Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 9, 2019

Apostle of the Bleeding Feet

Sundar Singh was a remarkable man — someone whom I have added to my list of historical mentors. Historical mentors are individuals who, although dead, continue to influence the living because of the way in which they lived their lives. Barring some unforeseen discovery, their story is not likely to change. Their flags are still waving atop the summits of their respective achievements.

Singh was born in 1889 to a prominent Sikh family in Northern India. Unlike Hindus who have a pantheon consisting of millions of gods, Sikhs believe there is only one God. They also reject Hindu’s caste system. They are often confused with Muslims because the men traditionally wear turbans.

As a child, Singh’s mother took him weekly to sit at the feet of a Sadhu, an ascetic Sikh holy man. She also wanted him to learn English and sent him to a Christian mission school. After the death of his mother, fourteen year-old Singh became angry and turned on his missionary teachers and burned a copy of the Bible. Despondent, he decided to commit suicide.

Before he could follow through on taking his life, Jesus appeared to Singh in a vision in the middle of the night. He heard Christ asking, “Why do you oppose me? I am your Savior. I died on the cross for you.” That vision changed the course of his life.

That morning he told his father that he had seen Jesus in a vision and heard His voice. He further told his father that he would follow Christ forever. His father demanded that he give up the notion of following Jesus. When Singh refused, his father denounced him and put him out of their home.

Singh was baptized on his sixteenth birthday and then set off in the direction of those who had not heard the gospel. He was given refuge at a home for lepers operated by Christians. There he began to serve people in desperate need. Over the years that home became a base of operations for Singh.

In 1906, Singh made a controversial decision. In order to identify with those who needed Christ, he adopted the traditional garb of a Sadhu, a Sikh holy man. He wore a turban and a yellow saffron robe, renounced all material possessions, and began to travel as a religious teacher. Although he looked like a Sadhu, he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Singh wrote, “I am not worthy of following the steps of my Lord, but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God.”

Like a Sadhu, Singh did not wear shoes. Because he walked barefoot his feet were covered in blisters and often bloodied from travel. People began to refer to Singh as the “Apostle of the Bleeding Feet.”

In 1908, Singh started traveling to Nepal and Tibet. Some believe that he was the first evangelist to take the gospel into these two Himalayan countries. He faithfully preached the gospel throughout this mountainous region.

Finally on April 18, 1929, at the age of 36, Singh made what would be his final trek into Tibet. He was never heard from again. Rumors circulated that a group of men killed him and disposed of his remains in a river. Others speculated that he died of natural causes. We will never know for sure what happened to Singh.

What we do know for certain is that he was a man completely devoted to Christ. He did not allow any worldly thing to distract him from his mission to make Christ known in hard places. He suffered much persecution over the years but remained steadfastly loyal to Jesus and played a strategic role in the spread of the gospel in India, Nepal, and Tibet.

In his diary, Singh wrote these words: “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for Him. Dying takes only a few minutes or at worst an hour or two — but to live for Christ means to die daily to myself.” The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet was right.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Singh indeed had beautiful feet.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 2, 2019

Calling Men to Rise Up

20/20 vision is a term used to express the ability to see things clearly, especially at a distance. I wish that I had 20/20 vision. But alas, I have had poor eyesight for most of my life. My annual visit to my optometrist always results in adding just a little more strength to my bi-focal prescription.

While my physical vision continues to deteriorate bit by bit every year, I do pray for 20/20 vision in regard to spiritual discernment. We live in days when our culture is progressively drifting farther and farther away from life as God intended for it to be. We must, therefore, have clarity of vision as never before in order to understand what is happening and what we must do.

I have long admired the sons of Issachar in the Old Testament. While we don’t know a lot about these guys, the Bible describes them as “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32). We can safely conjecture that the sons of Issachar were not passive but instead were men who thought deeply in order to live wisely.

Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, has observed and commented on the shift in culture which has brought about the redefinition of what it means to be a man. This redefining of manhood, Evans writes, “has brought about men abandoning their roles, dumbing down their roles, and rejecting their roles.” Men are indeed in the midst of a cultural battle that continues to take a heavy toll on manhood as defined by God.

Our missions ministry’s emphasis for 2020 will be to call men around the world to embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood. We are working directly with our partners in Cambodia, India, Brazil, and Nepal to host Men of Courage Summits in 2020 — special gatherings of men and leaders in which we will call men to rise up and to embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood.

We held our first Men of Courage Summit last month in Uganda. Our team invested in 300 men and met with key leaders who made a commitment to be the men God has called them to be. In the words of the old hymn, these men said they will rise up, put away the lesser things, and give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings.

This past week my friend Todd Pendergrass and I traveled to Cuiabá, Brazil to meet with more than 40 pastors and leaders who will host our Men of Courage Summit next year. We spent time sharing the vision and talking logistics about the summit. Our Brazilian friends are all in. They too want to call men to embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood and to challenge men to lead their families well.

I am especially excited about the opportunity to hold one of our 2020 summits in Cuiabá — the geographic center of South America. My prayer is that what happens in Cuiabá will spread like a wildfire to all corners of South America. My heart longs to see men who will rise up to become the kind of men God has called them to be.

May God use our summits to raise up men of courage — men who submit to God not culture, men who take responsibility and do not remain passive, and men who live sacrificially and not selfishly. The time has come to rise up, O men of God.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 19, 2019

Men of Courage Summit

Our missions ministry has a broad reach. We are engaged with more than a dozen unreached people groups in some of the most challenging geographical locations on the planet. We also address such transcultural concerns as the sanctity of human life, human trafficking, the water crisis, caring for the poor, educating children, and much more.

Every year, I seek God’s guidance about how our missions ministry can strategically address a specific critical issue in the world. This year’s special emphasis is on the 4/14 Window — the mission field defined by the ages of 4 and 14. These are the ages when most children come to faith in Christ. We have invested human and considerable financial resources this year to address issues that directly impact the lives of children around the world.

Our special emphasis for 2020 will be to call men around the globe to embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood. We will work directly with our partners in Cambodia, India, Brazil, and Nepal to host Men of Courage Summits in 2020 — special gatherings of men and leaders in which we will call men to rise up and be done with lesser things.

This week Gil Harris, Kingsland men’s ministry director, and I led a team of men to conduct the first Men of Courage Summit in Kampala, Uganda. Brian Stone (senior pastor of Valley View Church in Louisville), Bobby Cooley (Adult Discipleship Pastor at Kingsland), and Austin Lanier (Hip Hop Artist) joined us. Austin spoke to more than 3,000 students in school assemblies and also was a guest on a local television program this week.

Pastor Robert Nabulere, one of our Ugandan partners, agreed to host our first summit at Miracle Center Church in Kawempe. I have known and worked with Pastor Robert for more than a dozen years. He is a visionary and gifted leader whose church and schools are reaching many in Kawempe and beyond.

We started the week at a retreat at Murchison Falls National Park with Pastor Robert and four of his men’s ministry leaders. We spent hours discussing the issues that keep men in Uganda from reaching their highest potential in Christ. This time was important because each of our summits will be crafted to address specific cultural considerations that distract, discourage, and ultimately destroy men.

Our time at Murchison Falls allowed us to fine tune our challenge to call Ugandan men to understand and embrace God’s vision and design for biblical manhood. Our discussion at times was difficult as we listened to the challenges men in Uganda face and how those challenges are squeezing men into a pattern that is not consistent with God’s design for men.

All of the specific partners that will host our summits next year have expressed this common concern to me — the issue of biblical manhood is not being addressed. As a result, homes are in danger. Too many men are getting caught in dangerous cultural currents that are sweeping them away from God’s vision and design for manhood.

The reality is that men around the planet are in danger. Men are at war with an enemy that is determined to distract, discourage, and ultimately destroy them. Make no mistake about it, our enemy is committed to using everything in his power to bring about the destruction of men — making men impotent and ineffective in leading their homes and in advancing God’s purposes in the world today.

