Finding him, finding me

This morning I despaired. There’s this theory that is supposed to guide our work. The idea is that you search out the good things God is doing, then you join in. The problem was that this morning, I was overwhelmed with recent events and negative thoughts. We’ve been here 18 months, and this morning I felt like God isn’t up to much at all. Some of the thoughts.

  • I was collecting water from the borehole this morning, and two 12 ish year old boys were pushing into the line, and not listening to the 20-25 year old woman telling them to take their turn. I picked up the boys’ jerry cans twice and took them to the back of the line. They didn’t care and just pushed in again. I ended up throwing a jerry can away I was so frustrated. There was a massive sense of entitlement purely due to their ‘superior’ gender. Here, being a man is just better – its horrible.
  • Many people I come in contact with in my old and new job say they are Christian, but its abundantly clear they are only concerned about finding any way possible to get more money.
  • We know way too many fathers who have enough money, but are utterly unconcerned that they wreck their kids’ lives by not paying their school fees.
  • Our new pastor has been to our church only once in the last 6 weeks.

Then I went to church. I didn’t really want to this morning. I arrived very late, after the sermon had started. I looked up and Gerrard was preaching, one of my favourite people here. He lives right on the breadline, and fixes bikes by day – not a lucrative job at all. With all this financial pressure, he gives up his entire Thursday to counsel people and pray for them, anyone who comes through the church door. He’s so caring and a wonderful listener. There are no mental health workers or counsellors here, and this is the only chance many people will get for emotional and spiritual healing. We’ve seen people inspired and loads lifted. After his sermon, half the church came up to be prayed for, and the place was electric

I awoke from my stupor, and was overwhelmed with guilt at my negative thoughts. I was blind and full of bitterness. It was like God held out his hand to me then slapped me a couple of times in the face. God is up to something, despite the mess.

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19 Responses to Finding him, finding me

  1. Kaye says:

    Nick – you’re human 😄 It’s ok to feel frustrated with people and life and……. from time to time.
    You and Tessa are such an inspirational couple and we, and others, have so much respect and love for the huge task you’ve taken on in Gulu.
    Be gentle with yourself.
    💛 from us both.

  2. Fung says:

    God is certainly up to something. You my friend, are an inspiration. Fung

    • ntlaing says:

      Cheers man, would be great some second-year university style good times over here. Would be nice to get a Dainel Fung update e-mail soon too 😉

  3. Peter Carrell says:

    Your post has lifted my heart!

  4. Dorothy Laing says:

    We will be praying that God might work in those specific areas of concern; Gender equity, authentic faith, paternal responsibilities in education, pastoral care and that you both will be refreshed and strengthened as you continue to be channels of His grace. Love your blog!… Dorothy Laing Bhanabhai

  5. abjakisa says:

    On several occasions, I have felt the same way as you. Prior to reading your post, I wasn’t sure if I still or not cared anymore. but to be honest, my Spirit has been lifted higher than ever after reading this. I was in Gulu over the weekend and attended the same Church but probably a different service. I didn’t have the strength to go to Church as well. I saw a bus turned upside down on Gulu-Kampala highway (lots of injuries), aged people suffering and no one seem to bother, People drinking days and nights without thinking of what would become of their families’ future. I kept on wondering if God still cares anyway. To be honest, it wasn’t my first time asking myself that. Sometimes I felt failures in understanding if God really knew what he was doing, in all cases, I was always filled with lost of negative energies that drove me away from thinking of the good that God does and the few people (I mean really very few) that still do the right things. Sisko was the sermon taker yesterday. I also reached late and it was during sermon that I reached. her words were so touching, she gave a testimony about her family and stuffs and I related this to what I have been seeing around. After that she invited for testimonies from the congregation and I felt so guilty after hearing from a few. I knew I had judged God wrongfully. in any case, who was I to do that anyway? I am not supposed to tell him what to do or don’t do. My face was covered in guilt and shame and was very uncomfortable. I thought everyone saw that. I felt really sad. I humbled down myself and said only three (3) little words “God I’m Sorry” and it kind of worked for me. as for now, looks like my Spirit is flying now and all thanks to your wonderfully timed post.

