Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
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.
Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
1 Peter 4:19
In the month of March, God allowed me (Matt) to attend a Calvary Chapel pastor’s conference in another part of Uganda. The teachings of the conference followed the book of First Peter, and focused on the theme of the living hope we believers have in our resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ. In his first letter, Peter describes how as Christians, we are exiles on the earth, awaiting our homeland. Our sojourning’s are full of difficulties and trials that God uses to purify our faith like fire. But we rejoice because we have living hope that God’s testing’s will result in praise, glory, and honor at Christ’s revelation.
It was nice to look at the theory of God’s testing, but the practical exam was harder than the written one… While I was away I learned that my family was undergoing serious illness. God tested us for three weeks with a variety of sicknesses. Unfortunately, among other things, Noelle and Emma both battled sepsis, a bacterial infection of the blood. They have both since healed, but Noelle’s body is still recovering. Please pray for us to have wisdom and determination as we pursue health. We are blessed to gain endurance as God takes our eyes off of this world and onto His eternal kingdom.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
This month we had the wonderful pleasure of hosting Noelle’s sister Hosanna, and her Ugandan fiancé, Abraham! It was a comfort and a blessing to see family and to share our life with them. Abraham runs a ministry in central Uganda, called World for Life, which focuses on evangelism at schools and through sports. We are so excited to officially welcome Abraham into our family when their papers go through.
The day we said goodbye to Noelle’s sister, we saw God’s power and intimate love. David, both my friend and the manager of our soccer ministry, and myself had just dropped Abraham and Hosanna off to wait for her flight. As we headed back, we suddenly found ourselves needing to drive around a mother and her young daughter. They were asleep in the middle of a busy street in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. David and I pulled off the road and woke them up, attempting to convince her to rest with her child on the sidewalk, where it would at least be safer. They were in a terrible condition. They had walked bare footed for 250 miles on low rations and were completely out of energy. When we were helping her up we learned that she was an Acholi, which is the same tribe we minister to. Furthermore, she was from Kitgum, which is only two hours to the north of Gulu. We offered her a ride home. However, when she was almost to the car she violently refused to go with us because she was mentally unstable. David and I got back into the car, committed her to the LORD and continued on our journey.
As we were driving away we realized that the GPS had taken us on the wrong route, and that we needed to turn around. Just before reaching the correct road we saw the woman and her child again and we decided to try another time. David remained in the car so that we would appear less threatening, and the woman allowed me to pray for her. Miraculously, the God restored the woman’s mind, and when she had gained clarity she agreed to ride home with us.
During the long drive we learned who the woman was and where she was from. It turned out that she was the neighbor of Peter, the pastor of a Calvary Chapel in Kitgum and our close friend. Peter arranged everything, and God brought her home to her husband and her church. Apparently she had been missing for more than two weeks, and there were many people concerned for her.
Earlier in the day as we were still on our way to Kampala, David shared the dream he was having when I woke him up at 5am. In his dream some people alerted him to a woman in danger of drowning. He said that I woke him as he was pulling her out of the water. God pursued his lost sheep. God caused the GPS to go off track so that we could find her and her daughter. God healed her mind. Our LORD brought them home and restored them to their family. And despite weeks of harsh conditions, her child was perfectly healthy.
“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.”
After two long years of restrictions, we were finally able to host another conference for the pastors of the Northern Uganda Calvary Chapel Association! Although our ministry is non-denominational and we train pastors from many kinds of churches, we belong to a Calvary Chapel, both in America and here in Uganda. I (Matt) am ordained through Calvary, and they have a special place in our hearts. Chuck Smith birthed this movement during the hippy period of the 60’s and 70’s. At that time many churches were divided into two major groups. One practiced strict legalism: “Don’t come into the church dressed like that”, “a real Christian wouldn’t do that” etc. On the other side there was a “charismania”, people “drunk with the Spirit” clucking like chickens and dancing like monkeys. Calvary Chapel has been a powerful and balanced movement of God. Priority is given to the Word of God, people are equipped by the filling of the Holy Spirit, we wholly rely on God’s grace, and we seek to uphold the supremacy of love. As of now there are more than 10,000 Calvaries in East Africa alone.
