Subtitle: The Miraculous story of a Muslim Woman`s Encounter with God
Authors: Bilquis Sheikh with Richard H.Schneider
I have to admit this is by far one of my best reads this year. I laughed, cried and got chills all over from reading Bilquis Sheikh`s encounter with God. I read this book in one day, it’s gripping and so beautiful.
The book opens with a frightening presence, Bilquis an aristocratic from a rich Muslim family feels and is aware of a presence while in her flower garden. The presence literally touches her and she runs for the safety of her house where the presence albeit can`t touch her. She is flustered and her servants wonder what is wrong with her. She asks her two servants, Nur-jan who is Muslim and Raisham -a Christian whether they believe in spiritual things. And they both avoided answering her question. Nur-jan insisted they invite the village mullah to cleanse the garden.
Bilquis deep down knew there was no evil spirit in her garden. She felt a deep seated desire to read the bible after a series of dreams. She was no dreamer but suddenly was having dream after dream with Jesus in them. She gets a bible but does n`t understand it and in the night visits a popular missionary couple-the Mitchells and her only question is, `Do you know anything about God?’’ Mrs. Mitchell’s reply is an interesting one, `I`m afraid I don`t know as much as my husband knows about God, but I do know Him.” Bilquis finds her answer odd and wonders how one can presume to know God intimately.
This visit cemented a long time relationship between the couple who introduced her to other great Christians in the village of Wah. Bilquis enjoyed her new found family who replaced her own blood relations. Upon hearing about her conversion, her family cut off any sort of communication with her because she had done the unforgiveable. Her own daughter pleaded with her not to do but her plea fell on deaf ears. She lost relatives but no one informed her so she could attend burial.
Bilquis got baptized in the holy spirit at 54 and everything about her changed and she grew in her knowledge of God as her father. She had adopted her daughter`s son-Mahmud who also grew into Christianity and enjoyed the bible stories.
Having experienced the tangibility of God from day one, she mentions how the presence of God left her a couple of times due to things she had done. On the other hand, I believe the presence of God can`t leave us. He promises in Hebrews13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” However, we can loose awareness of His presence.
Bilquis Sheikh is used by God to share her testimony at a conference that was being organized by Billy Graham in Singapore. This was the beginning of her new purpose.
I like the fact that Mrs.Mitchel gives her tale of the flower lady and ends the book on a great and personal note.
I highly recommend this amazing book for anyone who needs to be reminded what it means to be set apart for God.
I recommend this book for anyone who desires to see the power of God at work.
PS; Bilquis Sheikh died on 9th April,1997 aged 85.
I am almost ashamed to greet you all and say happy new year . A month has already passed and I honestly didn`t know what to write about. Not sure if it was writer`s block or just unseriousness that stopped me from scribbling unordinary things here??(*insert wondering emojis*)
It`s a sunny afternoon and I decided to write something down as I read through a new found blog by a 24 year old girl travelling the world for a living-http://girlvsglobe.com/ and listening to Do it again by elevation worship( I have had this song on replay since Jan,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dYmVphxEao ) The song is off their new album, Evidence. Go check it out. It`s beautiful and befitting for our KING.
I can`t get enough of each phrase. I want it to saturate my very being till I am bowed in a posture of worship in my writing, walking, talking, dreaming,beliefs so whoever encounters me has Godly encounters.
Now that January is over, what next? The hype for new years resolutions is out the door.We are into the love month, what now? Do we still remember our plans for 2018??
This year I am excited about a number of things and I will share two that are close to my heat-GANG and walking a journey with a few amazing ladies.
What is GANG?In my own words, GANG is a yearlong discipleship and leadership huddle geared towards helping young people in Worship Harvest ministries grow in all spheres. I am in GANG with amazing young people and I look forward to learning from each one of them, have great collaborations too (shout out to Mable).
PS: Our Gang leaders are soooooo cool.
Walking with a few amazing ladies which is loosely translated as mentoring. This year I believe ,this is one of the areas God is growing me in. I am no expert at mentoring,hehehe. However, with God being in the driver`s seat, I fear nothing. He makes all things beautiful in His timing and I am excited to meet with these ladies and simply do life with them.
