LAJ + Amazima Ministries = Lives Changed in Uganda

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Hello friends! I have some really exciting news to share with you. I've been itching to tell you about this for weeks, but I just got the details nailed down a few days ago. When God gave me the vision for Leslie Ann Jones Ministries, he also laid on my heart a conviction that the LAJ shop would be more than a for-profit business. He made it very clear to me that a portion of shop proceeds would go to missions, and I've spent the past several months searching for the perfect partnership.

Today, I'm happy to announce that Leslie Ann Jones Ministries/Muscadine Press will donate 10 percent of ALL shop profits to Amazima. Amazima is a ministry dedicated to living out the love of Jesus by educating and empowering the people of Uganda and the communities in which they serve. Founded in 2008 by Katie Davis Majors, author of Kisses from Katie, Amazima offers hope and life to those who need it most. In addition to providing education and meals for hundreds of area children, Amazima also provides vocational instruction for adults. The women's beading circle has allowed 31 women to rewrite their stories, and the farming project has provided both sustenance and a means of income for local families. Every single outreach of Amazima Ministries, whether education sponsorship, feeding the hungry, vocational instruction, or medical care, is accompanied with Biblical teaching and spiritual encouragement.

If you stop by Muscadine Press, you'll notice a "Giving" tab at the top of the page. As time goes on, I'll update that page with stats on how much we've given to date and how that money is being used in Uganda. For example: did you know that it only takes $0.17 to provide a meal for a child in Uganda? That means that the purchase of just one Dwell Journal = six meals for hungry kids. 

I'm so excited about this partnership I can't hardly stand it! When the shop opens on Monday (just a few days away!), know that your purchases make a difference. Buying a journal or mug for yourself will also buy food, clothing, and medical supplies for people who need it most.

Be sure to check back in on Monday for Launch Day specials! Hope to see you then!

Until next time, grace and peace.

Looking Back: Cape Coast Castle

As I turned on the news this morning, images of President Obama touring Cape Coast Castle in Ghana and speaking to the Ghanaian people greeted me.  Just a year and a half ago, I walked through the same slave fortress and saw the same sights, and viewing them on TV brought the memories to the forefront of my mind.  In honor of Obama's Ghanaian visit, I thought I would post a journal entry I wrote shortly after returning home about my experience at Cape Coast.  It was a sobering and powerful time, and I will never forget it. For some background information, Cape Coast is just one of several slave fortresses along the African coast. It was a holding tank for Africans while their handlers waited for boats from the Americas to arrive and carry them out.

When we arrived at Cape Coast, I didn't really know what to expect or the proper way to react. I took several pictures there, but none of me because I didn't think it was appropriate to smile happily like I was at any other tourist destination. This was a slave fortress. People suffered and died there.


I cannot describe to you the conditions of the dungeons that they held the slaves in before the boats arrived to carry them away. It was horrific. No light, save for tiny ventilation windows far above. A rough-cut channel running through the middle of the floor for urine. Troughs along the edges for feces. I know we've all heard about the conditions before, but hearing about it and walking around in it is another matter. I have no words. This photo is from the female slave dungeon. It was terrifyingly dark, except for one window.

As I walked through the dungeons where so many died and thought about the inhumanity of it all, I wondered what the African American students on our trip were thinking. I kept wondering if they were seriously disturbed by their surroundings, knowing that their ancestors passed through dungeons similar to those. And then I started wondering about my own ancestors. Did they own slaves? Did they go to church and give glory to God while they bought and sold human beings alongside fabric and crops? These are the things I wonder.

No one woke up one morning and decided it would be a good day to start selling people. It Africans brought other Africans to trade with Europeans for guns and dishes and other such meaningless items. And the Europeans took them. Somehow it escalated, until over 12 million people were shipped out of Africa, all the while their European handlers worshiped God in churches above the very dungeons that swallowed the Africans. Somehow they justified it, thought it was OK, and it scares me to death.

Sin can get so out of control. We are all absolutely hopeless. Slavery and genocide are just two highly visible examples of the wickedness of humanity. If we allow sin to go untreated and compromise God's standards, what will be our slavery or Holocaust? These weren't heathen men. They were Christians who told themselves that what they were doing was alright. What are we supposed to do with that? There are many questions to consider and concerns to raise.


One of the most poignant moments at the slave castles came when our guide led us to the "Door of No Return," the door that led to waiting ships. When Africans set foot out that door, they never set foot on African soil again, and when he opened the door, I was shocked by the brilliance and vibrancy of life outside it.

I couldn't believe that life went on as usual outside those doors. And that's when I understood that we have to get over the demons in our past. Life goes on, and we can look back and learn from our mistakes, but we don't have to let them paralyze us. God is gracious, merciful and kind. Despite the sin and wretchedness, there's also beauty and love in this world.

As we turned around, we walked back through the door into the fort and did something none of the slaves were ever able to do. We returned to our lives, and we kept going.