The Apostle Paul wrote that God desires to conform His people into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). Conformity is an inner change with an outward expression, a part of the sanctifying work of God in the life of every believer. Paul warned that the world is also committed to trying to conform us into something far different from what God wants for us (Romans 12:2).

Therein lies the tension and the danger. The world wants to conform or press men into its pattern. Men who are ignorant of the enemy’s schemes are vulnerable to being conformed into something that God never intended. The best way to destroy the home is to keep men from understanding and fulfilling their roles as God has defined them. When that happens, then the home, the church, and ultimately society is in danger.

This past week was amazing. Our two-day summit was the first of its kind in Kampala. We invested in three-hundred men who made a commitment to do three things. First, they made a commitment to have quarterly meetings to encourage one another.

Second, they committed to doing life in community with other men because alone is dangerous. The men in attendance pledged to start weekly core groups that will potentially reach hundreds more men than were able to attend the summit.

Finally, the men in attendance recommitted themselves to leading their homes according to God’s design as recorded in the pages of Scripture. They have a better understanding of their roles as husbands and fathers. The feedback from the men in attendance encouraged us. This summit, they said, is the start of something new in Uganda.

Our team learned much from our Ugandan brothers and how we can sharpen our message even more. We remain determined to challenging men around the world to rise up. In the words of the old hymn:

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings.

As men of God we will indeed rise up and let go of the lesser things that keep us from reaching our highest potential in Christ. We will rise up to end the night of wrong, to strengthen the family, to make the church great, and to lift high the cross of Christ. We are determined to be men of courage.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 14, 2019

To My New Granddaughter

My Dearest Little Bethany,

Welcome to our family — your family. Your arrival yesterday afternoon was much anticipated. As much as I like and use words, there really are none to describe what I felt when I saw you for the first time. Tears of joy was the only language I could resort to. And that’s ok because you don’t need words to speak or understand the language of joy.

I want you to know that you have an amazing mom and dad who loved you from the moment you were conceived. And when they shared the news that you were growing inside your mom, the circle of those who love you grew even wider. We prayed for you daily and tracked your progress, longing for the day of your arrival.

You are so blessed to have a mom and dad who love each other deeply. I was present when your mom was born. Things got a little tense in labor and delivery and the doctor decided that your mom needed to get here quicker — so he performed an emergency C-section. Those same tears of joy filled my eyes the moment I saw your mom for the first time.

Your dad is one of the bravest men I know. He is a twin. You will meet your Uncle Christopher soon. He and Christopher were born under some stressful circumstances as well. In fact, they were both so small at birth that your birth weight was more than theirs combined. Since then, your dad has endured a lot of surgeries. He has faced every one with great courage.

When your mom and dad met, Gigi (that’s your grandmother) and I knew that they belonged together. We were thrilled when they fell in love and then got married. We knew that one day they would have children. On their first attempt they suffered a miscarriage. And although we never had the opportunity to meet that child, we believe that one day we will. We now have one more compelling reason why we long for heaven.

And then God gave us you. We actually got our first look at you while you were still in your mother’s womb. Those sonogram pics were the best. They gave us a peek into what God was doing. And, like your beautiful cousin Mila who was born six-months ago today, those sonogram pics affirmed that God had already crowned you with dignity and beauty. You not only bear resemblances to your mom and dad — you are made in God’s image.

Mila and Bethany on Day 1 | Six months apart

You have so many family members who can’t wait to meet you and to hold you and to kiss you. You will meet them all in due time, including Mila. I know that you and Mila will become good friends and share a lifetime together. In the meantime, Gigi and I look forward to every moment we will spend with you. You are and will always be loved.

By the way, it was fun helping your mom and dad prepare your nursery over the past few months. Your mom and dad placed a beautiful blessing from the Old Testament book of Numbers (6:24-26) on your wall. It pretty much sums up how we all feel about you — “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; may He show you His favor and give you peace.”