    The most important thing is the ending paragraph “……..I awoke from my stupor, and was overwhelmed with guilt at my negative thoughts. I was blind and full of bitterness. It was like God held out his hand to me then slapped me a couple of times in the face. God is up to something, despite the mess.”

    Lots of Love Nick…….

    • Les Brighton says:

      Hi Abjakisa: I’m a friend of Nick’s and Tessa’s from New Zealand. And of course we’ve never met, but I wanted to say thank you for your testimony here too. Isn’t it amazing that we today can walk the walk of faith that all the saints and heroes of the bible did. We see them as saints and heroes now, but they lived just as we do: not understanding how God works, not perhaps seeing what he is doing, but trusting him nonetheless. I was reading about Abraham in Romans 4 the other day and he is held up there as an example of faith. But his faith wasn’t in God’s promise — because nothing he saw gave him any reason to expect that it would come true. Quite the contrary (v.19). But he trusted the One who >made< the promise — and that was what made him God's trusted friend. How amazing that God trusts us too….
      Grace and joy from him wherever the journey takes you today.

      • abjakisa says:

        Wow, Thanks Les Brighton. Thanks

      • ntlaing says:

        Thanks so much for your own story Brian and your wise reply Les. Just so you know Brian, Les is a (slightly :p) older guy from our church in New Zealand. He has been a great mentor for us for some years and preached at our wedding! When he says something there’s often something profound there.

  6. Jean Catherine Hollis says:

    Dear Nick
    Although Ray and I live our lives in a very different context to you and Tessa at present, your blog struck a chord with me. Sometimes the unfairness of situations and life, temporarily overwhelms me, as it recently has done. I seem to be constantly reminding myself that life and mission are messy – get on with it Jean. The lovely thing is, time and time again, in these times of despair, God provides something that lifts our spirits, so we can carry on. May there always be God-gifts to help you carry on.
    Love to you and Tessa.

    • ntlaing says:

      Thanks Jean, you’re right that many of the challenges are the same around the world, just in different ways and on different scales. Its true that God seems to break in at the times of greatest challenge, all through the bible we see that as well. I’ll get on with it here if you will over there :D.

  7. Ray says:

    Hi Nick,
    Gulu was never going to be easy – in any direction. The history of the town with LRA incursions and the violence that was dished out to the young; the fear they lived with over many years; being forced to be part of LRA; the lack of parenting through being orphaned by violence or Aids; the level of poverty, has raised a generation that a New Zealand culture/background has never had to deal with or really understand. Unfortunately it is the wrong people who achieve prominence through their actions and attitudes, which have been shaped by this environment. Your anger and frustration is understandable and justified.

    From your blogs, it is evident that you and Tessa are having positive impacts on the lives of many of the people you deal with, and your willingness to be part of trying to improve the lot of those around you, must be rubbing off. It is like tossing a stone into a pond; it causes a small ripple that keeps moving out. You may not see where the ripple goes, but it will brush many.

    God also provides reminders from time to time that He has you on His radar, to give you a measure of peace and comfort- by supplying your favourite pastor when you are down, and giving you positive feedback from among those you work with.

    As I said at the top – it isn’t easy, but know that the thoughts and prayers of many in Burnside-Harewood are with you. Also Jean and I miss the two of you lots.



  8. Matt Watts says:

    Hey Nick and Tessa,
    Amongst the mess, God is at work. Thanks for your post, your honesty and courage in the face of many challenges. Keep on walking in the strength he gives, and know you have many praying for you here at st tims and st james.

  9. Look forward in sharing this messy journey with you guys. Love you lots! xxx

  10. Gabby Axcell says:

    I found this comment profound:
    Many people I come in contact with in my old and new job say they are Christian, but its abundantly clear they are only concerned about finding any way possible to get more money.

    Christians ( in NZ) are also concerned about finding any possible way to keep their money😐.
    Love Gabby

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