Thursday, February 28, 2013

God Fulfills His Own Eternal Desire With the Creation of Man

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26–27 ESV)
““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20–26 ESV)

We Pray Because God Prays

God has always existed in divine fellowship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is persons and that is why humans are persons with form, emotion, and the need for community. We pray because God prays. Usually prayer is equated only with petition, and while it is true that petition is part of it, prayer is first about communion. Communion and petition begin with and spring forth from within God. We see this very clearly in Genesis 1:26 when God says, “let us make man in our image”. "Let us" is a clear indication of plurality, and that God is requesting participation from God in the divine purpose of creating man in his own image. Prayer begins with God speaking to God in order to actualize his eternal purpose. Man was not created in the image of angels or any other creature and the fact that there is plurality in God is not only suggested with the use of “Us” in God’s reference to himself but also in the very creation of mankind as man and woman: “God made man in his own image, male and female he created them”. It is not a singular that is in the image of God but a plurality of persons who would exist in fellowship as “one flesh”. This unity of persons is imaging the divine persons of the Godhead, who is a plurality in unity. 

This communion of the Godhead is nowhere more reflected than in the astounding prayer of Jesus in John 17:1-26. Jesus the Son is praying to the Father. The son is pre-existent according to verse 17:3 “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” and in 17:24 “ loved me before the foundation of the world.” When we overhear the Son speaking in ernest with his Father we are seeing the continuation of an eternal dialogue, one that harkens back to Genesis 1:26.

God Desires

In John 17:24 Jesus says, “Father, I desire...” we must at once stop here and behold that God desires. God the eternal Word is asking God his eternal Father for something that only his Father can give him. In Genesis 1:27 we see that the creation of man in God’s own image included the woman, “In the image of God He created him; male and female he created them”. This gives us insight that Genesis 2:18-24 has implications about the nature of God. God showed man that he would be fulfilled when he had a helper comparable to him; the woman. Next, God revealed to Adam the need for fellowship with a creature of similitude with himself by bringing every creature before Adam to name. Adam realizes that he was alone and needed a companion to fulfill his own desire for unity and fellowship. This loneliness was the birthplace of desire and I believe also reflected the desire in God for another person in his own image compatible with himself. The fact that God said, it is not good for man to be alone gives us a view into the desire of God. It is not good for man to be alone because it is not good for God to be alone. He also would find fulfillment with a companion that looked like himself. Therefore God determined to make man in his own image for fellowship with himself. Ephesians 5:31-32 shows that we are on the right track with this train of thought. Paul expounds upon Genesis 2:24, “Therefore man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. He actually says that this is about Christ and the Church. It was good according to the will of the Father that his Son should have a bride. This in fact is the desire of the Son as well. That his people (the bride) would be with him beholding his glory for eternity in divine fellowship. God wanted to extend his fellowship and the creation of man was God’s answer to his own desire for a spouse comparable to himself.

The People of God are Brought into Divine Fellowship

God is uniting his bride to himself, involving her in the shared life of the Trinity forever. There are several ways that God has invited his people into the triune fellowship. One, in the experience of love, “that the world may know that you... loved them even as you loved me.” God loves us the same way he loves himself and he revealed this through Christ. Second, The fellowship or unity of the spiritual relationship that exists in God, “I in them and you in me” shows that we are being brought into the very life and fellowship of the Trinity. Third, we are brought near in order to behold and worship forever the beauty and glory of Christ, “That they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory”. This is the most wonderful thing that God could give to any creature, for to see him is to be filled with joy unspeakable and never ending. The very desire of the Son that we would be near him and behold his Glory is also the thing that will satisfy the heart of the bride eternally. 