I love you always, Bethany.

Your Pops

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 12, 2019

Kids Need Dads

As we continue trying to make sense of the senseless shootings of recent weeks, we must not overlook the truth that strong families are the first line of defense in preventing children from becoming the kind of adults who spiral out of control and end up harming others. Further, we must not overlook the fact that the presence of a father in the home is of far more importance than our society is willing to admit.

As our political leaders continue fixing blame (mostly on one another) very little is being said about the fact that of the 27 deadliest mass shooters of recent years, the majority are men who came from broken homes — mostly homes without the presence of a good, stable father. Boys who do not grow up with a father who models self-control and empathy toward others are especially vulnerable to ideas that can sweep them in the direction of anger and violence.

That said, most boys who grow up in fatherless homes pick up the right cues from other adult males in their lives — a teacher, coach, uncle, or grandfather. But, many do not.

On Father’s Day in 2008, then Senator Barak Obama gave a speech in which he said, “Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives … family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation.” I agree with that. The best environment for a child is a home with a dad who is present and involved in the lives of his children. I remember the days when liberals and conservatives both agreed on this one thing — kids need dads!

Sadly, political winds (even under Obama’s administration) shifted and now bluster for a new definition of the family, a new category that either excludes the presence of a mom or a dad. Growing up with two dads means that a child grows up without a mom. Growing up with two moms means that a child grows up without a dad. In the current political climate, those who disagree with this paradigm are quickly labeled as intolerant and haters.

The truth is that we cannot yet fathom where the social and moral consequences of this new parenting category will ultimately lead us. Deliberately trying to create homes that are either fatherless or motherless is not a good idea. I believe in traditional marriage and want to see strong homes where moms and dads are the primary faith trainers of their children. As a Christ-follower, I unashamedly embrace the biblical model for the family.

As we debate gun violence, laws that govern the purchase of guns, and the role of mental health in mass shootings, we must not overlook the connection between violence and broken homes, especially homes with absentee dads. Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson observed, “Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictor of variations in urban violence across cities in the United States.”

If we fail to fix broken homes, then no legislation will do enough to keep us safe. If fathers fail to take responsibility for their homes and to model good behavior, then boys may likely be more susceptible to ideas that will lead them down harmful paths. On Father’s Day of this year, my friend Brad Flurry said in his sermon, “It’s much easier to prepare a boy than to repair a man!” Well said.

Dads, understand how important you are to your family. Take responsibility. Teach, correct, and love your children. Be present when you are present. Do this because kids need dads!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 6, 2019

The El Paso Challenge

It has happened again. This time two mass shootings in two days. Incidences of violence like these now occur with enough frequency that while they evoke anger and outrage they no longer surprise us. That, in itself, is sad. And, because of our connected world, as soon as the bullets stop flying then politicians and pundits start firing blame.

Assigning blame does nothing to assuage the grief of those who have suffered unimaginable loss. And it has done nothing to stop the violence. According to USA Today, the El Paso and Dayton shootings make for 251 mass shootings since the first of the year. These shootings have claimed more than 520 lives and injured close to 2000 people.

The reality is that today there are families that are hurting in a way far deeper than the rest of us. Their lives have been turned upside down. While they grieve, collectively we are all asking why. We all want answers. We demand solutions. When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tried to offer comfort at a vigil following the deadly shooting in Dayton, the crowd repeatedly shouted, “Do something!”

Do something, indeed! But what? Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said that our “thoughts and prayers are not enough.” He may have a point. Unless we are willing to do more than pray but to also consider how God might use us as the answer to our own prayers then nothing much will change. And thoughts that do not lead to some type of intentional and compassionate actions also do little to help.

In the midst of all this, one eleven year old boy from El Paso wanted to do something to help his grieving community move toward healing. After giving the matter some thought, Ruben Martinez approached his mother Rose with a practical idea — challenging the people of his community to do one random act of kindness for every life lost in the shooting that rocked his community and our nation.

