Harris Family – April 2023

“You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

ISAIAH 41:9B-10

Pray for us as we begin the adoption process for our daughter Apio Cynthia!

In April of 2021, soon after our return to Uganda from our furlough in the States, we began fostering a girl from our village. We had known Apiyo Cynthia (nicknamed Ah-peach-ay) since we officially moved to Uganda in 2018, when she was 8 years old. At the start we had thought she was an orphan because she appeared malnourished and severely neglected, not even knowing her real name. We found over time that she was simply rejected from the community. Once we found out she had a family, we tried many times to help reconcile her to them through various means to no avail. We even left provision so that if schools opened up again when we were visiting the States, she could be enrolled as soon as possible (schools were closed for 2 years due to the very lengthy lockdown here). When we returned from our furlough, we began finding her on our porch after dark, sometimes as late as 11PM. We continued trying to reconcile her to her family while looking for options of where she could go that would take better care of her. When we heard rumors that she could be in mortal danger from a relative, we got permission from the officials concerned to keep her in our home until a better living situation was decided.

Since then it has been a true labor of love to teach and train her in every aspect of life. Late nights, long days, and many prayers have brought her from the desperate small form peaking through our window, to the energetic, dreaming teenage girl she is now. It has now been two years, and Apiche is a daughter to us and a sister to all our children. After much prayer and careful consideration of the present situations, we have officially begun the process for legal adoption. There are a few serious obstacles in the way of successful adoption in this instance, but we look to the Lord to make a way, since we know He loves her even more than we do.

Please pray:

For our lawyer to be “crafty as a serpent but innocent as a dove”, knowing how to bring the facts but not portraying anything untrue.

For the judges to consider all the present factors and judge in favor of Apiche.

That God would provide the finances necessary for the legal process.

For speed and honesty during this process.

For her family to turn to the Lord.

For Apiche’s heart to be soft toward the Lord and eagerly listen for and obey His voice.

Harris Family – March 2023 Update

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our LORD, equip you in every good thing to do His willworking in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever Amen.

HEBREWS 13:20-21

The importance of thorough discipleship stuck out to me last weekend. It was my daughter Emma’s turn to go on an outing with me, and before getting ice-cream we spent a few hours evangelizing door to door with our church, Calvary Chapel Gulu. Emma, myself, and our head pastor, Fred Latim, sat in the yard of a local political leader with the gentleman and his Muslim friend. The politician is a Christian who publicly claims Christ and was very eager to talk to us about Jesus, but he didn’t know that Muslims worshiped a different god, he didn’t know the difference between any of the groups that proclaim the name of Jesus, and he couldn’t tell me why God allowed Jesus to die on the cross! The darkness of ignorance is vast when even sincere Christian leaders are severely underdeveloped.

Jesus reached the world through 12 disciples, three of whom stood out as His inner circle. We have followed His example in our school. Although we have 40 students between two classes who will study through the whole counsel of God’s Word, the real discipleship happens with the 6 alumni who have been appointed as Discipleship Group Leaders.

Our group leader’s development comes through teaching, modeling and coaching. As graduates from the program they have already been taught through the whole Bible. On top of that, as I mentioned in our January update, we meet for one week of every month to prepare for class by studying the upcoming text together, and praying together. During the class weeks they are busy guiding devotions and leading discussions on the passages we are covering. They also practice teaching and receive feedback during one-on-one meetings.

The impact has been tremendous. Every month I receive testimonies from these six men of how their development is affecting their lives, their families, and their churches. I was taken back two weeks ago during two meetings I had with one of them who is old enough to be my grandfather. In both meetings he couldn’t hold back his tears as he thanked me for being in his life. He told me that I was the first person to “father” him, the first person who took the time to direct, correct, teach, and mentor him. Another of these men has doubled his influence through leading the School of Ministry at his church! I believe that these testimonies are a result of the bond that we have formed as we pursue the LORD together. As we delight ourselves in Him, the LORD continues to give us the desire of our hearts.