God Replenishes Eternal Longings with the Creation of Man
It is this longing in God for a bride that troubled my mind. God is eternally happy, he does not need anything, so how then can he possibly have longing or desire for anything? Was God the Son lonely when he asked his Father for a bride? Can God be lonely when he is with God? If God eternally exists in holy fellowship, always loving and yielding and joyful in himself then why make man? Why make man if he is satisfied without man? 
First we need to see that in order to have joy one must have desire, for happiness is essentially desire satisfied. In that case we can ask, doesn’t God fulfill the desire of God without need for man? Doesn’t he have the power to replenish his own longing? The answer to this is yes and therefore brings us into a very powerful vision of God’s nature. Only God can exist with eternal longing and yet be forever happy because he has the power to replenish his own longings at all times forever. A man on the other hand depends on God for this kind of fulfillment and without God is left in the eternal sadness of unfulfilled longing. God’s longings make room for him to be eternally full and happy for God is the only being that has the capacity to be empty and full, longing and satisfied and never in despair that for one moment he will not be able to fulfill his own eternal longings. “...the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:10).

Why Man?
Now we behold a mystery: why God created man. Not because he needed man or was unhappy or unfulfilled. No, God created man because he has the power to replenish his own longings eternally and when he thought of what would please his own heart the most it was the creation of man. God has unlimited power and can do  whatever he wants to bring himself joy forever and what he came up with was you and me. You and I are the dream of God’s heart.

Just look at John 17:24 again and see that it was an omnipotent God who could provide for the Son eternal joy by giving him the gift of his people: “they also, whom you have given me”. What is important to understand is that it is the Father that is fulfilling the Son and making him eternally happy and it is the Son that is making the Father eternally happy, therefore they are not dependent on man. God is answering God. God is fulfilling God with his most prized and thoughtful creation, for he has the power to do anything he desires, even create persons like himself; the object of his greatest affection. Imagine the Father looking upon the Son and saying “fulfill the dream of my heart” and to this the Son responds by redeeming the children of God and presenting them to him. The Son looks upon the Father and says, “Father fulfill the dream of my heart” and the Father gives him a spotless wife who will share in his eternal purpose. In order to replenish eternal desire the Father and the Son created you and me. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

God Loves Uganda: Our First Response

We feel the need to give our friends some clarity as to why we are being called homophobes and the propagators of hate on the New York Times. A more comprehensive response will be forthcoming as we are able to get a full viewing of the film.

From what Rachelle and I are seeing in this NYT clip and some other things we have listened to, the premise of the movie is deeply flawed and deceptive in how it is portraying the entire issue. For the record, we do not hate homosexuals nor condone violence against them. This should be evidenced by the fact that we so willingly welcomed Roger Ross Williams into our lives. 

One of the major flaws of the film is oversimplifying the homosexual issue in Africa and blaming American evangelicals as the primary fomenters of gay hatred. This premise completely ignores the context of African tribal cultures. It is obvious that Roger does not live here nor understand these cultures. 

IHOP-KC’s involvement and influence in Uganda is drastically overstated. They do not have a single missionary in the country that we know of. Lou Engle held “The Call” one time that had a whopping 1,000 people in attendance. IHOP-KC is simply not a major player in Uganda.

There are bigger issues here that are under fire: the nature and law of God and the gospel itself. These need a deeper discussion in their relationship to the state and inclusiveness of the church, instead of just sound bites conveniently molded into a false narrative. We love and forgive Roger and pray for his salvation.

Friday, November 16, 2012

2012 in a Glimpse

It seems our blog posts have become an annual event! The day-to-day intensity of the work the Lord has put in our hands really does seem to squeeze out most non-essential activities, but we know that the testimonies that God is bringing forth here are powerful, and we pray that they will bless and encourage you as well as glorify God. Here are some brief highlights from this year. If you would like to receive more regular communication from us including urgent prayer requests, please send us an email at to be added to our email update list.

At the beginning of 2012 we took in a new class of students, a total of 13 from three African nations. Eight of the students from last year continued on to the second year of training in leadership and missions. Each one of these students are very special, and have really laid hold of the call of God on their lives. It has been our honor to work with them over the past 2 years.

In July of 2011, our long-time friends Bob and Patty McGowan and their daughter Bethany moved to Tororo to take over for Paul and Jean McFate. The McFates were the original IAM missionaries in this town and were the forerunners of IAM in East Africa. As they retired, the McGowans came in at just the right time. It has been so sweet having friends from home become our neighbors.

