So thankful!!! I just reached out to my dear friend, Jose Alvarez with FCA asking if we could catch up on all that's going on with each of our ministries and Jose asked me, the dreaded; "Can you send me an email?" I say dreaded because under normal circumstances I would have to put into an email what is, probably, about eight pages of emails and what better way to update the going's on of Golf From the Heart than to write a blog post and send it to all that would want an update.
So, I'm thankful to Jose.....
Firstly; what the heck is Golf From the Heart? Great question and it can be reviewed here; "What is it that we are all about? That all golfers would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that they would be discipled in some way relative to their faith in Christ for the continuing work of the Kingdom in fellowship with other golfers who click with them demographically and geographically.
Our intention is that Golf From the Heart will be a connector for golfers and .... continue to read..
This is the second iteration of a push for Golf From the Heart to become a reality as some very interesting happenings are going on where the Lord is blessing a very important part of Golf From the Heart; possible funding of the business, yup, business plan in early 2021.
So, we are using this community website in order to draw golfers together into geographical and demographical engagement to foster their golf games and their faith in Jesus Christ; (Living in Freedom, Eternally - LIFE)!!
In all of this, then, what are the projects and what is the intention?
1. Golf From the Heart website, www.golffromtheheart.golf.
Over three years ago, I was inspired by several programs I became aware of that were involved in ministry through the game of golf. Primarily, the programs were FCA Golf, Links Players Ministry, the Web.com Tour (now Korn Ferry Tour) and Mulligan Magazine (by Dan Lemerand), and, a program that I had heard about from Wally Armstrong, ProLinks. Dabbling a bit into the Internet and websites, I began to see how we might establish a community website that provided Scripture, Community and assistance with the golf game for each of the individual golfers who would join our site.
So, I built it.
Critical to the attraction and growth of the community, I felt social media and search engine optimization would market the site into the Internet world and the site did get some attention, but, not enough, so I, pretty much, abandoned the site about a year ago, but, have resurrected it recently because of the possibility of getting funding soon.
2. Golf Program in Schools or GPS. Is a program I was introduced to by Kent Chase, my dear friend and renowned junior golf instructor.
"Golf Program in Schools (GPS), 501C3 has set the stage for this movement of golf's people to evangelize, disciple & grow the game. Tom Loegering prepared his golf course. He has equipped his Sun City Country Club with what is needed as a training ground for young golfers & a field ripe for the harvest. He has established a Board of willing Believers with hearts for the lost & engaging them in Discipleship training. He has introduced over 30,500 middle-school kids to the game inside their school gymnasium ...." continue reading ....
I, representing Golf From the Heart, have been elected onto the Board of Directors of GPS and have been invited to structure the Spiritual side of the organization. From a "Prayer of Jabez Bible Study" to engaging in the Christ-follower structure of the golf lessons and the training of PGA Pro's to teach the kids at Sun City CC, the Lord has placed Golf From the Heart in the "heart" of an organization that could continue to grow the game and introduce thousands of middle-school kids to Jesus Christ and disciple them into the future.
Our focus right now is to fund the organization and we have applied for a grant from the Thunderbirds in Scottsdale and are awaiting an invitation to present GPS to The Ping Foundation for another grant.
There are other initiatives being expanded upon, but, for now, the funding for the program is central. See our "pitch" for GPS here.
Golfing to Greatness is next.
So, what are we trying to accomplish in Uganda?
We are trying to introduce an entire generation of kids to the game of golf and to Jesus Christ.
Yup, that's right!!