Please pray for these six men who have given their lives to disciple others in Christ:

  • Walter Owor
  • Peter Ocaya
  • Mark Olak
  • George Acaye
  • Denis Olara
  • Richard Okot

May God richly bless you,

Matt and Noelle & Family

Harris Family Update – February 2023

“…choose this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

JOSHUA 24:15

This month I (Noelle) want to share with you some of what life looks like for our kids.

The lovely Apio Cynthia

Time has flown by since we left the USA with two baby girls.  Three more children have been given to us from the Lord and our ministry has grown as a result. I think the idea that raising children is discipleship was instilled in us when we were in our parents’ homes. Almost everything we do with our kids is purposely developing them for the Lord. I won’t to go into detail on our house rules and parenting philosophies, but I’ll do my best to show you what being a “missionary kid” looks like for ours at this stage of their lives:

Emma (Left) at Homeschool Co-Op

Their day starts with breakfast and family devotions at the table. They memorize verses, read a portion from the Bible as well as the Voice of the Martyrs magazine, and we all pray together before Matt goes off to work. They meander through their tasks of morning hygiene and chores, then usually look through story books or start drawing pictures before school-time officially starts. Our wonderful friend and housekeeper, Gladys, comes at 9 to pick up Noah and Charlotte. They play next door with Gladys’s neice, who is about a year younger than Charlotte, while Apio, Emma, Maddie and I finish as much homeschooling as we can before lunch. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can be flexible and slow down or speed up as needed with each child. Currently Emma and Maddie are both working through various subjects in either 1st or 2nd grade. Noah and Apio are both working slowly through 1st grade (even though Noah is not yet 5, he insists on having lessons).

School normally ends by lunch time. Then, depending on the weather, the kids might crowd on the couch and have me read books to them or clamber outside and onto our water-tower “playground” with neighbor friends. There was a time when all the neighbor girls would do chanting games similar to Ring-Around-The-Rosie, I think that has phased out, and they now play “Family” or they go around finding soda bottles, the plastic rings of which they’ve looped together to make long ropes. When they’re not make-believing or scavenging for treasures, they’re playing football (soccer). Many times one or two of our kids would come in from playing outside because the laughs of a few kids was at their expense, typically involving hair-pulling or hitting (a common “game” for most kids here). The change among them all was immediate once we started the Football Academy. When they started playing as a team on the field they started treating each other like friends off the field. That was a welcome and prayed-for change.

Noah’s little friend. We put him back in the tree.

Toward evening I send the neighbor’s to their own homes to bathe, and our kids come in to do the same. Living in the village requires almost daily showers since most of their playing involves the simple nature around them. We finish the day the same way we started it: singing, verses and prayer, though there’s normally a little dancing involved this time.

I am constructing this map of our village from Google Earth to guide my weekly outreaches.

Throughout the week our kids take part in a few activities that I believe will help prepare them for serving the Lord in the future. One is a Homeschool Co-Op which we recently joined, and I also teach in. Other homeschooling Westerners join up once a week and share a class. This helps my kids remember how to relate with other kids of similar backgrounds and culture, and also how to learn from someone other than their own parents. They also take turns going on outings with Matt and me. On a weekly rotation Matt takes the kids with him on an errand. Matt reads to them and they eat something nice together. We also rotate through which child joins me in my weekly visits to neighbor’s homes. Since Charlotte is now out of “baby phase”, taking her to people’s houses is not such a daunting task. One at a time I take the kids with me to go and either encourage a believer or evangelize to an unbeliever. My current strategy is to walk down the footpath and visit the house furthest away (up to 1 kilometer), then the next week visiting the one that’s closer, and then the next one and so on. This is an exciting thing for me, but just like I complained every time my mom would take me to visit her little grandmas in the nursing homes, my kids complain to me too. One day they’ll see the special lessons learned, just like I did.

