Water's Edge Bible Church

COMMUNITY
A regular communication for the family and friends of
WATER'S EDGE BIBLE CHURCH
209 S. Oakwood Ave., West Chicago, IL 60185 • (630) 231-1210

Winter 2008 - Volume III - Issue 1

 

Uganda and WEBC: Blessing Each Other

What mix of people do you expect God might use to be a blessing to Ugandans and, even more so, what kind of people might He choose to be blessed by Ugandans? What He put together in the 2008 WEBC mission trip to Uganda was a little surprising and very diverse. We ranged in age from teenagers to mid-sixties and our occupations read like a college catalog: farming, education, television, nursing, business, pastoral ministry, and homemaking. And we didn’t exactly know each other. Troy was the only one of us who had met every group member prior to our arrival in Uganda.

Team members from WEBC were Sarah and Maurice, Lauren, Kelly and Charity, Doug and Julie (Charity's parents), Pastor Tod, David, Jennifer, Troy, and Janice (Troy's mother).

 

Yet God brought us together, and we became an outworking of I Corinthians 12:4-11, a mini “body of Christ.” The work of the whole was far greater than the work of each individual combined. When I think of Uganda, I remember experiences of our entire group, not just my own. Here are some of my favorite memories of our church, and its extension, at work around the world.

UgandaGirls

Lauren Singing: She and the other three teens sang in front of the entire Light the World Church congregation – both services. Not a huge deal for these school choir members, except that we’d been in Uganda less than thirty-six hours. I was the one sent to wake them up to inform them, “Uh, girls, guess what?” Their response: “Are you serious?” They were willing, though. They were also willing when a mother put her child in the arms of Lauren and Susanna. This child had the worst case of hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the skull) I’ve ever seen. They cried, but they held this boy, and they prayed with his mother. I doubt either of them will ever forget that moment.

UgandaCharity

Charity Holding: Charity held babies, tickled babies, played with babies — put “Charity” and “baby” together in a sentence, and whatever they were doing, it was good. I have a literal picture of Charity at Bweya orphanage holding smartly-dressed Bukita, a little four-year-old girl who was so neglected, abused and malnourished that her bone-and-skin upper arms remind me of the thin curtain rods in my living room. What I wish I could show you in video, however, is Charity actually putting the new clothes on this china-doll child, gently pulling shorts up her tiny legs, sliding a cap over a head that is too big for the rest of her tiny body.

Kelly Serving: Kelly dished up his heart along with food for kids at Light the World camp. He prayed over that rice, imploring the Lord to make it stretch and feed five hundred more than we’d planned for. Kelly scraped the bottom of the pot, but we weren’t able to feed everyone a hot meal that day. I was privileged to serve next to Kelly at Kyananjula two days later, scooping out food together. He beamed when the last child appeared before us and Kelly was able to fill her bowl with meat and broth. He was a picture of James 2:16 for me: his testimony was not with words alone.

UgandaDaveDave Talking: Dave found ways to communicate even when English wasn’t common ground. His willingness to try, even when communication wasn’t guaranteed, made people feel comfortable. On the day of our first kids’ camp, Dave went out to gather children. One mother began talking with him and then invited him into her home. Inside, he discovered what she’d wanted him to see. Her small daughter had been burned when she’d pulled a cooking pot down onto herself. Dave was able to contact others who took the mother and daughter to a clinic and arranged for daily treatment. Six days later, I sat next to the mother and a mostly pain-free daughter at church – amazing! On a lighter note, there was also a day when Dave was completely engulfed by children. He pulled a bag of candy out of his pocket at the slums and was immediately surrounded. Picture children swarming over a suddenly broken piņata and that’s about right. Dave was the poor piņata.

UgandaJodyJody Touching: Jody’s love knows no boundaries. She rubbed heads obviously infected with fungus; she held babies who were wet from chest to toes; she walked barefoot on ground where I hesitated to put the sole of my shoes; she shook hands even when their owners protested, “Not clean, I’m dirty.” At age 19, this young woman has a heart and a willingness that often awes and sometimes shames me.

Pastor Tod Praying: Tod preached and Tod preached and Tod preached on this trip (I could repeat that phrase several times and it would still be true), but I wonder if Tod kept count of how many people he prayed with. I lost track of the times I saw him praying with people – ones he knew from previous trips, people he’d just met, people others brought to him. I’m not even sure they all knew he is a pastor, but they brought troubles to him, and he prayed with them.

