Thursday, January 25, 2007

Remembering Adam

Adam's inspiring funeral service yesterday was so fitting for Adam's inspiring life. That is the most I have ever seen at a funeral. I heard one person saying, "If you didn't know Adam before the service, you know him now." Another friend who attended but hadn't really met Adam before said, "I am a changed person." Brent Abney, Vincent Mudd, Ben Ries and Adam's brother, Ben Langford, led an incredible service. Adam would have been proud of each one of his friends / brothers.

They asked other close friends of Adam to speak into the microphone one word that described Adam's life. Here are some of their words:

  • True. Adam was a true friend and teammate.
  • Mukisa. The Lusoga name given to him in Uganda which means "blessed"
  • "the real deal"
  • Advantageous - not in any negative way but rather advantageous in forming friendships and seizing kingdom opportunities to serve his life.
  • Devotion
  • Infectious - not of the African illness kind, but of spreading a joyous spirit around him
  • "Dude!" - one of his favorite greetings and sayings to friends.
  • Dedication
  • Passion - about life, about serving God, about loving others
  • Brother - a great brother to his two brothers and a great brother in Christ.

There were more and it could have gone on much longer. Read many more comments on his life here in the form of comments to his last written report. Words help but cannot fully express what a great person Adam was. Similar to my experiences with Moses, it is hard to find a more selfless and sold out person for living Christ to others than Adam Langford.

I have my own personal memories with Adam that I'll always consider a great gift in my life. I'm so glad he came to Jinja as an intern. He was a shining light that summer of 2000, afro and all. I always hoped he would go back to Jinja to serve and he did that so well. I was privileged to spend about ten days with Adam and my brother, Mark, in late November. I'll always remember.....

  • drinking coffee with him in his little duplex.
  • being encouraged by him after preaching at Jinja Church.
  • watching him love and be loved by so many Ugandans.
  • watching him serve so well with the Jinja Church youth group.
  • hearing of his admiration for his teammates and his love of serving with his teammates.
  • him giving praise to God for the incredible mountains and God's creation in Africa.
  • around midnight one night watching the play by play account on the computer screen of the last 5 minutes of OU's Big 12 South championship clinching football game. We celebrated rather loudly together in the lobby of Gisenyi, Rwanda's Kivu Sun Hotel when they won the game.
  • hearing his anger when a few individuals spoke of another person inappropriately.
  • hearing him speak so highly of Moses Kimeze, Lazarus, Godfrey and other Source employees.
  • watching him light up the place, make people laugh so easily, and gain instant admiration from those we came to know at the events around Roz Carr's memorial service.
  • At Thanksgiving dinner around a table of new acquaintances being asked what he was thankful for. He said "Table - and the relationships formed around table." He described how he was thankful for the times of sitting around the table with his family growing up and enjoying great relationship with them. He was thankful for Roz' table where we sat and of meeting new friends.
  • hearing his dreams for growing The Source and expanding the coffee and craft business.
  • hearing his excitement for starting up the Mvule Project.
  • discussing with him the complexities of dealing with African poverty and hearing him apply his personal experiences with such wisdom.
  • hearing him laugh at the funny things of life in Uganda.
  • hearing him deal with the pain and suffering of living in Uganda - but still living with great joy and hope.
  • watching him live and be Christ to the world.

Adam, thanks for making my life better. Thanks for giving so much, yes even your life, for God in Uganda. Your legacy will live into eternity.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Adam / Moses Memorial Fund

Kibo Group has set up a fund in memory of Adam Langford and Moses Kimeze that will benefit Moses' children as well as other orphaned children related to The Source Cafe. Donations can be mailed to:

Kibo Group
Langford / Kimeze Memorial Fund
604 S Redwood Ave
Broken Arrow, OK 74012


Adam Langford's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, 10 a.m. at Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond, OK.

Condolences can be sent to his parents:

Terry and Kathy Langford
2001 Stepping Stone Trail
Edmond, OK 73034


Here is a picture of The Source Cafe closed front doors the day after their accident. I have heard that the memorial is growing and that candles are lit at night for them.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In Memory of Moses Kimeze

We received word today from Mark Moore via his wife Marnie that Moses was buried and there was an amazing service for him earlier today. This makes sense (that they buried him so quickly) as there is probably only one location in all of Uganda capable of preserving bodies. Burials usually take place the day following the death. I'm so glad that my teammates Mark and John Barton were able to make it to Uganda in time.