Noelle teaching a birdhouse workshop at Co-Op

Even with this longer update, I feel as though I’m only showing you a very tiny piece of our lives on the mission-field. As you pray for the work God is doing here in Uganda, please remember to pray for our kids as they continue to grow in body, mind, and spirit. I am encouraged, despite tantrums, fights and complaining, when I overhear my kids playing “secret school” inside a blanket tent, whispering Deuteronomy 6:4-6 “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength…” Pray for these beautiful little missionaries.

Best Friends! Behind: Aweko, Left to Right: Emma, Esther, Maddie, Eva, Apio, Akutu, and Charlotte in front
Thanks for all of your prayers, love and support
Matt, Noelle & Family

January 2023

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”


With this update I wanted to tell you about the crucial and unique part of our ministry that we call “Study Week.”

The Terebinth School of Discipleship (soon to be Terebinth Bible College) teaches pastors and church leaders through the entirety of Scripture. Every month our students gather from all over the Northern region of Uganda at our facilities for one week of classes. They come in on a Sunday night after they have taught their congregations that morning, they study through one or more books of the Bible (depending on the length of the book), then return home after their exams on Saturday. After three years each student will have read through 2-3 times, attended lectures on, and tested out of every passage of God’s Word! In all of this they learn how to interpret Scripture with Scripture, with an emphasis on the fact that all of it highlights the Gospel of man being reconciled to God through the life, death, resurrection, ascension and soon return of Jesus Christ. On top of that they are all equipped on different topics, including weddings/marriage, running funerals, shepherding, preaching, evangelism etc. We currently have two classes, both nine months into their journey.

As you can imagine this is a huge task that requires a team of dedicated people. We have 6 Discipleship Group Leaders who oversee the student’s discipleship directly, 3 pastors with other work in the organization who come in to lecture a little bit each teaching week and 3 missionaries (including me, Matt).

Every month these leaders gather all day for an entire week to prepare before teaching. We call this time “Study Week” and it has been the core of our school. From 9am to 5pm we sit together pouring over God’s Word, bouncing ideas back and forth, reading commentaries, planning lessons, and enjoying mutual edification. We read, we talk, we pray, we laugh and we are blessed. The Study Week is at the heart of our work because it keeps God’s opinions and directives above our own.

Praise God with us that:

  • Our family has been strong and healthy.
  • He is moving in our midst, edifying His flock.
Please join us in prayer that:
  • God’s name will be glorified in everyone’s sight through the healing/equipping of His saints for the overseeing of His flock.
  • For our students as they are currently making their way through the historical books of the Old Testament.
  • God would make His shepherds strong and courageous to stand on truth.

Please be advised that our sending organization, Saving Grace World Mission, will soon be switching to a new online-giving platform in this New Year, which will affect ALL recurring donations. We will keep you updated throughout the transition.

In Christ,
Matt & Noelle Harris & Family

Harris Family November Update

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

-Hebrews 11:6

It fills my heart with awe and joy to realize that God wants to be with me. How wonderful that God wants to bless me for simply believing that He wants me nearer. God smiles down when I smile up! These truths and many more touched us as our school studied through the book of Hebrews in November. As always, our leaders gathered for one week to dwell on our text and prepare ourselves for the two consecutive cohorts of church leaders that gathered the next two weeks. And as always God blessed our time together with growth in the grace and knowledge of Him. Sometimes I can’t believe that God has set me apart as a teacher of His Word and a Shepherd of His flock, we are blessed to serve Him.

God also gave us great opportunities to spread the Gospel during the month of November. First each of our classes studied door-to-door evangelism alongside the book of Hebrews and then went out to apply what they learned. Through that God saw fit to add more than 30 souls to our family! And secondly our soccer ministry “Yalwak Manyen Sports Academy” (New Generation) hosted a village wide youth tournament that had more than 3,000 people in attendance hear the Gospel, many of whom confessed Christ! We are so excited to continue watching God grow that ministry.

