Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…
I have learned the hard way that the best way to become an effective communicator is to become an effective and sincere listener. In ministry and life, I tend to want to hear someone out before telling my story or giving advice. We have all been around that person who seems to care less about what you have to say and is determined to tell his story or give his wisdom. I am learning that there are three things that will make me a more effective leader, parent, husband, and friend.
First, learn to listen to someone who is in need or in pain and be willing to simply empathize or sympathize with them. The bible says we should “weep with those who weep”(Romans 12:15), and, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2). So I need to learn to listen and do my best to “feel” what my friend is feeling. I don’t necessarily need to give them life-changing counsel.
Second, I need to learn to share in the excitement, joy, or pain, of a person’s story. I need to become a listener in their story. Everyone has a “story”. Have you ever known someone for a period of time, feeling like you knew him or her pretty well, only to learn that there was a lot more to the person than you realize. I have often been guilty of knowing someone for years before I really learned that this person had a story to tell. So many people carry pain and baggage, but a listening and sincere ear is often the best way to minister to that person. My goal as a believer should be to move beyond acquaintance and toward genuine relationship.
Lastly, I am often guilty of failing to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). When someone is happy or excited because of something they have experienced or learned, I should share in the excitement. I don’t need to be a know-it-all. I need to be eager to learn through what others are experiencing.
These are principals that have been very helpful for me in being a better brother in Christ, but I still have so much to learn. I hope they will help you too.
Every fall, we try to do a Holloway Nation photo shoot. It is a lot fun, and also a great way to watch these guys grow from year to year. Thought we’d share a few of these pics with you. Little and I are so blessed to be in our twenty-second year of marriage together. It has been an amazing journey and I am so grateful to The Lord for the family he has blessed us with. I love these guys like crazy. Plus see how much they’ve grown from last year.
Photography done by Caroline Ellis.
A couple weeks ago, my assistant, Caroline Smith, came by and took some pictures of me and my family. If you know anything about our life here, you know how hard it can be to nail all of us down at one time. It’s even harder trying to get us to all look at the camera at the same time. That’s why we love that Caroline was able to just come over to our home and take photos of us while we were hanging out. It feels more real for our family that way. If you’re interested in using her as a designer or photographer, you can check out her work here.
We are excited to report that the passport applications for JuJu and Mo have been turned over to Immigration here in Uganda. This is sort of like the halfway point of the process. Turnaround for these applications has been about a week, so we will hopefully have our passports in hand by next Monday. Once we get those we can begin the medical screening process, which takes about a week. From there, we go to the US Embassy. The Embassy stage is about a week, barring any hang-ups. We have quite a few friends who have run into various paperwork issues at the Embassy, so pray we are vigilant and detailed in preparing the documentation for the Embassy. Once we are at the Embassy, we can be out of country within a few days. We are just asking people to pray for us until we are on a plane headed for home.
As I write this, I am awaiting a flight for the States. I will be flying into Jacksonville, FL. on Thursday to speak at a church, then home on Sunday. I will have a few days at SWO, then, head to Charlotte for the Live Sent Conference at Hickory Grove. Little and the kids will be staying here in Uganda, and I will return on Monday, March 17. We are asking for prayer during this short trip.
Pray for Little and the kids, and for the continued process of adoption while I am gone.
Pray for JuJu and Mo, as this will be the first time I leave them for more than a few minutes, since we got them. Pray they have a peace from God as they try to figure things out.
Please pray for God’s favor as I prepare, study, pray, and preach God’s Word to students over the next couple weeks. I so desire the power of God to grip the thousands who will hear.
We love you all, and are so grateful for you.
Judge Signed the Court Ruling!
Thanks to all who have prayed with us for the judge to sign the court ruling. It is done! He signed it at 7:00 pm today, Friday. We do have a few things that need to be corrected before we can go to the US embassy for document review. The document file for these kids is literally about four inches thick. There are so many forms, and they must all match perfectly. Names and spellings, dates and places, and every detail must be without contradiction. If any two documents do not match perfectly then the whole process can be delayed weeks, even months. Pray that as we move through the passport and medical stages, the other documents can be corrected and ready for US embassy review, in the final stage.