You can tell so much about a person by what is said at their funeral and how others respond to their funeral. Mark said that he's never seen so many people at a Ugandan burial before and unfortunately, we've all seen several Ugandan burials as death is a far too often occurrence in Uganda from accidents, AIDS, malaria, etc. It is hard to get a good count at a service like that but he estimated close to 500 people attended the service. Many Ugandans would have come long distances on their bikes. There were as many as 50 vehicles lined up close to his home. Many bazungu (white people) were there that Mark had never seen before which just confirms that Moses' had an incredible impact on not only Ugandans but people from all over the world.

I loved watching Mark Moore and Moses Kimeze team up to serve and care for people in need. They were an amazing team (much like Moses and Adam became in the past year). An example is a teenage boy by the name of Dombodo that Mark met one day deep in the village. Dombodo had a severe cleft pallet and many complications because of it. He could not speak to where I could understand him. Mark brought him home one day and Moses instantly adopted him (Moses and Irene were immediate neighbors to Mark and Marnie). Mark worked his connections until he got Dombodo's cleft pallet fixed. This process took quite a bit of time. Mark provided Dombodo the opportunity to a better life. Moses provided the constant care and nurturing for him to grow up to be a man. Today the report came that Dombodo, feeling like he has just lost his adopted father, went to Irene and pledged his full support to her and their children just as Moses cared for him. Moses' story is going to continue to be told over and over like this for generations to come as Dombodo was just one example of so many Moses served.

My dear friends Nyanga Grace, James Okumu, Richard Bazanoona and Mark all spoke at the service. Mark pointed out that many people might believe that Moses became the person he was because of his close ties to American missionaries. This is far from the truth though. Moses taught all of us (Americans and Africans) so much more and there is no doubt that we are all better people because of Moses Kimeze.

If anyone reading this ever had the opportunity to meet or to be blessed by Moses' in one way or another, please feel free to share that by commenting. I want to share some thoughts from others I've already heard as well as some of my own, although it would be impossible to share everything I've learned from him in one writing.

From Marnie's phone conversation with Irene, Moses' widow, just a few hours ago.....
Irene sounded alright, very teary. She said she is missing
Moses. She also said to me that she didn't know how she had
been blessed with such a good man. He wasn't like most men in Africa. Their daughter Rachel (4 yrs in December) still doesn't understand that they had buried Daddy. She still thinks he's in town and will be coming home.
From Marnie herself.....

Through the years I honestly never saw the man do anything
selfish. Nothing, period. He was always helpful to me when Mark
wasn't around, loaned money to others often, and continually
worked as a peacekeeper amongst others. He was strong, constant,
loving, encouraging and full of grace. He was patient and kind to our kids, and was especially patient and kind to me. He advised me and helped protect me. Mark and I have often spoken through the years, especially since leaving Uganda, that we have so much admiration for him.

