It's Not About Me


[Nancy Kilpatrick is a nurse from York, Maine, who first visited Africa in 2005 as part of a COTN Venture Team to Malawi. She returned to Malawi in 2006, leading her own medical team. Sensing God’s call to go to Uganda, Nancy became a member of a COTN trauma counseling team that ministered to children and adults living in displacement camps in Lira, Uganda in June 2007. The following is a post-trip reflection on our ministry in Uganda and her role in it.]

Yesterday was difficult for me—the same “weepy” feelings one experiences without being sure why. I have not been able to get those dear Ugandan people out of my mind. My pastor preached a sermon recently about “holy discontent”—knowing there is something that God is urging us on to do, and being restless until we find it. I’m thinking about this a lot in relation to my recent trip, as well as my feelings that God is calling me to long-term ministry with COTN in Malawi, perhaps Uganda. Honestly, I’m wrestling with my own selfish reluctance to give up the comforts of my western life to be uncomfortable for His sake.

I’m reading a book called A Distant Grief by Kefa Sempangi about Uganda in the 1970s and the persecution of Ugandan Christians under Idi Amin. I have only read the first four chapters so far, but have been so blessed by it. Sempangi chronicles his work in establishing an orphanage in Kampala in the ‘70s, and shares about his frustration and despair in light of such overwhelming need—a feeling we have all shared. He writes: “I stared at Florence [the orphan he had just rescued], and in the deep silence of my frustration I heard the convicting voice of my Jesus, ‘Kefa, you are not the Messiah. You are not in charge of my vineyard. You are only one small worker, and this is the task that I have for you. This is the child I want you to take.’ In this humbling service of collecting orphaned children, God taught me of my own expendability. The need was far greater that all my resources and my limitations in light of the enormity of evil—it haunted me. I felt useless in God’s kingdom. But in this brokenness I learned that it was not I who was sufficient, but God. It was He who had provided the vision and it was He who would provide the ability. From the beginning to the end, it is His work.”

I think we all shared this brokenness, and the realization that Sempangi came to—that we are supposed to be faithful sowers of seed, and He will reap the harvest, as He wills. All He asks of us is to be faithful servants—broken bread and poured out wine. There is pain in the breaking and pouring out, to be sure, but “joy comes in the morning”! May we be faithful in the night, knowing that the morning is coming. Certainly, our burden is light in comparison to the suffering we have witnessed, yet God cares about us, as well, and desires to use us for His glory. Isn’t that amazing?

So, for me, I think my feelings have been about guilt that I am here, in such comfort and wealth, in comparison, and feeling unsure of having done anything in Uganda to really help those people. But God is so loving and faithful to speak to me through this book, and to remind me, yet again, that it’s not about me—it’s not about me! He sees the bigger picture, and to Him be the glory!