Rose posted her son’s challenge on social media and the rest is history. Ruben’s challenge has now reached much farther than the city limits of the West Texas town of El Paso. National news outlets picked up the story. Ruben’s idea quickly resonated with so many around the nation who care and who want to do something. This is a practical “do something” that any of us can and should do. A simple but powerful idea — random acts of kindness to counter random acts of violence.

Imagine what could happen if each of us expressed kindness to those whom God puts in our path — regardless of the color of their skin or their religious or political leanings. While the El Paso Challenge will not stop future mass shootings, it may just be the thing that gets someone inclined toward hurting others to think again. People who hurt, it seems, tend to hurt others. We should never minimize how God might use a random act of kindness to impact a confused and hurting individual.

Thank you, Ruben, for reminding us all to do good in the wake of great evil. I accept your challenge.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 17, 2019

Determined To Do Their Duty

John R. Mott is one of my historical mentors. A historical mentor is someone who, although dead, continues to influence succeeding generations through writings and a life well-lived. Born in 1865, Mott became a believer at a young age. While a sophomore at Cornell University, J.K. Studd, one of Mott’s professors, said to him, “Young man, seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not! Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”

Studd’s words pierced Mott’s heart and kept him up that night. His conversation with Studd changed the course of his life. Mott later became the leader of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, an organization that sought to mobilize college students to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Mott led this movement for thirty years and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for his work in international church and missionary movements.

In April 1901, Mott spoke on the responsibility of young people for the evangelization of the world. In this speech, Mott said, “The last command of Christ is operative until it is repealed. It is not optional, as some would assume, but obligatory. It awaits its fulfillment by a generation which shall have the requisite faith and courage, and audacity and the purpose of heart to do their duty to the whole world.”

The reality is that each of us are stewards of our own generation — essentially a narrow slice of time in which to serve God’s purpose. After that, we die and return to dust. However, what we do in our generation does not have to die with us if we will own and responsibly serve God’s purposes while we have opportunity.

In a sermon that Paul preached on his first missionary journey, he said, ”Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.” (Acts 13:36). But, what David did in his generation impacted the course of redemptive history because he served the purpose of God.

One way in which we can impact the course of redemptive history is by investing in the next generation. By so doing we help to ensure “that the generation to come might know” (Ps. 78:6) God and understand His purposes in the world. In the words of Mott, we must teach and encourage the successive generation “to do their duty to the whole world.”

One of the best things we do at Kingsland is to invest in ministry interns — young people who have expressed an interest in serving and learning about all-things ministry. Mentoring and encouraging those who will take the reins of ministry long after we are gone is strategic in the work of the kingdom.

I have been privileged to have nine summer missions interns, including one from India and another from El Salvador. Our interns began their summer by visiting with several of our local ministry partners in order to gain greater insight into the value of strategic partnerships in order to reach our community for Christ. They have learned a lot about what it takes to make each ministry work and how they utilize volunteers.

Six of my interns spent the month of June in Alaska working with our partner, Grace Works Alaska. The other interns served in a variety of capacities with our local partners. We have enjoyed debriefing sessions, lots of questions and answers, and talking about various aspects of ministry. Each of our interns served and learned well and made meaningful discoveries about what it means to serve God.

Our summer internship ends on July 31. I will miss our interns but am excited about how God will continue to use them as they return to their respective college campuses and places of employment. I appreciate their passion and willingness to serve and their determination “to do their duty to the whole world.”

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 10, 2019

Where Jesus Walked

I have returned to the land where Jesus walked — this time with more than seventy students and adults. We are on a pilgrimage of sorts, here to learn about the context in which our biblical worldview unfolded.

There is something powerful about a pilgrimage. Being onsite impacts insight. The stories in the Bible happened in an actual geographical, historical, and cultural context. Understanding the context in which the stories recorded in the Scriptures happened is eye-opening and affirming.

