The Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44

Nothing satisfies like the Lord. Nothing satisfies like being in him, working for him, helping others, loving others.

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Every day I imagine that treasure, hidden from view from this restless place. The simplicity. The humility. The joy. The honor.

Africa calls me. To return. To resume my work. To build new relationships and projects. To experience adventure, fellowship. To live for him, for others. I cannot curb my desire to go already.

For now, patience and focus. I will go again and realize this treasure. I must wait.

A Life-Saving Decision

There is no time like right now to make a great decision. One that will improve your life, lift your spirits, and put you on a pathway to success.

I’ve done that by resigning my job as a morning news producer in the 22nd largest market in the U.S.

For just about anybody else, this would have been a dream job. Great station, great support, lots of fancy tech tools, great team of anchors, reporters, editors, video journalists.

Problem was, it was not for me.

I Was A TV News Producer
When I arrived at the station in June, I had not produced a TV news program for nearly 30 years. To say the industry has changed in the past three decades is like saying civility is dead in D.C. Pretty obvious.

Many layers of jobs have been eliminated in the newsroom. Fewer eyeballs are on the television these days as more are staring into their iPhones and iPads for personalized news and amusing animal videos.

It takes experience and knowledge to coordinate so many sources, while keeping an eye on updates to breaking news stories like hurricanes, earthquakes and Donald Trump tweets. For someone living in the African bush and out of the business for as long as I have been, gaining command over all these elements would take many months. In retrospect, I should have gone to a smaller market to update and refresh my game. Walking into the big leagues was a big-time mistake.

Must Know What I Don’t Know
It was an uphill battle from the moment I sat down. So much to learn, including trying to know what all I didn’t know. I’ve learned things in the past 10 days that would have been helpful to me three months ago. At this level, one is expected to have been around the block a time or two with the technology and to feature social media. For me, in Africa, having electricity was a luxury most days.

TV news remains a dynamic, exciting, fast-paced job. I no longer live and breath it. I don’t need or even want constant updates. My attention is elsewhere.

After more than 22 years in a state-run cubicle farm, I set out to find my life’s work in the mission fields of Africa. Never have I felt more focused or secure in my calling. It revealed the authentic person I am, one without walls or defenses. I discovered my voice and my passion. When I returned to the US in April, I thought I might want to stay stateside for a time and make a living again.

I could not master producing programs of breaking and trivial news, to engage audiences at an early hour. What I love to do instead is build relationships with strangers, speak their language, listen to their stories, and enjoy fellowship over a meal. What I found out in the past three months is there’s no time for that in the newsroom.

My Life’s Work
I have much to share with the ambitious but desperately poor people in Uganda and East Africa. They have great dreams for careers in many professional fields, from accounting, to IT, to business administration. They have no family capital or resources to help pay for tuition or tools. I’ve done all I can through my charity, teaminfaith.org, to provide opportunities that impact the neediest of students.

As I walk out of the newsroom for the last time again, I will leave an operation that’s in very good hands. Energetic, driven, experienced men and women striving to be leaders in the community.

I’m no longer working to help a corporation’s bottom line. Like much of the audience, I’m distracted…but by real-life issues. My decision was made to focus on lifting lives and raising hopes of real, lovely, wonderful people. Where life is simple, but hard. It’s a great life. Time to get back to that.

Disneyland!

I’m going to Disneyland! Not the fabled amusement park but something much bigger: America!

A pastor friend and global mission worker characterised the USA as such to me. It’s a good line, with a lot of truth.

Compared to East Africa and Uganda, my home for the past two years, flying 20 hours to get to the US is like flying to see the Magic Kingdom. With relatively smooth roads, non-stop fleets of late-model cars, endless assortment of food and snacks, beautiful homes and residents, all under gorgeous Spring skies.

We thank our forebears in America for building such a magnificent country. We have infrastructure and transportation systems here. We have public education, we have drinking water out of the tap. We have energy and limitless entertainment. It’s a comfortable life. In the fast lane.

Greeting one of my favorite people. A spirited neighbor. She loves us.

It’s a far cry from the quality of life in the villages, small towns or cities of Uganda.

Where I’ve lived in Kisoro District of SW Uganda, there is no power. There are few very cars. There is no industry. There are people walking at all hours of the day. People—mostly women—hard at work as subsistence farmers…ekeing out a living…growing vegetables in their gardens.

It’s a simple life…but it’s not easy.

There’s no glamor here in the village. There are few thrills beyond gatherings of extended families and shared experiences. Night is for sleeping and tomorrow demands more of the same labor-intensive effort.

The pace is slow here in the village, overlooking the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Well-heeled tourists come and go in Land Rovers bound for four-star accommodations and appointments with the mountain gorilla.

Residents here look up and gaze into the vehicles at the visitors. Lives are not so adventurous, not so exciting.

They live as their ancestors did, cultivating in rhythm with the rains and without. It’s not a destination here but a way of life.

