us who God may lead to give towards another water project.

We believe that it was not our ability or effort to persuade anyone to give that made this project possible. We believe that it was primarily the prayers that God would impress upon peoples hearts to give – and those he wanted to give to this cause gave. Our job has been to keep people informed about the project and pray for God to lead all of us. It has never been our intention to ask anyone to do anything but to be open to the Lord's will, whatever that is. Although our enthusiasm may suggest otherwise, we understand that this may not appeal to everyone, but all our invited to participate. This project is not exclusive to men. Women are invited and have supported this project from the beginning.

We believe that there awaits another place and another people in desperate need of clean water. If we will partner again with Water Missions International those words “ If you build it they will come” will once again ring true, and they will receive life sustaining clean water to drink and they will hear of the One who is the “Living Water.” That is what is happening today in Ndejje because you prayed and you gave.

One last thought. In the movie, baseball players of old came back to life who were once dead to turn a dream into reality. But it was nothing more than a fantasy. There is, however, a similar dream that has and is becoming a reality. We can read about it in Eph. 2:4-7 which says, “ But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. ( it is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms—all because we are one with Christ Jesus. And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus.) NLT

This is God's dream. It has, and is, and will continue to become a reality in the lives of those who hear and accept his offer of eternal life. Today, in Ndejje, where the majority are Muslim, they are hearing that message a little more clearly because they are not just hearing Christians talk about their faith, they are drinking from it.

The Pastor and members of Glory Center Church, where the water is being distributed to all who come, send their greetings and thanks and are praising God for the gift of clean water and the hope we have in Christ, the Living Water.

Please prayerfully consider supporting the next water project with you tax-deductible contribution. Checks should be made out and mailed to: Water Missions International P.O. Box 31258 Charleston, SC 29417 Be sure to write Men of Willow in the memo section to apply to this fund.

Please do not contribute to this fund in lieu of you tithe or any other church sponsored initiative.
 
 

September 20, 2010

 


To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

Today in the Ndejje Community in Uganda clean life sustaining water is flowing. I know I told you that last month. But the clean water you and I take for granted every time we turn on the faucet is not taken for granted by the people of Ndejje. Each day from 6:00AM to 8:00PM they are coming to get clean water and at the same time they are told about the One true God who loves them and wants to cleanse them of all their sins and give them eternal life.
Pastor Charles Kwagala and the members of Glory Center Church , where the"Living Water Treatment System " is located are very intentional about reaching out to their community with the love and grace of Jesus. In an area that is 75% Muslim their efforts have been met with much resistance and hostility. But with the installation of the water system that appears to be diminishing to some degree.
In 1John 3:18 we read these words: "Dear brothers, let us not love with words and tongue but with actions and in truth." Here is an example of Christ's love in action. Today, in a community nearly 8,000 miles away where the majority opposes Christianity many are seeing Christ from a new perspective. Our partnership, as Men of Willow with Water Missions International, and now with Glory Center Church is making a difference in many peoples lives.
But there is more to this than helping others.In the process God has been doing a work in our hearts. Whenever we give of our resources in response to God's leading there is a spiritual dynamic that takes place within us. 1Tim.6:19 refers to this as "taking hold of life that is truly life." Today, tomorrow, and beyond we can celebrate and thank God for the privilege he has given us to a part of this project. God alone gets all the credit and we get the joy in knowing that, both here and there in Ndejje, we are taking hold of life that is truly life.
This project has united men from all across Willow; from the Men's Breakfast in Elgin to Bartlett, to Algonquin, to Crystal Lake, to Hoffman Estates, to Buffalo Grove, to Rolling Meadows, to Schaumburg, to Round Lake, to Deerfield, to Chicago, to the CARS Ministry, to Computer Connection and people and groups in between - reaching out around the world to Ndejje, Uganda. I don't know where God will take us from here. But we can rejoice in what the Lord has done in and through us.
What now!
#1 We will continue to stay in touch with Glory Center Church and send out monthly updates. A bridge of love and grace is being built between us that crosses over oceans and cultural and ethnic boundaries that can only be attributed to the work of God in our hearts and theirs. Emmy, one of the members of Glory Center said "tell the Men of Willow I love them." In a world filled with prejudice, hatred, distrust and misunderstanding that is something to sit up and take notice of.