One of the critical changes that must be made is to Mo’s birth certificate. We were told that it should arrive in the lawyer’s mailbox on Monday. This would be a huge blessing because we could then go to apply for passports on Tuesday. I fly out at midnight Tuesday night. We have to have the birth certificates and the court ruling the judge signed today in order to apply for the passports. Keep praying!
On the lighter side, we are enjoying the time here, and the people we are meeting. I wanted to share a couple of videos that you would hopefully enjoy. We are trying to introduce the kids to everyone before we get back home. Through the comments and emails, it is obvious that so many of our extended family already love these two with us. Thank you all for that.
We will keep you posted. Pray on!
Had a great day today and continuing to see the kids progress. Thanks again for all the prayers, and I hope you enjoy the videos.
Tonight I wanted to ask you all to share a burden for a family we have met here. Scott and Cheryl have two biological girls ages 11 and 8 and are adopting an amazing little guy named Paul (8 years old) here in Uganda. Cheryl and Paul have been here at the guest house going on four months now. It has been a difficult time for their family as Scott and the girls are back home in Alabama, and Cheryl and Paul are stuck here in Uganda dealing with a mess of legal and bureaucratic red tape. They should have been home two months ago, but the roadblocks keep stacking up. Little and I and the kids have gotten close with Cheryl and Paul and love them very dearly already. This is the international adoption nightmare that you hear about often, and it is truly a nightmare. They cannot do anything, and their hands are tied, waiting on cooperation from both governments. We will be going with Cheryl tomorrow to get her visa renewed, as it is about to expire. She wants so badly to be home with the whole family together and we want it for them.
These guys are an amazing family who love the Lord and love the Gospel. Please pray with us that they are reunited as a family soon. God broke the heart of the Kings of Bablyon and Persia and crushed the authority of Pharaoh. He can certainly deal with uncooperative government agencies in this situation. Please pray for a breakthrough.
I will keep you posted.
The amazing outpouring of support through prayers, texts and social media has blown Little and me away. We are indebted to so many of you and humbled at the size of our extended family in the States. It has been a blistering pace since we arrived, but things are progressing. We took the kids to a local clinic today for checkups, and they are both being treated for worms, parasites and bacterial infections. They will fit right in at SWO!
Thursday and Friday will be important days as we meet with the lawyer to discuss documentation issues. Much prayer will be needed, so please keep it up. We are not surprised that it is working! The prayer of the righteous has much power. God’s people are driving this whole thing, and we are grateful.
We have learned much more of JuJu and Mo’s story, and it is truly an act of God’s grace that he is bringing them out of it. They come from a background of severe abuse and neglect and suffer from pretty intense complications from malnutrition. They are responding so well to our family, and our biological three have been an amazing asset.
One quick story for now:
When we were in the courtroom (six hours in a 90-degree room), the judge asked JuJu if she had the choice, would she go back to the orphanage or back with her great-grandmother or go with us. She pointed straight at Tuck, without hesitation. I cried. The judge then made her biological father pick her up, look at her, and tell her that he didn’t want her and that he couldn’t support her so he was giving her away to us. He told her to be a good girl. It was heart wrenching. I think Little wanted to throw blows with the biological father, and I wanted to let her, only I was broken for this man’s sin and spiritual need. We are trusting God to heal JuJu through Gospel love in our home.
Thank you all for loving Planet Holloway so well.
We have been completely blown away by the support we have received on our adoptions. God has led us, for now, to a little four-year-old girl and her one-year-old brother, living in the city of Kampala, since their mother died last June. Pray for us as we are currently in Uganda. We have a court date set for February 11, and we ask that you pray that we would have favor in the eyes of the courts and the judge. A lot will need to happen while we are here, and we don’t even know how long we will be in-country. We are trusting God to provide in every way. All five of us are here together, as this has been a family thing from day one. Our kids are so excited, and we cannot wait to see what God has in store for our family through all of this. Planet Holloway is in Africa (the lyrics of Toto are ringing in my head right now)!
Thanks for all the support both through prayer, and through giving over the past year. God is faithful, and so are his people.