Troy Leading: I have this mental image of Troy thrashing his way through dense jungle and the rest of us straggling along after him. We didn't really encounter any jungle, but Troy does have this special ability for sniffing out needs and then finding ways to help. Last year he was influential in getting Ugandan Orphanage Relief Fund (UORF) involved in providing an orphanage in Kyananjula, resulting from the discovery of Pastor Vincent's housing 17 children in his own home. This year's discovery was Pastor Godfrey in the slums, protecting 46 children in his church. Troy had plans within five minutes of meeting the man, I'm sure.

UgandaDeoSarah Embracing: Sarah has the special capacity to be a mom to many of the young male leaders at Mercy orphanage. When Sarah hugs Deo, however, the young man she and Maurice have essentially long-distance adopted, you would not believe the first time they met was just last year. He calls her Mom and he means it. Sarah calls him Son and means it, too. Deo took Sarah and Maurice out to his village to meet his birth mother on this trip. This was one of the greatest honors he could give them. But their greatest honor is knowing that this young man of God will give his life so that the orphans of Uganda will learn of Christ. They have a part in that because of their love and support for him.

UgandaMauriceMaurice Listening: When Maurice listens to people, be they old or very young, or in between, no one else exists. I have another literal snapshot of Maurice holding Jessica, a little girl from Mercy Ministries orphanage. They are sitting together, waiting for the bride and groom to arrive at the wedding ceremony we attended. Jessica is facing Maurice, her mouth open – she’s in mid-sentence – and Maurice’s eyes are trained on her. He was not aware I was taking the picture, that I had, in fact, taken several of them because they kept blurring with Jessica’s energetic hand gestures. She was not the only beneficiary that week. What a gift - for a young person in that culture to have the undivided attention of an adult.

Janice (Troy's Mom) Clothing Children: She would have had every orphan in Kampala wearing shoes by the end of the week if it was in her power, but her greatest success in my memory is her day with Sophia. Sophia was discovered during last year’s trip. She was lying in a house, her legs swollen to more than twice their normal size and incredibly painful. Troy found her, carried her to a hospital, got her treatment, and then placed her in Mercy to recover until her mother could find a stable place to live. Janice sponsors Sophia, and so this young girl traveled with us one day, beautifully dressed – and with new shoes, of course – in lovely new clothing Janice had brought for her. Sophia radiated under this nurturing. This was a special occasion for her, a day she got individualized attention, and my heart hurt watching it, for she may never have a day like that again. It made me think of the children around the world who may never have one at all.

UgandaJulieJulie (Charity's Mom) Reading: Julie did so much more than this, but the snapshot memory that stands out is Julie sitting at the base of a tree at the Bweya orphanage, holding a Bible story book she’d brought with her. The pictures featured dark-skinned people, and the Ugandan children hovered over Julie, snuggled next to her, crouched over children below them, all so they could see the pictures and hear her voice reading the words.

Doug (Charity's Father) Teaching: Doug’s farming expertise allowed him to inspect land, crops and livestock and give incredibly helpful advice, but he was also a water expert on this trip. He brought with him a device that allows chlorine to be made from salt and the power of a car battery (or small solar panel). He taught the orphanage directors how to use it and create clean water from nearly any source. 

 

Everyone Dancing: Nearly every one of the members of this group demonstrated previously undiscovered dance skills (at least in the U.S.) for the cause of Christ. We discovered there is little the Ugandans enjoy more than making gentle fun of Mzungus’ (foreigners’) dancing abilities in comparison with their own (there truly is no contest), and that they are more than willing to stick around after the fun to listen to puppets tell them about the gospel. Somehow I figured out early on the easy way to hide my lack of dancing ability: just stand at the back with some of the smallest children and hold a baby on the hip. Bad dancing can be excused when one is holding a child.

 

Everyone Singing: My favorite moments of the trip were teaching songs at the kids’ camps. We sang “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” with them. That song has the gospel in it and I cried every time we taught it, knowing that these kids were hearing the truth and many of them would remember it because of the motions we taught them. I cried because the Lord who died to save me also died for every single child I could see.