#2 Our goal was to raise enough money for a water project. We exceeded that goal by quite a bit. There is enough left over in the Men of Willow account at Water Missions International to cover nearly 1/3 of the costs for another project. We have heard from a number of people that are in favor of continuing on toward funding an additional water system.

At this time we encourage everyone to prayerfully consider giving to this cause. You can mail your contribution to the following address:

Water Missions International
P.O. Box 31258
Charleston, SC 29417

Write "Men of Willow" in the memo section to insure it gets credited to this fund. As we have stated in the past, please do not contribute to this fund in lieu of your tithe or any other church sponsored initiative.

August 2010 update

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

 

Pastor Charles Kwagala and the members of Glory Center Church in Ndejje, Uganda say "thank you for the water project." Today, instead of having to walk more than a 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile to fetch and carry dirty water back home, clean water is now available in the village where they live. ( see attachment for pictures and more details.)Below is a letter from Pastor Charles to all those who have given to make this possible.

 

 Hello Don, 
       I am so happy to read your email today and thank you for the water project, send our appreciation to every group member (Men of Willow).

The people of Glory Center Church will be happy on Sunday to hear about the people who raised funds for the Water project which has become an evangelism pulpit in our community. 
    In our community 75% of people are Muslim and the method we are using to reach out to them is one to one gospel evangelism, Some one is now always on the water tap telling them about the Living water message (Jesus Christ)from 6:00am to 8:00pm that's when we close the tap. We have been praying for such projects and now every one has got a chance of hearing the good news. 
We will be happy to have you as our friends,

Pastor Charles


July 2010 Update

This is the latest update on our water project in the Ndejje Community, Uganda. 
    Download or click on 
"view image" to see the status update we received from Water Missions Uganda recently.  The water system should be complete and clean water will be flowing very soon. All the prayers and all the generous giving and all the obstacles that had to be overcome to get permits to cross government and private properties and the intense labor and logistics it takes to make a project like this happen will soon culminate into life-sustaining clean water.  Currently people ( mostly children) must walk over a mile down into a valley ( swampland during the rainy season) to carry  impure water uphill back to their homes. Can you imagine the joy in the Ndejje Community when they will be able to get clean water close to home.
    We will continue to keep you informed  of the impact this water project has on the people of the Ndejje Community . Thanks to all who have helped make this project possible.


June 2010 Update

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

 

I am writing to let you know the status of our water project in the Ndejje Community, Uganda. 
    The initial steps to setting up the water system  began last week. The first step is to organize a water committee. These people are selected from members of the community. They will be trained by Water Missions staff to operate and maintain the equipment and distribute the water. Community participation will give them a sense of responsibility, partnership and ownership. They will be totally responsible for the upkeep of the system after the first year. During the first 12 months of operation Water Missions will oversee the operation and distribution of the water system. 
    The next step is to secure land rights. ( The water source is about one third of a mile from the church where the equipment will be safely located.) It is extremely important to get legal rights to lay piping across this property in order to avoid any complications or interruptions.
    An important part of supplying clean water is to educate the people in health and hygiene. This week Water Missions staff held classes to train a group of trainers.
    A Water Missions Technician was to begin construction on the secure sump but was delayed due to his wife giving birth. Congratulations to Fred and his wife Liz. ( Maybe we can get a picture of them.)
    An integral part of each water project is a plan to share the "Living Water " in Jesus Christ with all the people in the community. This is done with love and grace. The water is available to all without prejudice, but is is a great opportunity to talk about the hope we have in Christ. They began this  project with a school of evangelism. They had more than 300 hundred in attendance and many came to faith in Christ. People, who were trained, went door to door sharing their faith.
    Here are several links to recent pictures from Ndejje. 
      Thanks to all who have made this project possible and to our God who led us to give.