Some of my own favorite memories of / with Moses Kimeze......
  • His unforgettable and contagious laugh. I never heard him laugh without others joining him in his laughter.
  • The fact that while living in one of the most remote and poverty stricken villages in Africa, he seized an opportunity of a goat from his uncle when he was just a young boy and turned that into many goats, putting himself mostly through school and was the essence of a rags to riches story that kept getting better every day. He is my main inspiration for developing the Kibo Group and expanding development ministry in Africa.
  • His constant conviction to live with the utmost integrity. When he managed the building renovation project (about a $100,000 project), he gave me a full accounting of every shilling he spent and that I had given him. He lived a trustworthy life and in return gained full trust from me and everyone else. Honestly, this is extremely rare in Uganda as they live in a culture that often celebrates trickery and corruption.
  • His humility and refusal to be in the spotlight. As I was helping to organize Jinja Church activities, I always wanted Moses present in the leadership meetings as I discerned he was full of wisdom. I wanted him to be an up front leader. He, on the other hand, never really wanted to be in the meetings or be up front. Not because of his lack of committment or because of any laziness, but he preferred to live his life serving rather than sitting in meetings or taking credit for anything. I came to fully respect him for that. And this very quality is why he became all of our top choice for leading The Source Cafe and business ministries in Jinja. He was the full essence of a servant leader and so many benefited from that.
  • Seeing his heart break on a Jinja Church mission trip eight of us took to Rwanda. We heard firsthand of the great suffering during the genocide and I observed Moses' heart hurt for them.
  • Eating lunch after Sunday church with Adam and Moses and his family just eight weeks ago. His children were well behaved and it was a pure joy to spend that hour in their company. Adam and Moses talked of additional projects they wanted to start at The Source that would help the poor in the villages.
  • Watching and admiring him mechanically repair practically anything and everything that was put in front of him.
  • Working at The Source with him one day when Briley called me to tell me our house was on fire. I first looked for Moses, grabbed him and we rushed to our house. It was an electrical fire and he knew immediately where to look and find the main wire into the house and disconnect it. He kept our entire house from burning down that day when I didn't have a clue what to do.
  • Briley and I wearing Ugandan traditional clothes (Briley wore a dress with pointy things on the shoulders and I basically wore a white dress over my suit called a kanzu) and attending Moses introduction ceremony and wedding with Irene. Read a good account of it here written by another good friend of mine Nyanga Grace.
  • Celebrating with him and Irene over the birth of their firstborn, Rachel.
  • Watching him laugh and play with his children.
  • Watching him laugh and play with my boys.
  • Watching him treat Irene with great love and respect like no other husband.
  • Watching him work with excellence in EVERYTHING he did.
  • Knowing that he turned down opportunity after opportunity for a better paying job with less hours. He chose to sacrifice worldly wealth for spiritual wealth.
  • Receiving an e-mail from a woman at International Justice Mission in Kampala the day before he died praising Moses for his efforts in exposing a thief who stole Sarah (read down to my March 2, 2005 post) and her orphan siblings' fund for their education / future.
  • Spending a day going to Kapchorwa / Mt. Elgon with him in March of 2005 to meet with coffee farmers and discuss a future purchase of coffee. He drove very cautiously (I wished he'd go faster) on the same road he died on this week.
  • Witnessing his baptism with his sister in the Nile River.
  • Mourning alongside him at a burial of one of his own family members in his home village.
  • Watching Adam and Moses work together at The Source (March 22, 2005 post) on my most recent trip. Adam joked that Moses had fired him eight times now, Moses just laughed hysterically. They were quite a pair.

Maybe more than anyone I have ever known, Moses lived a Christ like life. I am blessed to have known him. Words can't express how much I already miss him.


An update on the Langford family..... I just spoke with Dusty Davis, a good friend of the Langfords and a former Jinja intern, and he and about 100 others were at the OKC airport getting ready to welcome Ben, Kym, and Eli. They expect Adam' s body and the Bogles and Manrys, their teammates, to board a BA flight tomorrow morning and hopefully arrive Sunday. If all goes well, Adam's funeral will likely be on Wednesday at the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond.


An update on my own family...... Briley fell on the ice yesterday and fractured a bone in her elbow. Please pray for healing and less pain in her arm. School is out again tomorrow and another big storm coming in this weekend. Where are we, Michigan?

Moses and Adam

Here are a few pictures of these two great men.

We affectionally called him Moses the Carpenter. I've never seen a more skilled carpenter than Moses. Our family eats every day off of one of his tables he made. Someone commented yesterday that now he is God's carpenter.

Moses was a great Daddy to little Tyler and his three other children. He was a great husband to his wife, Irene. This was not a real natural thing - Ugandan men showing such caring love for his wife and children, but he defied those cultural pressures to be a great Daddy and husband.

You can read Adam's bio here as well as his recent reports from Uganda he's written on this website.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

They were Serving the Poor......

In Jesus name, Moses and Adam were serving the poor. They were serving Christ as they were serving others.

In the midst of a brutal Oklahoma winter stretch (African Children's Choir canceled last week / kids out of school all this week and another approaching major snow storm this weekend) , yesterday I received a brutal phone call from Uganda. The worst kind of news I wanted to hear. From what we understand, while returning from buying coffee on Mt. Elgon the truck went out of control and over a cliff. Moses Kimeze, 36, and Adam Langford, 28, are gone. Moses leaves behind a wonderful wife, Irene, and four young children (one is an adopted AIDS orphan). Adam leaves behind a wonderful and faithful set of parents and 2 close brothers and many more family and friends.

