The Journey Begins

Life on Two Continents is the memoirs of two simple people who said yes to the great God adventure. It began as a simple seed that was planted into a teenager’s heart to become a missionary. A seed that was left in the soil for many years while the ground was being prepared. A vision that would be given in May of 2004 that would be prayed over for ten years. In 2014, God began to water that seed and it went from being a dormant stage to germinating. A simple visit to Uganda would be the water that made the seed germinate. An obedient heart caused it to grow and establish roots. A return visit to Uganda would cause that seed to sprout. The great God adventure began, and each day God is writing a new chapter.

We welcome you to our story, which is really His story through us. Life on two continents has been a journey through many hills and valleys. Sacrifice. For our entire family. It is a journey of having our hearts on two continents, feeling a constant tug of war. It is about trying to find balance between two totally different worlds. Sleepless nights. Tear stained pillows. Finding strength in God through our weaknesses. Discovering joy through trials. Learning to have faith in what we cannot see. Developing deeper trust in our God. Learning to pray through situations that are out of our hands. Trusting God and His Word as promises we can believe in. Loving big. Dying to self. Living for One.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller

Welcome to the journey…

March 2023 Update

“Some of us are senders and some are goers.  Neither is more important than the other.  Neither is possible without the other.”

– David Sills, The Missionary Call

I (Sonya) went to Uganda with a small team in January. The trip went too quickly. It had been a year since I had been in Uganda. 2022 was our year of focusing on speaking in churches and raising support. Oh, how I missed being in Uganda. It was so good to be with our Seeds of Hope Children.

Some of these children I have known since 2015. They each have a forever place in my heart. One of my goals when we are permanently in Uganda, is to start counseling our older children. I started working on a master’s degree from Liberty University. I am working on a degree in Pastoral Counseling with an emphasis in trauma. God’s Word tells us that if we know the truth, the truth will set us free (John 8:32). I believe there is so much freedom these children can experience through the hope and love of Jesus Christ.

We taught our older children about purity with the help of Chris and Alicia Dunlap, IPHC Missionaries in Kenya. The lessons were powerful. There were many object lessons to emphasize the learning points. One of our interpreters gave this testimony from the teachings:

I was interpreting for mama Sonya, teaching about purity, I wished all the youth in the world heard her. I regretted why we didn’t plan better to record what would bring rivival in this crazy generation. I felt like crying, having remembered the youth dying and doing immorality because of ignorance. I was amazed by how the grace of God protected me even when I didn’t get an opportunity to hear such, in full gospel…Mummy Sonya preached boundaries. Oh my goodness, every woman should hear this…boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. The body of Christ is suffering because of boundaries. Marriages are shaking because people don’t have boundaries…

A staff member at the Land of Living Hope

This touched my heart so deeply because Russell and I feel very called to train pastors to understand what godly marriages are supposed to be. If we can train pastors and their spouses, they can take it further by teaching it in their churches. There are still so many issues in Uganda with mixing culture with Christianity. It is like oil and water…it doesn’t mix. Our hope is to empower marriages and youth throughout Uganda. Empowering godly marriages through the gospel can change the entire country! It only takes a spark to start a fire.

We had a dedication service to dedicate all of our buildings to the One true God. There were many government officials present. Lots of speeches. I gave the final speech using Deuteronomy 28. At the end, I prayed to God. We had many guests from the village of Matanda. They were invited because their children attend our Christian school. Some of those families are Muslim. We have a little over 3000 Muslims in Matanda. We have become friends with many of them.

During the dedication service, a “big” government official threatened to shut us down. He went over to the community members at the event and asked if they had any questions.  An older Muslim man stood up with his walking stick and challenged the official.  He told the official that Hope Ministries Uganda has done nothing but help the community.  He then told the government official that he had done nothing to help the community.  So his conclusion was that Hope Ministries Uganda would stay, and the community would run him off!  God continues to give us open doors to minister to Muslims and other community members. Praise the Lord!

Someone was taking pictures during our time of prayer. I love this picture. One of the mothers, who is Muslim, raised her hands in prayer with us. God is moving in this community. I am reading several books on the Muslim religion so that I can better equip myself for our work. I have had the opportunity to witness to three Muslims. Two out of the three accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I will continue to share Jesus as long as God gives me breath.

From the end of February through the month of March, I have been traveling in the North Carolina Conference for the IPHC Great Commission Meals. Emma and I have been staying at Sunset Beach, NC. Traveling to a new conference and meeting so many new people and missionaries has been great! I have loved getting to know the missionaries at this conference. There is one couple who will be headed to Japan. Another missionary will be in Kenya, working with those with special needs. One is going to Belgium to work in the red light district. I love how God has called us to different parts of the world. Different people groups. But the same passion…to share the love of Jesus! We are the ones going. And then there are the senders. We can’t do what we do without the senders. Both are important. We are all a part of God’s kingdom-building team!