 

Everyone Encouraging: We encouraged with humor. Tod is one of the best at this, from “translating” the morning prayers at the Muslim mosque near our guesthouse to his mock debate with the Ugandans. Surely his going without air conditioning in his car during college could be defined as suffering. We encouraged with sharing; food (Sarah’s amazing at this), electrical adaptors, cameras, shampoo, sunscreen, suitcase space, etc. We encouraged with words. I truly believe the four teens led the way in this, “good job”-ing nearly every single person on the trip. I was “good job”-ed merely for managing not to flood the bathroom floor. We encouraged with hugs and back rubs. Lauren could charge for her back rubs, although the recipient needs to be prepared for some pain before the relief. We encouraged with prayer, from the specific to the vague, from the “I just need to get through this day,” to the “God, how do I respond to this suffering?”

 

So, what mix of people does God use to be a blessing to Ugandans and, even more so, to be blessed by Ugandans? The small answer to that question is the names of the seventeen people who went to Uganda in January, but the big answer includes all of you, the people who call Water’s Edge Bible Church home. Thank you for sending us. We were blessed.

(who is still thinking and writing about all the things the Lord is teaching her related to Uganda. She is thankful for this amazing opportunity and hopes to go again.)

 

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Below are short biographies of some of the team members. Biographies for other team members have appeared in previous newsletters.

 

UnderwoodDave and Jennifer

Dave and Jennifer grew up in two different areas of the country, Dave in Ohio and Jennifer in Alabama, but they met early in their freshman year at Grace College in Indiana. They were engaged halfway through their junior year and were married a year later. That was the beginning of their adventure together. Soon it was clear that the Lord was leading them both into education. Jen taught and coached volleyball and track for six years at a public middle school in Indiana while Dave got his education degree and began teaching and coaching at a local Christian high school. In 1998 they went to Okinawa, Japan, and taught at a Christian school together. In 2000 they returned to Indiana to the same small Christian school Dave had taught at before, and their first child, Emily, was born. In 2002 they moved to West Chicago, IL, to work at Wheaton Academy, where Dave has been an administrator, director of admissions, Bible teacher, and soccer coach, while Jen has taught English and worked with drama productions. In 2004 their twins, Jacob and Madeleine, were born. Life with the three kids and a dog is crazy, they report, but very, very fun. Dave and Jen's combined interests include family time, missions, running, and the outdoors. Separately Dave enjoys coaching soccer and Jen likes reading and writing. They are looking forward to a big transition in their lives this summer as they move to Kansas for Dave to take a new job as men's soccer coach at Sterling College. They will miss their friends here, but are excited about how God is leading them.

 

SansoneDave and Kerry

Dave and Kerry grew up in the Chicago suburbs - Dave in Western Springs and Kerry in Elk Grove. They have been married, (“incredibly,” Dave says) for 22 years. When Dave accepted Christ at age 28, he joined his older brother in a Bible study. He was encouraged as a new believer to trust God, pray, and ask Him for the desires of his heart. And what did he pray for? At 28-years-old, he prayed for a wife, no meager expectation! A short time later (a week?), Dave and Kerry met, as if pulled together, and somehow both knew God was at work, and they would be married. Soon, they were. God is amazing!! They began their life together living in Oak Park, then Westmont, Hillside, and now Wheaton. Along the way, they were blessed with three awesome boys: Adam, 19, Brandon, 14, and Ethan, 12. Dave is an assistant manager (log editor) in the Traffic Department at WCIU, Channel 26. Kerry works at Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago as the Banquet Captain and sometimes event coordinator. Dave's lifetime dream of going to Africa was realized as he traveled with the WEBC group to Uganda to meet with the people, the orphans, and the ministers of Light the World Church, an unforgettable, soul-changing experience.

 

LaurenLauren

Lauren lives in Wheaton with her Dad, Benjamin, and her Mom, Kathryn. She has attended WCBC/WEBC since she was born and is currently 17, a junior at Wheaton Academy. She hopes to become a pediatrician and enjoys school, spending time with her family and friends, playing violin and piano, and eating :)

 

