UPDATE FROM SHANNON HURLEY WITH SOS MINISTRIES IN UGANDA - MAY 29, 2020

Dearly Faithful Friend,

We all are well in Uganda. We have been rejoicing in the slower pace during our continued lockdown. Every missionary is using this time to care for his family and accomplish some much needed administrative projects. This has also allowed us to deepen relationships with those living within our campus (teachers, Hurley students, professors, and missionary families). One major highlight has been the opportunity to spend extra time with the missionary families. 

This lockdown has also allowed us to observe fruit from the past decade of ministry in Kubamitwe. Each week the elders, in place of our church service, have sent out Bible studies (see below) and encouragement letters into the community. It has been thrilling to see dads all throughout our community use these Bible studies to lead their families spiritually to know and worship Christ. And where dads are not able or available, our Legacy students and some Hurley family students have filled in the gap. What would have been unimaginable 10 years ago is happening today. This has been very rewarding to see.

Yet the news is not all good news here. The bad news is that we really have no idea when this lockdown is going to end. Every two weeks the president speaks and extends our lockdown. The response in my mind is, I can’t believe it! – Another two weeks? On a human level, this news is very disappointing. But as Christians, we don’t live by the physical (flesh), but by the spiritual (Spirit). Therefore, we are committed to not look at these circumstances from the perspective of others or from what is happening within us emotionally. Rather, we must be committed to looking at these circumstances from God’s perspective, that is, from the perspective of God’s Word. We need to let God shepherd and lead us and not let our restless souls drive us into unwise living and thinking. So how should we perceive our circumstances from God’s perspective?

First, we must convince our minds that God is in 100% control of all these events and will use them for our good and His glory. As one theologian put it, God, our Creator, “is in constant care and absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people.” He does this by governing, guiding, and directing all the events, circumstances, and free acts of His creation (J.I. Packer and Jerry Bridges in Trusting God, pg. 23). The Bible states that through Jesus Christ, “all things hold together” (Col 1:17). And through Him, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:25,28). The Bible is clear that God is the “Ruler of all things” (I Chron 29:12). Therefore, nothing happens outside of His control. There is not even a sparrow that falls to the ground without God knowing (Matt 10:29). And nothing can happen unless the Lord has decreed it (Lam 3:37). All events, including these current ones, are happening within the control of God’s all powerful, caring hands. As one of our early church fathers put it, “Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent (all-powerful God) wills it to happen: He either permits it to happen, or brings it about Himself” (Augustine in Trusting God, pg. 27).

Secondly, we must convince our minds to rest in knowing that God’s wise ways are good, even though they are beyond our limited understanding. The Bible actually says that God’s thoughts and ways are so far from ours that they are unsearchable, unfathomable, and as far as the heavens are from the earth (Isa 55:9; Rom 11:33). Therefore, we have to meditate on and trust in God’s ways, even if we can’t understand them. So despite the fact that God does not act as we think He should, we can’t think the circumstances He has allowed are bad, just because they did not happen in the way we expected. Rather, we need to inform our minds of the truth that if we understood the circumstances from God’s perspective, we would want the events at hand to happen in exactly the same way. We need to put our faith in the fact that God truly is working ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). 

Therefore, my fellow sojourners, even though these events are not what we would have wanted from our limited perspective, we can still consider them as pure joy (James 1:2), we can still rejoice IN the Lord ALWAYS (Phil 4:4), and we can even boast in this tribulation (Rom 5:3), because we know and rest in God’s loving care. So let’s together, as one big family, saturate our minds with God’s perspective of these events. Let’s encourage each other to by faith enjoy the fact that God is not only in control, but, in His wisdom, He is going to use these events for our desired good. As the psalmist says, let us “Be strong, and let your heart take courage…(as we) wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 31:24)

Shannon Hurley


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