We began our pilgrimage at the Sea of Galilee. The ancient rabbis used to say, “Jehovah hath created seven seas, but the Sea of Galilee is His delight.” Most of the ministry of Jesus happened in and around the shores of this lake that lies almost 700 feet below sea level. He performed many miracles here.

Capernaum, the place Jesus chose as His base of operations when He began His ministry, was our first stop. Both Matthew and Mark referred to this town as Jesus’ home. And yet, the people of Capernaum did not accept Jesus’ messianic role. They failed to embrace who He is and why He came (read Matthew 11:23-24). Like the people of Capernaum, many people today miss Jesus.

After walking among the ruins of Capernaum, we traveled by boat across the Sea of Galilee to Tiberius. From the middle of the lake we could see most of the places where Jesus conducted His earthly ministry. We also enjoyed a time of worship and sang songs about the beauty of Jesus.

After a visit to Caesarea Philippi, we continued our adventure by rafting on the Jordan River. But best of all, we conducted a baptismal service at the Jordan River. When John baptized Jesus, God spoke and affirmed His love for His Son. After His baptism, Jesus retreated to the wilderness where He was tempted. After the baptism came the battle and after the voice from heaven came the roar from hell.

Our adventure of discovery also took us to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. The Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles identifies this location as Mount Moriah (3:1), the place where Abraham had been willing to offer Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14). While in this area we also learned about the various gates around the Temple Mount.

While in Jerusalem we visited the Garden of Gethsemane. The olive trees at the Garden of Gethsemane are old — so old, in fact, that they may actually date back to the time of Jesus. The Garden of Gethsemane is the place where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and where Peter cut off the right ear of Malchus, the slave of the high priest.

Our students also visited and prayed at the Church of All Nations which claims to be built atop the site where Jesus prayed on the night before His crucifixion. This was an emotional stop for many of our students, a reminder that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Our visit to Bethlehem was a highlight. We visited the Shepherd’s Field and also walked to the top of the Herodium, Herod’s magnificent palace. From that high vantage point we could look down toward the humble place of Jesus’ birth. We visited the Church of the Nativity and sang O Holy Night at this place where tradition says Jesus was born.

Jericho is regarded as the oldest city on the planet. It’s also the place where walls came tumbling down as Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land and where Jesus ate a meal at the home of a tax-collector named Zacchaeus. This remains a fascinating site rich in history. We had a great time exploring the ancient tel at this location.

Today, our students hiked to the waterfalls of Ein Gedi, stood atop Masada, and floated on the Dead Sea. They learned about the refreshing living water of Ein Gedi, the remarkable and heart-breaking story of the Jews who made a last stance against the Romans atop the fortress of Masada, and enjoyed floating on the Dead Sea.

Our adventure continues. So much more to see and do in this remarkable place. We are taking advantage of every moment to deepen our understanding of our worldview. My prayer is that, as a result of this pilgrimage, our students will be strengthened in their faith and will determine to live according to our biblical worldview.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 24, 2019

Kids Changing the World

A key component of our missions ministry is equipping the next generation to do their part to make our world a better place. This means doing practical things to address urgent needs around the globe and giving others an opportunity to hear about Jesus. We want our kids to understand that they do not have to wait until they grow up to help change the world. God can use them to do so today.

Every summer, we encourage the kids who attend our Vacation Bible School to give a daily offering that we invest in helping kids in need. We also educate our kids to understand the challenges faced by those they are helping. Over the past years our kids have supported initiatives to help kids in Mongolia, India, Cambodia, El Salvador, Honduras, Egypt, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Last year they raised funds to drill six new water wells in poor villages around the world.

This summer we challenged our kids to raise funds to help start construction of a new primary school in the slums of Kawempe, a division of Kampala, Uganda. For the past thirteen years, our missions ministry has had a strategic partnership with Pastor Robert Nabulere and his wife Rose. These valued friends and partners saw a need among children in Kawempe and moved in the direction of that need.

Pastor Robert and Rose were burdened by the numbers of poor children in Kawempe who could not afford to go to school and decided to do something about it. So, they started the Miracle Destiny School with an initial enrollment of 16 kids. Today, they have almost 500 children enrolled in their schools.