Excerpts from Lauren's e-mails from Uganda: "....these kids grabbed us and held us so tight....I was ‘attacked’ (best attack of my life)....you can't imagine the awful filth in this place. These kids don't even brush the flies away anymore. Vultures circled their homes - but somehow, somehow they had joy....I never would have imagined that it was like this. The children are so incredible, the people so loving, the poverty so true and yet they have HOPE....It's because He (God) is their Greatest Treasure....Their prayers are BEAUTIFUL. They shout to God when they feel like it and they cry to Him when they want. It's powerful....Satan was trying to work again....we were so exhausted and so it was hard....We handed out candy and told them mujikukamisa (come to church)....They followed us the whole way, very pied piper....Isaiah 25 has become my theme chapter. There's a big difference when it talks about feeding and clothing the poor and restoring the needy when you can see how much it's needed....You don't know rain until you come to Uganda. The sound is massive and you're outside three seconds and soaked through - people actually shower in it. Slums are in the middle and lowest part of Kampala, so the sewage, rain, mud, EVERYTHING just goes down....After today I will never comprehend why women go to spas to sit in mud....you feel like you're breaking their hearts because you say you can't when they ask you to take them home with you....today, when I was in the filth of the slums, I definitely had the thought of oh my goodness this is DISGUSTING when I realized that I had just gotten a glimpse of what those kids go through every day - I know I'm going home to a bed and food and family....Today we went to Bweya and did an incredible work project. I'm pretty sure I will still smell and be tattooed with turpentine and oil based paint when I get home. We had to wash it off with kerosene, which is when I was like Wow, equator sun and me covered in gas, hmmm....There are so many things that can break your heart here, seeing coffin shops right next to the slums....kids sharing food when they have nothing....Your prayers have meant the world, not just to me, but to the group and to the people here....Mukama Yebazibwe (Praise God)!"

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JodyImagine With Jody

Interview by Community

Imagine growing up with two sets of parents! That's what Jody's life seemed like. Jody grew up in the Chicago area, and says she has a wonderful family! She is the last of four siblings ranging in age from 19 to 37. The older pair of siblings, who had a huge impact on her, were like second parents. That's not so hard to imagine when you consider that her brother is 18 years older and a pastor in Tennessee, while her oldest sister is an English teacher. Jody's other sister, who is 23, just completed studies in psychology and social work at Calvin College.

 

Wheaton College is where you'll find Jody's dad serving as a professor of music and fine arts. Her mom also teaches music. Jody describes them as very loving and supportive of her desire to serve God. It is evident that the whole family has a great compassion for serving and helping others.

 

Now imagine leaving your family behind to live and serve in Uganda! A study unit on Africa in elementary school is among Jody's early memories; she loved it and never wanted it to end, but visiting Africa would be a long time off. First, an opportunity came for a trip to Rwanda, but it fell through. Imagine how that must have felt! Then there was the prospect of a visit to Zambia, followed by a chance at Uganda with Pastor Tod, Troy, and the church group - both fell through. Jody waited and prayed. Finally, the following year, she was able to travel with the Water's Edge team to Kampala, Uganda. Stepping off the plane, she says, it was as if she had arrived home. Four months later, she returned for a two-month stay that confirmed what God had placed on her heart throughout those years of waiting.

 

Now, Jody is in Uganda for the third time. In her words, “I don't think I could stay away if I wanted to!” You might even say she can't imagine being anywhere else. God continues to pave the way very clearly and provide for her each time she goes. What's interesting is that while she feels led to serve there and loves it, it's also a time when God has her “cornered.” She is forced to look to Him and learn new things every day. Jody's faith in God truly came alive when, in high school, sickness dogged her days. She was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. In that life-interrupting illness she "learned that God is and has to be everything" for her.  She learned to "pray through," a habit that remained strong when her health improved.

 

Jody's long-term goal in Uganda is to open a midwifery clinic. For now, she is learning the culture, the people and the language, and God is using her in ministry with small children and young women. Imagine that! Many Ugandan women have no sense of self-worth, so Jody is focusing on that issue. She and a friend are developing women's Bible studies and, with another friend, she is developing a kind of Proverbs 31 ministry where a group of women will be living for two months in a compound while learning skills such as cooking and business technology and attending class each day. Jody is excited to be leading the Bible study with particular emphasis on a woman's purpose and worth.

 

UgandaJodyPatOn top of all that, she has children in her home and cares for one in particular, Patrick, a 2-year-old boy she met early in the last trip. He was near death, but Jody took him in and has been able to nurse him back to health. He now walks, talks and is a very happy little boy. Praise God!

 

Also living in Jody's home are two friends from the US, her helper, Mama Ellen, who does the cooking and cleaning, and Mama Ellen's two daughters. If Jody didn't have help, she wouldn't have time to do anything else, but she is also helping Mama Ellen who was a struggling, homeless, single mother.

