Thursday, February 19, 2009
If you ask Agnes Namugwanya what she hopes to be in her future, she will answer “a teacher.” Why? Because teachers have the ability to inspire and influence others. Agnes wants to inspire, because she has been inspired. The oldest daughter in a large impoverished family, Agnes’ future seemed limited to an early marriage or hard labor. But amazingly Agnes was able to graduate from Primary School and is currently enrolled in Secondary School, the equivalent of United States High School. Her dream is now possible thanks to Ranch on Jesus Orphanage Ministries.
Agnes’ case is rare. The majority of Ugandan children never advance beyond Primary School. They are not dropouts by choice. They simply can’t afford it. Would you believe that the average cost of enrolling a child in private Secondary School is only 20 dollars per month? Boarding school can cost as little as 500 dollars per year! Yet when an average Ugandan family earns less than a dollar a day, this fee is an impossible sum for most. Failure to complete their education tremendously limits the futures of valuable young lives and denies them the opportunity to develop the mind and talents God has given them. Not only are individual children denied, but the nation of Uganda suffers as well.
As our children at Ranch on Jesus move into adolescence, new opportunities are always on the horizon. We want to open doors of possibility for our children, nurture the unique gifts God has given them, and prepare them for the future. They might be businessmen, tailors, teachers, drivers, nurses, mechanics, pastors or doctors. But whatever path they choose, Ranch on Jesus wants to be prepared.
Secondary School Fees have become a significant financial burden for the ministry. As more children advance and succeed, that burden only stands to increase. The Ranch on Jesus Orphanage Ministries Scholarship Fund is designed to help meet the cost of educating qualified children who have graduated beyond the primary level. The fund will apply to Secondary School, Vocational School, and possibly University tuition.
By making a monthly donation of ten, twenty or thirty dollars each month you can make an investment in the life of a hopeful Ugandan youth! We pray you’ll consider participating in this new venture seeking together to give education to those who so desperately desire it.
For more information on the Scholarship Fund email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gratefully in Christ,
Us Director, Ranch on Jesus Ministries
Friday, February 13, 2009
For those shoppers on a budget, "Walgreen's has more than enough love to go around." Or for those feeling the pressure, "History.com has suggestions for how to survive this February 14th with your relationship--and your sanity--intact."
Ah Valentine's Day! As I have witnessed the business of this holiday throughout the last week I have been reminded how very little our world knows about love. Don't get me wrong. I'm a sucker for a bit of romance myself. I am greatly appreciating the bouquet of flowers from my husband...AND enjoying the chocolates I purchased for him....These gestures are often practical ways for us to demonstrate our feelings of love and affection. But these only scratch the surface of what love is all about. Love...true love...doesn't come with so much glitter. I have been reflecting this week on the nature of love, which naturally lead me here:
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It is not rude
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails.
As I think with painful clarity over my conduct last week-I did not love so well. If only Walgreen's really did have enough love to purchase at a reasonable rate!
None of us can honestly claim to be very great lovers. We all tend to enter into love much like we do Valentine's Day- consumeristically and somewhat stressfully. We like Valentines Day because we just want love to be easy. Or formulaic. Or a bed of roses.
We also tend to want something out of our love. Maybe we don't care about a stuffed snoopy, but we do want peace, happiness, acceptance, appreciation. Or we want the other person to be changed by our love, healed, uplifted, and bettered. In the infamous words of Jerry, "You complete me." We want to complete someone. We want to be completed. Whether we consciously take it that far or not, we all want our love to have value. We want to get something from the love given to us, and get something from the love we give.
Actually, this sentiment isn't a bad one...but not in the way that most of us suppose.
A wise woman once said:"The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done."
This was said by Mother Teresa, who despite never having bought a box of chocolates for anyone, may very well be one of the greatest human experts on the true love described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Mother Teresa went places most of us would never dare to go, touched wounds that few would come near, and spent herself completely on others. A life of service. A life of poverty. But as 1 Corinthians reminds us, this type of service for the poor has no value alone. Mother Teresa did not just aid the unwanted in the poor houses of India...she loved them. "The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it." MT
What fueled Mother Teresa? Where did she get this kind of love?
