Season 1 | EPISODE 10

Learning to Be a Servant of All

53:53 · May 9, 2023

Jim speaks with Jeremy and Angel, a missionary couple who spent years serving in Uganda before embarking on a new mission in West London. They share the valuable lessons they’ve learned about servant leadership and how God used their time working in Ugandan refugee camps to deepen their reliance on Him. Jeremy and Angel’s inspiring story reminds us how we can lay aside our own agendas and be servants of all so the gospel is proclaimed in all we say and do.

Jim speaks with Jeremy and Angel, a missionary couple who spent years serving in Uganda before embarking on a new mission in West London. They share the valuable lessons they’ve learned about servant leadership and how God used their time working in Ugandan refugee camps to deepen their reliance on Him. Jeremy and Angel’s inspiring story reminds us how we can lay aside our own agendas and be servants of all so the gospel is proclaimed in all we say and do.

In this episode, they discuss...

  • Reflections on Life and Ministry in Uganda [04:13]
  • What East Africans Taught Us About Prayer and Expectation [06:27]
  • A Paradigm Shift: An Operational Approach vs. An Aspirational & Relational Approach [15:04]
  • Equipping National Leaders to Preach the Gospel in People’s Heart Language [19:50]
  • The Grief of Leaving Amid Joy and Confidence in God’s Kingdom Moving Forward [22:41]
  • A Closed Door, An Open Door, and a Good, Good Father [32:08] 
  • Leading from Beneath: Developing Diaconal Ministries to Proclaim the Gospel [39:05]

Referenced in the episode...


Our guests for this episode were Jeremy & Angel M., who work with Serge in London. Their full names are not disclosed due to the sensitive nature of their work. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen and Sunny Chi. Music by Tommy Leahy

𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.

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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at podcast@serge.org



Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His Kingdom.


Jim Lovelady 00:24 Hello, beloved! Welcome to Episode 10 of Grace at the Fray, where we explore how God’s grace meets us at the frayed edges of life. 

So, my dad is an auto mechanic. And when I was a kid, while there were all sorts of other things that I would have wanted to do with my time, he would frequently ask me to help out fixing a car or a big semi truck or something like that. And you know what that means for a kid, right? It means, “Hold this flashlight.” And you might have seen those auto lamps. It’s the one with the handle and the light bulb with a cage around the bulb that hooks over the top of it so that the mechanic can hang the light under the hood anywhere they want it to be. Right? But instead of hanging the light exactly where he wanted it, my dad would have me hold it. And I could have been playing video games, riding my bike outside, or any number of things that I wanted to do, but he wanted me to learn how to fix cars. Did he need me? No. Was I actually helping? Well, you know, actually, that’s kind of not even the point, is it? My dad was teaching me something. And it was actually more than just how to fix a vehicle. He was teaching me how to get outside of myself. Just like any other chore, it’s about showing up and being ready to help. 

So the last episode of the podcast, in my interview with Emily Shrader, we talked about the remarkable impact of just showing up. The Lord can do a lot more than we realize if we would just show up. So this week, I want to share with you an interview that I had with a couple that learned how the Lord can do amazing things if you would just show up, ready to serve folks. Think about it this way. There is no such thing as an insignificant task when it is done with a servant’s heart. So let me take you back to London, where I was in December, where I sat down with Jeremy and Angel to talk about how learning to serve the local ministry leaders when they lived in Uganda has prepared them for servant leadership in London. 

And here’s a passage of scripture that I want to resonate in your heart during this conversation. It’s from Mark 9. It’s where the disciples had been arguing about who was the most awesome. And when they walked into the house, Jesus asked them what they’d been talking about. And there’s this amazing, awkward silence because they know they’ve been dumb. And then Jesus sits His disciples down, and He says this: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35 NRSV) Jesus offers a story of what it looks like to die to your own agenda to become the servant of all. And Jeremy and Angel’s story testifies to the beauty and joy of following their Savior into humble places that need Jesus’s salvation.

So I want you to listen for the way that they have an open-handedness for how God guides and directs them. And I want you to have this question wiggle its way into your heart: How can I become the last of all, the servant of all?

Jeremy M. 04:13 Well, we are Jeremy and Angel. And we are not alone. We have three daughters: Riley, Genevieve, and Caroline. We are in Southall, London, the West Side Community of Southall. It is a series of the Lord leading us that brought us here. 

