April 2020 - McCarty Ministry Minute
Hello again from the McCartys! What strange times we live in! I left for Tanzania amid early concerns about COVID-19 and returned to empty shelves and a spreading pandemic. If you are like our household, you have enough coronavirus updates flying around, so I will not be sharing insights on it, other than to let you know a few, brief things: 1. Our family is fine and we are grateful for that. 2. We have had no one in the Strategic Impact network who has contracted the virus as of yet. 3. Please pray for our Africa teams. Because of the cultural norms of perpetual nearness with others and the hygiene practices (particularly in rural areas), when it reaches the continent, it could be devastating.
Now on to our regularly scheduled program!
Tracy and the Born2Be Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and the Born2Be Therapeutic Equestrian Center, have moved to a GREAT new location near Valley View, TX - right on I-35! The move has been a big step for the program and should open their services to more families in North Texas! Please pray for Tracy and the B2B staff as they transition.
The Chidesters are fully settled in their new home. Both are considered “essential workers” so they are still going strong!
Trinity moved home from the dorms at TWU when they closed them after Spring Break. It is great to have her home doing online classes. She has started some of her Dietetics-specific courses and really likes them! (whew!)
Remington has made it over half way through her Freshman year. I should say, we have ALL survived over half of her Freshman year! :-) She has had some great opportunities and still has some decisions to make about sports direction, but is handling it all with maturity and joy.
Sierra has hit another growth spurt and plans to give Remington a run for the title of tallest McCarty girl! She is also growing in responsibility and initiative She is a good friend and a blessing to our family!
Maw (not pictured here, though she was with us) health has continued to improve and she appears to be back to normal! After last year’s experience, we were really concerned, but praise the Lord, He has been gracious! Thank you for your prayers for her!
Once a year, I gather our top leaders from across the continent for a time of encouragement, prayer, discussion, training, re-casting of vision, and fellowship! I consider it to be the most important meeting of the year. We call it a Fan-the-Flame Summit (from the passage 2 Tim. 1:6). This year, the theme was “Full Ownership and Responsibility” and it was the best we have ever had! 13 Leaders gathered, representing SI's work in 16 countries. We sang together, prayed together, shared meals together, planned together, learned from each other, solved problems together, laughed together - and came away with the full conviction that the Lord is with the work in which we are engaged. As my friend Floyd VanDeburgh says, “God wants this even more than we do!” I will share a few testimonies our National Directors shared from the work in 2019, then a few insights of my own:
“Through SI, I was able to plant a church in another region. We then relocated to a different part of town… and it was like starting all over. The new location was a stronghold of witchcraft - there were many witch doctors around. They told us boldly that they would not let the church succeed. Through the teachings of SI, we were able to open 9 cells within the area. On Sundays, all the cells gather together at the church. Every Thursday has been set apart as a day of evangelism. Every cell does evangelism in their neighborhoods - they invite people to come and then provide a simple meal. We have seen many come to Christ through this. Our vision is that all 9 cells will grow into full churches over time. We ask for your prayers so God can help us to continue to defeat the spirit of witchcraft. 3 witch doctors have come to faith so far and burned their charms and jujus.” - Pastor Deo Mpinga, Mwanza, Tanzania
“One victory we had last year was that there was a man who would stand outside the church on Sundays and then follow the new believers we won to the Lord to their homes. He would tell them not to come back to church, because it was bad. But this man suddenly became paralyzed one day from the waist down. This lasted for many days until he contacted my wife and asked us to come and pray for him. We did… miraculously, he was able to start walking again by that evening. He has now come to faith in Christ and is part of the church!” - Victor Ouedraogo, National Director, Burkina Faso
I have been a pastor for 19 years before SI was brought to me. It has changed my church and my life. I caught fire last year - We now have 83 leaders in training, and 30 new leaders trained. Between January 1, 2020 and today, we have won 157 new souls, and have started 7 new cells. The demand for this training is very high because of the good teaching it contains. This training has brought new life to our Bible Studies - starting a revival among them which has led to much evangelism. New leaders are being identified and they are being equipped.” - Bishop Joseph Musana, National Director, Uganda
During our annual Fan-the-Flame, we always schedule some experience we can all engage in together. This year, Pastor Deo (our local representative) took us to an overlook of the city of Mwanza and Lake Victoria (the 2nd largest lake in the world). We then went on a brief boat tour on Lake Victoria - complete with unintended crocodile encounter at the dock! It was awesome. Here are some shots from our time together, including the boat ride.
The Last Day...
I hesitate to share the following, because it will sound like "tooting my own horn," but I am going to share it to illustrate both the perspectives on leadership that we regularly encounter in contrast to the type of leadership we train toward and seek to model. We try to make the Fan-the-Flame Summit a time of refreshing, for our National Directors. Therefore, we do not burden them with teaching topics for main sessions. However we do want them to be involved and have a voice to the other leaders - so we request a different National Director to provide a Devotional each morning of the Summit. On the final day, it was Bishop Musana's (Uganda) turn.
Musana is the newest member of our team. He shared from the word about how working together is imperative for us to fulfill God's calling. He also shared two statements, which stuck with me: "Our destinies are entangled with the people we are connected to." and "Where the big drums are, the small drums sound little." The first statement is wonderful! The second is concerning because it reflects a perspective of leadership I have seen throughout Africa. The "big drum" or the senior leader is seen as someone whom you never question, and who does not serve those he leads - no humility is necessary - and the "small drums" or everyone else is to be silent and simply run around doing what the "big drum" says. Musana then looked at me and said, "I would like our 'big drum' to have us kneel before him so he can pronounce a blessing upon us."
If you know me at all, then you will already know that this request was distressing to me - but more, it goes against the type of leadership I try to teach and model. It is not the model of leadership I see Jesus providing. So I requested a brief intermission, during which I acquired a pitcher, bucket, water, and some towels. I placed a chair in the middle of the room. I then asked Musana to come forward and sit in the chair. I told him I would not have him kneel before me, but I would show him the type of leadership we encourage in Strategic Impact. I then knelt before him and washed his feet. I then looked him in the eye, told him that I loved him, and prayed for him. This was followed by every one of the other leaders. They were shocked! I don't believe any of them had experienced a leader washing their feet (literally or figuratively). Most wept... and so did I. Here are a few photos some of the leaders took during this special time.
Immediately after the Fan-the-Flame, we traveled a short distance to a church, where over 100 local leaders from across Mwanza were gathered to hear about SI, the work we do, and how we can partner together to saturate Mwanza with the gospel. During this time of encouragement, Sainet shared a testimony below, which was very humbling to me. There was much excitement and buy-in! Those leaders were invited to join others on the other side of Mwanza (a new location for Strategic Impact).
2 days later, SI expanded and launched on the other side of Mwanza where 78 new leaders were trained and 118 new souls were won for Christ including this testimony (photo on Right), “What a joy it was to lead these two Moslem young ladies, wearing their Hijab on the street in Kayeze this afternoon. Born again and washed by the power of the blood of Jesus. Hallelujah!” As a sign of gratitude, our teaching team was presented with Maasai-style blankets. The next morning, one of the pastors trained showed up at the guest house where the team was staying. He was so thankful for the training that he brought the gift of a chicken to give to the team!
As you know, NONE of this would be possible without your support in prayer, encouragement, and giving!
THANK YOU for YOUR partnership!
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