Things in the church haven’t changed all that much, and the state of the church in Uganda today mirrors that of the church that existed during Chuck Smith’s time. Many churches preach unbiblical legalism, the false gospel of works. I have even heard a minister announce to his congregation, “Make sure you don’t sin this week or you will go straight to Hell!” The church here has also been infiltrated with the false “prosperity gospel”: “If you’re sick you don’t have real faith”, “If you buy this item that I blessed, you will pass your exams!” Many pastors have caved under the great pressure to conform to the message and culture of the rest of the “born again” churches here. Therefore, we hosted nearly 50 of our Calvary Pastors for 3 nights to attend the conference themed “What Is Calvary?” in order to regroup under grace and the authority of Scripture. God blessed us as we studied through the Calvary Chapel Distinctives, departmental ministries (children’s, married, and youth ministry, preaching, etc.) and downloaded Pastor Chuck’s teachings through the Bible onto people’s phones. It was truly a blessing to worship together in the unity of the Spirit. If the Lord wills, we will continue having these conferences, highlighting different topics, biannually.
Please pray for the purity and power of the Church.
“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.”
As we look back on the year of 2021, we feel deep gratitude! We cherished our time in the US at the beginning of the year, it was such a blessing to be with all of our friends and family. We are thankful to have arrived back home safely, and to have reestablished our life in here in Uganda. We praise God for the growth we have seen in our family; Noelle and I have continued to mature, and our kids finished their first year of school. God added Apio Cynthia to our family. The second set of pastors in the discipleship school finished studying through the entire Bible. God released the lockdowns here in Uganda. Land has been added to our ministry, and buildings and homes have been built for the expansion of Gods kingdom. Most vitally, many souls have been added to our number! Last year God showed Himself faithful to fill our lives with His glory.
Last month I had the great opportunity of preaching at a wedding for the first time in my life. My good friend Acen Alan was the first Acholi man I have ever met who waited to be joined to his wife until after he had been wedded in the eyes of all. God has instituted three governing bodies to exercise authority over mankind: the government, the church and the family. Each of these three must be in agreement in the joining of a man and a woman for a wedding to be valid. This fact is often overlooked in America, where all three can give their approval in one short ceremony. However, it is not a simple thing for the Acholi people. Alan struggled to bring the down payment for his dowry to his in-laws for the “Traditional” wedding ceremony. 3 cows, 10 goats, 5 gallons of kerosene, a box of soap, many kitchen items, 2,500,000 Ugandan Shillings and a long day of grueling/humiliating negotiations was the price he paid to gain the approval of the family. A week later, a joyous celebration in front of the congregation gave him the sanction of the government and the church. It was a blessing to see people take this area of their life seriously, and it was wonderful to witness such a clear picture of the great price Jesus paid for His bride, the church. Alan and his new wife, Shillah, have a wonderful life style of ministry. Over the past year Alan has led teams on door-to-door evangelism, through which over 300 people have given their lives to Christ; and together they desire to reach unreached people groups with the Gospel.
It was wonderful to sleep in until 7am for more than a week over Christmas-time. Amidst the hectic end-of-the-year rush to catch up on work and finish projects, we were able to set aside time to rest and celebrate as a family for Christmas and New Years. This year we were able to take up the legacy of our families and host those who didn’t have family to celebrate with. By God’s grace one of our guests later relayed to us how blessed he felt to celebrate with us and how important of a role our family has in Northern Uganda. He testified that he had never been around so much genuine love, and that he hopes to model any family that God gives him in the future after ours. It can be easy to forget the power of simple faithfulness. We feel extremely humbled by his comments, and can only praise God that He has loved us so that we might love those around us!
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
November has been very busy for our family. Nearly every weekday is filled with either meetings or errands for Matt, and for me (Noelle); school and managing the household (and all the neighbor children who end up in our yard every afternoon).
