How have you been blessed? It’s an over-used word, it seems: blessed. It has become a popular hashtag when tweeting about a child or a spouse. We tend to use it when we are feeling particularly pleased with an outcome: “I’ve been so blessed.”
A blessing can be “approval that allows or helps you to do something,” or a situation responsible for “bringing happiness, pleasure, or contentment.” For some it’s even something or someone “worthy of worship”. I recently heard of an experience that may encompass all of the above definitions.
When I spoke with Debbie Kertz about her participation in the Uganda Pastor Support project a few weeks ago, “blessed” is a word I heard many times. It has been two years since years since she made the decision to donate $1000 to support a pastor in Uganda. The pastors there are not paid by the church body or the local congregation; they must care for their families by their own means.
When Debbie attended Celebrate Uganda in 2013, she was in the midst of a career change; she had owned a small business for 30 years and was pursing a nursing degree. Earlier that year, she had lost her husband, Kevin, to cancer. These circumstances led her to want to help support a plan that would make healthcare readily available in an area that needed it. She spoke with Pastor Chuck that evening and committed to helping Pastor Peter, whose business plan proposed setting up a drug shop.
Since that night at Celebrate Uganda,“God has shown me many times how His blessings are always pouring out to his people,” says Debbie. “After I committed to the support of Pastor Peter, I prayed God would bless my gift. I had no expectations, but knew that it was in God’s hands.”
It was several months before Debbie heard any more about the project. She started to worry that something had gone wrong; that the money had not helped. Many times, she started to call me to check on the status, but each time, she opted to pray instead, “giving it back to God to bless.” And then, on a day that was so very important in her life, she received an answer. Debbie had just finished her state board nursing exam. As she got in her car, she received an email from Uganda with a detailed list of everything that had been purchased for the drug shop, photos and words of excitement from Pastor Peter. “I knew God’s plan was just beginning,” says Debbie.
Since that time, Debbie and Pastor Peter have exchanged emails numerous times. She has received pictures of his family and his son’s baptism, news about their growing youth program at church and even a copy of one of his sermons!
During my most recent trip to Uganda, Pastor Peter met me at our hotel with a gift for Debbie. It was a traditional Ugandan outfit, handmade by Peter, his wife, and their children. He asked that I deliver it to her back in the US. What an incredibly thoughtful gesture by this family!
A long list of people have been blessed by this experience. Pastor Peter and his family? Certainly! They have income now that allows Peter more time to minister to the community. The people in the Ugandan village who get to hear about God’s love? Absolutely! And Debbie? Of course.
“As I share this with you today, I am thanking God for all He has done.,” she says. “I find myself in awe of the many blessings He has given to those in Uganda. The biggest is that they have heard about Jesus! I find myself wondering why I’m so amazed by His work because with God all things are possible! It gives me joy to see the amazing handiwork of God. Through this, I have been blessed, too. Thank you Jesus!”
And thank you, Debbie!
Julie Stroder is Messiah’s Missions Coordinator and also the Missions Coordinator at Hearts & Hope for Uganda. She writes about missional living on Messiah’s blog.