Russell and I would love for YOU to join our kingdom-building team in Uganda. Not everyone can go. We have said yes to the call to Uganda. Now we need people like you to send us! If you would like to support us so we can move to Uganda full-time as missionaries, please CLICK HERE to support us monthly. Also, please add us to your prayer list!

Thank you for believing in the work that God has called us to!

Soar Like An Eagle

And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.

Psalm 55:6

David finds himself once again in a battle for his life. His own son, Absalom, rose against him to take his crown. Psalm 55 is a journey of how David emotionally handled this attempted take over. He cycled through four different stages through this Psalm.

David started with looking within himself and his feelings. He was trembling before God out of fear for his own life. Who could blame him?! His own son was out to destroy him! He is at this place of not coming to God in a calm way. David was like, “Hey God! You need to listen to my prayer! And don’t even think about hiding Yourself from me! I am scared. Death is knocking at my door!” David just let it all out. Poured it all out on the table. I can relate to David. There are times when I think I can even be a bit sarcastic with God. The demands of ministry can be overwhelming at times. There are moments when I step outside, look up at the mountain behind my house, and just pour out everything. “God! I can’t do what You are asking me to do! It seems impossible! How can you even ask this of me?”

And just like David, I progress to the next stage. David gets to the point where he is just wanting to escape or run away from everything! “If only I had wings like a dove! Then I could escape everything! I could hide from all of my troubles!” How many times do I do this myself? Things get challenging and I just want to escape the conflict or challenge that is in front of me! I love what Warren W. Wiersbe says about this passage:

Doves can fly long distances, and they seek for safe refuges in the high rocks. But we don’t need wings like a dove so we can fly away from the storm. We need wings like an eagle so we can fly above the storm.”

Warren W. Wiersbe

What do we know about eagles? The Hebrew culture looked at eagles as mighty warriors. They are known for their strength and courage in dangerous weather. During turbulent storms they soar above storm clouds where they can find safety. “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession,” (Exodus 19:4,5).

David needed not to run to a shelter and hide; he needed to be like an eagle and soar above the situation so he could see that he had the strength and courage to evaluate the situation and to look up and trust God! And that my friends is exactly what David did! David is reminded in verse 22 of what he was supposed to do:

Cast your burden on the LORD [release it] and He will sustain and uphold you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail).

Psalm 55:22 AMP

That is what David did. Now he sees with new eyes and humbly comes to the Lord with a boldness in his heart because he now remembers that God is for him! Despite the treachery that was done against David, he could now say: “But I will [boldly and unwaveringly] trust in You.” (Psalm 55:23b)

I think this cycle that David went through is a cycle that is common for so many of us. Let us not get discouraged by the giants that we are facing! Let us ask for wings like that of an eagle so we can rise above the giants and the storms of life that are in our midst. Then we can cast all of those burdens on the LORD and He will sustain us! In victory, we can raise our arms up in praise as we boldly and unwaveringly trust in God with every thing in our lives!

Let our new motto be: Oh, I have wings like an eagle! I will fly above the storms of life and look up and trust in God!

Let our new motto be: Oh, I have wings like an eagle! I will fly above the storms of life and look up and trust in God!

Sonya schweighardt

Who Seeks After God?

God has looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God [who requires Him, who longs for Him, who longs for Him as essential to life].

Psalm 53:2

Is there anyone who understands, who seeks after God? It is a good question to ask. With the state of the world, we may ponder the same question as the Psalmist. In the busyness of life, I have to admit that at times I get so caught up in life, that I “forget” to seek God first. It is a question that I think I have to ask myself to keep myself in check! I cannot walk this life without God. I must keep myself in check to keep seeking after God on a daily basis. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Second by second. It has to become my rhythm in life. That rhythm is breathing itself. God is the very breath that I breathe. Isaiah 42:5 speaks of this breath that we breathe…

This is what God the LORD says,

He who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its produce, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk on it,

Isaiah 42:5

The power of breathing is life itself! And who gives me breath…God! Without the ability to breathe, I have no life. Recognizing that I need God and that I am seeking after Him means that God is drawing me to Him. How do I know that God draws His people to Him?

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him [giving him the desire to come to Me;

John 6:44a

The word “draw” in this passage comes from the Greek word helkuo. The word means to drag a person. Basically God is drawing or dragging me toward Him. Wow! God desires for me find Him! Not only that, He is willing to help me along the way, even if it means He has to drag me in the right direction!