As I return to the many conveniences of modern living, I find that I very much miss the simplicity and the sounds of a village life. People on foot always pass, and we can share a wave and a greeting. Some locals bring us irish potatoes or a chicken for our supper. Drums and voices carry a long way over the regions.

There is community here, worship on Sundays, visits and meals shared.

If Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth” then here in Ryarutagara is one of the simplest.

This day and age, simple is good.

The Simplest Pleasure

Just returned from a 40-minute walk around Ft. Portal in western Uganda. I greeted everyone I encountered in the local language. I was met with smiles, surprise, conversation. It was a thrill. The simplest of pleasures. And it never gets old.

One word triggers it all. Hello. Orrirota. Agandi. Wabukire. Habari. Bonjour. With a simple, friendly greeting, we can open doors to new relationships and possibilities. We can engage a neighbour in conversation, share a bit of ourselves, learn something. It costs nothing but a few moments of time but the rewards are gratifying.

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I’ve found my life’s work in Africa. What is it exactly? If it’s nothing but greeting people and lifting spirits, that’s more than enough for me. I support entrepreneurs and students through my charity, Team in Faith. There are plenty of bonuses in helping others.

Throughout each day, I get many opportunities to greet people who, on the outside, are not at all like me. Can there be a bigger difference between a middle-class white guy and my black brothers and sisters here?

Racial and socio-economic differences aside, we have so much to share. Good humour, stories about work and projects, events of the day. I know I missed daily opportunities to acknowledge people over the years in California. So I do my best to greet others here in their language every chance I get.

Two of my most important relationships on this continent were launched with that one word.

My first visit to Uganda was in 2013. I flew from Los Angeles to London, and had but an hour to make a connection to Entebbe. I made it somehow, but my bags did not make the transfer. I would have to spend two extra days in town awaiting them.

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During my stay over at the Namirembe Guest House in Kampala, I was sitting outside after breakfast when I recognised a man in bishop’s purple shirt and collar approaching. I stood to greet him (photo above). From my one-word introduction to Bishop Enoch Kayeeye, we shared phone numbers and would later meet at the other end of the country to begin our ministry work together that continues to this day.

In 2014, I was in Kampala preparing to fly home the following day. I was directed to the African Craft Village where I could get some souvenirs to bring home to friends. I stopped in several shops, but when I went to another to ask for the time, my greeting of “hello” led to much more.

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That’s where I met Evelyn, a shop owner (above). She gave me the time of day, and asked about what I was doing in Uganda. Among other things, I mentioned I had an empako, or nickname which is used in her Batooro culture. When I told her my empako, Apuuli, she told me hers, Akiiki. Twenty minutes later I left with a bag of shirts to pack, and a spirit lifted by the exchange.

Today’s contentious world needs a lot fewer words and more interpersonal relationships. Hiding behind a computer firewall typing insults at strangers online is inflammatory and destructive.

Take a walk outside. Look a stranger in the eye and say “hello.” Believe me, It could change your life and make your day.

Shared Sorrow

The women come. They walk. They sit. For hours. Honoring the dead.

Last week I witnessed a beautiful cultural spectacle in Uganda. A community leader, and a friend, was killed in a bus accident. The sudden tragic loss of the Rev. Canon Enos Komunda shocked and mobilized the community,

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Above, Bishop Dan Zoreka looks out over mourners gathered outside home of late Enos Komunda

I arrived at the family home with my wife hours after receiving news of his death. By then there were several hundred women and men sitting quietly inside and outside the home, in a vigil of support.

Hundreds more were preparing for the funeral service and burial the next day. They would come on foot from their villages and homes, a trip that would take hours, to participate in this community send off. Committees were formed to provide chairs, tents and food for the huge crowd.

Life in Uganda is simple and hard. There are few distractions to daily subsistence living. The people value family, community, fellowship, sharing sorrows. It is something to behold.

Make Straight My Path

Our village church is up the hill from where we sit. A vertical hike to get there, actually. A piece of cake for the locals. More of a struggle for this muzungu. Maybe my high center of gravity (my head!) is what makes these walks a challenge.

There are several paths to get to the small, mud-walled, dirt floor church. Due to wrangling over the land, the landowners have cut off access to the more foot-friendly route.

Last week, with Evelyn effortlessly leading up front, we climbed a steep narrow path to church. Rains this week made it impassable today so we tried the last remaining, but technically difficult trail.

Most church-goers I know have easy access to Sunday services. Driving in air-conditioned comfort on smooth roads, walking nice sidewalks. There are very few physical obstacles to attending church in my old hometown area in Northern California. Countless spiritual or imagined obstacles, I’m sure.

In SW Uganda and throughout East Africa, women, children and some men will walk many kilometers, up and down steep paths to praise the Lord. Of course there are the man-made obstacles to attending but the physical barriers are simply surmounted.

Today, after climbing and descending steep, narrow pitches to attend worship services with my African wife and friends, we learned that the route we took today may soon be blocked, as part of this land dispute.