Jim Lovelady 04:30 Yeah. So start from the beginning because you were in Uganda for a long time. And I want to hear… I’m really curious about what life was like in Uganda for the two of you; what life was like with your family, but also the nature of the ministry over there, specifically, what mercy ministry looked like in your heart for the ministry over there. So who fell in love with Uganda first?

Angel M. 4:57 That would be, well, I didn’t even know where Uganda was on a map. I didn’t realize it was in Africa when it was first mentioned to me. So Uganda was not on my radar at all. 

Jeremy M. 05:09 And we entered that conversation thinking that Central America was where the Lord was leading us. And that opportunity did not come to fruition. And so Uganda was suggested to us, and we went on a site visit, and immediately, the Lord broke our hearts. 

Angel M. 05:28 Yeah, we fell in love right away with just the people, the country, and their need for Jesus. 

Jeremy M. 05:36 We had been married for 12-13 years when this point came. So we felt the Lord calling us out of careers that we both loved to a life of cross-cultural service. And so we went on a site visit. And it lives up to its moniker of being the pearl of Africa. It is a place of immense physical beauty, but that is dwarfed by people that are immensely beautiful and welcoming. So we still have a deep love for Uganda and Ugandans. But it was a place that we really enjoyed being. It was difficult in many ways. And it was very difficult to leave. But we are grateful that the Lord led us there and used us while we were there. 

Angel M. 06:27 Yeah, we initially went over to work with some form of short-term missions, inviting people into Uganda, into Africa, so that they would fall in love and then hopefully move across the continent. And then that didn’t happen for a few different reasons. And we got connected with the refugee ministry up in the northern part of the country. We were introduced to the South Sudanese refugees living in the country at the time, and our hearts just broke for this people group. We had no experience with refugees or refugee ministry and what that meant. But just through God’s calling, He just put us there—when they were really in need—to work with the local pastors in the refugee camps that were flooded with their people. And they had their churches in these camps with nothing; they just needed help with resources. And that was something we would pray about and talk to people about. And it was really exciting because they would call and say, “We need money for a new water pump.” And we’re like, “There’s no money in the account. So let’s pray about it and see what happens.” And money would “chi-ching” end up in this magic account.

Jim Lovelady 07:46 That’s what you were talking about, money, here’s money. 

Angel M. 07:48 Yeah. God provides. It wasn’t anything that we did. It was just their belief, faith, and prayer, and God would provide. And so it was an interesting ministry of just connections and learning and God providing His resources in His ways.

Jim Lovelady 08:07 Say more about the urgency of Ugandans teaching you to pray. Because yesterday, when I was hanging out with Rose Marie, we were talking about how Serge was founded on the prayers of the Ugandan church. So talk to me about what did the Ugandans teach you? 

Angel M. 08:25 You could pray anytime, anywhere, for anything. Driving was very dangerous. The most dangerous thing about being in the country was driving or being on a motorbike on the road. Just being on the road was dangerous; walking, bicycling, driving a car. 

Jim Lovelady 08:41 That’s like me here (in London). I don’t know which way the traffic is coming. Anyway, keep going.

Angel M. 08:49 And so you would get in a car and before you went anywhere… In the beginning, we always had a driver or someone to take us and show us around. And he’d be like, “Okay, let’s pray.” So it was just one of those things like, as an American, maybe we would pray before a long car journey. We lived in Florida, so there’s no snow or anything like that. But every time you got in the car, you prayed. So there’s just that urgency and that God will protect us; God will provide, and that’s where we need to go first. To Him. 

Jim Lovelady 09:22 Rose Marie talked about how God puts us in places of dependence. Desperation—desperation is the word she used. He puts us in places of desperation that cause us to pray, making us constantly dependent on Him. So if it’s dangerous roads, it’s dangerous roads.

Angel M. 09:40 Oh, yeah. 

Jeremy M. 09:41 I think there, too, was something that the Ugandans and the South Sudanese both modeled to us: an expectation of an answer. So the prayers were offered out of a trust that the Lord was going to answer the prayers. And so, I think there was an expectation that you would get a favorable answer. But there was still an expectation that God was going to answer us because we were talking to God. And so, really, any aspect of life in need would be prayed for. And that was convicting to me because what can I do first to try to resolve this before I ask the Lordprovide the answer or provide what’s needed? So that was something I was very taken with their prayer life. 

Jim Lovelady 10:44 So what would they do—they expect an answer—but what would they do when the answer was no? 

