April 2018

We are all finally here!

“I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2

April has been a month full of thanksgiving for us as we have established our family here in Uganda.
On April 12 our dear friends and family sent us off to Denver International Airport where we started our long journey across the world. We arrived the night of the 13th and have spent the remainder of the month getting established here so that we can have a firm foundation for our family. The director of our ministry has graciously given us as much time as we need to put our family life in order here so that when we start ministering we don’t burn out and suffer as a family. So we have taken this opportunity to put our house in order. Doing things like greeting our neighbors well, to fixing the solar on our house, buying our beds and water filtering systems and getting the ball rolling on our work visas.

A few new neighbors!

But the real excitement came this weekend, on Friday morning Noelle had a pregnancy check up and everything was going well, Noelle and the baby were healthy and Noah was in perfect delivering position. Before dawn on Sunday morning Noelle started going into the beginning stages of labour although she wasn’t due for another 2 weeks. Then our tire went flat on the way into town! The labour wasn’t progressing very quickly so we had time to switch to the spare and then get the tire fixed before heading to our directors house to spend the night in town where the clinic was. Then Monday morning about 7 am when the contractions were close together we headed for the clinic. (We were going to be the first white people to have a baby there). Once we got there they discovered that Noelle was 9 cm dilated and ready to go, unfortunately however, they also learned that Noah had twisted sideways and that his right shoulder was coming out. At which point Noelle was rushed to the ambulance and transferred to a hospital equipped for a C Section. Noelle was in the operating theater for about 2 hours. If everything goes according to schedule Noelle should be discharged this Thursday. Sometimes it’s hard to stay calm here because of how “majority world” the hospital is eg; blood stained bed sheets, running out of necessary pain meds, continuously wrapping my son in insane amounts of blankets despite the African heat, hallways and corridors stuffed with patients waiting for treatment (many of whom are in active labour), and so on…. But through it all God is good and Noelle and I are confident that we are where He wants us and that His plan is well thought through and Good. Anyway, OUR SON IS OUT AND HEALTHY!

Noah Ezekiel Harris

We praise God that after 2 years of anticipation we are now here. We saw God do amazing things in peoples lives during that period and we are looking forward to how God will move in the time to come. We are so blessed to have the privilege of announcing God’s word to His people.
May Christ’s bride fall deeper in love with him and be more and more acquainted with what He said!

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands, yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

Happy Easter!

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” John 3:16-19

God is so good! Over the last month my desire to know Him and walk with Him has grown as I have seen more and more everyday how much I need Him and how helpless I am without Him and how much He loves me and is faithful towards me. I praise God that He lives, and that Jesus’ grave is empty.
Sometimes it’s hard for us as a family to continue down a path that is against the flow and is opposed by so many different groups of people, and it can be especially hard for me (Matt) to really lead my family in the ways of God. It would be much simpler to just work a normal job and let things “go their course”. After all, so many people don’t really believe Gods Word anyway. We talk about it in our huddles but we don’t live like it’s contents are historic facts that were recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I also battle the same apathy – What is the difference between my moral and humanitarian efforts, and well meaning Mormons, Muslims, or Atheists?

However, this weekend we celebrated the resurrection of our Savior and King, Jesus Christ; who’s life, death, and appearance after death is the most well documented event in all of human history. The evidence that Jesus really lived is unsurpassable, the historicity of His death is a verifiable fact, and Jesus’ resurrection is a provable truth. What separates a Christian from a Buddhist is not emotional stability. What separates believers in Christ from Agnostics is not the amount of good deeds done. What separates disciples of Jesus from devoted Taoists is not their moments of spiritual elevation. A Muslim can feed the homeless and care for an orphan. A Pantheist can live a stable, productive life. And a Mormon can have spiritually high moments of inspiration. The difference between us and all other belief systems is that what we believe in is true, and verifiably so. The Bible is proved more true every passing day.
I have chosen to move my entire family, including our unborn son, across the world on April 12th, to an unfamiliar situation, because Jesus said to make disciples of all peoples and to teach them all that He (Jesus) commanded. It isn’t easy and it isn’t always popular, especially when our focus is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not always the alleviation of earthly suffering. But here’s the thing; Jesus spoke of two separate places each human gets to spend their eternal post-earth existence. According to Jesus we all will either end up in a never ending relationship with God in heaven, or in separation from Him in the unquenchable fires of Hell. Only belief in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior will dictate which of those places you spend eternity. And no matter what earthly suffering you might be delivered from, your soul could still be in perilous jeopardy.

