“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