Through Love Serve One Another
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
It is such a huge blessing that Vincent is teaching and discipling and I’m excitingly serving in Children’s and Women’s ministry again wondering over and over how God uses such a person like me. I could write long stories time and time again. But as I reflect on this busy month what really blesses me to share is the learning of release. It’s amazing and beautiful the ways God wants to use all of us every minute of every day to show His love! When we got our first vehicle, a motorcycle, many years ago Vincent would give it to people and it would always come back broken. I would get so frustrated knowing how long it would take us to get money to repair it. I complained to him pleading to let us have just one nice thing. He shared with me that if we don’t share our blessings with others to minister to them, we better not have it at all. I am almost finally grasping the understanding. Yes, our car always needs work and sometimes it is scary to drive, but it is worth the blessing for the glory of God. In just this week our vehicle has been blessed to bring water, it was an ambulance, and a limo for a wedding party and a hearse to bless a family that could not afford to bring the body for the funeral and then brought the guests. God gives opportunities to make wedding invitations, decorate cakes, give birthday parties celebrating God’s amazing children – even as simple as making little treats for anyone who comes to the gate, or giving the last money to a poor child so she can go to the children’s conference to come and find money you know wasn’t in your book a few days ago. It’s having people feel at home no matter which country they are from because of God’s love! It’s a love that only Christ can give knowing there is nothing good in us and that none of it is ours to begin with! How are we all using our blessings to serve one another today? To God be all glory! Amen!
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letters.” Rom 7:6
One of the many prayers we have prayed for the Muslim converts is to be bold in their deliverance. I have shared many times about converts being discipled but feared to be open because of persecution. I am so excited to share that there is a revival and at least 14 of them have become bold. Instead of fasting the first day of Edi with their family members they broke bread in our compound as they started their weekly discipleship with Vincent. Even Imran who I wrote about years ago has become bold! He lived with us but when his dad threatened to kill us he went back to Islam. Now he’s bold, even attending mid-week service. One young man’s (around age 18) family had come to collect him and bring him back home but he refused, standing strong, and is now working here and staying at one of the church leaders’ home who is a relative to him. These converts not only face the hardest persecution but also many added hardships. They lose their family, land, any help for a wife, a place to be buried, etc. This is magnified by living in a third world country. They are transforming from the law they knew to the deliverance of a relationship with God whom loves us. They are so precious and need prayers and support!
- Pray for the converts.
- Pray for the land as we hope to finalize the surveying and begin building.
- Pray for our health, safety, strength and continued joy!
- Please pray for the teams coming in June and July and for Angela who is coming for a few months.
- The football/soccer party went great! Everyone, even the Muslim players, excitedly received Bibles! Even an older Muslim fan came and asked for a Bible later. Added funny: I have never seen grown men so excited for a cake! They said with such a cake they have to win the final cup next season and all took pictures with it.
- All the kids have started school this week! Praise God for His provision and added blessings from Promise Child! They were so excited with school shoes and backpacks and uniforms cleaned, ironed and ready to go.
- We did take in Daniel and he is making good friends and thriving.
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Back to Where
We are back home! Back to where the daily visitors are almost as many in number as the bugs. Back to where the work is hard but God’s strength proves more. Where there are more children then you can remember names, all full of joy making toys out of anything they can find. Where people welcome you with singing and dancing. Where crying is meant for death alone because every day is blessing no matter what happens. Where you depend on God for every little provision! Where no house seems to ever be completed and everyday tasks can take a month. Where the dirt is red, grass is green and trees are beyond the eyes can see. Where the game of charades is part of normal conversation. Where smiling and generosity say more than a million words. Where God is our physician, healer, teacher, our all, every moment of everyday.
Back to Calvary Chapel Midigo, where the words on the board may not be correct but the meaning in our hearts speaks louder than the base booming in our ears. Where the sound of Worship is how everyone knows church is starting, since few have watches. Where everyone is “All most Welcome,” surely loved and forgiveness is easy because we all need each other. Where our prayer is that we can shine as bright as the clothes we wear and the back drop of the church. Following the calling God has on our lives is our heartbeat!
My mission’s scripture as I first came was Matt. 25:40. Little did I know the depth of why God gave it to me. Even after all these years it still burns strong. We keep saying we are not taking in anymore children. Why do we always say things like this? We know what God does when we say we can’t to Him.