I celebrate the fact that God is good, and that despite His people sharing the attitude that I often struggle with, He still saw fit to redeem us and to pay for us at the cost of His own life. I thank God that Jesus rose from the dead, proving His power over sin and death, and forever reserving a place for us in His Kingdom.
We are extremely grateful for God’s faithfulness, and for your partnership with us and support as we go out. It is God’s faithfulness and your support that allow us to continue in this ministry. May God increase each of our faithfulness to His individual callings on our lives. May we each be used in the spreading of His Truth!

Departure Quickly Approaching

Guess what! We Harris’s are officially heading back to Uganda, in less than a month!

Our time here in the United States has truly been a blessing. It has been great to be mutually encouraged by the body of Christ here in America. We have been blessed so much by all of you; the way you here are pursuing God has been inspiring for us, the things you are doing in Jesus name have astounded us, your prayers have blessed us and your support has been a truly wonderful gift. Now it is time for the next season of life to begin for us as we once again leave our home-culture and enter the mission field that God has directed us to.

As a family we are so excited to join Terebinth Ministries in all that God is doing in Gulu, Uganda. I (Matt) can’t wait to join the pastoral “School of Discipleship” as a teacher, I just can’t think of anything I would rather do than equip indigenous pastors to continue the disciple making process! I am also excited to help establish the agricultural projects Terebinth is running, so that those same pastors can continue being trained, and so they can learn some practical skills to offset the cost of living as a pastor. Noelle is excited to settle down a little and prepare for the arrival of our son. And our girls are excited for warm weather so they can play outside without getting so sick!

If it has been on your mind to partner with us in the Gospel through monthly financial support, now is the time to sign up by clicking here to Become a Financial Partner. Please pray about how God would have you join us in the work of the Kingdom with the Acholi people.

 

Please keep us in your prayers while we are away.

“Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and we have escaped.  Our help is in the Name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 124:7-8

We love you all so much and are grateful for you.

In Christ,
Matt, Noelle, Emma, Madeline and baby Noah

February 2018

Hello dear family and friends,

Another month has passed, and so have many wonderful days of meeting with friends, encouraging and being encouraged, and planning our return to Uganda.

Every weekend has allowed for speaking engagements at different churches and small groups, and most week nights have been spent at the homes of friends or new acquaintances, sharing on a deeper level the things God has been and is doing in our lives. It has been a blessing to be welcomed into so many homes and gatherings, and not only to share, but to hear what God has been doing in our own home-town. We are not surprised to find that God has been working in so many ways back here, but we are continually amazed and brought to a place of worship because of it. Hearing of individuals being transformed, families stepping out in faith, small groups taking new directions, and churches healing and reawakening… Praise God for all He is doing here!

Sharing and teaching at a Married Couples small group from our church.

Despite a continuous string of sicknesses making its rounds through our family, we have had quite a few happy highlights. One highlight was Matt’s trip to visit our sending team, Saving Grace World Missions, in California. He spent a few days meeting with the staff and getting to know them, joining a few small groups, and even meeting a missionary family who lives just a few hours northwest of our future home in Gulu. He was greatly encouraged by his entire time there, especially by his host and our good friend, Tim. I was sad that the girls and I missed the trip, but we were very thankful for God’s provision of plane tickets for Matt.