Jeremy M. 10:50 Well, I think this was really modeled for us with the South Sudanese pastors we worked with in camp. So, the group of pastors we served would provide us with a prioritized list of the greatest needs they saw as the church in this community that needed to be met. And they didn’t have the resources to meet it. And so they would come to us and ask if we could help provide this funding. And we would tell them, “James or Abraham, we don’t have the money in our account right now. But we will ask, we will pray.” And over the course of time, there were instances where the money didn’t come. But there was never any anger or doubt of the Lord’s care or love for them. There was a hopeful dependence that the Lord would provide later or in a different way. And then there were times they would ask for things, and the Lord, in His gracious abundance, would provide more than we asked for. And so, at that point, I was also taken with that heart for wanting to offer praise and thanks to the Lord for giving in response. Yeah, I think for my faith journey and the sanctifying work that the Spirit has done in me, a lot of that was through the South Sudanese Christians and how they responded to the Lord. And so I’m grateful for that. I really am. 

Angel M. 12:31 Yeah, I think hopeful waiting. Especially for a lot of the Ugandan ladies, to be a real woman, you would need to be married and have children. And not only have children, but you would need to provide sons as heirs. Even with the Christian women, that was a part of their culture that they really struggled with. And so praying for a woman to find a husband and a good Christian husband, especially for Christian women. And then once it was the marriage, it was praying for children, and hopefully boys. Or if they had daughters, they needed a son or wanted a son. So there was a lot of prayer around that, especially with the women in Uganda, and just meeting them there. But it was usually a hopeful waiting that it would happen. They just knew that God’s timing was what they were waiting on. 

Jim Lovelady 13:28 Which is a profound demonstration of faith. When the Lord says, “No,” immediately, it turns me into… I’ll just kind of plummet into some sort of tailspin of doubt, despair, or (spiritually speaking) flopping on the floor with a temper tantrum or whatever. Because it becomes confusing, like, “Am I doing something wrong?” My attitude reflects what I think God is like—I expect God to be like this hard task driver. It’s my knee-jerk reaction. So the knee-jerk reaction of the folks teaching you how to pray is, “Okay, well, You’re still my King. And so I’ll wait for You. Where else am I going to go?” And the humility of that posture is, I don’t know, what did that do? What did that do in you guys?

Angel M. 14:28 It’s just beautiful. And it’s heartwarming and encouraging. And, yeah, it just puts that mirror up. Because when I hear “no,” it turns into my self-centered, focused sin of, “Oh, I didn’t do it well enough,” or “I’m not good enough,” or “I didn’t pray hard enough,” or “my belief is not enough.”

Jim Lovelady 14:47 Me, me, me, me. 

Angel M. 14:48 Yeah, it’s all about me. But when you’re in that hopeful waiting, God will provide, and it’s all about Him. So it’s keeping that focus on Him, not on myself.

Jeremy M. 15:04 I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Kigali, Rwanda, while we were there. And over breakfast one morning, I met a Kenyan bishop named Dennis Tongoi. And he shared something with me over breakfast. It’s really stuck with me. And it was something I’m very grateful that he shared because it opened my eyes to the difference of image bearers around the world. He asked a question. He said, “Jeremy, do you know the difference between Americans and Africans?” And I thought he was setting me up for a joke because he was smiling when he asked.

Jim Lovelady 15:41 How many Americans does it take to change a lightbulb? 

Jeremy M. 15:44 But I was like, “No, Dennis, I don’t.” And he goes,Americans speak operationally. Africans speak aspirationally.” And so you know, I chewed on it for a minute. And I was like, “Dennis, can you explain that?” And he said, “Well, what you speak flows from your heart.” So he said, “If I were to ask you how you are going to journey from Kigali, Rwanda to Mombasa, Kenya, you would probably provide a list of things that have to happen: timetables that had to be met so that the operation of getting you from point A to point B would be met.” He said, “If you were to speak to any of these East Africans here and say, ‘How are you going to get from Kigali, Rwanda?’ it would not be about the operations. It would be, ‘We’ll get there. I’ll go talk to this person.’ And, you know, it may take five times as long. But there’s a hope, and that aspiration, a trust that I will make it from Kigali to Mombasa. But I don’t know how it’s going to happen. But I trust that it will happen.” And so, you know, where that statement really impacted me was the difference between peoples. So the East Africans that we lived amongst were very relational people. There was a beauty to that. There was more importance on maintaining relationships and honoring the people you meet in the path of doing what you’re doing. And so, the objective may get completely slowed down. Whatever tasks you ask this person to do may take a week to get done when it should only take him four or five hours. But the honoring that’s given to people is really put on importance. All those combinations of factors, the way that Ugandans, South Sudanese and Kenyans that we met… there was a reliance and a hope on the aspirational goodness of the Lord. Maintaining relationships with people was more important than getting something done. And so that time in Uganda in many ways—spiritually, emotionally, culturally—was huge for us because it just really opened our eyes to the beauty of image bearers around the world and how they reveal a character of God that is different from how a different people group will reveal a different character of the Lord.

