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As I sit to write this article, I ask myself the question, “What should I Spotlight?“

1.) Our time of worship, which is at 10:45am every Sunday morning,

2.) Our new mission statement, which is Impact Culture & Change the World with Love of Christ and in the Power of The Holy Spirit,

3.) Our diversity of leadership and membership, which is most evident in our new worship band, or 

4.) Our Mother’s Morning Out program, which is available from 8:45am to 1:00pm every weekday.

The problem is that the longer I sit and think, the more my recent mission trip to Uganda comes to mind (I spent half of October 2018 on a mission trip to Uganda, Africa). This is problematic because I cannot discuss my trip to Africa without being fully transparent about the work that The Lord accomplished in me while I was away on the trip.

While in Uganda, I had a lot of time to self-reflect. In this time of self-reflection, I discovered that I had become a bit more self-absorbed than I realized, or even care to admit. Though this discovery was initially painful, the people of Uganda helped me to realize that first world conveniences do not define who I am, nor do they control what I do. Moreover, it was through the faith of those who had no modern-day conveniences that I experienced love in a way in which I have never even seen it expressed before, I experienced community in a way that I have never seen it lived out before, and, even amidst extreme poverty, I witnessed the human race thrive in a manner that I did not know was possible apart from all of our first class luxuries that we are privy to here in the US.

Since our move to Buckhead a little over 8 years ago, The Lord has truly Blessed my family and I; we have since purchased a new house, a new car, and all of our children attend private school. However, prior to my trip to Uganda, instead of expressing gratitude for these Blessings, I became complacent and began to complain about things like the morning traffic on way to school, my desire for a bigger house, and my need for an addition car. But it didn’t take long to have a shift in perspective. Shortly after my arrival to the village of Busia in Uganda, my menial criticisms turned into encouragement, my unfounded complaints turned into expressed gratitude and I became thankful, once again, for the goodness of God in my lifeOnce this shift took place I was able to be fully present while we went from village to village bearing gifts and sharing the Good News of Jesus, feeding children and teaching them about the love of Christ, ministering hope to the hopeless and helpless, training local pastors and community leaders, breaking bread with fellow believers of a different nation and a different tongue, befriending the fatherless, caring for the orphans, and showing the Love of God to the least of these.

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, and I paraphrase, whatever we do to those who are considered least in our community and world, we are also do to Jesus.

The Christmas season in upon us once again and there is one thing that I have come to learn about this season; it can sometimes be a difficult one. One riddled with pain and bad memories. However, my challenge for us all this season, and perhaps in every season of life, is for us to shift our focus away from the things that we do not have and place our focus on the family, the job, the house, the car, and the schools that we do have. And my prayer is that we would constantly choose to be thankful and express our gratitude to both God and to others for the good that we experience in life.

From my family and our Buckhead Baptist church family, we wish you and your family a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

With Gratitude,

Pastor William Givens