God desires for me to find Him! Not only that, He is willing to help me along the way, even if it means He has to drag me in the right direction!

God is essential to my life. He is essential to your life. Once we realize that He is essential to our lives it opens up this new chapter in our lives. Recognizing God’s essentiality pleases God! Why? Because in order for God to be essential in my life I have to have faith that God is who He says He is.

But without faith it is impossible to [walk with with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

Jeremiah 29:12-14 states that if “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart, I will be found by you…” Oh the joy! It reminds me of a quote from the movie The Last of the Mohicans, “No matter what occurs, I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.”

No matter what occurs, I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.

The Last of the mohicans

When we earnestly seek God, He says that we will find Him! When God looks down from heaven, I want Him to see me, a child that is longing to understand, who is seeking after her heavenly Daddy because she knows that He is essential to her very life. Seeking after God is the greatest of God adventures.

Be Like an Olive Tree

"But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust [confidently] in the loving kindness of God forever and ever." Psalm 52:8 AMP

David was up against a mad man. King Saul had truly left being in the presence of God and moved toward depending upon his own resources, but David depended on the Lord and His mercy. Saul and Doeg (see 1 Samuel 21-22) did something so evil. Because Ahimelech assisted David, Saul not only had this priest of God killed, but

“eighty-five men who wore the [priest’s] linen ephod. And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants…”

1 Samuel 18 b-19

David knew that God would seek justice. David stayed faithful to God. He said that he was “like a green olive tree.”  Saul became an uprooted tree. But David was an olive tree. An olive tree lives for many years and it keeps baring fruit. According to GotQuestions, the olive tree is “an extremely slow growing plant. The olive tree requires years of patient labor to reach full fruitfulness.”  

David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He recognized that he needed to stay under God’s protective refuge. God is the Farmer who tenderly, patiently, and lovingly tended to David’s growth. And David, even when he messed up, would always go back to God. There were times when David had to be pruned so that bad fruits would be removed. But that is the journey we take. We have to stay under the Farmer’ patient labor of love for our lives. 

Jeremiah was shown this through God being the Potter:

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and saw that he was working at the wheel. But the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled by the potter’s hand; so he made it over, reworking it and making it into another pot that seemed good to him.”

Jeremiah 18:3-4 AMP

We were once wild olive trees. Trees that produced no fruits. But because of Jesus Christ we were grafted into “a green olive tree in the house of God.”  There will always be evil roaming this earth. But just as David did, we are called to “trust confidently in the  lovingkindness of God forever and ever.” God is shaping our lives and pruning us as we go through each day. It is all for His glory. Because ultimately that is our purpose, to glorify God with our lives! 

Thoughts for Today

Thought for today: You are in the right position when you allow the glory of the new life to cause you to act. Live in the Acts of the Apostles, and every day you will see some miracle worked by the power of the living God.

~Smith Wigglesworth Devotional

How many opportunities for action do we miss out on in this life? How many times do we feeling the stirring of God to take action but because of our own ways we choose not to act upon them? “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 . God wants to daily establish our steps. He desires for our hearts to be connected so that we see clearly the path that He longs for us to take. Too often the conditions of our hearts interferes with us doing the work that God has put in front of us.

Recently when I was in Rwanda, the Lord gave me an opportunity to have open ears and to take action. A young waiter at our hotel was asked by our team if he knew Jesus. His reply was, “Yes. But I am weak.” God allowed me to hear the words that poured from this young man’s heart. He was weak. Which meant, he had fallen away. I took the opportunity to ask him if we could pray together after dinner. He looked up with hope filled eyes and said yes. After dinner I approached him. He shared his testimony of how he had fallen into the pit. It was deep. We talked about what it meant for him to confess his sins before God and to repent. I encouraged him to find a quiet place after work to go before the King of kings. I prayed for him and over him. Later he approached me again. He said to me:

“I want you to know that this is no small thing that you have done for me today. This is my first time working this shift. Ever. You may have thought that you came here for yourselves to eat dinner, but I believe that there are no coincidences with God. You came here tonight not to eat, but for me. One day when we are in heaven, I will be standing on your shoulders!”

Speak in boldness when God asks you. He will give you the words even when you don’t feel like you have the words to give.

My heart was overflowing with pure, simple joy. This is what it is all about. God had me in the right position. I chose to act. And a young man who had been trapped in the pit was carried out. A miracle happened that day because the power of the living God allowed me to have ears to hear and the boldness to act. This is what life is about.
Will you look for opportunities for action in your day to day God adventures? Ask God to show you. Let Him be your guiding Light every single moment, every single day! It doesn’t matter what continent God has you on, the love of Jesus can be shared no matter your latitude and longitude.