http://picasaweb.google.com/watermissionsuganda/Ndejje0000321#

http://picasaweb.google.com/watermissionsuganda/NdejjeEvangelismConference


May 2010 Update

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family


To date we have received $38,094.00 for the purpose of funding a water purification project. This exceeds our original goal by more than $8,000. I am in absolute awe of how God has moved guys from all across Willow and beyond to generously give to supply clean water to those in need. These additional funds will enable us to do even more that we had originally hoped for.
    Over the past two months we have been working with Water Missions International to determine what community we should choose for this water project. While there are very many places in need of clean water, Water Missions has asked us to choose the Ndejje Community in Uganda. It is located approximately ten miles  south of the capital city of Kampala. Ndejje is a community of about 1500 people with other communities nearby. 
    The three criteria that we were looking for in determining a location for our water project were: #1 a community in need of a complete solar powered water purification system. #2 A community with a strong Christian presence. #3 The ability to be able to track and  give current updates as this project progresses. #4 The ability to stay in touch with this community during and after the initial 12 months that Water Missions  monitors, trains and evaluates the project. The Ndejje Community meets and exceeds those criteria.
  #1  They get their water from a spring that is in the middle of wetlands. ( swamp) The distance and uphill terrain that the water must be pumped requires additional solar panels and inverter batteries for A.C. power. With the use of a transfer switch this electricity  can be utilized to  light the church and power the P.A. System on Sunday mornings. ( Their services last about 4 hours with no fans or Air Conditioning.)
    #2 The 200 member Glory Center church is led by Pastor Charles Kwagala. The Water System will be located within the church compound. Water will be available to all in the community without discrimination or prejudice. This church is committed to reaching out to all in the community, which is 50% Muslim, with the love and grace of God. They have a group called "The Agape Puppets." Where traditional preaching may not be effective throughout the community, the puppet show attracts the whole village. Everyone gathers to watch the show that presents the gospel message. During the performance all the merchants close shop,  even the bars. The church is hosting a  conference  for 600 pastors from the area in June. They have said to Water Missions International, " we will bring the pastors, you bring us teachers." They are hungry for sound biblical teaching.
    #3 Water Missions staff in the field will keep us informed  as this project progresses. ( initially, updates could be as often as daily and posted on You-Tube.) We will let you know when and if that happens. Communications with this project through Water Missions staff in Uganda and Charleston, S.C. and Men of Willow is of mutual priority. 
    #4 Besides our contact with this community through Water Missions International, we also have the ability to communicate directly with Pastor Charles Kwagala via e-mail. This will help us to get deeper insight as to the effect that the water purification system is having in Ndejje. The complete cost of this project is estimated at $31,000.
    The Men of Willow fund will continue to remain open. Contributions can be sent to Water Missions International  P.O.Box 31258 Charleston, S.C. 29417  Write  "Men of Willow" in the memo section of your check. However, at this time we neither encourage or discourage anyone to give to this fund.  We believe that after this first project  is put into operation and we get to see and hear of the difference it makes in the Ndejje Community that will be motivation enough to inspire us to give again so more people can have clean water to drink.. As always, we ask that any contribution to this fund be over and above your regular giving, never in lieu of your tithe or church sponsored initiatives like the "Celebration of Hope." 
    Let me conclude with this story. It was a little over a year ago that Water Missions staff went to Ndejje to do a community assessment to determine if  that community was a good candidate for a water purification system. After two days of assessment the people there thought a water system was on the way. But they were told that it would only happen if someone, somewhere would pay the costs. So their prayer was that God would impress upon someones heart to pay the price so they could get clean water.
    Last September, thousands of miles from Uganda,  beginning at the various men's breakfast and spreading to other groups, such as, C.A.R.S. and Computer Connection we began talking about the possibility of raising enough money to pay the cost of a water purification system for a community in need. We spoke about it and we sent e-mail updates about it. But most importantly we prayed . We did what we could do to promote this project. ( when I say we I am referring to everyone all across Willow and beyond who has been a part of this endeavor.)   But we asked God to do what only He could do. Our Pray was that God would impress upon peoples  hearts to give so some people somewhere in need could have clean water. Unaware of each others prayers the same God we were both praying to  has answered. All of us here have paid the cost so that they can have clean water. 
    I get chills when I think how God has orchestrated all of this. But, in reading that story I think you can see the greater story behind it. Brothers and sisters across the continents praying to the same God for clean water; the one true God who has done much more that give us clean water. He is the God who gave His Son to cleanse us of our sins. ( I know you know all this and are thankful. You might want to tell me that I am preaching to the choir, but bear with me a little longer.)  I love the song  "Changed" that Aaron Niequist wrote. When I think of what God has given us the privileged to be apart of, I am reminded of this song. We did not do this out of the natural goodness of our hearts.  We did this because God did a transforming work in us. It began on the day He saved us and will continue until the day He returns or calls us home. He changed us, and "now we have been changed to bring change to bring change."