Jim Lovelady 18:35 Your bandwidth for experiencing the glory of humanity, the glory of what it means to be brought into Jesus, the true human, this glorious thing of what Jesus has done to make us human, you go, “Oh, you mean like that?” It’s more than just… There’s the saying, “It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.” When you started telling that story, I was like, “Oh, yeah. It’s not about the destination. It’s the journey.” But at the end of that story, I thought, “No, it’s about the people along the journey, and honoring those people and putting yourself in a position to pause for a moment to really share in the human experience.” I really loved how—I don’t know if we recorded it off camera—you said, “We wanted to serve under national leaders.” Talk about that and how it relates to mercy ministry. What the Ugandans taught you about how to see a human, it’s not a strategy. It’s, “No, I really do value their opinion. I really do want to see what it’s like to serve them and what they need.” So tell me more about what that looks like. 

Jeremy M. 19:50 There is an intimacy—a level of understanding—that a people group has for themselves that somebody from the outside doesn’t really understand. You could fill a bookcase up with books and read through them about all the cultural nuances of a people group, and you’ll never really be able to get it. And one of the things that when we went into the refugee settlement, there was a stark reality that we didn’t know what we were walking into. There were multiple tribes of South Sudanese that were on different sides of a conflict from different religious backgrounds. I mean, maybe all Christian, but from different flavors of Christianity. Their experiences were so vital to understanding who they were that my Nuer Presbyterian pastor friend could look at a person and say, “Okay, they’re Mbororo. They’re Dinka,” just by seeing them. And he would understand that now there’s this component to understanding them that you need to know to walk into this conversation. So I have a love for these people that we were living amongst, a passion for understanding them. But I’m entering 100 steps farther back than my friend James or Abraham would be entering into this conversation. So I may be able to physically love, show compassion, and share the gospel message. But I’m sharing it almost in a different language. We may both be doing it in English, but the nuances of how this person will receive this message will be impacted by how you understand how they hear you. I’m not talking about the language; it’s the heart. And so, in the settlement where we served, we were the only Westerners that came in there on a regular basis. The police told us this (they were the guards)—that we were sort of affectionately called, “You’re our Americans. The whites are here.” And I never felt any way other than an honoring way because we were coming to them. We were visiting them, that gospel ministry of visitation.

Jim Lovelady 22:38 The hospitality.

Jeremy M. 22:41 But I was very aware that this honor wanted to be given to Angel, me, and our friends that would come with us at that time. But we wanted to make sure that they, the community at large, knew that we were here in partnership with the men who have sacrificially served you and the women who have served you from day one. And so we would always try to serve underneath these leaders with a sun-up to a sun-down passion for their neighbors. And the gospel was going forth in these camps. These men and women were sharing the gospel with their neighbors; the gospel was reconciling enemies to each other. Dinkas and Nuers. Different sides of this tribal conflict. The Dinkas wanted to build houses for the Nuer widows, and the Nuer churches wanted to build houses for the Dinka widows and orphans. And so we saw really quickly that the church being built and going forth was not dependent on us. Christ was building His church through His people. And so, how were we being equipped to serve? And that was where we could use the diaconal love that we had to pour into these church leaders to serve them, to help equip them, to provide the physical needs that they had, so that they could turn around and hand it off to someone else. So that was really important for us to see that the national leadership was who the Lord was putting there. At the end of our time there, after a lot of crying, praying, conversations, discussions, dragging our feet, and trying to figure out how we could stay in this camp, we felt pretty clearly that the Lord was telling us it was time to go. I went to the settlement, and I don’t think you were with me on this trip. I drove up and met with the leaders, and we’re in this little room smaller than this. And the South Sudanese are very stoic, stoic in the sense that they’re very exuberant in their excitement, but you don’t see a lot of, especially with the men, crying or sad emotions. And so I was sitting with these men, telling them that Angel and I had decided that our family would leave Uganda. And I started crying, 

Jim Lovelady 25:30 Are you a crier? 

Jeremy M. 25:31 I am a crier. 

Jim Lovelady 25:32 I love it. There’s been like three times. 