With Love,
Matt & Noelle & Family
Our kids enjoying there cousin!

Harris Family September 2022 Update

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.


Along with all the day-to-day things happening in life and ministry, September brought our 9th wedding anniversary. We are thankful to have shared so much of our life together, and we don’t take for granted the peace God has helped establish in our home. To celebrate, we prepared a candlelight dinner for our family and shared the story of our relationship with our kids. 

Both of us were raised in Christian, homeschooling families, and were deeply touched by the stories of missionaries and martyrs that our parents read to us as children. We both felt the Lord calling us to be missionaries at young ages. When we met as teenagers we were fast friends and after a few years we started intentionally dating. Since we were already close friends, it seemed only natural that things would “work out” between us; but as we prayed about the future, sought the Lord, and had direct conversations about our callings as individuals, any doubt that this could be a mistake disappeared. Our callings aligned, our yoke was equal, and each of us had heard from the Lord that this was His will. And here, after 13 years of friendship, 9 years of marriage, and even 5 children, we are still in the hands of our Lord.

All we can do is praise Him for His leading in our lives, and His love that has covered a multitude of youthful blunders. We live with daily conviction of God’s calling on our roles: to be a loving and caring leader as husband and father, to be honoring and trustworthy as wife and mother. When we look back at “our story”, we see that it is only a small part of God’s huge story for the world and for His glory. But even the smallest parts of God’s story are beautiful and worth praising Him for.

Praise God for:

  • Our 9 years of peaceful marriage.
  • Our 5 children.
  • Noelle’s mother, 3 nieces and a friend arriving safely to visit us.
  • The great progress in the Discipleship school, both in the students and in the new site construction.

Please pray:

  • For the health and well-being of our visitors while they are with us.
  • For our visitors to be a light and a blessing in our community.
  • For the salvation and healing of our neighbor who was beaten to near death for stealing.
  • For the finishing touches on the new school site to be completed for the Grand Opening ceremony in two weeks.
God Bless You
Matt & Noelle & Family

July 2022

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people,”


As is our goal with every update, we want to share with you some of the recent events, and our future desires, with the hope that you will be able to pray more effectively, especially for our little village of Adak.

Opiro is the second from the right

We were discouraged by the news that our friend, Caesar Opiro, had passed away. Caesar was one of the first people we met when we moved to Adak in early 2018. He and 2 other young men had been friends with the previous missionary, who had built the house we live in, and they hoped to establish a relationship with us as they had with him. Caesar was younger and still in high school, a bright-eyed, friendly, well-mannered, happy guy. Caesar claimed Christ but began having serious struggles when he was kicked out of school for injuring one of his classmates. We watched helplessly as his attitude changed over time, and he sank into depression, alcohol, violence, and fornication. At some point, Caesar no longer saw life as worth living and eventually found malaria as a means of escape by hiding it from his family until it was tragically too late to get treatment. Sadly, Caesar’s story is not unique. In fact, in the month of July, our village experienced too many traumatic events to be recounted in only one update. Abuse, witchcraft, addictions, betrayal, robbery, revenge, immorality, jealousy, and the like. The world is truly dark, and sin really does produce death. But what the enemy meant for evil, God is working together for good. The visible advancement of darkness in our village has strengthened our resolve for our local community outreach, “Yalwak Manyen,” New Generation Sports Academy. Together with my partners in this ministry, we evangelized Caesar’s family, who finally recognized their need for a Savior. Caesar’s mother rededicated her life to Christ, and his father and his brother became born again.