April 2010 Update

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

As I stated in last months update, we have reached and even exceeded our goal of $30,000 to fund a Water Purification Project. We are in the process of receiving and reviewing various locations for  this project through Water Missions International. We expect to be able to recommend a particular site by this time next month. While there are many areas around the water in desperate need of safe water, we are seeking God's leadership  as to which way we should go. Would you pray along with us for this project?
    In the mean time, we want to encourage everyone to fully participate and support "The Celebration of Hope" at Willow this month. There are many opportunities to serve and things to learn. Go to the Willow web-site for more information 
http://www.willowcreek.org/coh/ 
    Check out the various ministries and displays located in the church lobby.  Among the  ministries that are being featured is Water Missions International. Several of us were able to help them with the equipment set-up on Thursday. Before and after the services over the next three weekends you will have a chance to talk to representatives from Water Missions International, as well as Willow's other ministry partners who are represented this year. Come, see and learn what God is doing around the world. As God gives us a desire to make a difference to those in need we often discover that He makes a needed difference in us.


March 2010 Update

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family


What began as a reluctant response to an unsure prompting of the Holy Spirit has become a reality. The thought that began this initiative was  What if!"  "What if men from all across Willow joined in together to accomplish that which we couldn't do by ourselves." This idea began to spread throughout the various Men's Breakfast. It was carried over to the C.A.R.S. Ministry and Computer Connection, as well as numerous other groups and individuals , even beyond those who attend Willow.
    When the thought of raising $30,00 to fund a Water Purification Project was first mentioned in August following the Leadership Summit we had no idea if people would support such a project. We had little experience in fund raising. Asking people to give to any cause can be  uncomfortable and intimidating. Take into consideration the difficulty in getting the word out to guys you rarely , if ever meet and gain their interest and confidence in a project like this. Take this, along with our country in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, the odds seemed stacked against us. But we had a sense that God was leading. We have believed from the onset  that this was God's idea, not ours. We stand in awe of how God has moved in the hearts of men from all across Willow to generously give, above and beyond their regular giving in order to reach this common goal. It is not that we have been persuasive, but simply obedient. Not because we did anything great, but God chose to use us because we said yes.God is the only explanation for what is happening here. He gets the praise. We get the joy of being a part of what he is up to. And there will be a community that will get life sustaining clean water. Along with that, they will have the opportunity to here of the "One" who is the "Living Water." Can you imagine a day in heaven when we will meet some of these people? The blessings will go on and on and on throughout eternity!
    A heart felt thanks to all who have contributed in any way to this project. Because of this joint effort we have received to date $35,864, exceeding the goal by nearly $6,000. Water Missions International is currently preparing a list of possible sites for this Water Purification System. We will continue to keep you all informed of the status of this project and accounting of all funds.
      
    "Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages, Amen"  Eph 3:20-21


February 2010 Update

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

As of our last update from Water Missions International we have received $24,388 toward our goal of $30,000 to fund a water purification system. Many of us have partnered together to get to this point. We just need $5,612 more to fully fund this project. Our hope is that many more  will join in with us to make it possible to provide a safe and sustainable source of water to a community in desperate need for years to come. We recently received a generous matching gift offer: The next $2,000 that comes in will be matched to equal $4,000. Let us continue to join together in prayer that this goal will become a reality in the next few months. We understand that there are many worthy causes that need support and a multitude of demands on our resources. The purpose of these updates is to keep those who have contributed informed of the status of the project and to promote awareness of the need and opportunity to participate. It is not our intention to persuade anyone to doing anything but be open to God's leading. For all us, we could hope for nothing more or nothing less.
    Contributions to this project should be made out and mailed to Water Missions International  P.O. Box 31258 Charleston S.C. 29417 ( write Men of Willow in the memo section.)