Jeremy M. 25:36 I started crying with these men as I told them we felt the Lord was leading us out. And what happened next was that these men started crying. It sort of shocked me, you know, seeing these men that our Ugandan friends would always sort of stereotype South Sudanese as “They’re very, very tough people.”

Angel M. 26:02 They’re the warriors. They’re hard. 

Jeremy M. 26:07 Meaning that they carry spears around, and they’re hard people. 

Angel M. 26:09 They’re a foot taller than everybody, too, which can be intimidating sometimes! 

Jeremy M. 26:13 I was sitting in this room with these men that are starting to cry, and come up and embrace me and hug me. And that was very impactful. But then, James, James Bab Manyol, my Presbyterian pastor friend, said, “Jeremy, the gospel was here before you arrived. The gospel is here after you leave. The church is growing. Go forth with our love and appreciation.” And you know, and he released us; they released us. And that was really impactful to me because that gave us comfort, too, even though we’re grieving, we’re still grieving, we still miss them. There was comfort in going that the ministry of Christ was not stopping; His Kingdom is still advancing whether we’re there or not. And that’s the impact of coming in to serve national leadership, that they’re there. This is their home; these are their people. This is their passion. And if we can come and serve and equip and benefit their ministries for a season, that’s a blessing. A blessing to us, and hopefully, it’s a blessing to the church there.

Jim Lovelady 27:35 But there is something beautiful about just showing up at a place and having this posture of,I’m not here to be amazing. I’m not here to save anybody, to be a savior. I’m not here to tell anybody what to do. I just want to be with you people and help out if I can.” So if someone came into my life and said that, I’d be like, “Thanks. I’m good. Got it pretty much taken care of,” which can feel true. That’s my authentic experience, right? But it’s not true. It’s not true. So, to be honest, and say, “Oh, you want to be in my life and be with me?” Well, it requires a certain amount of humility to show that kind of hospitality. So what makes that story beautiful to me is the mutuality in the relationship, where they said, “Yes, come.” And you said, “Tell me what to do.” And they said, “We will tell you what to do.” “Tell me how to love you;” “We will tell you how to love.” And then it just became this mutual relationship of mutual edification. And so then everybody leaves a little bit more humble, a little bit more dependent, a little bit more full of joy. And it’s those tears of joy; when your pastor released you, it was tears of joy. And “I will always miss Uganda” is going to be a thing somewhere in your gut forever. You will always love Ugandans forever. So one last question. Angel, off camera, I said, “Hey, tell me what it means to you that when the gospel renews you, the Kingdom of God quickens your spirit, and that leads to mission. And you were like, “Oh…” I said, “Oh, tell me what that means.”

Angel M. 29:45 Well, leaving Uganda was hard for us and our family. But it was clear, like Jeremy said, after a lot of praying, crying, and conversations, we knew that’s what God was moving us to do. But I came home and started to ask, “What is missions? Is this real?” The big question: Should we just send money? Should we go and be in person? Is this worth the suffering and the heartache, taking your family with you and having them suffer with you? And so all these questions, and really, I would sit in church on Sundays, and one Sunday, I’d be like, “Oh, yeah. We should go; we should go back.” And then the next Sunday, I’d be like, “No. No. We’re crazy.” Jeremy would be like, “Are we just crazy? Is this crazy?” We had so many questions. And through a lot of prayer, wise counsel, and very good counseling, God showed both of us in very different ways that we weren’t crazy; and that God has called us, created us, and changed our hearts. You can pick what feels right, but God has created us as a married couple, and I think as a family to live cross-culturally and serve people outside of America, whatever that definition is of missions. As part of that, we went on a vision trip with Serge to Prague to look at their teams and what they were doing. And they were working with refugees, and we had a heart for refugees. We knew nothing about Prague; Prague was all new to us. And through the time there, we realized God hadn’t called us to Prague. This isn’t for us. The team at the time needed something different.

Jim Lovelady 31:57 Very specific needs. 

Angel M. 31:58 Very specific needs. We could not meet them. That was not us. 

Jim Lovelady 32:02 Well, immediately you were like, “Oh, we can’t do that,” versus “We could force this.” 

Angel M. 32:08 Yeah, yeah, it was a clear closed door. But for me, God really showed me that missions is a thing. God has called us to it. He’s called people to stay and give. And he’s called people to go and do and be. And that was really just beautiful. I came back from that church, that trip, and I’m like, “Serge isn’t a place for us. But let me tell you what’s going on.” Sorry, “Prague isn’t the place for us. But let me tell you what’s going on.” Just seeing His people, not only the Serge team members but also the locals there and partnering, lit me on fire again for missions. And so that was really exciting. 