What are your 2018 plans and how far have you gone with executing them?????
Martha Ainomugisha Mugisa is a Leadership Development enthusiast who is passionate about empowering others. Her heart is sold out to youth, children and the vulnerable. She’s been married to Gideon for the last 8 years and is a mother to 2 precious girls, Hannah and Hadassah! She loves a good read,travelling and having a good hearty laugh!
2.Genesis of Livewire.
The first LiveWire forum was held sometime in 2012. Early 2012, I was visited by 3 young men who I had mentored years back. They were at a point in their lives when they were completing university and they felt we needed to meet, catch up and chat like old times and especially talk about issues of love and relationships that were a puzzle to them at that point in their lives. We agreed to meet over some nyama choma like old times. Two weeks to our meeting, a few other friends from the good old times showed interest in coming so we opened it up and decided to find a venue, and do logistics for a real meeting. I think we had over 30 young people in attendance. At that meeting, it was agreed that another meeting should happen. When I met with the initial 3 guys for an evaluation meeting, we agreed to tentatively call the meetings live wire and this is why: I had met these precious people during a time when I worked with Scripture Union Uganda. They used to volunteer during youth conferences during which one of the most popular parts of the program was a session we called live wire (intended to mean that things were discussed as openly and bluntly as could be). And your guess is as good as mine, the hottest topic during live wire at the conferences was relationships, love , sex and everything in that line. So, without really planning to, we started having regular meetings. The name has still stuck. It was only modified to The LiveWire Forum”. We have debated over the years on whether to change it but well, let’s see what the future holds. The Spark team(a group of volunteers who plan and execute the forum’s activities) was constituted and here we are. The rest, like they say, is history.
3.How do you juggle livewire and your day to day life of being a mother and managing other ventures?
From the very start, we appointed a team of volunteers to plan and execute the activities of the forum. This means that the burden does not lie squarely on my shoulders. So I have learnt to empower others to be part of the work so that the responsibility is not heavy. As earlier said, this team of volunteers at LiveWire is called the Spark Team! There is also a group of married people who are burdened about this ministry who have come on board over the years. We call them “Elders”. They are a great source of encouragement and support.
4. How often is LiveWire held?
We hold 4 forums a year usually around March, July, September and November. The November forum is custom made for those planning to walk down the aisle. It’s code-named “Planning To Say I Do”. This September our forum is happening on 30th,dubbed ,”lad_lady in Waiting.”
5.Achievements so far?
The testimonies of impact are so many. That is what has brought us this far and gives us the grace to keep going. We have interfaced with over 500 young people over the years. Seeing young people finding courage to face tough situations, make tough but life changing decisions, arise to pursue their dreams or deciding to live right is what we live for at LiveWire. Also, we have since defined our niche and focus and also gone on to expand our scope of reach. The LiveWire forum is now a program under a registered non-profit, IGNITE Initiatives (www.igniteinitatives.org), whose vision is to empower the next generation of influential leaders. We are excited about what the future holds!
6. Challenges faced.
Like earlier stated, the start of this forum was not planned. It really just happened. So, along the way when it became clear that we needed to keep going, my team and I had the challenge of deciding where we wanted it to go and how. We have had to go before God to give us direction and guidance. We have had to embark on Long term thinking and planning. This process is actually ongoing. I like what the future looks like. Our other burden and challenge has been follow up. In this kind of work, you must follow up on people and build support systems if you are to have long term and meaningful influence and impact. But because this is something we do part time and with a small team, it’s been a challenge. However, since we have decided to think long term, we are working on processes and systems to help us be more effective.
7.How does one join the forum?
LOL!!! you don’t have to recite any creed OR be a certain way. Are you a young person keen on making godly decisions on matters of love, relationships and marriage OR are you keen on discovering God’s purpose for your life and pursue it? Just attend one of the forums or join us on the WhatsApp group and you will officially be part of the family.
8.What advice do you give to youth who are struggling to find their purpose?