Once again, obstacles of our own creation could impact my worshipping with my neighbors. A shame. Hopefully the power of the spirit will prevail.

As the popular Christian song says, “God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”

African Wedding Memories

This week has been a whirlwind.

My introduction and wedding seem like a long time ago. Last week’s initiation to the Tooro culture and Evelyn’s family was festive and fun. The wedding went without a hitch.

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The events were followed by a road trip-honeymoon accompanied by my brother and his wife from Napa.

Our stops included a
* two-day safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park,
* a visit to see two new beneficiary groups of Team in Faith and our partner ACER,
* a long jaunt and overnight at Bwindi Gorilla Haven as the inaugural guests,
* an epic drive and traffic jam on the way to Entebbe to drop Tom and Stephanie at the airport.

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As we rest and relax, God is here, with us, blessing us, loving us. Evelyn and I are very happy and excited about our next steps. The journey together continues….

Year-End Opportunities

You’re about to turn the page to 2016. Before you do so, you can make some last-minute charitable contributions that will lower your tax bill and win praise from your accountant, life mate or significant other.

To read no further, donate now at Team in Faith.

Otherwise consider the following…

With our partner organization in Kasese, Uganda, Action for Community Empowerment and Rehabilitation (ACER), Team in Faith supports women farmers through micro-finance loans. They build their small farms and businesses and support their families.

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We can do a lot more to build sustainable communities with your help. Make a donation at Teaminfaith.Org

Abraham is a bright young man in medical school in Ishacka, Uganda. He is doing very well but the tuition costs are a huge burden for his peasant parents.

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Abraham will make an excellent doctor. Help him complete his medical school studies. Make a tax-deductible gift today at Teaminfaith.Org

AICM College of Science & Technology in Kabale, Uganda, needs new monitors for its ICT lab. We can add nine monitors, keyboard and mice for $2300.

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Students in modern Africa must be competitive. They need up-to-date computers and software. Help them with a tax-deductible donation at Teaminfaith.Org

My friends, your donation can lift lives and raise hopes quickly. Take advantage of tax deductions at the 11th hour. Donate today…and please tell a friend.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe New Year 2016.

Your man on the ground in Africa,

Patrick Hill

Joy to the World

Joy to the World the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king!

One of the things that has transformed me in recent years is the feeling of joy. In the past I felt inadequate or not worthy of such an expression. As I have grown, walking forward faithfully, I have experienced authentic joy.

For a season in my life, I was a very good mountain cyclist. There was a lot of joy descending Sierra passes that my buddies and I just climbed. I would shout to the Lord my joy and happiness. How great that feeling. And that was mine. I worked hard. I earned every bit of that.

As I found my work in Africa, a joy resonated from within me that has been impossible to contain. Being in the presence of God and beautiful people has given me a glimpse of heaven. There is joy and happiness, punctuated by poverty and pain, almost every day.

Today, with Evelyn in my life, there is a feeling of an everlasting joy with the most unlikely but perfect life mate.

I am happy. I feel joy. The Lord lives here.

May you experience the joy that comes from fellowship with the Lord and others.

African Christmas

Christmas in Africa. A heckuva lot different from any other I’ve spent. So much day-to-day existence it’s hard for me to see trappings of the season. A few decorated trees. Strains of “Joy To the World” heard now and again.

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Am here in Kabale, Uganda, with my adopted family. Sons, daughters and grandchildren expected here over next few days. It’ll be noisy, perhaps chaotic…just like home in USA.

Been invited to a Christmas Day service at a small village church near Bwindi Gorilla Haven, our hotel project. Dirt floors, mud walls, loads of spirit and energy make up the worship space. I expect this to be a highlight event!

Got a card yesterday from my son, Dan, that made my day. Takes a bit of planning to get a card or gift here or there. Plan on two weeks.

My faith keeps me company this Christmas. So many memories and traditions that I’ve followed for decades.

This year am surrounded by friends and the unfamiliar, pleased with a playlist of Christmas carols.

Nohiri nungi. Merry Christmas.
Obusingye bube naiwe omu mwaka. Peace be with you in the new yea (Rukiga)

Krismasi. Amani na iwe nanyi katika mwaka mpya. Merry Christmas. Peace be with you in the new year. (Swahili)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Blessed and Broken

A life on the road in ministry for others is a life of adventure. There are people to meet, places to go and, in Uganda at least, beautiful animals to see.

My mission with Team in Faith has taken me to Africa four times since 2012, with another trip just a few weeks off. My relational ministry style has been a blessing to many as I have brought gifts from the Holy Spirit in addition to practical items, like computers, smart phones and money for school fees.