Jeremy M. 32:55 Yeah, coming back from a vision trip with a no, but we were still excited. That was definitely work that the Lord had done in our hearts over about a year or so between Uganda, and then we went on that trip. In a year prior, it probably would have been a really hard “no,” even though it was a good “no,” it would have been a hard “no” to get. And I think that “no” both was good for us, but it was good for the teams there, too. Because I think they realized, “Yeah, you guys aren’t the fit.” And we didn’t really understand what we really needed. But now we know. And so I think it was good for everybody. And I pray it was good for the work of Christ’s Kingdom there because we visited. So yeah, it’s a crazy journey that’s led us here to London. The Lord’s been good to us all through it. 

One of the first Sundays we came back from Uganda, we walked into, well, our sending church closed while we were in Uganda, in Orlando. When we were deciding where we would go back to, we had sold our home, left our careers, and didn’t have a house to go back to in Orlando. And then now we didn’t have a church. And so the church I grew up with in Birmingham, Altadena Valley, they pursued us saying, “We want you back here.” And we came into the church that first Sunday and one of the songs that is one of our favorites (it usually makes us cry) is “Good, Good Father.” And the way that Altadena performs it or helps lead the church and singing is that it’s usually a quiet one. And there’s a part where the musicians drop out, and it’s just the church singing, and it’s almost just this time of restful conversation where you’re saying, “You are a good Father, and I’m loved, that’s who I am.” And I remember just bawling at that point. I think Angel was bawling. I think people were looking around at us like, “What’s going on?” But all through this journey that we’ve been on, we’ve been constantly reminded that we do have a good Father. That 1 Peter passage where we have an inheritance that’s kept, and we’re being kept. But in the meantime, there are trials and sufferings that we walk through for a purpose; it’s refining our faith. It’s purifying us, but it’s bringing glory to the Lord. But we are held secure. And so we were beaten up coming out of Uganda; we were tired. But we were kept secure even in the midst of that. And so a lot of those bruises and hardships and struggles we had, I think it sort of made us who we are now. Here in Southall, when we’ve had hard things happen, we can look back and say, “We were kept even in the midst of hard things. We have a good Father that loves us.”

Jim Lovelady 36:26 You have an aspirational hope. I love this dance betweenI have a Father who loves me” and then the Father says, “Go, play in My Kingdom. Go to Uganda, and My Kingdom is there. And go play (which is, i.e., go serve). Go love someone besides yourself.” And so Jesus frees us to love someone besides ourselves. And then we go, and then we get beat up. So then you just find yourself tail between your legs, you go back to a good good Father, who loves you and says, “Well done. Was that fun?” “It was other stuff, too. It was hard. It was exhausting. It was such a trial. It was beautiful. “But yeah, thank You for that. So now, what do You want me to do?” After you’ve crawled into the Father’s arms and experienced the goodness of God for you, He goes, “Alright, now. Go. Go again. Go to London.” Okay, you know? But that’s the dynamic. It is back and forth. And that’s the Christian life. He gathers His people in, and then He sends them out. They gather, and just like breathing, the gospel sends us out and then gathers us back in. Anyway, so thanks for sharing. I look forward to hearing more about how the story goes in the coming years because there are so many stories. 

Jeremy M. 38:11 It’s an ever-changing story. You know, we know the destination. We have the aspiration that we know how it’s going to end. We don’t know how the journey is going to go. 

Jim Lovelady Along the way on that journey. Yeah, that’s a beautiful idea that, yeah, the destination. You know, me, this American boy who’s like, “Alright, here is my objective. It’s the destination.” And Jesus goes, “Yeah, except the Kingdom of God is now. So find someone you can love, and learn how their humanity will make you more like Me.” The Spirit moves in all of that.

Andrew Ward (Jim’s Friend) 38:54 Can I ask you a question? Because you haven’t got on to what you’re doing here in London. That’s what I like to hear about; what you’re doing here. 

Jim Lovelady 39:02 In Andrew’s hometown.