January 2010

To the Men of Willow, Friends & Family

 

As of today we have received $23,460  toward our goal of $30,000 to fund a safe water project. Please pass this information on to the other people you have contact with. Let us join together in prayer that  this goal will become a reality in the next few months.  Many of us have partnered together to get to this point. We need $6,540 more to fully fund this project. Our hope is that many more guys will join in with us to make it possible to provide a safe and sustainable source of water to a community in desperate need  for years to come. For more information about  water needs and solutions check out Watermissions.org.
    Contributions to this project should be made out and mailed to   Water Missions International   PO Box 31258  Charleston S.C. 29417  ( Write Men of Willow in the memo section.)
    If you wish to donate online go to Watermissions.org   Click on Donate Now. Fill in required information. Leave fund information as : Where Needed Most. In the Tribute section put Men of Willow.  Additional literature, DVD's and questions call Don Neuman at (847) 452-1100



December 2009 Update #2


Men of Willow, friends and families, as of today we have received $20,410 toward our goal of $30,000 to fund a safe water project. Please pass this information on to the other people you have contact with.  Please join us in prayer that this goal will become a reality in the coming months. I want to emphasize once again, that giving to this project not be in lieu of giving to Willow's Year End Fund ( which is essential to the support of numerous local and global ministries.) Beyond that, we ask everyone to prayerfully consider supporting this project that will provide a community up to 10,000 gallons of safe water per day for years to come. For more information about those in desperate need for clean, uncontaminated drinking water, go 
toWatermissions.org  Contributions to this project should be made out  and mailed to  Water Missions International   PO Box 31258  Charleston, SC 29417 ( write Men of Willow in the memo section )   Contributions can also be made online. Go to Watermissions.org Click on Donate Now. Fill in required information. Leave Fund information as : Where Needed Most. In the Tribute section put Men of Willow. 
      I can't remember very many of the gifts I have received or given in years past. Can you? But in future years we will be able to remember and visualize the impact that this Water Purification Project will have on thousands of people where the uncertainty of their survival is dependent on  getting clean water. A specific site will be named  as we get closer to the goal. We will track and report the project as it progresses. 
 Any questions? call me at (847) 452-1100 God's Blessings to you all. Don Neuman 


December 2009 Update #1

Men of Willow, friends and families, as of today we have received $18260.00 toward our goal of $30,000 to fund a safe water project. Please pass this information on to the other people you have contact with. We had asked anyone who feels led to contribute to this project to do so by Nov22.( see attachment) This is not a deadline, as we will continue promoting this project into next year. We are in the process of producing a new promotional letter for 2010. There continues to be more groups and individuals who have expressed an interest to participate in this project. We believe this goal is reachable and  this project worth supporting.  I am asking my children and grandchildren to give to this instead of buying me a Christmas present. ( assuming there were going to get me something at all.) I could hope for no better gift than to provide safe water for years to come to those in need. I am sure it would outlast anything you could put under a Christmas tree. ( Just an idea!)  In the mean time, we ask that people not give to this fund in lieu of year end giving at Willow, or other ministries that you are committed to so that God's work in those areas will not be diminished. However, this is the season of giving , as it should be all year long for each follower of Christ. I sincerely believe that this project is as worthy as any. As we approach this Christmas season, I urge each of us to open our hands and hearts to God and give generously to whatever Kingdom cause and need that moves you.  Merry Christmas.


