Home For Holidays, Savoring Mentoring Moments

While living on campus at Uganda Christian University we stay in an apartment and both Mark and I cook a lot for the students, staff, pastors and friends who drop by to visit.  It is a wonderful time of catching up, doing one on one discipleship, assisting graduating students with writing their CVs, and teaching the practical application of God's Word.
  • Mark led the training of 4 different sessions on different aspects of discipleship and leadership. We had students from the Honors College and some from the Law Fellowship wanting to learn about the practical aspects of leadership, dealing with success, along with how to manage money from a spiritual and practical aspect. Over the past 12 years the students have told us they gain head knowledge but are not given an opportunity to put it into practice.  We are listening to their concerns and offering some things to help.
  • To demonstrate this in a practical, fun way, we are providing exercises that provide them with the opportunity to be problem-solvers. One of the exercises is called "Lost At Sea" which requires the teams to prioritize and lead through a crisis. The exercise provides specific information from the U.S. Coast Guard so there is professional guidance to the students. We learned a lot from the experience ourselves because both teams perished because their frame of reference was survival not rescue. This led to some very interesting discussions.
  • Saturday evenings have been "movie night." We show movies complete with popcorn in the apartment. On average we had 10-20 students with great discussions.  Mark and I found the students were relaxed and after a few times at "movie night " they opened up and felt safe sharing their views on different topics. We discussed relationships between men and women, is it ever OK to lie, how do you build trust and the practical discipline of inquiring of the Lord.
  • The Counseling Department at UCU asked Margaret to teach some classes on the practical aspect of career counseling with emphasis on our God-given skills, the book "What Color Is Your Parachute," and how to know yourself and present yourself to an employer knowing your transferrable skills.
  • Kingdom View ministry house is moving ahead. We researched contractors, suppliers and met with the architect and engineer to create a bid proposal for prospective contractors for the construction of the first building starting in January 2016.
  • Marriage counseling sessions and casual dinners for couples is a special time to talk about life, Biblical relationships and challenges we all face. Some are former students, pastors, friends and faculty and we love providing pastoral care to them during these small dinners...not to mention Mark and I love to cook!
  • We distributed to many students in leadership and provided Bibles to a church who requested Bibles for all the children who are able to read in their Children's Ministry. One of our former scholarship students, Joanitah works with the children in her church and requested our help. We have requests for more and our Bible fund is completely depleted.  Will you help?        
With grateful hearts,
Mark and Margaret

Lessons from the Blue Box

Thank the Lord for the eternal security we have in Him through faith in Jesus. For us it's the only thing that makes the security challenges we face on earth tolerable.
Margaret by the Blue Box
Our "Blue Box" freight container purchased to store supplies for the impending first phase construction of Kingdom View Fellowship Center has become a symbol to us of the fallen nature of man.
Sure there are more pressing issues in the world than securely storing construction supplies. For instance, Uganda Christian University where we stay in an apartment on campus now has closed all its gates except for one to vehicle traffic. Armed guards patrol the campus at night. This is a result of the attack by terrorists on a campus in neighboring Kenya earlier this year which claimed 147 lives. We also will be going through the security gauntlets in the airports next month as we return for a year-end visit to the U.S.
The Blue Box is not about terrorists, but nevertheless is a result of man's depravity. When we purchased it, we were advised to get a lock that would sound an alarm if tampered with. Makes sense. Then we were told any single lock on the outside of the container would be too simple for thieves to break open. So we were advised to get a welder to cut a small slot covered with a sliding piece of metal in the front door of the container. This would allow putting an arm through the slot to reach two more latches to be installed inside (one up and one down). These latches also would be secured with locks. Of course, the new slot on the front door also needs a lock. So now we're up to four locks on the container. Then we were advised the keys for the locks we purchased are too easily counterfeited so we need to buy another different type of lock to add to the outside of the container. One container. Five locks.
We mentioned to our Uganda friends that lighting is always helpful. We were told thieves have no problem stealing the lighting as they did on campus next door where they took lights from an outdoor basketball court adjacent to the main gate manned by guards.
Of course, it's also mandatory to have a fence or wall around your compound. Chain link fence with barbed wire or razor wire on top are options. There's also the wall with broken glass embedded on the top. (We opted for chain link with barbed wire softened by bougainvillea, a thorny flowering vine that climbs and obscures the fence).
And there are always armed guards if you are willing to go to the expense. Except beware, we are told, many guards act as informants and accomplices with the thieves. Okay, then, we will get a couple of watchdogs. Only thing is watchdogs are often targets for poisoning.
Yikes! The answer seems to be to take all the reasonable precautions then pray and trust the Lord for protection.
We've often wondered what life would be like if Adam and Eve had not taken a bite of the apple - no sin, no locks, etc. Then we remember we have the joy of knowing that someday we will find out when we're called home to heaven.