Meet Daniel! Vincent first met Daniel when there were Muslim/Christian Debates in town 5 months ago. Daniel ran to Vincent to share with him how these Muslims are changing scriptures. Vincent was wondering who is this young bright Christian boy. Later Vincent asked him. He is a boy whose father is from this area. His father converted from Islam to Christianity and moved away then met his mom. His mom died this last year and he does not know where the father is. His mom’s family took everything his mom had and left him alone in Kampala. The police brought him here where he sleeps with his uncle who is a Muslim. His uncle refuses to feed him, take him to school and often locks the door so he has nowhere to sleep. Most of the time when he goes home he finds his few things outside so he collects them and brings them back in. Even when he was sick they threw his medicines out. While we were away he ran to our uncle Anthony to help so they would stop locking the door. We have bought the things needed to take him to the local public school where he stands firm amongst the Muslims. He eats here and we are praying if we should take him in. We told him we cannot currently take him to the Calvary school since we already care for so many children. He says he’s just blessed because He sees God’s provision. I mean how can anyone turn away a boy like this? Please pray for him and also for God’s direction for Vincent and I. I’m almost certain we have a new son.
- We Praise God that Promise Child found sponsors for the 2 girls from the other side of the village. They come to church although their father was a Muslim. All their siblings died by the age 4. They are the only 2 living out of many. Their father has died of AIDS and they have been struggling with the mother who has HIV.
- Our adjustment has just been God and all your prayers! Thank you!!! The boys are so happy and I am basically unpacked!!! One of our big prayer requests was always Zachary with Sunday School. This Sunday Gaga told me he sat with his friends and even answered a question in class so he got biscuits/cookies. We have been healthy except for some issues I’m having that are a little scary with no proper doctors here, but we trust in God and covet your prayers!
- Clow is starting catering school this coming month!!!! She asks for prayers!
- Please pray for continued health and safety!
- Pray as we begin surveying the land to get started on the new projects!!!
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This month was full of opportunity to do what we love to do most in America. From Dale’s Thursday Morning Bible Study, CC Golden Springs Leadership, Missions Meetings to CC Saving Grace, CC West Grove and CC Pasadena we have been blessed with opportunities to share. Sharing God’s Word and encouraging the body of Christ. Sharing our testimony which is really “His story” of what He has done and continues to do in these open and willing hearts. From an infant in a refugee camp and persecuted solders son to a pastor, from a selfish girl who hated school to a homeschool and reading teacher mother of many! All we can say is God!
We have been privileged and humbled in meeting many amazing open people! Different testimonies, all different areas of their walk. New believers with many questions, people with a heart for missions waiting on God’s timing, families going through hard times but yet holding on to God’s promises and seasoned elders who have poured into us prayers and love. As I reflect, it is like watching God’s heart beat! To see how He loves and uses each one of us in completely different ways yet all intertwined for His glory! Just so beautiful! “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Eph. 4:4-6
We are packed, yes, I said we are packed and ready to hit the ground running. With all the encouragement, love and prayers we have gotten we can’t wait to get home! As soon as we get back to Uganda we will be surveying the land and preparing for the coming soccer/football stadium, library, community center and children’s park. Praying each crawl of the way to see which doors open and close. We will be having a large community party for the sports ministry. They have been winning all their games, calling us through Facebook after each one to make sure we know they are counting the goats. We will be working on the mission’s house and unpacking as quickly as possible in between the many guests we are sure to have. We are praying for a quick adjustment, fruitful, exciting, as little as possible sickness, amazing God kind of year!
What the Word of God Does
After this last football/soccer match Vincent was messaged from the goal keeper/goalie. Vincent is good with healthy jokes that can also convict. He was joking around asking if the Goal keeper was still drinking alcohol since he is an alcoholic. His response was, “Papa, you gave us Bibles and are changing our lives. I am no longer drinking.” The Word of God is so amazing! It is converting the Muslims and convicting believers. It changes lives to fullest! The privilege to be part of sharing the Word and watching it work is beyond human words can describe. What an amazing God we are able to serve. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2Tim 3:16-17
- Please pray as we travel April 18th. Pray for our travel and adjustments. Pray for our marriage, family and ministries as we are always hit with crazy amounts of spiritual warfare every time we go back. If anything can go wrong, it usually does.
- Please pray for our health this coming year. Past years we have had monthly spouts of Malaria, Zachary and I plagued with staph all over our bodies and I now get adult allergies where my throat swells most of the time. Praying God to heal us or at least allow us a little more of a break this year.
- Please continue to pray for the persecution over the converts, the church and our family.
- Please continue to pray for Dr. Jim and Dr. Bev. Pray for God to heal his throat so that he can start eating again.
Thank you all for your prayers and love for our family!!!!