The wonderful thing about it is that by being a blessing to others, we receive abundant blessings. As a pastor friend put it, “we are blessed to be a blessing (to others)…”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, please and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Leaving home, friends and colleagues, for months at a time, doesn’t come without a cost. Relationships are broken, communication is distant. The reality is by losing myself in my work and mission, I lose others, too.

kasese group

Great satisfaction comes when you see lives transformed. In Kasese, Uganda, this year, Team in Faith awarded a grant of $1,000 to four women’s micro-finance groups. The money was to be shared among members for small business loans, family expenses, school fees. Two months later, more than 100 people showed up (photo above) to thank Team in Faith for its support of their livelihoods, with songs, dances, testimonies.

My return to California has been met with a much cooler response. Busy, distracted lives separate me from friends and family. It’s a price I pay for my work on the other side.

When Jesus called his first disciples, he saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. They were fishermen, casting a net into the lake. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Whoa! How do you think that went at home? “You quit your job for what??”

Their faith in the Lord turned their lives upside down. The world has never been the same.

Home Away From Home

Have been back in the USA for about five weeks after half a year in Africa. Working most days each week but finding time for recreation. Have introduced my Team in Faith organization.

It feels different. This is no longer my home.

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My heart and mind are with the people of Uganda. Beautiful people. Grace-filled people. Loving brothers and sisters.

My life in Northern California is quite comfortable. Paved roads. Easy wifi access. Big screen TVs. Unusually dry weather. But something is missing.

Relationships here are usually appointment-driven. Let’s meet! Where, what time? It is unusual, for me at least, to engage many people while on the go. We are belted-in in our motorized steel vehicles. We might see a friend as we pass at 10 miles above the speed limit. Encountering people on the streets here just doesn’t happen. Ten thousand miles away, though, it is a way of life.

Everyone in Sub-Saharan Africa is outside waiting to greet you. The village homes in Uganda are small and it is typical to sit outside and watch the world pass by. As I walk the 500 metres to the vocational college each day, I meet and greet a dozen people or more, surprising many with my local language skills. Even in the small town of Kabale, I will pass many people who may look at me with curiosity. An exchange can form a friendship. This most basic human interaction is really what sets apart my life there from what I experience here.

I met one of my Ugandan friends in an LA suburb last weekend. Far from from his homeland, he and his wife live in an apartment complex. He studies for hours each day, waiting for his chance at a medical residency. His social life is very quiet behind closed doors, a far cry from the life he loved and left.

In recent years I have been fortunate to travel a lot and visit many countries in Europe and Africa. The different cultures are beautiful and fun to explore. America, for many in Africa and elsewhere, is a dream destination…a veritable Disneyland of opportunities and entertainment.

BGH village church

We enjoy a standard of living unmatched by any culture in the history of the world. Most of the world can only dream of this.

I prayed for the chance to experience life like most of my brothers and sisters. God honored that. I’ve been fortunate to live Uganda for most of the past three years.

I am at home now.

Whose Life is This?

I thought I was managing well early on. Focused on sports as a youngster. Got myself educated, practiced journalism. Read sports on TV for a time. Thought I was on my way.

That was before I learned it’s one thing to ask God to bless your plans. It is another to have him show you his. They’re already blessed.

Decades after my TV sports career ended, I’m happier and more focused than ever. Not without trials or doubt but through faith I am being taught some valuable lessons.

One of God’s greatest disciplines is that of patience. Our quest for instant gratification is humbled when we get a glimpse of the eternal timepiece.

God’s time meets our expectations.

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In Ecclesiastes 3, the writer says “everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.” He has set the right time for everything.

Why wait until my sixth decade to find this peace that passes understanding? Couldn’t he help me out 20-30 years ago?

Today, in Kabale, Uganda, I accompanied Bishop Enoch to a funeral. I was not looking forward to the event. Funerals here are usually very long, four- hour affairs in which one is seated throughout.

We drove a short distance to where the funeral service would be held. Shade tents and chairs were set, but few people were about. The deceased’s brother, known as “The Professor,” was nowhere to be found. We waited about 45 minutes before returning home for lunch. We’ll try again later.

After lunch, I was anxious about going back. It will be too long, I fretted.

Off we went.

My worldly view of things is not God’s view of things. I may have been anxious but God had other plans. I entered a small house and sat with nearly a dozen women, mourners and supporters for about 15 minutes. I greeted them with my Rukiga, to which they responded.

A bit later we went to meet “The Professor,” to negotiate the order of the service. He spoke very good English, greeted me with interest and asked where I was from. Turns out he has been to Sacramento on several occasions.

We all headed to the tents where several hundred people awaited us. I took a seat in the second row; the only muzungu in the crowd, a distinction I appreciate and to which I am accustomed.

Fellowship and understanding were the order of my day from God’s view. Whereas I was apprehensive at first, it turned out to be a blessed time for me, joining those in attendance.

I never expected to have such a rich life of experiences in Africa but this is not my life. God’s plan for me is to see and experience, share and grow with his people halfway around the world from home.

I’ll never settle for anything less.