Well, again, we are gathering men from Uganda (and other places as I'll reveal here in a few lines) through prayer and engagement to become "men after God's own heart". That's the name of the first module in Golfing to Greatness. The process has been almost exactly as it is called for in the Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC) model; have two facilitators seek the Lord regarding the men to invite into the fellowship/discipleship program, invite those that the Lord brings into our hearts and seek their commitment to walk along with us on this program. The first time we went with the CLC program the prayer process took over a year. The second time we did it, it took about four months and the third time (as Golfing to Greatness) it took about 6 months. This time, so far, with the Uganda men, it has taken about four months and we are still not fully committed, but getting closer. In fact, at the writing of this Post, we have conducted two sessions with the 13 men who have agreed to participate in this journey.
Why Golfing to Greatness? It has been my experience that if the leaders or members of a group with a focus on ministerial projects are not mature in their faith and have had a fellowship experience to "grow in the knowledge of God" together, then, how do we know we are all on the same faith journey? Therefore, over the past many years each project I engage in with people of faith in Jesus Christ, I have introduced the concept of a deep dive into our faith lives in fellowship or discipleship in order to be unified in the project's direction.
So, Let's Golf Uganda began with Kalema Posiano Ian from Port Royal, Uganda. I met Ochapet Patrick online in a similar way to the introduction to Kalema, through Facebook; finding his heart and passion are very similar to ours. Ochapet lives in Entebbe, Uganda. I met Paul Nteza in Boston as an Uber driver. He is from Kampala, Uganda, not a golfer, but, a sportsman that God clearly brought into my life to join our Uganda group. While Ochapet and Kalema were praying for men to include, Timothy Gary Kyomuhendo of Port Royal, Uganda came to mind and Timothy has agreed to walk with us. Aron Bantu is from Uganda, yet lives in the USA now. Ochapet asked him and he agreed to join us. Steve Goins is a friend of mine through one of my daughters. I discovered he was having some challenges in himself and with his wife. I felt the Lord encouraging me to bring him into a deeper fellowship and he has agreed to join our group. William Wilson is from Uganda. Ochapet knew him from golfing in Uganda. He now lives in the States and is a member of our group. Edrine Okong is an acquaintence of Ochapet from golf in Uganda. He is on the golf team for Howard University and he is a member of our group. Rick Brigham is my dear friend and Brother with whom we have been in a deep Christian fellowship for the past 11 years. He and I decided to implement what Rick has labled "All Needs Met" into our new fellowship and he is a member of our group. Another dear friend and Brother, Dave Kern from Massachusetts has also been in fellowship with Rick and I for many years and he has joined our group as well.
Golf Uganda, yeah, but as you can see we're NOT all from Uganda. So, about 6 weeks ago I was contacted on LindedIn by a US citizen originally from Ghana. His name is Raymond Amezado who is back in Ghana using golf as a vehicle to help peoples' lives and introduce them to the Gospel. He brought the CEO of his organization and his dear friend, Senyo Sosu and, now, they are members of our G2G Uganda Fellowship Group.
So, you can see that prayer for almost 5 months has produced an eclectic group of Believers, many of whom are golfers and several who are not together to grow in the knowledge of God as we seek His face and walk a path to fulfill His will for us.
So, now with this incredible "LivePlan" business plan for the Blessed Boutique, it makes sense for the ministry to initiate this plan and sustain it.
But, first or, at the same time if possible, we need to ensure we are the men of God He wants us to be in order that we are following His will and not our own. How can we know that? Well, that's why we developed Golfing to Greatness. Golfing to Greatness is the discipleship program adopted by Golf From the Heart and allowed by the Christian Leadership Concepts group developed by Dr Hal Haddon.
(I) saw that CLC was an incredible program to offer groups who engage with GFtH
The Lord led me to Christian Leadership Concepts some nine years ago. It is a men's Discipleship Program that begins with two men catching the vision to organize a group of ten other men for a two year commitment or covenant to walk through the CLC curriculum and grow in the knowledge of God together. This two year program, that lasted seven years for us in our first iteration of the program, changed my spiritual life as well as every other man in that first group.