Matt with our team at SGWM

Another highlight was reuniting with some of the guys from the men’s Bible study that met weekly in our home for more than 3 years, up until we left for Uganda last summer. Roughly 15 men sat around folding tables in the basement God has provided for our housing, ate our traditional Tuesday taco salad, and each shared the things God has been doing since we left. We were amazed to find that about 75% of the men from the study (including those who could not join our meal) were pursuing or actively participating in full-time ministry or cross-cultural missions. We prayed as a group, then sang several songs. It was late when we finally looked at the clock and stopped singing, but we had all been encouraged by the testimonies and worshipping together again.

Our most recent highlight was my visit to the doctors office where they did an ultrasound revealing that the newest member of our family is a precious baby boy! We are so excited to welcome little Noah Ezekiel into the world in just a few months! We still do not know whether he will be born here in America, or in Uganda, but we know that he is in God’s hands either way.

 

Baby Noah!

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for the return to Uganda. Several details still need to be worked out before we go, such as finances, baby related questions, and travel plans.
God has provided many wonderful financial partners for us, and we are slowly getting closer to our goal of $3,500/month. We thank God for every penny given into our care. Please pray for this aspect of the mission, as we are required to have a certain percent pledged monthly before we can return. If you feel lead of the Lord to partner with us in this way, please CLICK HERE to “Become a Financial Partner”.

Please also pray for wisdom for us as we continue to raise our girls, travel across the states, and encounter different opportunities to share with people the goodness of our Savior.

Thank you for your prayers, love, and gifts of support. We are praying for you all as well. May God give you His peace!

The Harris Family

Valentines Day Thoughts

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” -Matt 13:44-

This valentines day I hope we can step back and enjoy the love that the God of the universe has for his children. We often think of the “parable of the hidden treasure” as a lesson on how we aught to love our Savior, and although it is that, it is first a lesson on how much love He had for us. Jesus was the the one who first gave up everything for the treasure that He found. Jesus decided that He loved you and I so much that He would give up all of heaven and the rights He enjoyed as Supreme King of The Universe so that He could be born into a lost, hostile, unrespectful, vulger society. Not only did He come as a vunerable human baby; He first came as a tiny, single cell in the womb of a young female. Can you even grasp that love? The One who holds the entire universe in the span of His hand decided to become a single cell because He wanted to reedem us! Then when His life came to the climax, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the One who has the sharp two-edged sword, paid the highest price and laid down His life for His bride! God saw fit to love you and me so much that He gave up the most valuable thing in all of existence so that we could live together with Him!
This Valentines day let us remember in thankfulness the great love of God.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life” -John 3:16-

January 2018 Update

 

“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB

Our family’s time back in the United States has been a fulfillment of this verse in many ways. Since arriving here, God has blessed us with opportunity after opportunity to encourage the body of Christ in America to love God and to love others. Although at times it has been exhausting to some degree, God has been at work during this recent period of our lives and we are grateful to be here.

Our beautiful city, Colorado Springs

We started our time in America by visiting our home church, Calvary Worship Center, in Colorado Springs, to visit the new missions pastor and the staff. It was amazing to see just how many of our prayers concerning the missions department at our church were answered during our absence. In very tangible ways God has given our church a renewed vision for Gods heart for all the people groups, and it has been amazing to see Jesus’ love manifest in this way.

Mission wall in children’s class at Calvary Worship Center, featuring us!

After a very short time in the Springs, we transitioned ourselves to the Omaha, Nebraska, in order to spend time with Noelle’s huge family. While there we had the awesome privilege of sharing what God has been doing through Terebinth Ministry in Uganda, with Bible studies and even a homeschool group. We pray that God used our time there to instill a love for missions into the hearts of adults, as well as children.

Matt with small group in Woodland Park

 

Since then we have spent the last few weeks sharing about God’s work in Gulu, too many of the different groups from our church; men’s/women’s Bible study’s, youth groups, elementary classes, small groups, etc, and meeting for dinner with as many of our gospel partners as possible. I personally have found this month to be hugely encouraging to me. It is an immeasurable blessing to share what God has placed on my heart with the rest of the body of Christ. Just as in Nebraska, we pray that the time God gives us here in Colorado, will inspire future missionaries, encourage believers to live a lifestyle of discipleship, and gather in partners for the Gospel to be spread throughout Acholiland!