An Appeal and a Promise

My friends, I am completing my fifth month in Kabale, Uganda, where I volunteer at AICM’s Vocational Training College. In a country where more than 80 percent of college-age kids are unemployed, learning marketable skills to create a job or find work is necessary.

The college has an ICT program to train computer science students. However, the machines are more than 10 years old. They are slow. They cannot run modern programs. Students here risk falling further behind their counterparts around the globe.

Team in Faith, a public charity helping education projects in Uganda, is asking for your support to purchase a network computer to accommodate nine terminals. This system will run the latest software and help train people who can hit the ground running with practical experience. We have received a good quote, which is listed below.

AICM

Would you please consider a gift to help us purchase these items and make the Vocational Training College the ICT leader in SW Uganda.

Donate at teaminfaith.net. Your gift is tax-deductible in the US and I promise it will make an immediate impact. Thank you.

Help Wanted

Thanks to you, Team in Faith is establishing its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Team in Faith is based in Kabale, Uganda, where it supports education, health care and evangelism projects in the region.

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In five months, TIF has been privileged to support students, schools, churches and others through grants in aid. A big hug to our friends and donors for your support. Your tax-deductible contributions are helping to affect lives in Uganda.

Among its activities since March, Team in Faith has issued grants
* supporting 30 HIV-AIDS orphans in Kasese with school supplies for their primary school studies
* funding radio broadcasts of the good news of Jesus Christ across five countries
* supporting Kitojo Integrated Development Association’s (KIDA) hospital activities in Kabarole District in Western Uganda
* supporting university-level students in Kenya
* for uniforms for St. John’s Karusandara Orphans Primary School near Kasese

Extreme poverty affects many families in this region. Money for basic necessities, like food and water, is very tight, so affording school fees for young students is a challenge.

Team in Faith joins existing organisations that serve these marginalised populations. One of our main partners is African International Christian Ministry, or AICM. It conducts community outreach, and operates a vocational training college. More than 10,000 alumni have built careers over the past 30 years. Today, young men and women learn skills with which they can become ready to join the work force, or create new jobs as entrepreneurs.

Among the programs at the college is an ICT class that teaches students computer skills. Technology is a leading industry throughout the world. Africans deserve and want the chance to learn alongside their western colleagues with equipment that meets today’s demands.

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Students and schools here can no longer use aging equipment. With advances in technology in this competitive world, new computers are needed as a platform for training eager young minds.

To meet this demand, Team in Faith embarks on this campaign:

* Upgrade the 10-year-old computers at the ICT lab. We aim to raise $5,000 for two powerful servers, with which to network the classroom with the latest softwares. These would help build a web hosting business, teaching students the latest in network management.
* In order to keep the computers running, TIF will raise an additional $7000 for solar panels, batteries and inverters with which to supplement the municipal power.

From this platform, the campus can become wireless enabling students, faculty and community guests to enjoy first-rate Internet services, like the ones we take for granted.

You know the value of education and practical experience. You know that up-to-date computers are needed in today’s world. Would you please make a tax-deductible donation to help see this project to completion.

Make a monthly donation of $100 for one year at teaminfaith.net. As a team, we can build brighter futures for the talented young men and women from Uganda, South Sudan and DRCongo who study at AICM.

Living in Faith

Homily
7 June 2015
Voice of Kigezi Radio

Webale munonga. Mukama asiimwe. Thank you very much. Praise God.

Amazina gangye nibanyeta Patrick Hill… My name is Patrick Hill.

Ndikwegw’orukiga… I am learning Rukiga.

Ninduga California USA omuri America. I am from California, in the USA

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Nkija hanu omwaka oguwire. Neshemerirwe munoga. I was here last year. I am very happy.

Ndenda kusima munywani wangye Enoch Kayeeye ahabw’omugisha ogu kugamba nimwe akasheshe aka. Mukama asiimwe munonga. I want to thank my friend, Enoch Kayeeye, for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today. Praise God.

Ndikutura omuri Kabale kandi ndabasa kumara emyaka eshatu. Ndikukora na AICM. I am living in Kabale where I am working with AICM.

AICM eyejesize abaana emyoga okumara emyaaka makumi ashatu. AICM has trained young people with skills they can use for a better life for more than 30 years.

Abaana barikurenga omumutwaro bashomire ahi-tendekyero eri.
More than 10,000 young men and women have graduated from the vocational college

Obutegyeki bwa Bishop Kayeeye nokwikiriza kweye kututeire omu mwanya murungyi.
The leadership of Bishop Kayeeye and the faithfulness of Mukama has put us in a strong position today.

Nshemerwirwe munonga okukora na AICM. I am happy to be at AICM.

Mukama asiimwe. Praise God.

Eego…

Ogu ni interpreter wangye….Robina….Agandi, nyabo…Here is my interpreter, Robina. Good morning…

Our theme for today is “living by faith.”

We are using a part of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, beginning at verse 13.

Our life together is a wonderful experience…but not without troubles, pain or suffering.