Early in the month I had the privilege to speak at a women’s conference with another woman of our foreign staff. I felt very humbled to stand before a church full of women, most very much older than I, and teach on Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” I, who could have been the granddaughter of many of them, was to teach them how to submit, most to unbelieving husbands. I taught on humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord, so that He is the one to lift you up. I also shared in many ways the idea that, just as God saw that it was good when His word was carried out at creation, it is also good when we follow His commands today. I think the conference went on well. It has brought me into a season of thankfulness for the gift of womanhood, and God’s calling on me to be a wife and mom.
Perhaps it is a result of my fathers passing, perhaps it is also due to studying for the conference, but the fact has been often on my mind that my role as a wife and mother is more of a calling than a job. When we first came onto the mission field I knew that my primary objective was to keep Matt as free as possible for his daily work, and to care for and teach our kids. It is fairly simple when I write it that way. Being removed from the comfort of culturally-similar parents (our team being the exception) has shown me how much I leaned on the parenting and examples of others whom I look up to, instead of checking everything first by Gods Word. There is great strength in a group of people who believe the same things and work toward the same goals, but when you are removed from that is when your beliefs are really tested. I have not “arrived”, but I have been given great peace in knowing that God called me to be a wife and mom, if not before marriage than certainly now that I am married and have children. The comfort lies in knowing that it is my responsibility to parent lovingly, gently, firmly, sloooowly, and consistently, not because I “have to”, but because that is part of saying “yes” to Gods call on my life. And when Gods word is accomplished, it is good, just like at creation.
So although we have been busy this month and have strained my comfort levels by pushing our flexible schedule a little too far, and although I feel more lonely than I have in a long time due to missing my fathers funeral and grieving together with my family, I also feel more fulfilled than I think I ever have before. Praise God that He gives us His word and teachings to light the path!
I have been trying to keep as many things off of Matts plate as possible this month as he hones in on teachers guides through the Old Testament, and as he works hard to get the new Terebinth School of Discipleship campus built. It is also exciting to be one of Matts consultants in this project. I love architecture and design, and I’m thankful for the chance to use one of my many passions for the sake of the Kingdom.
I hope you have enjoyed a more personal style of update from me as a wife and mom. And I hope you enjoy the pictures of some of the things I do in those roles!
Blessings to you in Christ from the Harris family.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Six months ago, in May, God inspired us to reach out to the young people in my community through the avenue of sports. The youth here have never been “model citizens”, but that only compounded through the hopelessness of the lock downs, which left everyone completely aimless and idle. God showed me (Matt) the need for something to be done when I found out that a group of preteens from my village were setting up roadblocks to rob travelers.
“Yalwak Manyen Football Club” (YMFC) was officially opened on October 11th 2021! Yalwak Manyen is an Acholi phrase which means “new generation”. It is our prayer that each new generation would have a more Godly community than the generation before it. God has given me a great manager/coach to entrust this program to. David Kizito is a personal friend of mine who worked with us at BAM Enterprises for several years but had difficulty continuing his work there when his finger was injured. He is a gifted evangelist and has had great training and experience working with sports and kids at a nearby project sponsored by Compassion Int’l.
It has only been one month since we opened, but God is already working. Right now 40 children meet for three afternoons a week to learn about God and learn how to play soccer. They have memorized many scriptures, gained impressive soccer skills, and most importantly the majority have accepted to be in an eternal relationship with their heavenly Father. We are even hearing many testimonies from their parents about great changes in their children’s attitudes, behavior and sense of responsibility. We are thankful for a good energy outlet for Apio, and we look forward to our other children being able to participate as YMFC develops to accommodate more age groups.
Praise God That:
He has opened and used this outreach.
The majority of the children have accepted Jesus’ eternal salvation.
We have a place to meet for the time being, and that God gave us the financial ability to buy five acres of land that we will develop into a small community center.
Please Pray that:
God gives us wisdom as we shepherd the entrusted to us.
The families of the children in our program would also receive Christ.
We can have the financial ability to develop our land into a community center/park.
“He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to Him, “Yes Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.””