Jeremy M. 39:05 Well, we mentioned it a bit before. One of the ways that we feel that the Lord has equipped us to serve in His Kingdom is through diaconal ministries. So I was ordained as a deacon in the PCA church. I think Angel has very many of those same diaconal giftings. The invitation to join this team was really based on and wrapped around this heart for diaconal ministries. And so looking at the Scripture, whether it’s Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians, where we are taught these gifts of grace and through the way that the Lord has gifted His church to serve, there are those ministries of hospitality, visitation, and mercy. I think Angel and I have been equipped to serve in those ways. And so part of our interview, when we came to join, was when we were sharing, when the session of the church and the team leadership here asked us, “Why would you want to come here?” We wanted to come in and serve alongside a diaconate, a local diaconate that reflected the beauty of the community we live in; to use mercy ministry as a means of word ministry; to pursue people, the outsiders, the refugees, the sojourners that are here, that are hurting, and are in need for a multitude of ways. But how can we pursue them to love them? And when that question is, “Why are you loving on us? Why are you serving us this way?” Then we can say, “Well, we’re loving you because Christ first loved us. Let me tell you about Christ and His love.” So we were asked to come here to be a part of our church to help grow a diaconate, the missional diaconal here. As in our previous conversation, we didn’t know how the journey would play out. So we arrived in December 2019, and COVID came just a few months later. Lockdown happens. In the midst of the lockdown, we had a new church plant that had started just down the road. So part of our team (coworkers) had started this… or was going to start a new church plant. And so part of the group that went down was our former team leaders, as the church planting pastor and wife. And so we were asked to step into team leadership here. So how we are serving is sort of in that sense of flux and changing because we have new responsibilities. Part of that is serving our team, teammates, and coworkers here—to love on them, to serve them, and to help them go forth and do the ministries they do. So that’s taken a big chunk of our time. But this heart for wanting to serve the local leadership is still there. And so, one of the ways I’ve been asked to serve is to serve our elders in our church. I help them by serving them, as broad of a term as that could be. 

Jim Lovelady 42:29 I love that you run the soundboard on Sunday.

Jeremy M. 42:32 I do that poorly. But you know, if that may be giving our pastors a day of rest once every couple of months and helping them bring the word during the service, that may be a way. I’m really excited that right now, this month in December, we’re doing officer nominations in the church. So we’re really praying that a group of people will be raised up to serve as elders and deacons in our church. Over the next season of time, we can pour into them to help, train, equip, whatever the word might be, that we can help pour into them. But ultimately, as they’re raised up, we can serve alongside them, under them, and encourage them as they step forward into this ministry that the Lord’s called them to as Christians in His Kingdom here in West London. 

Jim Lovelady 43:32 Well, I hope you have, and it’s not this head knowledge strategy of “this is the best thing” or “this is the way that it will work best.” It’s this gut-level desire to come in and serve under the local leaders. And it’s very similar to what was happening in Uganda. You’re just doing it in this context. And I loved how in our previous conversation—in our Zoom conversation—you were like, “I don’t want to be an elder. I want to be a deacon.” And I find that beautifully humble posture to be very powerful because that posture is what’s going to move the leadership forward. Where you’re like, “I don’t want to be the leader. The Lord has called me not to be the leader. So He and I are in agreement here. Finally, or whatever. Wonderfully, joyfully. We’re in agreement that I’m here to help equip you to be the leader. You, local leaders, I want you to be… I want to see the Lord use you because only you can do what needs to be done in the manner that it needs to be done in this place.” 

Jeremy M. 44:58 In one of Harvie Conn’s books, Evangelism, he talks about these different doors into the same room. And this room being, you know, this community of faith. One door is proclamation (evangelism). One door is teaching, and another one’s liturgy (worship). But then another door is diaconal service. And we believe that the Spirit is the One that goes and breaks that person’s hard heart of stone, brings life, and regenerates it so that it is receptive to whichever form of invitation comes. But that there is a door that… diaconal service is a way in. In the context we live here with our neighbors, they welcome you in. You’re hungry? Come, be fed. You need a bathroom? A place to shower because you’re a rough sleeper (homeless)? Come, we have a bathroom here. Come. You can come and clean up. There’s hospitality happening; service happening. And if our neighbors, who are delightful people, are inviting, are serving in the church of Christ, His people are not welcoming in visiting and inviting the same way, we’re missing something. We’re not showing the whole giftings of the Spirit in the Body that he’s put here to do the ministry the Lord has called us to. So you know, it may be years down the road before there is an active diaconate of the church here that’s doing this. But I think this is a vision—a hope and aspiration—that is worthy to hold onto, to say, “We want to do word and deed holistically here. We’re not going to bifurcate them and split them. We want to do both. We want to invite you, love on you, serve you and share the good news that goes along with that with you.” So that’s the hope here. COVID put a big…

Jim Lovelady 47:25 A big, in Ugandan prayer terms? 