The primary school has met in rented facilities from the start. God, however, provided a piece of property on which to construct a new school building for the elementary aged kids. We knew that this was the time for us to help Pastor Robert get this project started and challenged our kids to raise funds to make it happen.

Our missions ministry provided each child who attended VBS with their own Go Beyond Kids Explorers Club kit. Each kit contains information and interactive activities to help our kids learn about Uganda and the need for the new building for Miracle Destiny School. I wrote another kids book to tell the story of the school. Amy Redhair, my intern, did an outstanding job of illustrating the book.

Once again, our kids met the challenge. They exceeded their $15,000 offering goal and, with a matching gift from our missions ministry, raised a total of $32,561.74. These funds will help kickoff construction of a new four-story building in Kawempe to house classrooms for more than 260 elementary school students. We presented our gift to Pastor Robert at all of our services on both campuses on Sunday morning. He was beyond thrilled and grateful.

I am grateful for our kids and all who served in our VBS. We had an outstanding team of volunteers who helped guide and encourage our kids. And, once again, our kids have done something special to make the world better for kids in the slums of Kawempe.

In the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his young protégé, “You are young, but don’t let anyone treat you as if you are not important. Be an example to show the believers how they should live. Show them by what you say, by the way you live, by your love, by your faith, and by your pure life” (1 Timothy 4:12). Thank you, Kingsland kids, for your generous gift and your great example.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 13, 2019

With Men I Respect

I have been a fan of western movies for as long as I can remember. So, when the remake of The Magnificent Seven hit the screen, I had to see it. The gist of the story is the same. Denzel Washington plays the role of Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter hired by the good folks of Rose Creek to save their town from Bartholomew Bogue, the greedy industrialist.

My favorite line in the movie is spoken by the character Jack Horne, a tough frontiersman played by Vincent D’Onofrio. At a critical point in the fight against Bogue, Horne looks at his comrades and says, “To be in the service of others, with men I respect, like you all, I shouldn’t have to ask for more than that.”

Horne’s words pretty much sum up how I feel about my Band of Fathers, the group of men I have met with for the past four years. When I started the group, I invited men interested in becoming better dads to join me. I structured our group around three key components: shared study, shared mission, and shared adventure.

We regularly meet for shared study on Wednesday evenings around a meal. We have studied and discussed top selling Christian books on fatherhood as well as books about epic historical achievements in the realm of adventure and exploration. But we feel strongly that it takes more than shared study to become a better man and a better dad.

We burn off our shared study calories by holding one another accountable for practicing what we study, but also by engaging in shared mission. Serving others is essential to good spiritual formation. We want to move in the direction of people in need and to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

This month, we have spent several days helping a precious lady who is battling cancer. Battling a giant like cancer is bad enough without adding to that some nagging home repairs. So, our guys stepped up to help. We enjoy serving together and the fellowship that comes with working shoulder to shoulder to get a job done.

When our friend saw the great work that our guys had done, she told me that we were an answer to her prayers. I told her that we love being the answer to prayers. There is perhaps no greater privilege than serving God. And, that the God of the universe would allow us to serve Him is indeed a blessing.

Our Band of Fathers also enjoy shared adventure. We have hiked, camped, canoed, and biked together. This week we met for a meal around a campfire with nothing particular on the agenda but to enjoy fellowship. We ate. We laughed. We told stories around the fire. We did some target practice. We left satisfied that we were in good company and grateful to be doing life in community because alone is dangerous.

I am grateful for Kingsland’s Men’s Ministry and for the leadership of Gil Harris, men’s ministry director. Our missions and men’s ministries have collaborated to do some good work in the community. Gil has led our men to reach and mentor boys in the Brookshire Community — an initiative that is making a difference in the lives of many young men.

The best antidote to men being passive and bored is to engage in shared study, shared mission, and shared adventure. When men do life in community with other men, only then do they discover the truth of Jack Horne’s words.

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