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Heartbreak and Culture
One of the hardest, funniest, most interesting and sometimes heartbreaking part of missions is learning cultures. Sometimes it can be funny like the never-ending stories many of you know between my husband and I. Even small things such as sharing not to point with his middle finger while teaching in America because in America the middle finger is bad, gassing is offensive in Uganda but humorous in America, etc. I could go on forever but I am keeping myself distracted from the heartbreaks to share. Vicky was one of our first girls we took in and became our own. She dealt and constantly forgave me as I learned the culture. It seemed like every day I did something new to offend the children since I only knew how to raise children in American ways. I nick named her “My Blessing.” Vincent and Juventine baptized her and she is one of the brightest (gets the best grades) in her class. She has been with us for 7 years but the father has come back to take them. Her and her sister’s (Aleru) father abandoned them when they were very little. He then became a soldier in Somalia. He came to collect the girls a couple years back but we fought hard knowing he is Muslim, with other wives and children and very little money to help any of them. He recently came back again and this time Vincent’s family agreed. Through culture and law Aleru has left with her dad already. Vicky, since we have put her in a very good boarding school already, will finish out this year. They will have a ceremony in December to finalize the agreement. We will continue to support them and pray for them. Especially because of their age and moving in with Muslim relatives. Our prayer is that the they will remember the Word that they heard with us all these years. The girls are sponsored through Promise Child so we know they will be ok and continue their education although not the same.
Last year we had shared about Umar. He was a Ugandan Muslim Sheik sent by Idi Amin to Saudi Arabia to become one of the top Islamic leaders in Uganda. He studied there for 18 years and came back to Uganda with a passion to convert Christians. As he started sharing the Koran with believers he also heard the gospel and ended up getting saved. We met him through our friend who asked Vincent to disciple him and we also took him in for safety. As his faith grew stronger, he started sharing the gospel everywhere in our district. He was even taking the Jesus Film into the mosques. One day he was tricked by the district card (top Muslim leader) who ordered the Muslims to stone him to death. As they picked stones Umar said, “I felt a man touch me on the shoulder and I believe was Jesus.” This man led him through the crowd and Umar was able to escape. A couple weeks ago we were preparing to send Umar to a school of Ministry. As he went home to prepare his things some unknown Muslim men forced him into a van a gun point. They drove far and wanted to kill him. As they beat him with the butt of the gun he told them just to kill him since he is an old man. They started arguing about if they should kill him or not. They took him to a house and hid him there. A woman found him who claimed to be the wife of the driver and formerly a Christian. She rescued him and took him to another house. Eventually he was taken to the clinic for pain meds and sent on his way. He is now healing and will be on his way to the School of Ministry soon. Please continue to pray for him and also other Muslim converts Vincent is currently disciplining. Umar gave us permission to post his picture but we cannot post pictures or names of the other converts.
- Please continue to pray deeply for Dr Jim and Dr Bev as they continue to go through this deep valley of Radiation and Chemo!
- Pray that our time state side will be fruitful. Zachary has his IEP early March. We are Hoping for more open doors to share and encourage others while we are here.
- Pray for our children and ministries back home. Most of our children are in boarding schools except the young ones who stay at our home with Penninah and Sharron.
- Pray for the safety of the Muslim converts. The number of converts is growing quickly and the Muslims are realizing. We are not sure which persecutions are coming but we know that God is all knowing and ask for prayers.
- Vincent has landed!!!!! We are so grateful to be reunited again!!! Ian’s leg problems have not returned so we are hopeful!
- I went to the Calvary children’s ministry conference and learned so much! Many of the things I learned can also be used for adults and homeschooling. Can’t wait to see how God uses the things I learned! In fact, the boys and I can’t wait to go home!
- Last year we were given the Gideon bibles for the football/soccer players. They loved them so much! God heard their prayers and blessed us with the ability to provide full Bibles for them. We are excited to see how the Word of God will continue to change their lives and how He will use each and every one of them.
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These couple of months state side have been different then past. God is doing the deepest refining He has ever done in my walk thus far. As Paul said “Wretched man that I am!” It is hard to see all the junk boiling up from the depths of my heart. Things I thought I was done with years ago. Selfishness, anger, jealousy, and so much more, I just cry to the Lord and thank Him for loving me. Through this refining time I am also hoping to do missions training again through SGWM. I started going on longer term missions 11 years ago and have been in Midigo almost 9 years. I have learned a lot but also lost a lot. It is time for a new refreshed work. A new love for God, the Word and the lost sheep!
Why So Far?
As my husband and I have been on opposite sides of the world these months getting things ready for the work ahead, we have been faced with much spiritual warfare. We stand on the fact that He has already conquered and won! Our extremely strong, healthy and active 3-year-old, Ian had complained of knee pain and the next thing I know he can no longer use his leg and we are hospitalized for a week. All the best doctors telling us they don’t know what is causing such pain. I prayed for Zachary (our 5-year-old with Autism) and what he must be thinking. Where is dad and now mom and Ian? I praise God for my parents and all the amazing family and friends who came to play with him. I praise God for the fact that Zachary did ok with us calling him to sing and pray him to sleep. God showed me through all this just how strong and mighty He is. He needed to do this while Vincent is in Uganda. These next years Vincent is going to be extremely busy with the church and the projects. As his wife, I need to be more of a helper then a hinderer. God needed to remind me that He is my first love and my sustainer, through Him all things are possible and that I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me! Chasing away thoughts that don’t glorify Him and turning them to praises.
