July 2022

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

1 TIMOTHY 2:1

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

March 2022 Harris Update

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.

1 Peter 1:6-7
In Christ,
Matt, Noelle & Family

February 2022

“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.”

-Luke 15:20

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.

Noelle and her sister Hosanna
Abraham speaking to the kids at our soccer ministry

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. 

The father reunited with his daughter

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.”

-Psalm 18:19

God Bless You,

Matt & Noelle & Family

Harris Family Update – January 2022

“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.” 

Acts 20:28

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.

God Bless you,
The Harris Family

Harris December 2021

“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” 

Numbers 14:21

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!

Have a wonderful New Year!

Matt & Noelle & family

November 2021

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 136:1

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.

New Outreach

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

Proverbs 14:34

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.
In Christ,
Matt, Noelle & Family