As we neared the end of our 6th year, I believed that I should begin a new CLC group. I had also begun to develop Golf From the Heart and saw that CLC was an incredible program to offer groups who engage with GFtH. I figured if I could produce CLC as an online program, we could develop groups in each of the communities inside of GFtH.. I approached the founder of CLC, Dr Haddon, and asked if I might develop the program online for use by GFtH, but, also to make it available to CLC as they did not have an online version of the program. Hal was hesitant at first, but, after our meeting called me and said that he had been praying about it and felt I should "go for it". I began immediately as my new group had just begun. So, as I prepared each week for the new group, I copied and pasted the pdf documents into active Google forms. I believe I continued this for over three months when I felt I needed to check back with Hal to see what his reaction may be. I emailed him and provided a couple of examples on what I had completed.
I was very surprised at Hal's reaction once we met the second time. "Bill, you, basically, copied the modules into the Google Forms." Hal said. "Yeah, that's what I told you I was going to do." I responded. 'Well, you better make an appointment with Craig Frye, the President of CLC. He's gonna hafta approve this, Bill."
Oh my, I thought, I didn't know Craig very well, but, I immediately fired off an email to meet with him. He was very responsive and we set a lunch for the next week. I was pretty nervous and had been praying diligently for the Lord's favor. Craig was awesome when we met. He seemed to be a bit familiar with my story and after asking very specifically for approval to develop the online version of CLC. He responded that this was a very timely event in that he and the Board had recently been discussing the possibility of developing the same thing. He said, "This is perfect, Bill, what an answer to what the Lord has been guiding us into." "Oh my gosh," I said, this is hard for me to believe, but, praise the Lord."
I have continued to produce these forms for the last 20 months with just 3 more modules to complete. Let's look at how that will impact Let's Golf Uganda in the next post.
So, Kalema and I stayed in touch as we worked through his finishing his High School, thankfully. The next step was to take the SAT's or ACT's and we set him up for that, but, that didn't go so well. We recognized he had to study for them and make another effort, so, I encouraged him to do that by working through the website and refreshing the items he didn't do so well on.
In the meantime, he continued to ask me to get him into school in the USA. I definately wanted to, but, I couldn't figure out all of the particulars. In fact, it is a pretty lengthy process and one that includes alot more than just applying to go to school. We needed to get him introduced to the golf coaches, find him a job, get him a place to stay AND pay for it as well as a car, insurance, food, etc. etc. I just couldn't get it done. And, I was a bit skeptical on how that would work anyway; being responsible as his 'sponsor'.
Well, time went on and Kalema was cut out of working (caddying) at the local golf course for some reason, so, I encouraged him to go to the capital city of Kampala to become a caddy at the golf course there. He was hesitant, but, there were no jobs in his local area and if he wanted to work, he had to go to the capital. He, finally, did that, and for months things seemed to be going well, but, unbeknownst to me he was not making enough money to sustain himself there and with the bills mounting he left to go back to his village.
Again, after many months, there was no work in his village, so, I encouraged him, again, to go to the capital to work and manage his money better. He agreed. We helped him pay his past due bills (it may have been about $200) and he was off again, doing well, but, of course in early 2020 the pandemic hit the world and all activity inside of Uganda stopped. Kalema was stuck there accumulating more and more bills for lodging, etc.
Back a few months before the pandemic hit another young man from Uganda, Entebbe, in fact, began to communicate with me over Facebook. Once again, I looked closely to ensure I wasn't being taken advantage of, and saw that he was friends with another man I knew who was involved with ministry in golf. I began to communicate with him over Facebook and discovered that he had a very similar vision as me; using the platform of golf to introduce kids to the game and to the Lord. This was strange to me, but, as I investigated more closely and spoke with that other acquaintance, I discovered this young man was legitimate. I challenged him to show me his ministerial plan (like a business plan) just to ensure he was, again, legitimate. I sent him an account with www.LivePlan.com and within about 10 days, I had an online ministerial plan in my inbox that was well-thought-out and made perfect sense. I was astounded, quite honestly, but extremely excited as well.
