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How long have you been a missionary?
We have served for 8 years full time with Cornerstone Foundation (Australia) Inc.
What factors led to you becoming a missionary?
Initially Wayne had a vision from God. After a 6 month visit to Kitgum in 1998, with another organization, we returned to Australia to pray and seek God regarding our future in Kitgum. A series of events led us to form the organization Cornerstone Foundation (Australia) Inc. and begin fund-raising, to allow us to return back to Uganda. We both had confirmation that Kitgum was where God wanted us to be, through “prophetic words spoken over us” / Scriptures given etc.
How did you know this was the path God wanted you to take?
Wayne visited Kitgum in 1997 and saw that vision “in the flesh” in Kitgum. There were two ministries going on with the organization (a ministry with street kids in Kampala, and a school in Kitgum). When Wayne returned from that first visit to Uganda, before revealing his feelings to me, he asked what I thought. God had confirmed in my spirit that Kitgum was where we were to be. There were five “things” (fleeces) that needed to fall into place, and one by one God removed all obstacles.
What were some hardships you faced during the first year on the mission field?
When we came back full time in late 2007, we had sent two shipping containers ahead of us, (cram-packed with tools and equipment for the ministry) for building and equipping a Vocational Training College for Orphaned and Destitute teenage young men. They were held up for nine months, so we stayed for the first 3 months with friends in MAF.
When eventually able to travel to Kitgum, we discovered that a trusted Pastor (who had been “looking after our property”), had pocketed all funds gained from cropping the 6 acres of land purchased in 2003, and nothing had gone into CFA accounts.
We had to deal with that. The land was left with numerous dead trees, 13 termite mounds and much “clearing” to be done, before the building program could commence.
This took 6 men about 9 months to achieve.
We also missed our family and felt very isolated many times.
How did you overcome those hardships?
The Lord was faithful in placing people around us (MAF and others) who were able to help us with accommodation and support. He gave us the perseverance and patience needed while the containers, and NGO documents were being processed. Accommodation was also provided in Kitgum, while the land was being cleared.
The Lord provided for our needs in a way we had not experienced before.
Was it what you expected?
We went to Uganda very naïve. We expected the containers to be cleared within
3-4 weeks, enabling us to travel up to Kitgum, and begin our ministry. We hadn’t really known what to expect, working on our own to establish a ministry, which is very different to joining an existing organization.
What surprised you most?
I guess the “slowness” of getting things done. We still had very “western” ideas of how things should progress. The amount of corruption surprised us too.
I (Bev) was pleasantly surprised at the food items available in Kitgum. We didn’t have to eat just posho (made from maize flour), and beans (our main meals during the previous 6 month stay).
Will you share a memorable experience?
There have been many, but I think the memory of Wilfred walking into our compound after having crawled on his hands and bottom for some time, is very memorable! After an operation “going wrong” he came to us. We were able to give him crutches, and provide for Physiotherapy treatment. While we were back in Australia (on home leave), he was admitted to the local Hospice (not that his condition was terminal, but rather so that he would receive the food he needed). He had been shown the exercises to do, so was diligent in “helping himself” by doing them daily. It was such a JOY to see him one day come to us, and show us how he could walk unaided. There was much Rejoicing and Praise given to God, for his healing!!
What scripture verse keeps you going during hardships?
Habakkuk 2:3 We love the Living Bible translation
“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!
Another version states that God “will not be thwarted” in His plans. Great to remember!
How has your relationship with God changed during your mission work?
We feel that our need for God is much more intense in Uganda. In Australia everything is “laid out” and easy. There are many distractions there, but in our work in Uganda, we need His strength and guidance constantly. We can often become discouraged, and it is God who points us to His Word for encouragement. “His strength is made perfect in weakness” (our weakness). He has brought people (Erica, Robb & Lois) around us, to give encouragement in those times. Also God has changed our priorities since living there. Things that seemed important before, don’t even register on the radar now. Knowing His Presence and Peace is all important! When we are weak, then He gives us the strength to withstand what Satan throws at us. (We’d be lying if we said we are anything but weak vessels in His hands). We’re simply available for God to change our hearts.
What would you tell someone thinking about becoming a missionary?
Seek the Lord and KNOW that He has called you. (You will need to come back to that “calling” in the hard times). Hold onto Scriptures you are given. Write them down.
Research as much as possible about the place, its’ climate, culture, diseases etc. Speak if possible, to people who have worked in the country you feel called to. Don’t expect it to be a bed of Roses. The Bible states that “in this life, you will have trouble”, and you can certainly expect some troubles to be experienced. But there is Joy in knowing that you are where God would have you to be. Be thankful for the small things.
Did you have a team supporting you in prayer when you first were on the ground? How has this impacted you personally and your missionary work?