My first word would be breathe in and out and go easy on yourself. Every single person you see around you goes through that phase at some point in their life (especially those who seem to have it all together)! Now, you won’t believe it but your purpose is closer to you than you think. All you have to do is look around you and inside you. I believe and have come to appreciate that our purpose is woven intrinsically into every fibre of our lives by God our creator. Who you are; your personality, likes and dislikes and your experiences in life will quickly help you define your purpose if you take a close enough look. So a good place to begin is by asking the one who made you- God. In simple terms, pray about it.
“Every one ‘s story is important and should be heard,” says Patsy.She is a beautiful young lady with a huge personality and this week she graces the No Ordinary Scribbles table to chat about herself and her love for writing and so much more.Welcome Patsy………
1.Who is Mugabi Patsy?
“Who is that African girl? , tell me Who is that Ugandan girl? ” like Afrie sings. I am that uncontrollable adventurer.I am a ferocious reader and I write most times.I hate writing but I love having written.I am thee financial economist in the making enrolled at Strathmore University in Kenya.I am a budding creative on the spoken word scene.I am a freelance blogger.I am girl of few words and many actions. I attribute all that I am to God, because all I lack in perfection,He makes up for in love.My friends call me the queen dancer next door (a name which I refuse to accept) because I love to dance myself lame( until I can’t feel my legs).Please do not try this alone.
2.When did you start your writing journey?
I started a while back in my S.6 vacation of January 2015.It was one of those adventurous escapades that scared the hell out of me that prompted me to do it.It’s as cathartic as bungee jumping for me.A large part of me believes it started out as a clarion call to share and connect with others on the topics I was sharing on.
3.How did you join the blogging community?
Well here’s one way to see it.I simply invited myself to the party by not waiting and joining , with a detailed plan of course(who,what ,when and most importantly why)
4.Names are important,they give identity to a thing.How did you come up with the name for your blog?
Well ,when you spare the time to read through the blog, I must warn you that your ecstasy is surely justified.(no pun intended) The name describes my new identity as I walk in God reminding myself how I am a steward of everything and an owner of nothing.The name Justified Ecstasy means that state of of a reader experiencing bliss and blessings as written in every blog post’s closing remark.
5.How do you juggle school & writing?
Consistency is the key.I know it sounds like a school motto but it’s the simple truth I heed to.I am learning to be consistent which calls for self discipline and for me to continue writing on days when I am not feeling up to it.I have set aside Sunday evenings as a time to publish a new post and finish all my school work through the week .
6.How important is it to grow your audience as a blogger??
Very important.Let me say that again in all caps.VERY IMPORTANT. Here’s why. (1).You matter. (2).Your story needs to be heard be it in any sphere; fashion,hair ,creative writing you name it.Yes it has probably already been told but not with your fresh perspective.(3).Your craft must grow
7.What Challenges do you face with blogging?
Getting people to comment after reading a post is what my mind grapples with.
8.Achievements in your blogging journey.
+ Joining larger blogging communities.
+Meeting some amazing readers who have also hooked me up with some amazing writing gigs.
9.Future plans for Justified Ecstasy.
+Joining the Bloggers Association of Kenya.
+Getting a customised domain and for every 1000 subscription, a give away should be in order to celebrate the growth.
Cakes are accessories that grace almost every event from weddings to baby showers,staff parties,birthdays and so much more.Failure to find the the right baker can be a deal breaker but when you find a good one,you are hooked for life.
Welcome with me Racheal Atieno to our No ordinary scribbles table as we chat about her love for cake and building Cake culture.
1.Who is Racheal Atieno?
Racheal is a 30 year old lady born and bred in Nairobi ,Kenya. She is an extrovert who loves people and thrives when helping people out. She loves travelling, baking and adventure . She studied Sociology and Psychology at the University of Nairobi and was in employment for about 5 years before going into baking full-time. She has worked with Huru international on a project that provided reusable sanitary pads for needy girls in the slum plus did HIV prevention training. Later on she worked with Earthview Geo-consultants Limited as a Social Impact Assessment officer then went into full-time baking in January 2017.
