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1/28/19

Uganda Trip Updates - Post #4: Thankful

Read updates from Pastor Larry Szyman as he and one of FCC's elders make the final due diligence trip to ensure that FCC's goal of seeing an African-led, disciple making, church planting movement takes root in northern Uganda. 

Thankful

I'm currently on a late night flight from Entebbe, Uganda, to Amsterdam and I am already reflecting on what has transpired over the 10 days since I have left Hudson. My level of confidence that we are going to see an African-led, disciple making, church planting movement take root is quite high. I had a number of good ideas and did some careful listening as we went through the first round of training in conjunction with Tutapona and our dear friends Carl and Julie Gaede. I had good direction on what had to take place to see a second round bear enduring fruit. God brought an incredible gift to me and our movement in FCC Elder John Blum. The contribution he made in order to see the successful dress rehearsal we just finished was really significant. I can confidently say we are moving more certainly, more hopefully and more united because of John's efforts. Let me share a few observations I have made on this trip about our brother, leader and friend.

John is...
Thorough...the care he exhibits as he takes dreams and begins reverse engineering the enterprise is comforting. He considers every move from different angles and is able to inquire and probe until a desirable solution is agreed upon. The amount of insight and direction that he can fit on a spread sheet is noteworthy (and occasionally overwhelming). It's not being nit-picky; this attention to detail puts others in a position to succeed. In this case, the others are the St. Croix Valley LEAD Team, Four Corners Ministries and 44 church leaders from three nations. You should see the way he packs a suitcase!

An encourager...John is quick to praise others. He seems to enjoy pointing out the contribution that others make to the team and does so in a manner that is rooted in insight and sincerity. Encouragement like the type John brings can be the difference between perseverance and giving up. His words are motivating and life giving.

Gifted...the skills he gained in his career as an executive at 3M, especially those tied into work overseas, have been a great asset as we seek to take ideas and implement them in a culture that is significantly different than ours. His giftedness does not come across with an air that says "watch me," but helps others to see the steps they can take in order to flourish. I have appreciated how he has taken scores of ideas and opinions and turns them into actionable steps on the way to completing the mission.

Humble...he is not trying to make a name for himself, but is constantly seeking the welfare of others on the way to getting the job done. There is a quiet, careful, supportive tone to the way has has assisted me. And assist me he has. In essence, John has been (and I hope he will continue) holding my hand as this process has been unfolding. He offered me a number of different items as I expressed a need. Things as small as a Q-Tip, and as large as an aisle seat. He came not be served, but to serve.

An elder...this is consistent with how John has been leading and serving at FCC for years. We are fortunate to have a man of his heart and skill assisting the mission and providing oversight and shepherding for our family of families.

Retired...He is using his retirement to give more time to ministry. He wasn't quite sure all that retirement had in store, but he has put his heart and skill to great use as he has walked with me and our team preparing for the official kick off of this missional cohort in May. Yes, he has more free time to share with his beloved JoAnn (he talks highly of her often), but he is not letting any grass grow under his feet (or should I say icicles!). He is taking this season to double down on his kingdom investment and from my observation is finding meaning and joy in the process.

I wanted to publicly thank John and let the FCC body know how kind God has been to me and the shared dream we unveiled in 2018. God willing, January of 2022 will result with an entrustment ceremony in Uganda where Acholi and Ma'di leaders will strengthen existing and establish new churches for their people groups and beyond. Thank you, dear brother, we are better because you are part of the body.

Also, if you already are or nearing retirement, let me encourage you to contact me and let's dream about how you can make this next season of your life richer than you have anticipated.

It doesn't have to be overseas (although we have a group going to Thailand this summer!), there are plenty of ways you can impact the body, your neighbors, who knows? Don't allow yourself to fade into passivity, There is an unshakeable kingdom that you can help advance as together we walk in the way of Jesus in the power of the Spirit.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life

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