1 John 14
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
True Love comes from God. God, who is love, extended His perfect love to us when we were enemies with Him. (Rom. 5:8). He extended Himself, living in our corrupt and painful world, humbling Himself, suffering, and dying on our behalf. Jesus Christ exemplified 1 Corinthians 13. He not only died on our behalf, but made it fully possible for us to live out this love through Him.
We, who are in Christ, are now able to know and rely on the love God has for us! To abide in love is to abide in Him. To abide in Him is to abide in love. And when we do this, we get to be like Him in this world.
This is the great treasure we "get" out of our love.
For we are not to love others because they deserve it, because they are wonderful, or because they are lovable. We certainly did not fit this description when Christ loved us. And despite our best efforts, His love is never something that can be "earned." It is a gift. One that He then asks us to gift to others. Giving as He did for us. This is the great secret Mother Teresa possessed. She inhabited the love God had for her and allowed it to carry her to the emptiest of places, places that she soon filled with the love of Christ.
I love my children in Uganda more than I can express with words. The only thing I can offer to explain this is that the love Christ has for them inhabits me. It is His gift to me, His love for them. And I thank Him that I get to taste a small bit of it every day.
The reward and satisfaction I receive at the end of a day does not come from my children, what they give to me, or what I give to them. It is from Christ. For when we do His will to pour out His love, He always fills us with more, running through us and out of us like rivers of living water. As Mother Teresa says again, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."
Being a vessel of Christ's love is the satisfaction. The success is in the loving. Not the result of the love. As we act in love we continue to "always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere." Why? Because that is what love is. Because God is love.
This is His will that we show love to others in His Name. When we do so we are not only doing this because of Him, we are doing it unto Him. "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mt. 25:40 and Mark 9:37).
We love others without questions because "each one of them is Jesus in disguise." Mother Teresa
So take the time today to stop by your local Walgreen's for your candy and teddy bear needs. But also take the time to stop by the feet of Christ and consider. Consider His great love and how we might all be better vessels of it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Well, the name "Ranch on Jesus" has left more than few folks scratching their heads with puzzlement over the years. Perhaps you were one of those who was too shy to ask, but have been wondering, "What in the world does it mean?"
I am asked where the name "Ranch on Jesus" comes from at every speaking engagement or ministry event I attend. I have now learned to anticipate the query by sharing the following:
Sarah Kamara was 22 when she founded a ministry for orphans in her home of Mutungo, Uganda. Very near the community of Mutungo is a well known Country Club called "Ranch on the Lake."
"They stick on the Lake," says Sarah, "and we stick on Jesus."
Ranch on Jesus Orphanage Ministries was born.
I love the name Ranch on Jesus for its pure "Ugandaness," for its perplexing ring that sticks with those who hear it, and for its distinct usability. I will illustrate this last point with a story:
A few years ago, Scott and Theophilus were looking for an estimate on solar power panels for the Primary School. At one Kampala solar shop, they conversed with the young woman who worked behind the desk as she took their information.
Woman: "Name of organization?"
Theophilus: "Ranch on Jesus Orphanage Ministries."
Woman: "Ranch on what?"
Theophilus: "Ranch on Jesus. R-a-n-c-h O-n J-e-s-u-s."
He paused..."Do you ranch on Jesus?"
The woman looked a bit perplexed. Theophilus clarified. "Are you born again?"
Herein lies the meaning behind the name of this blog: "Ranched on Jesus."
Ranch on Jesus is not just a place. It is a stance, a position, a calling. His Name is our foundation, and we stick on Him come what may. Jesus is the reason we do what we do at Ranch, because his heart is for the needy, the poor, the oppressed, and the little children we seek to love.
We're sticking on Him.
Ranched on Jesus.
Which begs the question, do you?