Yalwak Manyen has now been operating in our community for more than a year. On average, per season, we’ve had 40 children enrolled in our football (soccer) program, including 4 of our own children. These kids gather together with their coaches multiple times a week for Bible lessons and soccer practice. We have seen great change in all of the participants, especially in our daughter Apio. God has blessed the football ministry with 5 acres of land. When we bought the land, it was an untamed “bush” with more than 25 large termite mounds. But now, we have successfully leveled its entirety, built a small residence for the manager and his family, and we are now starting to plant grass on the first of 2 football pitches. We are developing the land in part by enlisting the help of the local young men, who have been involved in much of the village’s problems, in exchange for enrolling them in the new “youth division” of our program. We are excited to see how God works through this in the lives of Adak’s next generation.

Our community came together to plant the grass on the land of YMSA

Spiritually, our vision for Yalwak Manyen is summarized in the phrase, “Better character for a better community.” We do this by focusing on our 3 core values: Duty – take responsibility, Discipline – develop self-control, and Diligence – always do your best. Because as our theme verse says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Prov 13:44). The vision for the ministry’s physical development is that our land would be fully established, with even grass and trees for shade, a water pump and playground for the community, changing rooms and pit latrines, and even a pavilion for rain shelter. We want to do this by engaging in self-sustainability tree farming.

Please join us in prayer:
  • Caesar’s family would hold fast to their new faith in Christ and be disciplined in the local church.
  • That the community would heed the tragedy of Caesar’s death and recognize their need for a Savior. 
  • That the light of the gospel would shine brightly in this community.
  • That God would bring self-sustaining provision for His ministry.
  • That our family would maintain good health.
Praise God:
  • For bringing Caesar’s family to salvation.
  • For sustaining the local church through the recent death of Pastor Charles.
  • For the funding that has come in to continue the work on our School of Discipleship campus.
  • That the pastors in the 2 current classes have all passed their tests through Exodus and will be joining us again this month for study through Leviticus.
In His care,
Matt & Noelle and family.

June 2022

But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them but let the boys live… So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.

EXODUS 1:17, 20-21

This month I am happily satisfied and thankful for all God has done. One thing we are particularly happy about is the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade by the Supreme Court. When we first heard about the possibility of it being overturned, I was overwhelmed by a strange joy and anxiety. A joy that there was hope to change the ruling and save innocent lives and anxiety because of how wicked our country has become, which made having hope seems pointless. We gave it into God’s hands continually and decided that the day it was overturned, we would celebrate it annually as a reminder of the countless lives lost to such a wicked scheme and to celebrate the lives that will be saved through the reversal of the decision. I wasn’t sure why it came over to me to make donuts on Friday, but once we heard the wonderful news, I knew God simply wanted us to celebrate this victory. We will continue celebrating “Birth Day” on each 24th of June, and we will remember to keep fighting for the rest of those lives still threatened. Each child is a blessing from God, no matter the way they have come into the world.

This month I (Noelle) also had the opportunity to take a trip to the United States. Matt generously volunteered to keep ALL 5 kids while I went back to my home in Nebraska to see my youngest sister get married. Talk about babies who shouldn’t have been born; my sister, Ruby, is the youngest of 13 children, myself falling in at 11th place. God’s voice reassuring my parents that He would provide for ALL the children that He gave them allowed us to be born since my parents had several years of decidedly having only 2 children. I thank God that He gave them confidence in His ability and promises and that He truly did provide for all 13 of us. During my trip I got to at least say hello or give hugs to all of them, and with some, I was even able to spend a few hours catching up, hearing what God is doing in their lives. I don’t know if I ever stopped smiling for the entirety of my two-week trip. I was so glad for the opportunity to see everyone.

Seeing my sister was truly emotional. When I left home, she was only 14 years old. Now nearly 10 years later, she is hardly the girl I knew, but she is every bit the woman I hoped she would be in her love for God and people. This was the first time I had met my new brother-in-law, Nathan, in person, and I had the opportunity to talk with him and observe his character more closely. I was not surprised to confirm that he, too, loves the Lord and has a vision for their future which reassures me that they are following God’s plan.

