My Trip to Western Uganda

Hello Friends!

My trip to western Uganda was amazing! Our team taught two workshops in the towns of Kansenene and Kabujogera on discipleship and evangelism. This was a special trip for us all, especially Tim. He’s been a friend and mentor to the pastors in this area for over twenty years. It was a lot of fun to serve Tim and the Sent Network.

I was blown away at the level of hospitality our team was shown. This is something I am still meditating upon…I want to be radically generous with anyone who stays in my home (when I get a home!) There’s something about opening up your home and table to others that truly forges eternal bonds.

In the west, I had my first tastes of matoke (a savory banana), sugar cane, and kalo (a millet bread. There’s a possibility that I’m forgetting something, but we had so much delicious food it was hard to keep up! We drank cups and cups of tea with the freshest milk possible. The west is a farming area, and is known for its dairy cows as well.

My new friend Bryden (he’s about 4 years old) took a picture of me at dinner time

Around the table, the team and I shared in so much rich conversation. We talked about the differences in US and Ugandan culture. The topics spanned from ministry to marriage to family to politics. Once again, breaking bread is where bonds are formed and we had so much fun!

There was so much hunger and excitement in the air as we taught. It was both convicting and encouraging. The gospel is meant to be the most exciting news in the world. Not just something common. The gospel is powerful and transformative. It’s compelling and leads us to new life and new depths in Christ. (I taught on “What is the Gospel?” And this is what I shared with the classes.) So what are we waiting for? We are the heralds of this great news!

One of the participants sharing the Three Circles with the group. Everyone did such a great job in sharing the gospel plan!

So our team taught on the power of the gospel and how to share it with others. We also taught about the importance of biblical discipleship and how studying the Bible together in a simple manner is how disciples are made and churches are formed. These churches do not require buildings, a worship leader, a choir, and a full-time pastor. Churches are formed as disciples make disciples who make disciples. Multiplication is most possible when things are kept simple: a community centered around the gospel, studying scripture, and obeying what it says.

I will be sharing more about these facets of discipleship over time.

Our time in the west was the first time Tim’s taught this discipleship program in that area. Many leaders and church members signed up to go through the program, and Tim is returning to the West in May or June with a new team to continue the training.

Part of what we taught involved us going out in teams for evangelism. This is where the students shared the Three Circles method of sharing the gospel (once again, I will share more about it in the coming weeks). In the two teams that I went out with last week, 8 people made confessions of faith!

One man came to faith who is a known alcoholic, but what I saw in that man was a great leader and influencer of many. In fact, he gathered about twenty people in his yard for us to share the gospel with them! I am praying fiercely for my new brother, and for his growth as the local leaders disciple him.

Our team—Tim, Michayla, Emily, and myself—along with our hosts: Pastor Robert, Mama Bob (his wife), Pastor Israel, Mama Irene (Pastor Israel’s wife), along with their children and grandchildren

Also, our team was asked to baptize new believers in Kabujogera. This was my first time to baptize anyone! And it’s probably the best baptism service I’ve ever been a part of. They were planning fun music and everyone was singing and dancing, cheering on the new believers as they made public professions of faith. When we drove back to town, our caravan was its own parade—we played music and honked our horns, all the while shouting praise to Jesus—and we drove around the center of town rejoicing.

Seriously, all churches need to make baptisms fun. My heart was so full of joy! All of the baptism candidates radiated the love and joy of Jesus. They had the biggest smiles on their faces. Yes, following Jesus requires commitment, but it’s also a joy to follow Him. Any sacrifice we make is so little compared the the great cost of His love for us. These were the thoughts swirling through my mind that evening.

Baptizing new believers with Pastor Robert and Tim

I can’t imagine a better way to kick off my time in Uganda. I’m forever grateful to Tim for bringing us to the west with him. And thank you so much to everyone who’s supporting my trip! Wow. I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for each and every one of you.

Much Love,
Audra

Getting started and settling in

It’s Day 3! I am headed out this afternoon to a discipleship group with the children on The Mountain, as Tim and Jill call the Love and Care outreach ministry for children. (It might be called something else—I’m still learning all the names!

This is my first time of ministry in Uganda, and I’m excited! My heart’s been for and towards the people and this season of time for so long. I’ve prayed in the spirit in much anticipation! It feels like I’m meeting folks that I already know, if that makes sense. They’re already in my heart.

Now begins the process of getting to know those I’m serving and learning the culture. As you think of me in the coming days, please pray for this time of cultural learning, especially as I leave for my first trip into western Uganda on Tuesday. You probably won’t here from me much next week for that reason. I’ll be gone from Tuesday to Saturday. BUT I’ll write in my journal and catch you all up once we return!

Next week I’ll also be teaching for the first time. I haven’t heard what section of the training I’ll be covering, but it’s going to be awesome! This morning I have some time to read and catch up on the training book Tim sent me. My expectations about reading on the international flight were quickly adjusted because my seat mates slept the entire time…and the reading light was over their heads! Lol.

Anyway, I’m so excited to finally be here. Things are revving up, and my prayer is to be faithful to serve as I’m needed. I’m going to get off for now…talk soon!