As Paul writes, despite our troubles, we are not destroyed.

We experience hardships; families and friends experience loss.

Through our faith, we know and believe that God who raised Jesus to life, will also raise us up.

In Romans 4, Paul argues that Abraham was justified by works…and he had something to boast about.

But not before God.

For it is not through the law, or through works that Abraham and his offspring received the promise.

It was through faith, credited as righteousness…The promise comes by faith.

Faith is how we come to know God.

It is the instrument by which we are made right by God.

God honors faith…and our great faith honors God.

I am now in my fourth month in Kabale.

I feel comfortable here, surrounded by Christian believers.

It is like I am with my family.

God is present here in Kabale and Uganda, and wherever you may be listening.

He is present in my life.

He hears my prayers…and answers them quickly and loudly.

Mukama asiimwe.

But there have been times when my faith has weakened.

When I have not received messages or encouragement from home.

When my efforts to help AICM and others goes slower than I would like.

My weakened faith has left me lonely at times.

Of course, I turn to Jesus in prayer and hope for relief and restoration.

The wonder of Jesus is that he hears us and sends messengers to encourage us and to love us.

I shared my recent faith struggle with one of my best friends in Uganda.

And she shared with me the word of the Lord which has lifted me ever since. I reflect on it daily.

2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17

In second Chronicles, Judah is facing attack by Moabites and Ammonites, and others.

King Jehosaphat pleads to God, “we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do.”

Then God answered.

In our lives today, we worry about many things.

Our minds magnify our troubles and our weakness grows.

But the Lord is faithful. He knows our concerns. He hears our cries.

In the face of the great army against Judah, and in the face of the trials and troubles in our own lives, the Lord answers.

Through friends, neighbours or whoever he chooses.

This is what he said to them in Judah:

“Don’t be afraid or discouraged…the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

“You will not have to fight your battles. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”

My brothers and sisters, have you heard more encouraging words?

Words of faith. Trust. Belief in God’s promise.

We can stand up to our spiritual enemies.

We can face our problems, our struggles in this world.

The advantage will be ours….but we must have faith and trust in the Lord.

So do what you do. Pray. Reflect. Take your position. Stand firm. The Lord will deliver you.

For this reason, we never become discouraged, Paul writes.

We grow older…our physical being gradually decays yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day.

Our faith can grow each day…through prayer, fellowship and the word of God.

The small, temporary problems will fade…revealing eternal glory…much greater than the trouble.

Amina….

I Saw Water Flowing

Homily
10 May 2015
Ezek 47:1-12
St. Augustine Chapel, Kabale, Uganda

About a year and a half ago, a pastor friend of mine in California sent me an invitation. He was leading a mission trip to Amman, Jordan, to support Christian workers helping refugees from the violence and destruction in Syria.

In his note to me he said, “come share with me in the suffering of others.”

I accepted his invitation and joined a team of six doctors and pastors to visit and support Syrian refugees who fled to neighbouring Jordan. We met them in small unfurnished apartments, sitting on the floor. We heard their stories of bombs and fighting near their homes and businesses and how they escaped.

It was a powerful experience for me, but God was present, strengthening us and healing them. Most of the refugee families are Muslim but we asked if we could pray for them. Almost all agreed. We called upon the Prince of Peace, Jesus, to help end the horrible destruction being done to their country.

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When our time in Jordan ended, and the others went home, Pastor John and I crossed over to Israel. It was my first visit and I was excited about a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

From the border we drove through the Judean countryside. It was a place of refuge for David, who was hiding from Saul. Jesus spent his 40 days in the nearby wilderness.

Before long we got our first glimpse of the Dead Sea, an isolated body of water located between the eastern mountains of Israel and the smaller Judaean hills. The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea. There is no outlet.

It lies in a beautiful, stark, valley with no trees or vegetation, like a desert. Its surface is 430 meters below sea level, making it the lowest place on Earth. It is nearly 10 times saltier than the ocean. In Hebrew it is called “Sea of Salt.” The water is a harsh environment in which animals and fish cannot flourish…and that is how it got its name.

In our OT lesson, the prophet Ezekiel writes about the hope of a present God in a barren land. These verses use the imagery of water and describe something of a paradise in a land that was hostile to life.

“I saw water flowing,” he says. “Flowing from the sides of the temple.” At first the water came to his ankles….and as he walked further, the water was up to his waist. Then it was too deep to cross except by swimming.

“And where the water flowed….there was new life.”

Verse 8: He said to me: “this water flows through the land to the east and down in to the Jordan Valley and to the Dead Sea. When it flows into the Dead Sea, it replaces the salt water of that sea with fresh water. Wherever the stream flows, there will be all kinds of animals and fish. The stream wiil make the water of the Dead Sea fresh, and wherever it flows, it will bring life.”

This is beautiful imagery of the nature of God. Nourishing us to bear fruit in our season. Even if we sit here and think that life is bleak, these words can lift our spirits.