For their wedding celebration, they invited all the guests to an evening of worship at the campsite, where many stayed the night. There were some there who were not saved, who decided to stay out of respect for the celebration, and were witnesses to the beauty of Christ and the Church. I know I wasn’t the only one with wet eyes. The wedding ceremony the next morning was beautiful, though I did have a moment of sadness as I realized my dad wasn’t there to give my sister away.

I returned home to Uganda with our good friend Lydia. Lydia’s family, the Schroetlins, played a huge part in Matt’s formative years, and they have continued to be a blessing for us in ministry and friendship. We love Lydia and are happy to be hosting her for the next 2 months as she prays about God’s plans for her future, especially regarding missions. Pray that God will speak to her during this special time away from her normal context.

In God’s love and grace,
The Harris Family

May 2022

So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.  

ACTS 19:9b-10

Rainy season has now come in full force and so has our school season.  Our team is stepping into a busy and rewarding term of teaching God’s Word.  From now on we as leaders will meet every month for one week to study and prep our classes before lecturing two weeks back to back.  In the month of May we began our journey through Scripture by covering Genesis 1-11.  God also blessed us with the ability to lead our church through the book of Genesis at the same time.  It was amazing to see God move as even veteran pastors shared that it was as if they were reading the Bible for the first time!  It is such a blessing to be used by God as a teacher and a pastor!

This month our school and our community suffered a great loss.  My friend and neighbor, Pastor Kinyera Charles, had become a Discipleship Group Leader at our school, and to our surprise he passed away during our first day of study.  Our hearts were heavy from the loss, but God comforted us as He revealed His foreknowledge of the situation, and that He was still on the throne.  One of the children from Pastor Kinyera’s church had had a dream that he was soon going to be in heaven.  Charles had very recently warned his wife that he would die before her, and admonished her to care for their 8 children.  The day before his passing, Charles had informed his church that he would no longer be their pastor and even appointed a predecessor.  We were caught by surprise, but God had a plan and a purpose.

Pastor Kinyera Charles and his wife Grace
Praise God that:
  • Many church leaders are being trained through the entirety of Scripture.
  • Rainy season has come, allowing people to plant their crops.
  • Noelle has successfully completed the second quarter of homeschooling the kids.
Please Pray to God that:
  • Pastor Charles’ widow, Grace, and her 8 children would be provided for.
  • He would guide us as we prepare to teach Genesis 12-50 at the school of discipleship.
  • He would give Noelle traveling mercy on her short trip to the US for her sister’s wedding, and that God would give me grace to care for all the children while she’s gone.
  • He would bless our time with our friend who will be joining us on the field for three months as she prayerfully considers God’s plans for her future involvement in missions.
In Christ,
Matt & Noelle & Family

April 2022 – The Harris Family

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 

Colossians 1:28

After four years of hard work, our pastors and church leaders have finally graduated!  In our time together these servants of God read through every verse of the Bible twice, studied every passage, and tested out of every book!  By God’s grace we can also claim along with the Apostle Paul that we did not shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God.

Immediately after graduation of our second class, we began the long journey again with our third and fourth intakes.  After a long, prayerful process we handpicked 55 church leaders who have been divided into two groups.  They will each separate one week a month to come and study God’s Word for the next three years (unless another pandemic prolongs this class tooJ). One new feature in our school is that six alumni have been selected to come back and serve as Discipleship Group Leaders who will walk with the students on their journey of transformation. We are so excited to see the change that God’s Word will continue to have on His Church!

Praise God that:
  • 22 pastors completed their course through the entirety of Scripture.
  • For the changes He has been bringing to the lives of these individuals and their churches.
Please Pray that:
  • God will give us strength to teach His Word faithfully.
  • God’s Word will transform the lives of the 55 church leaders who have just started in our school.
  • We are still making progress on the construction of our new school campus.
We have completed the bathroom and the building containing the class room, library, and the office; and now we have started this new building that will contain the dorms, dining hall and the kitchen.

In Christ,

Matt & Noelle & Family