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus! I loved my cookie cake from my party. Probably the coolest one I’ve ever seen or had! And behind me is the Ugandan flag.

I made it to Uganda!

Hi Friends!

I made it to Uganda safe and sound. This was my first international flight (15.5 hours) followed by another 5 hour connecting flight into Entebbe.

Things went smoothly as I disembarked, got my visa, and baggage.Now the fun of adjusting to the culture, routine, etc begins!

I spent today allowing my body, mind, and spirit to catch back up to each other. LOL! My flight was wonderful, but fifteen hours is still a long time to be on a plane. And I was so excited and jittery that I slept in spurts.

As I write this post, I’m sitting on the bed covered with a mosquito net (a must!) as the fan circulates a nice, cool breeze onto me. The windows are open and I can hear all the noises of the neighborhood.

It’s about 10pm and I’m getting ready for my first sleep in Uganda. My mind and heart are afire with all of the possibilities. Thank you so much for all the prayers, financial support, and love that find me sitting here today.

Know that we are on this adventure together. Let’s see what kind of fun we can have!

Love,
Audra

Beautiful clouds captured on one of my flights…can’t remember which one!

Uganda Bound

Has it really been 5 years since I’ve published a blog post?!? My silence was much longer than I thought….

But I’ve grown so much in the interim, and now I find myself heading to Uganda (and then to Kenya) for my first stent overseas as a missionary.

I’m sitting in a restaurant, waiting on my next flight, as a waitress wipes tables all around me. My day’s been filled with many firsts and lasts. I almost cried as I packed up my belongings from the room I shared with my sister the last six months.

Has it been six months? Life’s changed so much. I’ve lost my mom and my granddad and travelled to Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, and Arizona. I’ve stood at the Grand Canyon and been humbled by my place in the world.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me during this past year. As I’ve grieved and as I’ve prepared for where I’m headed. The last few weeks it’s like I’ve been flying around, hovering above my environment at our God and how He uses you and I to do His work in the earth.

Saying yes to what’s been inside my heart was the best thing that I’ve ever done. Everything within me stands at attention as it surveys my past and how it’s led to this point. God is good.

I will be posting updates on my blog as I live and minister in Uganda. More to come in the next few days. I have a lot to share.

Love,
Audra

On my silence

I’ve taken somewhat of a sabbatical from blogging the last six months or so. (With the exception of posts for Rhema every now and then because I’m the student blogger.)

Writing everyday was supposed to help me find my voice. And it did a great job of developing my follow through muscles, which were disgracefully atrophied at the time. 

I am truly grateful for that sweet season. It was necessary and life-giving and a ton of fun. 

 At almost 27, though, it seems that the journey to find my voice, my path, has me in the thickest patch of woods right now. All scratched up, running into branches and scary spiderwebs (the kind you don’t see until it’s too late). 

And whenever I write, I have this habit of spinning things to show only the rosy side of life. I discovered in one of my classes this year on personality types that  this trait is quite common amongst folks with my personality type. 

It serves me well 90% of the time. I can’t help but see the good and in this dark world that’s a true gift. 

However, when your own path is dim and you can’t find your way, tripping over your own feet, it’s hard to add a positive spin. 

Not just hard but exhausting. You feel dishonest and unsure what to do with yourself and words that are rosy but not really true. 

So I took some time off. This summer I want to hop back in to more frequent  writing. 

Still not sure what it will look like but I didn’t know the first time around either! 

Thanks for sticking around and understanding. Ready for a new adventure? So am I. 

To the graduating class of 2017

Pastor Hagin often says, “Ministry is spelled W-O-R-K!”

And he’s right. Our upside down kingdom requires work—most unseen and unknown to others—from its citizens.

Public teaching and preaching is the fun part of ministry. However, there’s a lot that happens from week to week. Walking alongside others through the mountains and valleys of life is an endless, and often thankless, task. My dad is a pastor and it’s often hard for him to describe his work to others.

Graduation is less than two weeks away, which is why my thoughts are drifting more and more towards this idea of life and ministry.

Many think of the two areas as separate—this is my life and this is my ministry—but there really cannot be a line of demarcation.

My friends who are leaving Rhema for the great wide world are faced with this reality. I understand their conundrum because I’m staring down the barrel of the same gun—I just have a little more time to think about it since I don’t graduate until next May.

Thankfully, our instructors have been pointing us in this direction all along. Our launch date into the great race of life, the passing of the baton, is never far from their minds.

These are men and women are Rhema alumni. They’ve been on the mission field, served/are serving in the local church, and brought their families along for the ride. I am thankful for their willingness to teach us not only biblical truths but also practical life applications of the truth.

I have no doubt that my friends are leaving Rhema prepared.

Their hard work started the moment they moved to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, flipping their entire lives upside down to follow God. Most of my friends have worked odd hours at two to three jobs for the opportunity to study God’s Word in order to become fully equipped ministers of the gospel.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2017!

Go into the world and teach people about faith and what it means to follow Jesus. Know that those went before you and those who are coming behind you are cheering you on!

Student Lock-in this Friday!