Mark and Margaret Noblin

Brides and Cows

A growing and delightful part of our ministry in Uganda is pre-marriage counseling. In addition to working privately with couples who are engaged to be married, Mark recently taught a Uganda Christian University world view class session on the Christian model for marriage.

Carrying gifts at "The Introduction"
Our counseling and teaching is Bible-based and named "God's Plan for Men, Women and Marriage." While there are many cultural differences between the U.S. and Uganda in the process of courtship and tradition, we focus on universal truths from the Bible.

Starting in Genesis, we look at the creation of man and then woman as his companion and helper in a perfect environment. The serpent's deception leading to the fall of Adam and Eve resulted in curses from God. The woman has pain in childbirth and her desire is for her husband (she is emotional and relational). The man must toil hard to provide (he is task-oriented).

The antidote to the curses resulting from buying the serpent's lies is in Ephesians Chapter 5. Husbands are to love their wives (meeting the woman's relational and emotional needs) and wives are to respect their husbands (meeting the man's need for affirmation of a job well done). Key topics we cover include mutual trust, respect, love, communication, two becoming one, backgrounds, expectations, goals, finances and intimacy.

Observing the marriage traditions in Uganda is a huge challenge for couples. So much so that they form wedding committees made up of friends and family to help raise funds for the events.  Traditionally, the man is required to provide a bride price to her parents. Cows are the usual medium of exchange, but the prospective groom may also be expected to provide gifts including such things as refrigerators, television sets, furniture or even a car. Smaller gifts also are required for close relatives of the bride, such as aunties.

Mark n Margaret Introduction
Mark in kanzu, Margaret in gomesi
for "The Introduction"
These items are presented to the parents at an elaborate ceremony in the presence of guests prior to marriage called "The Introduction."  Families hire negotiators for each side to iron out the final price (this actually is pre-determined but re-created by the professionals for the benefit of guests before the gifts are brought in with great fanfare).  Introductions also include entertainment and a feast. The prospective bride and groom make separate appearances until the negotiations are complete, but then they come together as a couple to be recognized. Before Christianity in Uganda, the introduction was the marriage ceremony. Now Christian couples defer consummation of the marriage until after a church wedding.  A reception follows the wedding.

The great expense of following these traditions has led some couples who cannot afford them to live together in common law marriages. Culturally, it is more acceptable to live in a common law marriage than to ignore the traditions and have a simple wedding ceremony without an introduction.

While a few churches have offered wedding ceremonies apart from the traditions, the change is slow. On a positive note the old view that if a husband does not beat his wife, he does not really love her is changing and a better understanding of how to show love exists.  Also, many husbands and wives refuse to disclose or share their money with one another. There is great pressure for the wife to get pregnant in the first year of marriage to prove her fertility. There also is a preference for bearing male children and some men leave their wives if they only produce girls for another woman to try to produce a male heir.

In all our teaching, we put the Bible first. When traditions do not violate scripture, we can appreciate the culture. When traditions or practices do violate scripture, we point that out and do not participate in them.

Blessings and prayers,

Mark and Margaret Noblin

Up We Go!

We are excited to announce we are ready to move ahead with construction of the beginning phase of Kingdom View Fellowship Center and Guest House across from Uganda Christian University!

For years we have been teaching the necessity of laying our foundation on the Rock of Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27). What a blessing it is now to witness building on that foundation both literally and figuratively.
New life; new friends and shoes

After teaching about being a believer the lady asked Margaret if she would pray with her to receive Jesus. Margaret noticed she was barefoot so she left her flipflops with her.

After two years of planning, we expect to break ground by late September and have the foundation completed

this year for the Priscilla and Aquila Ministry and Missionary House. We believe we will be able to move in by next summer. Thanks to all of you whom the Lord used to help get Kingdom View off the ground. This is the first phase of a long range plan including meeting and media space, outdoor pavilion, guest house and retail training center.

We also are delighted to see those mentored in the ministry building on their foundation of Jesus by sharing and telling of His love through selfless ministry. We spent July 4 deep inside a sugar cane plantation preaching and teaching with John Mugowa, a Rock graduate who was ministering at his childhood home.  John, who now has his own IT business, has started Develop a Child Africa Ministries.

He focuses not only on sharing the Gospel with children, but also meeting their needs holistically through ministering to their parents. One program provides goats and pigs to the parents. As the animals reproduce, they give back one of the offspring to the ministry so another family can benefit.