Right now I am shocked, sad, mad, frustrated, confused, and much more. So many questions for God right now. Why? Why would you take two of the most talented, creative, energetic, hard-working, humble, faithful men that I have ever known? Why would you do that especially in a land that desperately needs people with the skills, talent, faith, and servant leadership as they had? They were serving the poor! Don't you want people to live out Matthew 25? These two men were just hitting their prime in serving others and caring for the needy. They had just bought coffee at a fair price keeping the coffee farmers' interests first in mind. They were going to sell it and use the profits to help care for Ugandans suffering with AIDS (and many other good ministries). This is the amazing 1-2 leadership punch at The Source and so many other good Kingdom-building projects! They were doing so much good. Why take them now?

And then I settle down and focus on God. God is so much bigger. My questions are so small and so human. God is faithful. We can't always comprehend it but God is faithful. God is everywhere. He is with all the Ugandans who benefited from Moses' life and who are mourning him now. He is with Irene and their young children. God is here. God is moving in amazing ways right now through Adam's life. I can't understand it all. I just believe that God IS amazing and He IS working despite the pain we all feel. God is good. God is not just good, God is great and awesome!

May Moses and Adam's lives inspire us all to serve Christ more by caring for the needy and serving others.

More on the incredible lives of Moses and Adam to come in the following days. For now, we plan to bury their bodies. Moses' burial will likely be Friday or Saturday deep in his home village in Uganda. Adam's funeral will likely be next week sometime after his body arrives here in Oklahoma (hopefully by Sunday).

If anyone can help, there are a lot of emergency expenses being incurred right now. Adam's family (brother Ben and family) returning from Uganda, the Jinja teammates travel, Adam's burial and funeral in Oklahoma, Moses' burial and funeral in Uganda, former teammates flying over to Uganda right now to mourn with and encourage the Ugandan Christians, etc. Here's how you can help....

Funds can be sent to:

Rochester Church of Christ
250 W. Avon Road
Rochester Hills, MI 48307
attn: Jinja Emergency Fund

This fund will cover missionaries' travel expenses back home, those traveling to Uganda and Moses' burial / funeral expenses in Uganda.

For the Langford family and funeral expenses, donations can be sent to:

East County Church of Christ
24375 SE Stark
Gresham, OR 97030
attn. Langford Family Fund

More information to come regarding a memorial fund to benefit Moses' children and their future.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Amazing Ugandan Children

This Friday everyone in the Tulsa area has a chance to see and hear from some amazing children. The African Children's Choir is made up of many Ugandan orphaned children ages 7-11 years old. They tour world wide and have been on some big stages. I watched them (on tv) perform at Live8. I saw them perform on the Jay Leno show a couple of weeks ago. You can also hear some of their music in the recently released movie Blood Diamond.

They can dance and they can sing so don't miss them. It's a free concert this Friday night at 8 p.m. held at Garnett Church of Christ. Kibo Group is sponsoring the concert and I'll have Uganda coffee there to enjoy.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Baby prayers

I'll veer a little off course of this blog topic to ask prayer warriors out there for your help. Some tiny babies and their parents need your prayers.

John Carter York is the 6 month old boy of one of my co-workers. His heart had a hole in it and it was beginning to fail so he had surgery around the middle of December. The surgery did not go well and he's been in NICU ever since fighting infections and multiple challenges. Briley and I have been up to visit his parents a few times now and we're amazed at their strength and faith in God. Carter is being moved now to Oklahoma City to have another pediatric cardiac surgeon make an attempt to repair his heart. If that fails they'll be looking at going on a waiting list for a heart transplant and they will be moved to St. Louis. Pray for Carter and his Mom and Dad, Lesley and John, as they walk their family in faith (they have three other children).

Please also pray for little Benjamin Gatewood. Benjamin with his incredible parents, Whit and Adrienne, was to make his first appearance at our small group tonight but our living room had a few empty chairs and a missing newborn. Benjamin was born a week ago with a birth defect in his windpipe and esophagus area. He is living off a ventilator now and trying to get strong for an impending surgery. Whit and Adrienne's faith through this is simply incredible. Read for yourself at their new site here and please say a prayer for them.