Vincent has also faced much warfare! There is always a point you get to where you have to make a decision. I praise God for my husband! A man pulled down the sides of the brick stacks out of jealousy. Knowing how many weeks of sweat and hard work went into these bricks. Vincent could have gotten discouraged as it is so easy to do but instead prayed and worked a whole day putting them back. They are burned and ready to be used on the projects! We were able to do 58,000 bricks in 3 heaps. This will not only cut the cost drastically for building the library, community center and stadium but has given work to many youths that now have school fees and others to feed their families.
Prayer Requests and Praise Reports
- Vincent came home from meetings to find that our dear friend brought a new convert to our compound. She has left her Muslim husband and has 2 small children. She gave her life to Christ and asks for prayers for safety and strength.
- We are calling on all our prayer warriors to get on their knees and pray for our godparents, Dr. Jim and Dr. Bev. They have been with us since the beginning, in fact, God used them to save my parents and bring me to Midigo! Jim starts chemo and radiation therapy today! Nothing is too big for God.
- Our Calvary Football/Soccer team has finished the first phase in 2nd The last game was against the number 1 team and they tied 0-0. We are praying God provide for them to be able to go for the second phase. God uses this team mightily to reach out to the community with the gospel and love of Christ! Changing lives especially of the team members both Christian and Muslim.
- All our Ugandan children go back to school in 2 weeks! All of them except Gaga and Desire (they are only 9 years old) have reached Secondary/High School or higher. I wish I could explain how huge this is in our village! Steven is now starting his research papers in University, Clow is starting catering school and our children in Secondary/High school are in good boarding schools in Arua. They ask for prayers for wisdom, discipline and school fees. Since they have all gone on in education their school fees are quite high. There are no free schools in Uganda like we have here in the states. Gaga with her fun-loving personality did not get proper scores. She really is my daughter! We are praying how to help her better. Once Vincent helps all the children get settled into school we pray we can purchase his plane ticket and get him here!!!!
- Please continue to pray for Ian. That this was just an infection deep in the muscle that they couldn’t find in blood or the fluid drained from his knee. That this is not Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Pray for swelling and warmth to go away with these antibiotics. That we may get into the infectious doctors for the re-check before his scheduled appointment of Feb 21st since that is long to be on these antibiotics.
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God is on the move! There are many exciting changes within our ministries. The Lord has opened up a door for our family to partner with Saving Grace World Missions (SGWM), a missionary-sending organization. SGWM helps missionaries to funnel finances, do taxes as well as provide Biblical counseling and ongoing encouragement while on the field. Part of this change means we will have this blog to keep in closer communication with all of you. For future we will no longer be receiving donations through Go Ministries.
Those that are not familiar with us, let us introduce ourselves. My husband, Pastor Vincent, grew up as a refugee and a soldier’s son moving around Uganda. God brought him back to Midigo after the war. He since has finished Bible College and become the assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Midigo. I (Melissa Aniku) grew up in Southern California and felt a calling for missions. I went to Midigo, Uganda in 2009 and have now become a permanent resident.
Along with being assistant pastor, Vincent also manages the Calvary Football/Soccer team, which reaches out to the Muslims. He also disciples new believers and converts. Most of my ministry takes place on the family compound with homeschooling and management. I also tend to the many daily guests that come to the compound for prayers and counseling. I’m involved with women’s discipleship and sewing classes. Our family financially and spiritually takes care of 13 children. Vincent and I find small jobs for those in need.
This year God is providing for us to start a football/soccer stadium for outreaches plus a library and community center to teach reading and writing to the adults who are illiterate due to war. This will be the first place of its kind in the west Nile bringing the gospel to Muslims and unifying the Body of Christ.
Fun Fact: The name Aniku literally translates: I Don’t Know. So please as you pray for us, even if you forget our names, just pray for the family “I Don’t Know”.
Prayer Request: Please pray for safety over the compound and continued grace to pour over the Church and land. Pray for the 95% Muslim population. Pray that the LORD be glorified through the new projects, as they are able to give jobs and a safe haven to Muslim converts. Pray for the school fees for all our children. Pray for the South Sudanese Refugees. Pray for our protection, strength and for health especially for our 5-year-old Zachary who has Autism!
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