 

School of Discipleship Pastors at January Pastoral Conference

 

Prayer:
-Pray for our children who have severe colds.
-pray that Noelle and baby #3 are safe throughout the pregnancy.
-pray that God brings in all of our needed monthly financial partners.
-pray that Gods Word sinks deep into His people, especially those in Uganda.
-Pray that we are able to get back onto the field in time for the start of the next class of pastors!

 

Praise:
-Praise God for providing us safe transportation in our travels thus far.
-Praise God for giving renewed vision for world missions to our home church.
-Praise God for His Love.
-Praise God that He has provided a wonderful home for my family to stay in while we are in CO.
-Praise God for many new prayer and financial partners as we seek to return to Uganda.

 

Giving:
We have yet to reach our required monthly budget to return to Uganda. Please pray about whether God would use you in this way, partnering with us in the furtherance of the gospel. To give, please click here to become a financial partner.

 

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”   Jude 24-25 NASB

Harris Family November Update

Dear Friends and Family,

Please watch this video and check out our November update…

We are excited as always to share our hearts with you all. Around 17 months ago God led my family into the pursuit of overseas missions with our good friend Luke Buescher. After confirming our calling, we met regularly to pray for about 6-7 months before God gave us clear direction: We were to join Terebinth Ministries and minister to the physical and spiritual health of the Acholi people in Uganda, Africa.

Northern Uganda, where the Acholi tribe resides, has been the focal point of war and civil unrest for many, many years, the most recent of which was the unconventional war of Joseph Kony, against human life. Under Kony’s rebellion, countless children were forced to brutally kill their families and join his military ranks to wipe out anyone who did not suit his purposes. Uganda as a whole also suffers greatly from widespread witchcraft that even penetrates the church and has resulted in deep syncretism. For the past 10 years there has finally come a time of peace from war, but they are still in the midst of spiritual confusion and twisted beliefs. From a broad survey, Uganda’s population is more than 80% Christian. However, more than 80% of their pastors have no Biblical training, and the visible Ugandan church is overrun with cultural animistic witchcraft, syncretism, prosperity cult, and the like. The leaders of the true Ugandan church are in total agreement that the deepest need in Uganda is for a depth of Biblical understanding and knowledge to combat these deep-rooted lies. They describe Uganda’s spiritual state as “a river a kilometer wide and an inch deep”. There is a serious deficit of discipleship.

Terebinth Ministries works as a partner with the Acholi church, not as a leader with typical Western goals and mindsets, but under Ugandan church leadership. They have started a pastoral school of discipleship to address the deep spiritual needs, and have been blessed to oversee a medical clinic and farming area to assist in the community’s stability and growth. We will be serving with them as teachers in the pastoral school, and as managers of some upcoming agricultural projects. To see more up-close what the ministry is doing, watch their new video posted above.

As you are probably aware, we are currently living in Uganda as missionaries-in-training. We have been attending the Institute For Gospel Transformation, at New Hope Uganda, for the last 4 months and will soon be graduating! During our time here we have gained countless insights about ourselves, the Gospel, and the African mindsets. God has blessed us with friends and teachers who help us prepare for life here in understanding culture, language, lifestyle, and the common local beliefs. God has really worked in us during our time in training, and has also opened the door for us to partner with Saving Grace World Missions as our sending team. We praise God for His provision! And we are excited to have a way to facilitate funds and make donations tax-deductible.

We would be honored to have you join us in prayer over: gospel penetration and understanding in Uganda, the equipping of the church, our stability as a family, and our continued growth.

In Christ, with love, Matt, Noelle, Emma, & Madeline

We rely solely on donations from people like you who have a heart to see the people of Uganda ministered to. Please consider partnering with us by clicking HERE.