As we look at our surroundings in Uganda, Kabale District, what do we see? What colors do we see? Primarily green…plants and trees showcasing life.

There are abundant rains to satisfy and sunshine to speed growth. Imagine, then, a life in exile. The promise of the Lord a memory as conquerors now rule.

This is the life and vision of refugees even today, like those from Syria whom I met. The colors of life they see, unfortunately are like the dry, brown, desolate Dead Sea area.

No trees or plants. Just a large body of salty water. A deslote, barren land. Brown and inhospitable.

Can there be a greater contrast? The brown, lifeless land of the desert and Dead Sea or the greenery of Uganda…productive land to cultivate. Plentiful rains and water. Trees with deep roots by streams. The biblical poets and psalmists write about this often. It is what God created for us here in SW Uganda.

Ezekiel’s vision for his people showed promise of a transformation…from death to life….from brown to green…using the symbol of water. Making the impossible possible.

My brothers and sisters, that is what you and I must share…with the lost…with refugees fleeing a war zone with their lives…with our hurting friends and neighbours: that there is a new life, an abundant life of living water in Christ that is theirs for the asking.

It is poetic, actually. Can any of us come up with more beautiful language to describe how our loving Father will restore life in our spirts, souls, our bodies?

Uganda is beautiful land of green hills. But other parts of the world are dry, thirsty, and in conflict.

The news shows us battles in many nations: Birundi, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria.

People caught in the middle of those conflicts are like exiles in their own land. Oh, that the Prince of Peace would descend upon those nations with his living water…rushing from the temple.

And where the water flows, there is new life. That is the promise.
That is the nature of God. His faithfulness can do far more than we can ask or imagine.

Someday, man’s inhumanity to man must fade….swallowed by springs of living water. God’s light will overcome the darkness of our hearts.

The water…rushing from God’s temple to the empty land, transforming the Dead Sea is the hope we need, the hope we have.

The green hills of Uganda, the smiles and songs we see and hear each day show us the peace which passes understanding.

Mukama is in control. He’s got this. Those are the words we must share with our troubled brothers and sisters from Syria….and with our friends and neighbors.

There is new life…abundant life to be had. That is God’s promise to us.

Amen.

‘Voice of Kigezi’ Radio

For the second time in a year, I was a guest on “Voice of Kigezi” radio, representing African International Christian Ministry of Kabale. The Sunday morning program is broadcast to five countries in sub-Saharan Africa, reaching a potential audience of more than 10 million listeners.

voice kigezi

Mwebale munonga. Mukama asiimwe. (Thank you very much. Praise God)

Amazina gangye ndi Patrick Hill (My name is Patrick Hill)

Ninduga California USA omuri America. (I come from California USA in America)

Nkija hanu omwaka oguwire. Neshemwerwire munonga. (I was here last year. I feel very happy)

Nakunda Mukama. Nyine omwana w’omowjo. (I love the Lord. I have a grown son)

Ndenda kusima munywani wangye Bishop Enoch Kayeeye ahabw’omugisha ogu kugamba ninwe akasheshe aka. Mukama asiimwe munonga. (I want to thank my good friend Bishop Enoch Kayeeye for this opportunity to speak to you this morning. Praise the Lord)

Ndikutura omuri Kabale kandi ndabasa kumara emyaka eshatu. Ndikukora na AICM. (I am living in Kabale and hope to stay for three years while working with AICM)

Ogu ni interpreter wangye…Patience….Agandi, nyabo…. (Here is my interpreter, Patience. Good day..)

Ndikwegw’orukiga. (I am learning Rukiga)

I would like to deliver this message entirely in Rukiga.

The Lord has blessed me in many ways…but speaking Rukiga is not yet one of them.

Among the appointed readings today is Psalm 51, verses 1-13, a lamentation of David.

David cries for mercy from God for what has happened. He confesses his sins and seeks forgiveness.

David had just been rebuked by his friend Nathan for killing Uriah the Hittite in order to take his wife, Bathseba.

In this famous story, found in 2 Samuel 11, David schemes against Uriah..and sends him into the front lines of a battle where he is killed.

David has relations with Bathsheba, who bears him a son. But his actions displeased the Lord.

The Lord struck the child ill…and after seven days, it died.

In our lives today we can sometimes get involved in activities not been seen by our friends and neighbours, yet God sees all things.

Our attitudes and pride may prevent us from confessing our sins.

So it is left to another. A family member or a friend to confront us.

That is what Nathan did to David.

Nathan told David a story, of two men in a certain town, one rich, and one poor.

The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle.

The poor man had one little ewe lamb. It ate and slept in his arms like a daughter.

A traveler came to the rich man, Nathan said.

The rich man did not take one of his own sheep or cattle to feed the traveler.

Instead he took the ewe from the poor man and prepared it for the traveler.

At hearing this story, David was outraged. “Surely this man must die because he had no pity,” he said.