Some of the most beloved and most often quoted Scriptures picture God as a Shepherd tending His flock. Psalm 23 talks about how God leads us to rest in green pastures and how He prepares our meals in the presence of our enemies. David said that he didn’t need to be in want and that he didn’t need to be afraid because God was shepherding him. The apostle John recorded Jesus telling a crowd that He Himself was the good Shepherd. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but the good shepherd came that we would have abundant life! Unlike a mere employee who runs from danger, He laid down his life for the sheep. The Apostle Peter exhorted elders in the church to shepherd God’s flock voluntarily and eagerly, according to the will of God. Pastors weren’t supposed lord their authority over God’s people or lead them out of compulsion or for sordid gain.
In October our leadership team had the wonderful opportunity to take a four day retreat, during which time we were trained on the three primary functions of good shepherding: lead, develop, and care. A shepherd must intentionally influence and enable his flock to accomplish a given task. But getting a job done isn’t God’s only goal, if that’s all He wanted, He would have been better off with machines than humans. Great leaders strengthen their follower’s capacity to grow and contribute while achieving their goals. And like God, a good shepherd watches over and cares for the health and well-being of those who look to him. It was a fruitful time for all of us.
After three and a half years, we were honored to be with our students in the Pastoral School for their very last week of class. We eagerly listened as they each gave a thirty minute oral presentation explaining a Biblical theme through the entirety of Scripture as it relates to the Gospel. It was amazing to see the difference in understanding, character, and doctrine that God had brought about in them through His Word, which never returns empty handed. Unfortunately we will not be able to hold a graduation ceremony until April 2nd, when a team will be visiting from the US, and the Covid restrictions will be a bit lighter.
Praise God with us that:
All of our students passed their finals.
That Noelle finished teaching our kids through another semester of homeschooling.
We are seeing great fruit in the churches of our pastors.
Please pray with us for:
Matt’s parents and brother who are currently suffering from Covid. His parents are slowly recovering but his brother almost lost his life and has a long way to go before fully recovering.
Wisdom as we interview church leaders for our next intake of students.
Funding to finish our 2nd Pastoral School of Discipleship campus.
Our Business As Mission to gain success so our ministry can be operationally sustainable.
In His care,
Matt, Noelle, Apio, Emma, Madeline, Noah & Charlotte
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
As my wife and I were reading our devotions last month, we came across the encouraging verse written above and quickly had our family commit it to memory. Ministry can feel like an impossible task, endless drops in a vast ocean. As I look at the corrupting world around me I wonder if my life can really turn the tide within my sphere. Psalm 46:10 reminded us that it’s not our effort that will bring God His glory. God Himself is at work in the world. God will capture the heart of the nations and receive their praise. God will be exalted in in the world. As Paul explained to the Corinthians; one might plant and another might water, but it is God alone who brings the increase (1 Cor 3:6). When I remove the weight from my own shoulders and give it back to Whom it belongs, it is a joy to serve our Lord rather than an overwhelming job.
“And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows – how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle because the harvest has come.”
This month we had the privilege of completing our current group of church leaders’ journey through the entire counsel of God! Wrapping up with the books of Daniel and Revelation. It is amazing to see the difference that three years of Bible training can make in a person’s life. Understanding how the entirety of Scripture works together removes so much confusion and gives so much peace. God’s wisdom has provided a firm foundation for these men to stand on as they reach their communities with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. As we studied the end together we all gained eternal perspective. God will defeat sin and death. God will defeat Satan. And God will be with us!
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will Reign forever and ever.”
Praise God with us that:
The Ugandan president has reopened church gatherings of up to 200 people.
God used our home church while large gatherings were closed.
Noelle and I have enjoyed eight years of marriage.
We finalized our family’s visas.
God miraculously healed my friend’s sister, who had terminal bleeding in her brain from an accident.
Please join us in prayer for:
Churches to have vision and strength for their reopening’s.
Us to have wisdom in continuing our ministry toward the people who were in our home church.
Our ministry partners who are all traveling right now: Our director Kent Nolley and his family are in Furlough in the US. Our teammate Luke Buescher is in the US for his brother’s wedding. Our teammate Cassie is in South Africa taking a videography course. And our teammate Jon Coupal is in South Africa on a vision trip for a future church plant.