In August of 2011, we had a wonderful addition to our Youth Ablaze Africa team. The Hodges family: Paul, Karen, Lucas, David, Melodie and Aimee, moved to Tororo from New York to work with us. They have now been here for over a year and have really been a God-send! They are so helpful in the ministry, but it has also been lots of fun having more Americans around for us and our girls :)

This June through September, our family travelled to the United States sharing about the African missions movement and the unreached people group task. It was so encouraging to meet with so many believers who are praying and sowing into the great commission.We stopped in 12 different states in that time, and connected with many churches and houses of prayer. At the end of the trip we had our first ever Youth Ablaze Africa fundraiser banquet and silent auction. It was a blast and very successful! We raised about $10,000. Thank you to all those who helped make it possible, we couldn't have done it without you.

Right now we are bringing our 4th year of the Discipleship School to a close and the students are graduating on November 24th. All the first year students are on a mission trip led by Paul Hodges in Pokot, Kenya, a tribe where they went last year and planted a brand new church. They will be ministering there for 12 days and officially opening the newly built church building! The second year students are ministering in a mostly Islamic town of Kenya called Isiolo. Please pray for God to lead, guide, and protect them each step of the way as they share with these precious people.

We now have seven full-time missionaries working among least reached people groups. We have teams in Karamoja, Uganda; Teuso, Uganda; Toposa, South Sudan, and Eastern Ethiopia. Now, as these new graduates are sent out, we believe that we will be reaching into the Nubi of Uganda, the Swahili of Tanzania and the Garreh of Kenya, all Islamic tribes. We continue to ask the Lord for grace, favor and open doors for each of these native-missionaries.

This December Jesse will be travelling with a friend from the ACTS Missions School to Ethiopia and Djibouti. The trip is to pray and plan on how to effectively reach the least reached people groups of the Horn of Africa. God has continually been laying this region on our hearts and opening doors to minister there. We believe this will be a very strategic trip.

Well, I think that is enough for now. Thanks for your prayers and support, great things are happening!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 Forging Forward!

The last 18 months have been a literal whirlwind. We are currently in the States for 3 months traveling and sharing, and we are getting the chance to take a breath and look back over everything the Lord has been doing. Our general feeling is: WOAH! Just to summarize a bit, the Missions Base in Uganda is growing in size, in depth, and effectiveness. The Lord has been faithful to bring together the needed staff members from both Kenya and Uganda with specialties in the areas they are needed. He has also brought in an amazing group of young adults whose whole aim and passion in life is to serve the Lord. They are coming from at least a dozen different tribes and as many different walks of life. Our student body includes a married couple who were called into cross-cultural missions separately from a young age, a former street boy turned worship leader, three former Muslims who are preparing to go plant churches in Muslim areas, a young single mom turned preacher, and many other remarkable people with amazing stories of how God has brought them up and called them into His army! I hope to highlight some of their stories one at a time in this blog, as well as the church planters who are being sent out.

- 2010 School Photo -
18 Full-time Students, 1 Full-time Intercessor, 6 Full-time Missions Base Staff, and 6 Children

In the past year we have mobilized teams of African young adults on missions throughout Uganda, to the northern region of Karamoja, all the way across to the Western border with Congo. In December 2010, our graduating class took a three-week mission into Northern Kenya where they experienced what it is like to minister in a completely Islamic area. The testimonies are awe-inspiring; that God loves these people so much He is pouring out His spirit with miraculous healings, salvations and deliverances taking place.
Jesse was able to personally lead several people to the Lord, one of which is named Muhammad (pictured), and had been a Muslim and an alcoholic for his whole life (he is in his 30's). He is now one of the students going through the Discipleship School with a vision to return and reach his tribe and the surrounding tribes with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the year 2010 our team spent a total of 118 days in 20 different locations preaching the gospel and ministering to the needy with approximately 1166 souls confessing Christ as Lord and Savior! Praise God!!!

The Lord has always given us a focus on unreached, unengaged people groups, but more recently He has drawn our attention to some specific tribes in our region of the world and we are praying for open doors to send laborers in. God answers prayer and doors are opening! We received a request from a pastor friend in Mount Elgon Kenya for one
of our graduates to assist one of his members in planting a church in Southern Sudan where he had begun a Christian school. Joseph (pictured), one of our grads was ready to go, and as I right this he is on a difficult journey with another brother to work in a very remote area with no access to any real roads, power, phone, nothing! We are able to support him with a small among each month as well as covering his travel expenses. There has been no known evangelistic work in this tribe in at least 2 years. We are very excited about this new venture, and are praying for the Gospel to bear fruit in this hard and difficult land. Will you pray with us for Joseph and others like him who are going where no one else will go and for a church to be firmly established among the Toposa?