Jeremy M. 47:27 Speed hump

Jim Lovelady 47:28 Yeah, just a speed bump. 

Jeremy M. 47:29 But we’re seeing it move forward. And we’re praying; we’re praying that the Lord raises up deacons. We’re praying the Lord raises up elders—shepherds that have a heart for the flock. But we trust the Great Shepherd, the Great Deacon, and the Great Elder to oversee, equip, and encourage us as we go forward. 

Jim Lovelady 47:59 Well, I’m going to pray an aspirational prayer. That’s the word for the day. Jesus, we have hope because we have met You. And whatever the answer to our prayers, as long as we are with You, we know that we have life; there is hope. So give us great faith for all these things we aspire for as we play in the Kingdom that You have purchased for us by Your death and resurrection. And so help us that this kind of hope would be real every moment of our day. So continue to call us back to those as we’re doing these, that whatever mundane thing we might find ourselves doing, call us back to a magnificent hope we pray. In Your name. Amen.

Jeremy and Angel M. 48:57 Amen.

Jim Lovelady 48:58 Thanks for hanging out.

Jeremy and Angel M. 48:59 Thank you.

Jim Lovelady 49:00 I appreciate it. Thanks for the coffee.

Jim Lovelady 49:09 How can you become the last of all? The servant of all? 

Well, how did Jesus do it? In Mark 9, just before Jesus flipped our expectations about what greatness means, He foretold His death and His resurrection. And it says that the disciples didn’t understand what He was talking about. Surprise, surprise. Then Philippians 2 says that Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage. Rather, He made Himself nothing. Taking the very nature of a servant, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death on a cross. And that’s why He’s the greatest. That’s why Jesus is the first because He became the last; He took the lowest place. If you’re going to become the servant of all, it means following Jesus to the lowest place. It means relinquishing and dying to all the things you’ve been accumulating to build your own greatness. And you can’t do this alone. We’re in this together, right? And we want to help one another develop that servant’s heart that takes the lowest place. 

So at Serge, we’ve compiled some resources that we think will be helpful for you on your journey. The first is The Gospel-Centered Life study on the book of Mark by John Perritt. I’ll have a link in the show notes. And when you get it, I want you to go straight to page 37. And you’re welcome. 

And when you’re ready to explore what living out of the lowest place looks like, grab this book—this is The Mission-Centered Life—to see what following Jesus into the broken places, the frayed edges of life, looks like. This is by Bethany Ferguson. I’ll have a link in the show notes for that as well. These resources are meant to be used in community with others. 

And one of the most powerful ways we at Serge build community is through events like the Gospel-Centered Life weekend retreats, one-on-one mentor discipleship called Sonship, Discipleship Lab cohorts, and Leadership Lab cohorts. And our big conference is called Sonship Week. And then that one, that is a week-long retreat, where we explore a lot of ideas like this: you are far worse than you could ever imagine. But Jesus loves you far more than you could have ever dared hope. So come and die. If you want to know more about what that means, join me and the rest of the Renewal team in Hollywood, Florida, this October. Go to serge.org/sonshipweek for more information about that. 

Now, as I close, let me take you back to that flashlight I was holding as a kid under the hood of a car as my dad was fixing it. You know, every time my dad asked me to help fix a car, he was teaching me how to help, how to think outside of myself and serve the needs of others. It was all part of trying to instill a servant’s heart in me.

But that’s not the main thing that was happening. That was actually a byproduct of something more significant. My dad, he just wanted to be with me in the work that he was doing. He wanted me to participate with him. And I hope you now see that what we’re actually talking about is the reality that your heavenly Father loves you. And He doesn’t need you for His Kingdom to come. Rather, it’s His joy for you to participate with Him in the things that He’s doing.

And more often than not, what He’s asking you to do, might just feel like holding a flashlight while your Father fixes a broken world. But what do you think it means that you are the light of the world? 

So today, as the Lord guides you to the places He wants you to serve, as He calls you to take up your cross and follow Him, know that His blessing goes with you; that Jesus goes with you. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you, turn His bright eyes to you, and give you His peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One God, life everlasting. Amen.

Jeremy and Angel

Jeremy and Angel first served with Serge in Uganda through mercy ministry to South Sudanese refugees living in one of Uganda's UN settlements. In working with South Sudanese pastors, they developed a desire to serve and assist national church leadership as they minister to their communities. The love of immigrants and sojourners led the family to London, working under local church leadership, to grow mercy ministries within the church and the community.


Jim Lovelady

Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.

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