This weekend is the Student Lock-In! If you are a current Rhema student, come to the NRC this Friday, February 10, for a fun night of:

GAMES, MOVIES, AND TONS OF FUN!

You will be on either Team Dusty or Team Christy to battle it out over:

  • Dodgeball
  • Foursquare
  • Sardines
  • Tic Tac Toe (relay style)
  • Giant piñata

 

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Team Dusty

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Team Christy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could keep going, but trust me! It’s going to be fun! Did I mention there will also be table top games such as UNO? (Are you ready for Friday to be here yet?)

Dusty is making homemade chili for dinner, and there will be biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

The student life crew is asking for students to bring snacks and drinks for the rest of the night.

Also, you will need to bring socks if you want to skate (Oh yeah! Did I mention we’ll be skating?), and a pillow/blanket for the movie area.

We hope to see you this Friday! It will be a great way to make new friends, have some fun, and kick off the weekend.

P.S. For the older Rhema students, there will be coffee. If you can make it all night, that’s okay.  Join us for as long as possible! 

Faith is a lifestyle

kenneth-e-haginKenneth E. Hagin’s testimony is the reason Rhema Bible Training College exists. It’s hard to fathom sometimes the deep, unwavering commitment Bro. Hagin had to the Father. Of course, we all know that to those whom much has been given much is required.

My favorite Bro. Hagin stories are the ones where he was just living life—paying bills, running errands, etc. I was recently reading The Midas Touch for a class and came across this statement “I was putting on my socks one day and the Lord spoke to me…”

I had to stop reading for a moment. Wait a minute. Bro. Hagin put on socks?!? Then I started laughing…of course Bro. Hagin put on socks! He was a man, right?

Rhema’s goal is to train ministers of the gospel, men and women who follow God in everyday moments and also in extraordinary ways. We are repeatedly told that the stories shared in classes are for us to see that God will move in our lives.

This is the main reason I was drawn to Rhema. I didn’t want to go to a college that only dealt with hypothetical situations.

rbtc-sealI wanted to go to a college that not only challenged me but also equipped me to walk out my beliefs.

I wanted to go to a college that encouraged me to start living out the truth on the job, in the grocery store, and running errands.

Bro. Hagin’s mandate from God was to “teach my people faith” and his legacy continues through the thousands of Rhema graduates around the world.

If Father God is calling you into ministry, you need to check out Rhema Bible Training College. Come and see what He is doing in the student body’s lives. A great way to do that is during our Spring College Weekend. For more information please visit, www.rhema.org/rcw

RBTC at Power & Love Conference

Last weekend the student ambassadors had the opportunity to set up a booth during the Power & Love conference. 

Pastor Craig Hagin was invited to speak by his good friend and evangelist Todd White. Of course, RBTC had to be represented! A student event was moved to a different date, BUT it was worth the change of plans.

rbtc-power-and-loveThe response by the conference goers was phenomenal!

Most of the attendees were from different states–many had never heard of Rhema, so our ambassadors were able to introduce them to our college and ministry.

Todd White invited us back on Saturday night when he was sharing.

When the ambassadors arrived, our table was almost empty of materials! It was set up on Saturday morning and people were stopping by all day.

Being flexible gave our Admissions Office an unexpected open door for recruiting. Can you imagine if we’d said no to eat chili and watch a movie? (Note: There’s nothing wrong with fellowship, but it’s important to know when to disappoint the right people.)

Now we have a TON of perspective students out there with our material–and I guarantee they will do some recruiting for us just by telling others within their sphere of influence. 

I wanted to share the success from the conference because I want to ask for your help.

Is your church/ministry having a conference in 2017 RBTC should know about? Please let the Admissions Office know! We are always looking for opportunities to share Rhema with others! 

Contact the Recruiting Department by phone at 918-258-1588 ext 2379or by email at cwicks@rhema.org

Thanksgiving Blessings

rbtc-sealThanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

It’s a great time to reflect on the blessings of being in Christ—He’s given us everything!—and to recall all the ways His hand is moving in our lives.

Did I mention that turkey and dressing is one of my most favorite meals?

There’s nothing like a good pan of dressing (or stuffing as it is known by my friends above the Mason-Dixon Line) to make the heart happy.

And while I am thrilled that my family is invading Broken Arrow to visit me, I was reminded that many of my fellow Rhema classmates will not be sitting around the dinner table with their natural family.

The good news, though, is that no one will be alone because the Rhema family is huge—and worldwide!

Many graduates add extra dinner plates to their tables.

Many current students bring a passel of people home with them for the week.

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Mark 10:29-30:

Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

I am so thankful for the friendships that are burgeoning this school year!

My more extroverted personality makes me a social butterfly, so leaving the place where my roots run deepest was a challenge for me.

Jesus’ promise, however, remains a source of constant comfort and encouragement.

I have sat around numerous tables with new friends, both students and alumni, since moving to Oklahoma. Every single person has told me the same thing:

If you ever need anything—and I mean anything—do not hesitate to call.

This one statement illustrates the Rhema family at its best. And it’s one of the many reasons I give thanks for Rhema Bible Training College.