November 2009 Update

Men of Willow, as of today, we have received $15,845.00 toward our goal of $30,000 to fund a safe water project. Please pass this information on to the other people you have contact with. We have asked anyone who feels led to contribute to this project to do so by Nov22. This is not a deadline, as we will continue promoting this project into next year. There are some other groups and individuals who may want to participate, but find that this is not the most opportune time. We believe this goal is reachable and  this project worth supporting. ( see attachment) I am asking my children and grandchildren to give to this instead of buying me a Christmas present. ( assuming there were going to get me something.) I could hope for no better gift than to provide safe water for an indefinite period of time to those in need. I am sure it would outlast anything you could put under a Christmas tree. ( Just an idea!)  In the mean time, we ask that people not give to this fund in lieu of year end giving at Willow, or other ministries that you are committed to so that God's work in those areas will not be diminished. However, this is the season of giving , as it should be all year long for each follower of Christ. I sincerely believe that this project is as worthy as any. As we approach this Christmas season, I urge each of us to open our hands and hearts to God and give generously to whatever Kingdom cause and need that moves you. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.


October 2009 Update


(This update was originally given at the various Men's Breakfasts.)
 Safe drinking water is something we all take for granted. But for millions of people around the world clean water has never been an available. They get their water from lakes, ponds or streams where animals drink and defecate. Even many of their wells are polluted. They don't understand why their babies and children die in agonizing pain. Unlike the Aids Epidemic, this problem is easily solved with the use of a Water Purification System.
    During the Celebration of Hope and the Leadership Summit, Water Missions International displayed their equipment and explained their ministry. Bill Hybels and a businessman were walking through the lobby at the Celebration of Hope. After explaining the desperate need for safe water and the ability of this equipment to turn filthy, bacteria laden water into crystal clear water, at the rate of 10,000 gallons day, the businessman said he wanted to pay for one .Bill told him the cost was $25,000 ( $30,000 for solar powered.) The businessman said, "yea, I want to pay for one." When Bill talked about that at the weekend service other people, who had the resources, came forward to pay for one. When the weekend was over 22 Water Projects were funded. In the following weeks even more were funded. This story was repeated at the Leadership Summit. As we applauded the generous response of those who could afford to do this by themselves, we also realized that the majority of us can't. But then this thought came to us: "what if we all joined in together as the Men of Willow to raise $30,000 to fund a Water Purification System?" This amount would  cover the complete cost: from community assessment, manufacture of equipment designed to specific requirements for that particular community ,shipment, set up and 12 months of training and monitoring. The cost to maintain and operate equipment is about 25 cents per 1,000 gallons of water. This becomes the responsibility of community where it is located. Each project is associated with a Christian Ministry. So, along with providing a source of safe drinking water, there is the opportunity to share the message of the Living Water in Christ.
    When we shared this idea at the Elgin Men's Breakfast in August, people started coming forward to make financial commitments. We hadn't even asked for money at that point. We just asked people to think about it. In the weeks following we prayed for God's leading and felt that this was something the Spirit was guiding us into promoting through all the Men's Breakfast, (12 in all.)
    There are enough men at Willow ( with our friends and families support ) to accomplish this goal. Some can give very little, some a lot and many in between For Example,.there have been numerous commitments of $250.00 and several $1,000 commitments. We have one man, a  Vietnam Veteran, suffering from being wounded and exposed to agent orange, living alone, struggling to just make it through another day, committed to give $20.00 a month. He said, "this is all I can afford, but I want to be a part of this." While another man said that God had blessed him with some additional resources and he wanted to encourage those who feel the little they could give wouldn't make much difference. So he pledged to match dollar for dollar up to $10,000.
    Our intention is not to persuade anyone to do anything but open your hands and hearts to God and ask, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" As this project has gained momentum and enthusiasm we are discovering God is doing a new and fresh work in many of us. We have found that, in our desire to make a difference in the world, God is making a significant difference in us. The fact that you men are here at this breakfast is a testimony of your desire to have more of God in your life. If participating in this project will help you to grow in that direction, we encourage you to take this material home, sit down with your friends, family and small groups and watch the DVD and just be open to God's leadership in your lives. Whether it be for this project or any other Kingdom cause, we encourage you to honor God with the resources he has given you.

September 2009

The Beginning 0