We Are Officially Beginning the Journey

October 9, 2019. Russell and I went before the IPHC World Mission Counsel to share our hearts about our work in Uganda. My heart was racing. I was excited, nervous, scared to death all at the same time. This has been a childhood dream to be a missionary.

We shared a documentary about the work we do in Uganda. After it was over, I just fumbled with my words. Russell, my knight in shining armor, quickly jumped in and began to share. Then he turned it back over to me. I took a deep breath and shared from the deepest places of my heart. I shared our love for Uganda. I shared the visions God had given us. And mixed in with everything, I shared our love for sharing the sweet gospel message.

They asked questions. We both answered. We spoke for about an hour and a half. Then we were asked to leave the room. The Counsel had to vote on whether or not to approve us. They had our application, our references, our psychological reports, and now they heard our hearts.

Then we were asked to step out. We waited quietly in the hallway. Then they invited us back in. We were unanimously voted in and accepted as full time missionaries to Uganda! My heart is just overwhelmed with complete joy.

Now we begin itinerating. We have a budget. Now to raise the support! The goal is to head to our new God adventure in the fall of 2022. We praise God and are humbled that He would choose us for this great commission.

We have much to do. We value your prayers for our family as we begin this next phase of life to prepare for Uganda!

Where Do I Begin?

Tonight I am sitting on an outer deck at my beach house at Sunset Beach. There is a warm, salty breeze. The rhythmic pattern of the waves soothes my heavy heart. I could easily get trapped in this place. The days roll into nights and then back into days…its a peaceful place. I get lost in the days. But then reality kicks in. We need to raise money for a dormitory…money for an orphan with HIV and cancer…money for a new classroom…money for a children’s village. But this place wants to call me in deeper to forget all of those things. I can’t. I can’t forget the faces. They are permanently engraved into my heart and mind. The smiles. The laughter. The hugs. The deep poverty. The lack of clean water. The lack of food. The lack of shelter. Oh, but the joy! The joy when they worship! They know God and God knows them.

It is that joy that I see and experience there that keeps me going. I have to ask myself the question, “If not me, then who?” God created me for this. He blessed me with a husband who feels the same call. It’s not easy. Oh my goodness! It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But God keeps pressing in deep into my heart. He reminds me. He reminds me that this is why He created me. To bring Him honor and glory by being His hands and His feet in south western Uganda.

I have to keep going forward. Sometimes it takes everything I have to keep moving. I think often about the Israelites and their exodus from Egypt. In chapter 14 of Exodus, the Israelites found themselves sandwiched between the world’s most elite army and the Red Sea. They thought they had no place to go. They lost faith. They forgot the promises of God and all that God had done for them to get them out of Egypt. God tells Moses to quit crying out to Him and tell the sons of Israel to go forward. This was before the Red Sea was even parted! God wanted the people to trust Him. But faith took action. They had to go forward. God wanted them to trust Him without even knowing what He was going to do. So they stepped forward.

Go forward!

Exodus 14:15b

Go forward. That is where I am. Some days it can feel like I am trying to go forward and there is a brick wall in the way. And when that brick wall doesn’t move, I have to get my heart and mind in the right place. Some days I feel frustrated. If people on this continent could see how people live on that continent, maybe they would walk with their hands wide open instead of clinched tight. But I have to remind myself that it is not my place to judge what others do with their time and money. So I pray. I cry out to God. And God says to me, “Why are you crying out to Me? Go forward!” So I trust a little deeper. I keep believing.

God and I have lots of talks. It is really the only way I can survive going back and forth. And believe it or not, God and I joke with each other. It’s the kind of relationship that we have. I grab my cup of coffee and God and I have our morning date. “Good morning, God! Thanks for meeting with me again today. I was just wondering if today is the day that You are going to sell a few of the cattle that You have on a thousand hills?” We laugh. And God just tells me to keep trusting Him. So I keep trusting.

In a thousand trials, it is not just five hundred of them that work “for the good” of the believer, but nine hundred and ninety-nine, plus one,

George Mueller

The trials are part of the journey. I learned a long time ago to dance in the rain and through the storms of life. God is working all things out. Those brick walls that try to stop me from going forward, they are truly just mental brick walls. It is a battlefield that the enemy tries to distract me. But God is good. He keeps molding me and shaping me for the call on my life that He created me for.

The eagle that soars at great altitudes does not worry about how it will cross a river.

Streams in the Desert, June 9

So where do I begin? I begin by taking a step forward in faith. Trusting God with all of the details.