Lastly, a note regarding our little family. The Lord has blessed us with a small house to rent, and our daughters are doing wonderfully. Hadassah is "4 almost 5" as she says, and Bethany is going on 2. Haddie has started home schooling and Bethany is running around while taking her time talking :) We are blessed by the gift God has given us of raising our children on the mission field. They are learning from experience what it means to wait on the Lord, and what true poverty and suffering looks like. They also are getting a good helping of old-fashioned fun and childhood, uncluttered by the materialism and indoctrination going on in the Western world, for which I am constantly grateful.

This is the scripture the Lord put on my heart recently as an encouragement:

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph,
and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge
in every place. For we are the fragrance of Christ
among those who are being saved and
among those who are perishing."
2 Cor. 2:14-15

Bethany Rose and Hadassah Marie, Enjoying Easter Sunday at Grandma's house in New York

Our recent visit to the young church planted in Karamoja, Northeastern Uganda by Youth Ablaze graduate, Paul Jaka. In the past two years Paul, his wife and three children, moved to Karamoja, planted two new churches (under trees) and have adopted two orphans. We are able to support him with $100 per month and he has started a small business.

New believers being baptized in a water hole. There has been an extended drought in this region so the water hole was even smaller than usual. More than 20 people went through the baptism class and were baptized this day. Glory to God!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

End of Year Update

Hello Friends,

Blessings to you from the Missions Base in Uganda, Africa. This a
SPECIAL UPDATE to inform you about some of our current initiatives planned for 2010, and how you can be a part.

• We graduated 11 IAM students, 9 of whom were in the full-time missions training program. We are receiving applications for 2010, and we expect to take in a total of 20 new students, reaching a total of 29 student-missionaries for the 2010 school year.

• 9 Students who just graduated the first year training will enter the 2nd Year track focused on Leadership and Missions. They will study Muslim evangelism, Arabic language, missions, church planting, and eschatology. They will be preparing to go to unreached places in North Africa in 2011. Our focus specifically is on Sudan (138 Unreached People Groups), Somalia (17 UPG), and Ethiopia (20 UPG). We are strategically networking and planning for these nations.

• We are bringing on new staff members: A Kenyan couple, Michael and Stella Wafula who will oversee the 1st Year program of discipleship training, and Paul Muwanguzi who is uniquely qualified to help develop the 2nd Year training program for missionaries to North Africa.

• In 2010, YA will send two missionaries to the unreached people of the Karamajong tribe. These will be the first full-time Youth Ablaze missionaries. (See Uganda in the book
Operation World for information on the Karamajong. They are one of the least reached tribes in Uganda.) We will accompany these men, Paul Jaka (In Picture), and Paul Maruk, to plant a church with our team in February.

• The house of prayer also continues to grow as our base expands. Our plan is to bring on full-time intercessors and increase the open hours of the prayer room. The vision is to have a prayer center that will cover the clock night and day for the end-time harvest in the 10/40 Window.

• We need to expand our facilities to accommodate the new intake of students and staff as well as the prayer center that serves our area of Uganda. We are looking to buy or build instead of renting. Recently we found a place that would serve the mission well and we are looking for partners who have an interest in helping begin this project.


We ask that every one of our friends help us to expand our mailing and support base by forwarding this information to your friends who are concerned about the completion of the Great Commission. Currently we are operating at about 60% of our needed budget for 2010. We ask that you would spend some time praying about whether you will begin to support a student missionary to reach the Muslim world and the unreached tribes of North Africa. Now is the time! Please help us by:

1. Telling someone about the work we are doing and giving our information to people who want to receive our regular email updates and mailings.

2. Give a special one-time donation to help us meet our goals in the coming year.

3. Pledge $30, $50 or $100 dollars per month to support a full-time native missionary. All funds designated for missionaries go toward training and sending.