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

The Lord God of Israel anointed you king over Israel, delivered you from Saul.

Yet you despise the Lord by doing what is evil in his sight.

“I have sinned against the Lord,” David told Nathan.

“You are not going to die, the Lord has taken away your sin,” Nathan replied.

“But the son born to you will die.”

In Psalm 51, David cries mercy and forgiveness:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.

according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

So you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in my a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

David’s salvation seems complete in verse 13 when he says “I will teach
transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”

Throughout, David speaks to God with intimate language. He writes many psalms. Surely he knows the Lord.

The Lord knows David’s heart. He hears his prayers. Despite his sin, he is beloved.

David returns to Bathsheba who bears him a son, Solomon.

David would have many conquests after the incident.

In our lives today, sin is destructive.

It can destroy relationships, marriages, families.

But turning to God with a repentant heart can bring healing, as it did to David.

This is my third visit to Uganda in three years. I am very happy to be here.

When I arrived two years ago I knew no one. But I was not alone.

My relationship with God provided me a fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

And I was fortunate to find Christian communities where I also had instant fellowship.

And for those listening to me now, while we may never meet….

we have a relationship through our love of Jesus Christ. We are in fact brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Mukama asiimwe. Asiimwe munonga. Mukama nimarungi. Ebiro byona.

Amina.

This is Personal

From school fees for primary, secondary and university students; to support for single mothers, the stories and appeals I hear are very personal. As much as I’d like to help them all, I can’t.

Team in Faith, a public charity I established after returning from Uganda in September, 2014, exists to support education, health care and evangelism projects throughout Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. They are those I have personally visited and recommend.

After a 35-hour journey, which included two missed flights, I finally arrived in Kampala. My first stop after leaving the Ugandan capital was Kasese, about a five-hour drive to the southwest. I stopped at a friend’s house where I was once again welcomed by his family.

becky

Cleous and his wife, Becky (above), operate Action for Community Empowerment and Rehabilitation (ACER), a project to support HIV/AIDS orphans and mothers. The board of directors of Team in Faith has approved grants of nearly $2,000 that will help young students get school supplies and support women’s micro-finance projects.

abraham

While in Kasese, Abraham, (above) a bright, soft-spoken medical university student, told me of the tough financial road he has ahead of him to complete his studies. Three semesters of tuition, plus boarding fees, for the next three years are outside the reach of his peasant parents.

Abraham’s total bill of about $8,000 would be a fraction of what a US student could expect to pay for his or her medical degree. He is focusing on gynecology to help women in Uganda deliver births safely, which is far from a sure thing.

From Kasese I traveled past the magnificent Queen Elizabeth National Park, a destination savannah for safari adventurers. My driver and I have tossed bananas for giant elephants in the past. Lions are often lounging in trees before or after meal time, I’ve been told.

queen eliz

After four hours I reached Bwindi, where for the past two years I have volunteered in the Communications Office at the Bwindi Community Hospital. My lodging was a kilometer or two away near the boundary of the Impenetrable Forest.

A friend I met last year is now estranged from her husband and heading for divorce. In the middle is their three-year-old son. She appealed to me for help with nursery school fees, which would cost about $80 per semester.

The culture here does not reward the efforts of single mothers. I vowed to help her. Maybe you will help me do so.

After nearly ten days of travel and crossing 11 time zones, I reached my home in Kabale. I stay with my friend, Bishop Enoch Kayeeye, and his wife, Phoebe, at their family compound. I have my own room and join them for meals.

phoebenoch

For more than 30 years, the bishop has served marginalized communities like the Batwa Pygmies in Uganda and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. He has bought land, built schools, medical clinics, and housing for them.

His foundation, which includes the African International Christian Ministry (AICM), operates a Vocational Training College. It helps students and budding entrepreneurs gain critical skills in accounting, catering, IT, masonry, woodworking, tailoring and other trades.

I’ve been so impressed by the bishop’s work and vision that I’ve signed up for three years to help with marketing and fundraising. The student body here tops 300. Their enthusiasm at the morning devotions each day is really inspiring.

Every dollar, or Uganda shilling, is carefully accounted for and spent to support facilities, curriculum and supplies, and hire qualified instructors. School fees and donations help pay much of the expenses but more is needed. While I am here we’ll explore grants and tap the 10,000 alumni working in Uganda and elsewhere to help “pay it forward” to support the college.

Building self sufficiency is the best path to success here in Uganda and for more than 30 years AICM has set a standard.

My friends, I know that this message joins others you receive that require your attention and financial support. I am here to do my best among a people in a land that I love. You helped send me here.

In a small way or a big way, I ask you to help those here who have great aspirations, but lack finances, to succeed. Make a donation at teaminfaith.net. Tell a friend, or an army of friends, to do the same. I will personally see to it that the funds are used for education and other projects and that an accounting is made.

Webale munonga. Thank you very much.

Patrick Hill