Matt, Noelle, Apio, Emma, Madeline, Noah & Charlotte
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His faithful servants.” Ps 116:15
On August 18th, a significant event took place, in which a man who had discipled and cared for so many people, including myself, went to be with the One he was leading everyone toward. My father, Merlin R Davis, came to the Lord when he was in his 20’s, and soon after met and married my mother. After deciding that 2 children was enough, they were soon lead by the Lord to trust Him in faith for all things required for life and godliness, and to allow Him to plan their family. Only slightly less controversial than today, their decision and faith were certainly tested over the years as more and more children were given to them, and paychecks were spread thinner and thinner. But God provided for all their needs, and today, as number 11 out of 13 children, I can say I am thankful for their decision to trust God despite the comments and looks of others. We had a sign in our house which is still there today, it reads, “We don’t believe in miracles, we rely on them.” And for my family, this was true. My father worked 2 jobs and continued to trust in the Lord to provide the remainder of what was required for us to live. Once a week he would take one of us by turn to go get gas station icecream or coffee (or to eat out, once there were fewer kids in the house), we would sit together somewhere as he read through the Chronicles of Narnia or the Lord of the Rings books, and I was even able to hear him read through a book he had written himself. He was faithful to one wife, and faithfully cared for and taught all of us to fear the Lord. He was a carpenter, a locksmith, a piano tuner, he played guitar, sang, and wrote songs. In many ways he was as Abraham, the father of Israel, who walked with the Lord, who pleaded with the Lord on behalf of others, who cared for strangers and those in need. Even as his Alzheimer’s progressed, his character stayed generally the same, though I would venture to say he got even sweeter and was more in love with my mom than ever. In early August his condition worsened and eventually he would not eat or drink, but only sleep. They called me to say my goodbye, and I was able to pour out my heart of thankfulness for what he had done for me, to repent for my rebellion in my youth, and ultimately to congratulate him on the new ministry God has for him in heaven! It was a very bittersweet time on the phone.
For many difficult reasons I was unable to go back to America to be with my family for the funeral, but God has given me peace that I cannot fully describe or comprehend. I will miss him, I know that I shall because I already have been, but when that man spent nearly 50 years pouring into me and my family, trying to point us to his Father, trying to lead us there, to take us there, my heart is proud and glad that he is finally WITH HIM. Pray for me and my family in America, as we continue to walk this path toward the same good Father that my dad portrayed.
In other news, we are so excited to announce that we have started construction on our new pastoral school campus! This is so important because the Ugandan government reserves the right to shut down any church that is pastored by someone without a theological diploma. Although we currently offer a certificate, it is not possible for us to give a diploma at our current location. However, the situation of our new campus will allow us to fulfill the requirements necessary to register with the Ugandan National Counsel for Higher Education, and offer our students the necessary credentials. It took months to do the tedious work of meeting with architects and builders to ensure that we are moving in the right direction, but we finally settled down with a good plan and a builder we can trust. We were also blessed to acquire three acres of land attached to our property so that the school will be far enough away from our milling operation to provide a good learning environment, but close enough that the students can still interact with the farm and grow in their agricultural knowledge. This past month we taught our current class of church leaders through the book of Daniel, their second to last book as they will complete Revelation in September. It was such a blessing to see the fruit that studying the entirety of God’s Holy Word had brought them, and it was amazing to see their increased ability to understand and interpret Scripture! God has truly been at work in our midst and I know that He still desires to do so much more!
Praise God with us:
That Noelle’s father has received his long awaited inheritance in the city whose maker and builder is God.
That we acquired suitable land to build our new campus on that is attached to our property.
That construction has started on the classrooms, dorms and bathrooms.
Please join with us in prayer that:
That God would comfort Noelle’s family as they mourn the passing of a wonderful husband and father.
That God would provide the remaining funds to complete the new pastoral school.
Apio would continue integrating into our family.
In the Love of Christ,
Matt, Noelle, Apio, Emma, Madeline, Noah & Charlotte