Yes, prayer is a very important part of the missionary’s armor. We are in a spiritual war, so must have the prayer support from “home”. We have experienced answered prayer for our safety and that of our workmen, in many situations over our period “in the field”. We are encouraged knowing people are supporting us in prayer “back home”.
Where have you served?
Kitgum, Uganda is the only place we have served outside Australia.
Did you “work up” to your current location with smaller mission trips?
As explained earlier, we came initially in 1998 for 6 months with another organization.
Have you mentored new missionaries yourself before they went out on their own? How has this changed the way you view missions and your work?
No we haven’t, but that would be a thrill and a privilege!!
How has your family supported your desire to be a missionary? Did their view of your work make it easier or harder for you to serve God in the way He has called you?
Our family are happy for us to follow what we know God has called us to; but they don’t fully understand the sacrifice it is, not being around them and the grand-children. We feel very isolated from their lives much of the time. None of our family are interested in visiting Uganda, to see the people God has sent us to love and show His grace. Seeing would change their hearts. To follow Jesus, we have to make choices. Sometimes making those choices brings anguish. We have to leave our family in His hands, realizing that He loves them more than we do. We can only serve one master!
What culture shocks have you experienced?
We realize that we have “settled into” much of the Ugandan culture, and pace of life. But there are new things we are learning about the culture all the time. Families operate very differently. Each time we return to Australia “on home leave”, we experience very real culture shocks. The extravagance everywhere, (people clutter their lives with so much “stuff”). Another is the lack of thanksgiving, even in the Christian community where we are taught to “give thanks in everything”. The transition to growth in technology, the “get everything now” mentality, the difference in variety of foods and the emphasis on food and dieting, are just a few things that I can think of. The value system in Western society is of great concern to us. Everything has moved on – not necessarily for the good. Morals and values have changed a great deal in the years since leaving Australia. What is “accepted” now, often does not comply with God’s Word. There is so much compromise, and sadly much of that is within “the Church”.
How have the local people welcomed you into their communities?
We have been welcomed by many of our local people, by sharing in their lives. Our desire is to show God’s love, by teaching our friends to become disciples of Jesus, and have a “servant heart”, instead of a “you give me attitude”. We try to show this by example, with our workmen and those God brings across our path, that we are privileged to help in practical ways.
What was your scariest moment and how did God use this in your life?
The scariest moment would have to be when we first came to Northern Uganda in 1998, and the L.R.A. (Lord’s Resistance Army) were still very active. On about our fifth night in Kitgum we experienced (for the first time) mortar shells flying over our room, and the Ugandan Army returning fire. Then a flare went up and lit up the sky. We admit we were very afraid. We learned that 18 children and adults we abducted during that night. The next morning, God brought to us Scriptures that encouraged us, and showed clearly that He was watching over us. Psalm 91 became a very necessary passage for us to hold onto and live by.
What advice would you give someone who is praying through God’s call to the mission field?
Get the training and skills you need, to be of service in the community He is calling you. It is a good idea if possible, to visit the place (on a short term trip), before you intend going “long term”.
Cornerstone Foundation (Australia) Inc. web-site is: www.cornerstonefoundation.org.au
A little about us (Founders of CFA):
We were both born and raised in South Australia in Christian homes. Wayne committed his life to the Lord at the age of 20 and taught Christian Endeavour. I (Bev) gave my heart to Jesus at the age of 14, and later taught in Sunday School. We were married in 1971 and have two adult children. We also have 5 grand-children.
Wayne trained as a Fitter and Turner / Tool-maker in the motor industry, then after further studies, worked in Production Engineering as a draftsman / tool designer, before entering Teachers College and becoming a Technical Studies teacher. He taught on the west coast of South Australia for 14 years, before we were called to Uganda. We fostered several children over quite a number of years. Keith, who is intellectually disabled, is a very special young man who we were privileged to foster from the age of two.
When God called us to Uganda, HE arranged for our daughter, (who was single at the time), to take over the role of foster parent. Subsequently, after her marriage, she still cares for Keith who remains a very real member of her family. They now have 3 children who all love Keith as a brother.
Our son is a Registered Nurse and has 2 daughters. Both of our children live in suburbs of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia.
Our “home church” is Birdwood United Church in the Adelaide Hills, where we were members before being “sent” to Uganda. We have 5 Board Members within Australia, who help with administration and fund raising for Cornerstone Foundation. We send a quarterly Newsletter to around 250 people, some who are regular supporters, and others who just like to read about what we are doing in Uganda.
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Hi, my name is Erica and I am a God-called missionary for Northern Uganda. It is my passion and life-calling to bring God’s word to the people of the world. Each and every one of us can do our part in spreading God’s word to people in need of Jesus’ healing touch and hope. Trying to figure out if God has called you to the mission field? Do you want to learn more about what it’s like to be a missionary? Check out my book, For the Joy Set Before Us – Insights Into the Missionary Journey today.