By Owen Phelps

Director, Yeshua Institute

Recently we sent our fourth and last contribution to obtain water service for a new Mission House in Kampala, Uganda – which prompted me to reflect on the power of our partnership with our donors.

It’s really amazing!

Javis Mugagga, our partner in Uganda, is also amazing.

God has abundantly blessed him with vision, tenacity, an incredible work ethic and a network of remarkable people to help him achieve his mission. With these graces he managed to obtain the resources to build the Mission House.

When I saw what it would look like when it was done (see photo), I was astounded.

Mission HouseBut with construction underway, Javis discovered that there was no cheap, easy way to get water to the Mission House. After trying a few makeshift options, he realized that the only way to assure a reliable water supply was to dig by hand a 1/3 mile trench and install a water pipe connecting the Mission House to the municipal water service.

And more, because municipal service is not consistently reliable, Javis would need a storage tank for backup when the municipal service falters.

That’s when he reached out to us. We didn’t have sufficient funds for this project, but Yeshua Board Member Dick Kunnert would not be deterred. He reached out to some of our donors and to others he hoped would become donors.

The response was stunning – which explains why we recently sent Javis a fourth payment to complete the Mission House’s water service project.

I remember meeting Javis when I visited Uganda in 2011. On a Saturday I presented a Leading Like Jesus Encounter for university students. More than 100 showed up – and I learned that Javis was the person responsible for that incredible turnout. Before the day ended, I also learned that Javis wanted to become a Facilitator so he could continue sharing the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus with his countrymen after I was gone.

We arranged the training the very next day.

Soon after I returned home to the States, Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga wrote to ask if we could return to present an Encounter for all of his priests, who he fervently wants to see develop as S3 Leaders – Servants, Stewards and Shepherds – following the teaching and example of Jesus.

We wanted to go. But unfortunately, we just didn’t have the resources. Then, miraculously, a first-time donor turned up and covered the entire cost of travel, accommodations and learning materials so that Dick Kunnert and Father Dave Beauvais, another Yeshua Board Member, could accept Archbishop Lwanga’s invitation.

This second visit gave us an opportunity to introduce Javis to Archbishop Lwanga – and that has led to three significant initiatives. Working with the Yeshua Institute and Kampala Archdiocesan officials, Javis has organized formation programs for 250 seminarians, 10 Catholic high schools (with a goal of 40 schools) and marriage support groups.

Javis wants his country and his church to be led by a new generation of Jesus-like S3 Leaders.

Back in August, as the Mission House took shape and Javis struggled to address its water issue, he wrote to us to say:

I see that I am going to spend the rest of my life working with the Catholic Church -- focusing on seminarians and high school and university students. I am convinced of the power of the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus to transform lives, and I envision a host of these people coming to our Mission House for formation programs.

Who would have guessed when we launched the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute that we would be helping to form Jesus-like Leaders among priests and laity halfway around the world?

None of this could have happened without our donors. They have made all of this possible – and their generosity has planted other seeds of sustained impact all well.

As Advent approaches, I’m looking forward to a busy autumn:

  • presenting a Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus Encounter in Indianapolis;
  • exploring what it means to be a Jesus-like Leader with a select class of leaders in a large Midwestern healthcare ministry;
  • providing free Facilitator Training to several graduates of a diocesan ministry formation program; and,
  • presenting our first ever worldwide webinar.

None of these initiatives would be possible without our donors’ generous support for the work we are doing – helping clergy, religious and laity live, love and lead like Jesus at work, at home, in their parishes and larger communities around the world.

Pope Francis has called all of us to continue developing as missionary disciples so that God’s plan for the world comes ever more into focus in the days ahead. Together with you we are trying to do our part.

In 2018 we hope to expand our impact on the church and the world – most especially leveraging the gift of technology so that we can share the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus with all of the more than one billion Catholics throughout the world.

But we know – as experience has taught us – that all of our efforts depend on the continued generosity of people like you.

As Advent approaches, it’s likely you will take stock of your discipleship in the past year and look ahead to how you can more closely mold your heart and mind to the heart and mind of Jesus in the coming year. I pray that a part of that effort will be your commitment to support our vital work in 2018. If that’s the case – and we pray that it is – just click here to donate.

Thank you and God bless you.