One day God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh to help release His people out of Egypt. Moses’ response: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” I don’t know about you, but that is exactly what I would have said. When God calls us to do something big for Him, He will go with us! One thing I have learned over the years, our God—the God of the Bible—has and always will stand by His word. I love how He responded to Moses’ question. And God said, “I will be with you.” When God is with us, the impossible becomes the possible, our weakness becomes His strength and our fear is overcome with His peace!
After returning from my 16th trip to Uganda, God has once again shown His faithfulness. It was another amazing trip to the villages of Uganda. I once again joined my friend and co-worker, Pastor Fred Muyimba from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. For a number of years we have worked together to plant churches and equip God’s people for the work of the ministry. Once again I have seen first-hand the power of the Holy Spirit equip and empower people to do something big for God!
After arriving in Uganda we headed out to meet with many of the pastors who have become my friends. I am so proud of them and the work they are doing for the Kingdom of God. They have responded to the call of God and God has truly been with them. After returning from the villages, we were joined in the capital by my friend and ETM Board member Greg Yancey. With Greg was John Gasangwa. John is the founder of Arise Rwanda Ministries. Greg and John would join us for a few days in Uganda and then the three of us would fly to Rwanda for four days of ministry.
Many years ago, God placed a vision in the heart of Pastor Fred. It was a vision bigger than Pastor Fred and without God’s help and divine appointments this vision would never become a reality. Pastor Fred grew up in a small village called Mpigi, about an hour outside the capital. His father was the village witchdoctor. After many years of prayer his father and mother gave their hearts to Christ. Fred’s vision was to one day build a church, school and orphanage in the very village where he grew up. After years of hard work and God providing miracle after miracle I am happy to report that this vision is a month away from becoming a reality. After a very generous gift of $20,000 came to Empty Tomb Ministries, we were able to send that gift to Pastor Fred, which provided the remaining funds to complete this project.
Pastor Fred, Greg, John and I were able to spend the day at the school and orphanage. It truly is amazing to see! The years of believing and trusting that God would provide the resources is finally in sight. To know that one day this dream will finally become a reality. This will be a place where young people can call home and a place where they can learn of God’s amazing grace and love. Moses obeyed God, and God was with him! Next time God asks you to do something for Him, be assured that He is with you! •
I hope you enjoyed our time in Uganda! Jump on board as we head over to Rwanda; we need not fear for God is with us! As Greg, John and I land in Rwanda, I know that the Holy Spirit is going to guide our journey and that many lives will be impacted by our willingness to go in His name. This was my first visit to Rwanda, where I would learn very quickly about the evil called genocide.
On April 6, 1994, Hutus began slaughtering the Tutsis in Rwanda. As the brutal killings continued, the world stood idly by and just watched the slaughter. Lasting 100 days, the Rwandan Genocide left approximately 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu civilians dead. Our first stop was in the capital city of Kigali. There we had the opportunity to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where remains of over 250,000 people are interred. It was a very sobering stop on our journey.
From there, John, Greg and I headed out on a four-hour ride to a village town called Boneza. I was taken back by the beauty of this country; the green lush hills will leave an everlasting memory in my mind. Greg and I would be hosted by John Gasangwa, the founder of Arise Rwanda Ministries. John was born in a Ugandan refugee camp in 1981. He witnessed all the horrors of famine, rape, murder and human cruelty one can imagine. At the age of 10, John prayed to God and made a promise, “that if God would see him through his education, he would spend the rest of his life serving the poor people of the world.” At the age of 13, John traveled back to Rwanda to find his father had been killed in the genocide. Against incredible odds, John was raised in an orphanage, schooled and graduated from college. Another incredible story of God taking simple, ordinary people and changing their lives for all eternity.
Once we arrived in Boneza you could see this was a very poor village by earthly standards. But it would not be long before you would see the richness in character of the Rwandan people. Boneza rests on the shores of Lake Kivu, a beautiful setting for a God-given vision. A number of years ago God gave John a vision to start a school on the highest hill in Boneza. With hard work and dedication that dream has become a reality at Kivu Hills Academy. The cornerstone for the new Kivu Hills Academy was laid in June 2015. John’s dream of education for the Boneza community began with the preschools, but is now moving into a new phase—education for post-eighth-grade, providing an academic and vocational education that will provide essential skills to bring Boneza into a new era of hope and prosperity.