4. Let us know if you are interested in sowing into a large building project.

5. Pray regularly for all these missionaries and for the unreached Muslims of North Africa.


• The purchase of a 15-passenger van for the School
• 384 Hours of the IAM Course and Muslim Evangelism Seminars
• 92 Hours of Book Study (Joshua)
• 45 Hours of Arabic Language Class
• 1580+ Hours in the House of Prayer
• 35 Days of Corporate Fasting
• 100 Hours of 2x2 Evangelism in the community
• 88 Hours of Volunteer Work (physical labor) at orphanages and our farm
• 5 Monthly 24 Hour regional fasting and prayer events
• Dozens of outreaches, crusades, hospitals, prisons, markets, villages etc.
• Mission trips to: Karamoja, Kitgum/Gulu, Bugiri
• A public Muslim/Christian Debate
• Over 703 salvations, including several Muslims!

We give glory to Jesus, and we thank you for being a part.

Jesse Digges
Director, IAM Youth Ablaze – East Africa

Bethany Rose Digges

On August 7th, 2009, our second daughter, Bethany Rose Digges, was born at International Hospital Kampala, Uganda. We praise God that the delivery was without complication and Bethany is very healthy. Hadassah is now a big sister and loving the role.

Jesse and I are learning how to manage a bigger family with the responsibilities of the Missions Base, and God is giving us the grace to do so.

Folks here are so happy to meet and hold Bethany. They always say, “I thought all Mzungu (white) babies were born without hair!”

Our daughters are gifts from God, and we are confident He is going to use them to do the ‘greater works’ here in Uganda and in the nations of the earth. We are very blessed.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Recap - Prayer, Prayer, and more Prayer

Praise the name of the living God!

We are in the states at this time enjoying time with our families and also the ability to fellowship with believers while we are home.

Before we left Uganda many significant events happened. First we took the entire team to Gulu and Kitgum, these are the towns of northern Uganda that were afflicted by the war with the ‘Lord’s Resistance Army’. There we met with some missionaries who are running a house of prayer. We become deeply connected with a couple who have the same exact vision that God has given us for seeing strategic missions bases for training and sending native missionaries to North Africa out of the context of day and night prayer. We spent five days in Kitgum, a town about 45 minute drive from the Sudanese border, helping to establish the foundation for a 24 hour house of prayer. The Lord spoke to a pastor during his 40 day fast that He was establishing a “Global revival prayer network”. Our team spent the time in prayer with the believers, teaching on worship and intercession, while sending out teams for door-to-door evangelism. Even now we are hearing reports that some of the leaders in that area are coming together and are committed to beginning a house of prayer. We are committed to building the night and day prayer network in Uganda, anticipating the return of Jesus Christ.

The weekend before we left for the states we called a twenty-four hour solemn assembly for the young adults in our area to pray for revival and breakthrough in the this generation. We had about 70 young adults from our district come to fast and pray. It was a powerful time to finalize our first year there.

This first group of students have completed the first term of the first year of the YA school, and we are very pleased! Praise God! Everyone has gone home to spend the 'holiday' with family. The school will resume with the 2nd term beginning in July.

I am convinced that this is the last hour and that prayer (the intimate union, communion of the soul with the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit) is the key. It is the key to bringing in the last and greatest harvest of souls the world has ever known. Prayer is also essential for a prepared life and an intimate walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is about opening up and yielding your life to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that He might release His mighty grace into your spirit. This will enable you to stand in the time of great trial and lawlessness that is coming upon the earth. Jesus warned us about this hour in Luke 21 and told us what to do: “Stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” As you read this make a commitment to dedicate your life in prayer. Spend time every day waiting upon the Holy Spirit, listen for His voice, and intercede for the nations to be saved. Wherever people are gathering to pray join them, if they are not gathering, gather them or get involved with a local house of prayer.

We are in the states now for the next two months and are traveling to different places to talk about the ministry and what God is doing. I ask you to pray for us that this would be a strategic time for apprehending the purpose and strategy of God for this season in Uganda. In the next email we will explain more of the vision and steps that God has given us for sending laborers into the harvest of North Africa.

-Jesse Digges
Director, Youth Ablaze East Africa