Laying foundations on campus continues to be a focus with our ongoing series of practical discipleship seminars. It is encouraging to see these seminars spawning lasting fellowship groups of students who take the initiative to form their own Bible study groups after they complete their study with The Rock.
John presents Bibles at his boyhood village

As we teach each student, we ask them to share what they are learning with two other students; whether it be through the seminars; identification of God-given skills as Margaret helps them develop their resumes;  or insights they gain from discussions on "Movie Night" every Saturday.

Our current seminar is for 20 Honors College students with the topic "God's Plan for Money." Students voluntarily meet for three two-hour sessions. They also are divided into teams and meet between sessions for Bible study and to answer questions. The recent assignment was on King Solomon and the Book of Ecclesiastes. The students were fascinated with the practical presentation of one of our Uganda board members, John Ggayi Bugembe. Hearing from a strong Christian, successful businessman with a great marriage and family provided them with a much-needed role model.

Blessings and prayers,

Mark and Margaret Noblin


“The best leader is a great follower of Jesus” is the first tenet of our Rock Leadership Creed and the basis for upcoming leadership training we have been invited to provide to Honors College students at Uganda Christian University.
Team from previous Rock seminar for Honors College students

The concept of “followship” is not as familiar as the many teachings on leadership. It is similar to the “servant leadership” model but with perhaps more emphasis on following along with serving.

Followship is not leading from behind, but rather seeking God’s leading and following hard after Jesus. As we do, others follow us. The Bible tells us Saul failed as the first king of Israel because he impatiently acted on his own rather than following God’s directions. “But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command." (1 Sam 13:14)

Joseph, son of Jacob, is a great example of one who followed God at every step. As a result, he overcame being thrown in a well by his brothers and imprisoned due to false accusations to save his people and be second in power only to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Jesus also reminds us that without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Other key followship and leadership aspects which we will share with the Honors College students in three two-hour sessions on consecutive Sunday afternoons beginning May 24 are:

*  A leader leads by example. (1 Cor 4:16)

*  A leader does everything as if unto the Lord, not men. (Eph 6:7)
*  A leader serves rather than being served. (Matt 20:28)
*  A leader considers others more important than self. (Phil 2:3-4)
*  A leader prays without ceasing, giving thanks and inquiring upon the Lord.
  (1 Thess 5:17)

*  Without Jesus, we can do nothing; with Jesus we are more than conquerors.
  (John 15:5; 
Rom 8:37)

As always, we will make the training fun by dividing into teams with friendly competition for points based on attendance, timeliness, riddles, problem-solving exercises and team-building activities. All who faithfully attend will receive certificates and the team which collects the most points during the training will receive a special treat at the end.

Please pray God will make an eternal difference in the lives of the Honors College students to lead others by following hard after Him.

Blessings and prayers,

-- Mark and Margaret Noblin

Ripe for the Harvest

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
John 4:35

Little did we know when we began to purchase land for Kingdom View that God was putting us in the middle of an upcoming boom in construction of student housing (hostels) for some of the 8,000 students at Uganda Christian University.

We are purchasing the land from the estate of a former bishop who had a small hostel down the hill from us. Now we have new buildings on the north and east sides of our property that can house nearly 1,000 students. And two more hostels being built are within a three-minute walk from Kingdom View property. How exciting it is to be located where we can do life with this many students, right next door.  As we develop more relationships with the students and others – we believe it is God’s affirmation of His leading to us to disciple those He puts in our path.

To date, we have purchased three of six plots to complete the 1.25 acre acquisition. A final payment for a fourth plot (about $9,000) is due by June 15. We are praying for favorable consideration of a proposal to provide an additional $53,000 to complete purchase of all the plots, plus more funds to get us started on Phase One of our construction plan. Please pray as a decision we are told will be made by May 30.

With the Noblins’ move to Uganda last month, the need for Kingdom View as a place for discipling, teaching and mentoring students and others wanting to grow in their walk with the Lord continues to be highlighted. They have been busy as guest instructors in the UCU Christian counseling department helping students incorporate their identity in Christ into career planning.  Also, the Noblins have the joy of assisting young couples in pre-marriage counseling.

Hope ministers to children while taking her bar course in Uganda.
Margaret is busy providing assistance to students and graduates trying to sort out their skills and life plans.  She incorporates an evaluation from the book What Color Is Your Parachute? along with a discussion of how God has designed each of us for a significant purpose.   She helps them create one page resumes which paint a thorough picture of their skills, education and outside interests in a quantitative way.  Providing mock interviews and practice aptitude tests helps them gain confidence before appearing for their job interviews.  It also helps them discern what jobs are best suited in the context of  their life plans.

In April, Northwest Bible Church in Dallas included the Noblins among its list of missionaries receiving financial and prayerful support from the church body. We are excited to begin planning a short term mission trip for people to come and participate next year in what God is doing through the ministry.