Greg is the USA board chairman for Arise Rwanda and is doing an amazing job of leadership training and fundraising to help Arise Rwanda. During our visit, I had the privilege of speaking to the students as well as the pastors of Boneza. We saw God touch many lives as we planted seeds of hope and shared from our hearts the love and grace of Jesus Christ. I am looking forward to one day returning to Boneza to work with the pastors and students and to help equip them for their destiny in Christ. From Uganda to Rwanda, God kept His promise just like He did with Moses—“I will be with you!” •
ETM Wins Award
Let’s go back to Moses and God and the promise that came from Heaven. Moses tried to talk God out of this big plan of His. Every question Moses had, God had an answer. I bet you know exactly how Moses must have felt, I sure do! Exodus 3:12 is a verse I will never let go of: “And God said, “I will be with you.” What a promise for each of us. When God calls us and sends us, He will go with us!
One of the places God has called ETM to minister is in our local jail here in Larimer County Colorado. At any one time we have between 500-600 inmates. It is a big place with big needs waiting for a big God to show up. And I am happy to report that is exactly what God has done. Every Thursday afternoon from 2-4pm Jeff, Mike, Mark, Daniel and I enter that jail believing that the power of the Holy Spirit is going to empower us and open the hearts of many of these men. God has shown up with great power and healing. We have been able to establish many wonderful relationships with these men as we meet each week. We have been teaching from a video series entitled, “Authentic Manhood.” It is challenging all of us to be real men who lead in our homes and communities. We have laughed together, prayed together, cried together and grown together in ways that influence these men to never be the same.
A few weeks ago, ETM was awarded program of the year for 2017 in the Larimer County Jail. I was humbled beyond words and so thankful to our Father in Heaven for this incredible ministry opportunity. I am looking forward to the future as God opens the hearts and sets the captives free.
Speaking of free, I want you to meet Jack. Jack has waged war against his addictions for 35 years. I met Jack in the jail when he showed up on a Thursday afternoon for the first time. You could say Jack was somewhat skeptical of us and our challenge to become authentic men. Jack eventually opened his heart and allowed God to touch him and restore him. God has provided Jack a wonderful job and a great place to live as he continues to walk his journey of faith. I have had the opportunity to be meeting with Jack and am so thankful for how Jesus has become number one in Jack’s life. Just after ETM was awarded program of the year, I met with Jack on a Saturday morning at his house. I brought the award to show him and to let him know he was a part of helping make that possible. Above, you can see the award on Jack’s desk, a great reminder how the power of Christ can change and restore a human heart.
Jack is just one story of the many men we have contact with each week. The experts say that 80% of men incarcerated never had a father figure in their lives. We represent the Father of all fathers—our heavenly Father who is in Heaven. ETM has been asked to do a big thing in the jail. I am holding onto the promise that God made to His friend Moses so many years ago—“I will be with you.” •
Having a World Vision
It is my prayer that as you read this newsletter you are impacted and challenged to do something big for God in your life. The fruit of our labor in Uganda, Rwanda and the jail is a testimony of God’s faithfulness as we step out in faith. I want to invite you to join me on this journey of faith. I could really use your help. I am in the process of looking toward my next trip Uganda and Rwanda. I am responsible to raise all my support as well as the funds we provide to help our brothers and sisters around the world. Over the years there have been so many people who have joined me on this journey. ETM is making a difference and you can be a part of it. Would you prayerfully consider supporting ETM on a regular basis? I am willing to go to the ends of the earth carrying the powerful message of the risen Christ. I need your help! There is no gift to small and of course no gift to big! Your gifts are tax-deductible and will bring eternal dividends. We have a promise from God’s word, as we sow generously we will also reap generously. I know if you will invest in His Kingdom you will be blessed. To all who have given, thank you for having a world vision and a heart to bless others around the world! •
ETM on Instagram!
I know this is hard to believe but ETM now has an Instagram account. I want to thank my niece, Sarah Nicolay Kagan, for helping her Uncle Bob become high-tech savvy! To those who know me, you understand what I mean! I am hoping to be able to share with you some great ministry pictures as we journey forward. Come on, be a follower of ETM on Instagram—it could be fun! You can find us at www.instagram.com/emptytombministries. See ya there!