I put this new Brother, Patrick Ochapet, in contact with Kalema and began to communicate regularly with them both in order to see how the Lord might be engaging with us to fulfill this exciting mission. When the pandemic restrictions relaxed a bit in Uganda, I encouraged Kalema to travel to Entebbe (about 45 miles) to join with Patrick and begin to implement the ministerial plan.
Things are not easy for men this age in a country like Uganda according to what I have been told and what I've seen with these young men. We think in the USA that we could just go down to the local coffee shop or hamburger place and get a job for minimum wage, but, it's not like that in Uganda.
It has been hard for me to comprehend that with the shutdown of the golf industry in Uganda that, without that, these young men have NO jobs. None whatsoever.
The ministerial plan calls for an influx of funds of about $25,000 for Phase 1. There has been no way to reach out to get those funds donated so I began to think about ways in which the men could get funds for the ministry. The idea came to me after Kalema had hounded me for a long time about helping him start a business within Uganda. First he wanted to open a clothes store, then purchase a motorbike to be a taxi service and a few other ideas. I continually turned him down because I knew nothing about doing business in Uganda. But, as I thought about funding the ministry and helping these guys sustain themselves, I rethought the clothes shop idea and encouraged them to come up with another business plan for the store.
Once again, I was surprised when in about two weeks they sent me a pretty good plan for the "Blessed Boutique" a men's clothes store in Kampala......
That's right, Uganda, Entebbe, Uganda to be more specific.
I believe it was almost 3 years ago, now, that Kalema Posiano Ian contacted me on Facebook from his village in Fort Portal, Uganda. It was one of those times when we look at our Facebook and, immediately say, "Doggone it, there's another one of those guys trying to take advantage of me." Well, sorry, but, that's what I thought, but, my second thought was, "Yean, but, that's what I'm trying to do with Golf From the Heart; reaching out through the game of golf to give the Gospel." So, I clicked on the message and began my dialogue with Kalema, my new son in the faith, from Fort Portal, Uganda.
Our engagement was innocuous at first as I tried to feel out this new "boy" who had connected with me because of my golf outreach online. I was very cautious and communicated with him a few times. He shared that he was a golfer in his local village, but, really a caddy at his local 9-hole golf club for, what I understand, $1.00 per "loop". Over a few weeks we began to use FB for video chats and he showed me his room with golf trophies from his successes as a local golfer.
Kalema was in his Junior year of high school. One day he was messaging me early in the day and I asked him why he wasn't in school. He told me that he was banned from school that day as his fees were due and until he paid them, he could not return. "Oh boy, here it comes." I thought. So, I asked alot more questions and became convinced that he was telling me the truth. "Hmmm", I thought "I wonder how much he's talking about?" "So, how much will it cost to get back into school?" "320,000 Uganda Shillings." he said. "What, you gotta be kidding me. What is the exchange rate, for goodness sakes?' "I believe, Dad (he calls me now), it's between 3,500 to 4,000 shillings per dollar." So, I began to do the math. "If I divide 350,000 shillings by 3,700 shillings per dollar we're talkin', now, ahhh, what, $95.00?". "$95 bucks!!" I exclaimed. "Are you kiddin' me. That's all you have to pay to get back into high school?"
"OK," I said, "How and where do I send the money?" I wire transferred the money the next day.
That's how this relationship began and after he took images of his receipt and next invoice and, in fact, a back invoice for the previous semester, I committed to Kalema to ensure he would get through his Junior, then, Senior year at his high school to be the first person in his family to graduate from high school. (we have the diploma to show for it).
This was the beginning of "Let's Golf Uganda", but, it wasn't envisioned as Let's Golf Uganda at this juncture.
You see, Kalema's dream was to come to the United States to attend college on a golf scholarship.
Let's see where that leads.....................
Thanks for reading......
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