Being part of this community is important to Jody. She realizes she's not there to push her ways on them but to learn theirs. She will earn their trust by struggling where they struggle and eating what they eat. It's easy to imagine how difficult that might be. They see her not so much as a missionary but as a friend. Still, she also loves to see and help them make improvements, whether it's in a little boy's health or in a friend who is finally getting a stable job.

 

Being a missionary in Uganda has changed Jody, as she puts it, “completely,” beyond imagination. She looks at people differently and loves them in a new way. Christ has become her whole strength as she has learned how to nurture sick, orphaned children. Please pray for Jody, for her new women's ministry, for strength and for discernment and wisdom while they are often dealing with difficult situations.

 

“I have just learned to see things through a different kind of lens. I am so thankful to God for putting me here right now. Sometimes I just sit and wonder what I have done to deserve to have such an experience. Mukama Bulungi (God is Good).”

 

God is using Jody to do great things - just imagine what He can do with you!

 

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Breakfast1Men Breakfast Together

On Saturday, November 3rd, there was a great turnout (35 men, by my count) for our men’s breakfast. There, we had the wonderful privilege of listening to some of our visiting missionaries. Mark did a fantastic job of organizing the event and asking questions for the missionary men to answer. The question I found most compelling was, “What made you choose to be missionaries?” Each one gave the same answer; they did not choose, but they were chosen or called by the Lord to be His emissaries. That gave me pause to think how true that is for all who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten of the Father. Though it seems like it, we do not choose Him. He does the choosing. He calls us out of a world that is dead in transgression. Jesus told his disciples, “You did not choose me but I have chosen you” (John 15:19) Let us all reflect and give God the glory for that most humbling truth. Let’s remember that the God of glory humbled Himself and laid aside His deity to give his life as a ransom for many. He did that, in fact, “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

 

On Saturday, February 2nd, once again, the men of Water's Edge Bible Church gathered at the Oakfield Restaurant for breakfast and fellowship. We had a great complement of 15 men. Though the restaurant management overbooked our meeting room and it was a bit crowded, things turned out just fine. Pastor Tod gave a brief report on the trip to Uganda. It was great to hear how God is at work in that country and its growing church. He also explained how he first became involved with the church there. It would take more space than available here to tell you the story, but suffice it to say the internet is not always a bad thing. The Lord uses it for His glory, too. Ask Tod about it someday - it is a cool story. We are looking forward to the blessing that God has in store for those men going to Moody's Walk Worthy Men's Conference on Saturday March 1, 2008.

Breakfast2

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Christmas Joy in “Lingering Awhile!”

As over 300 WEBC women and guests arrived at St. Andrew's Country Club on December 5 and 6, we were greeted by the men of the church graciously opening doors, providing name tags, taking coats, offering punch...a warm welcome from the chilly weather! The Annual WEBC Christmas Tea was an oasis of calm in the midst of a busy holiday season. The theme “Linger Awhile” was exactly what we did!

Tea2 

The ballroom at St. Andrew's glowed softly with candles and Christmas lights as we browsed the hostess tables and admired the unique arrangements and personal touches.

Tea4

The setting was quite elegant. The elfin ears and green sequined bowtie worn by our particular server were not elegant - but they served their purpose of making us laugh. That was par for the course (pun intended) - the evening struck the perfect balance of elegance, fun, and relaxation. A three course teatime meal was served as we enjoyed live music by the talented duo of Eric and David. We caught up with old friends and met new ones. We welcomed the season with a medley of Christmas carols...and we relaxed.

 

Mary Whelchel, well-known Christian author and producer of the Christian Working Woman radio program, presented the evening's message, entitled “Ordinary Women - Extraordinary Grace: Women in the Lineage of Jesus Christ.” I was moved to tears as Mary described the unlikely women that God hand picked to be part of the lineage of His Son, as listed in Matthew 1. What an honor! These were women perhaps best known for their faults and indiscretions - women like Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. Mary explained that God chooses to use people that we may consider unworthy so that His glory is showcased through their lives. God is in the business of restoration, Mary shared, and there is “more grace in God's love than there is sin in your past.” The room was silent as we cherished these truths.

Tea1 

Brenda reflected on the message of the evening as she dismissed us again into the winter weather, now snowing and blowing. But, not surprisingly, the room filled with voices as many chose to..."Linger Awhile."

 

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