2. How did cake culture come into existence? Did you go to baking school?
While visiting my cousin some years back, her friend, a baker, had also visited and decided to randomly teach us how to bake using a charcoal stove and this is what triggered the baking passion in me. I went back home and kept experimenting and trying out different recipes, it was fun. There were disappointments but I kept at it, I’ll never forget putting a hole in my mother’s sufuria cause I had used wet sand to set up my charcoal oven. My desire has always been to be a stay at home mum and Cake culture was birthed out of an initial desire for a source of income while I stayed home to raise my children (And no I don’t have children yet). I had always baked as a hobby for family and friends and a friend of mine kept insisting on how I should turn it into a business and even helped out with the registration process which I did in July 2014. At this point I did not know much about business (never really pictured myself doing business), I had no idea of where to get baking supplies. I did not go to baking school so I learnt through google and particular bakers or bloggers who were so kind to help out. I had done various probono cakes for friends and family but my very first order came from my colleague who needed a birthday cake for the son who was turning two years (he is actually turning 5 this month) I was very nervous and not too sure of myself, it was the first time I was going to whip cream and decorate a birthday cake. It was a red velvet cake and looking back, it was more maroon than red and I’ve since changed the recipe I use to a much better one. I thank God for this particular client cause she believed in me and kept pushing me, she allowed me to experiment with her orders and was very forgiving and patient when at times it was not so perfec(thank you Lydia).I was in employment when I started the business, so I basically bought ingredients with the money the client paid and bought equipment with some of my money, I did not really need much to start. We already had an oven at home that I still use (I forever cherish those charcoal days, but agirl has got to upgrade😂😂😂)
3. Describe the journey of your start up
It has been an interesting one, It started out prematurely, well at least from how I planned it. The initial stages were more of baking for fun but eventually I decided to do it for business which is also a story on its own especially the whole concept of pricing, separating the business supplies from the home supplies, being a home baker and all. I had a day job and that meant that any baking would be either at night or on weekends. I used my (boss’s) time during the day to read and research about baking, download recipes which I would then try out back at home. Some worked out while others just backfired. This kept going for over a year, trying out different recipes and perfecting as many as I could. Orders were coming in from mostly friends and workmates and this was a good thing for it provided me both a market but also a platform to get feedback about my cakes which greatly helped the learning process. Eventually I found it hard to balance as the orders kept increasing meaning sleepless nights were fast becoming a norm. At this time too, work at my day job had really slowed down, which should have been good but if the cake business was to grow to its fullest potential then it needed to become the number 1 priority. So I made up my mind to resign from my job at the end of the year (2016) and focus 100% on CAKE CULTURE moving forward, step of faith. In terms of initial capital, we didn’t need much for a start. We have an oven at home so that went a long way in cutting the costs. The rest of the things we bought as the money came in and as the need arose. With time and research i figured out where to get supplies at the best possible deals- a supermarket could be nearer but costlier. We started with what we had and the rest has been the business growing itself.
4. Share key lessons you have learnt along the way.
Researching& adapting. I research about everything from pricing,mixing to flavors. Adapting may take the form of reading ahead about planned power blackouts so that you either bake or prepare cream ahead of time with the end goal being that you’re not caught flatfooted by the blackout.
Resilience and determination.“With trial there will be error.” This means that you will spend hours and money preparing for a cake and then it will not come out as you expected. I have learnt not to give up. One of our signature cake flavors is a result of such resilience. It backfired so many times that I almost gave up but from the day I mastered it, I think it single handedly accounts for about 50% of our revenue. You can’t be too caught up in what didn’t work. Sometimes everything is right but halfway through the baking there is a power blackout. This means redo the whole process.
We have learnt to set values for ourbusiness. At CAKE CULTURE ,we value customer satisfaction and this means that we must deliver the best product to the client every time. This calls for more than following the recipe to the letter: the whole process has to be standardized and nothing left to imagination. Continued research is a must. We can’t be comfortable with just a few flavors even if we’re the best at them. What happens after a client has sampled all our cakes? There is need to keep adding new products. We also value our products and price them accordingly.
Friendships are critical because it tookmore than one person to build the business. The name ‘CAKE CULTURE’ was suggested by a friend and I loved it. Our (awesome) branding was done by another friend. My first orders were from friends. Some of our equipment like our awesome stand mixer was from a friend. My biggest source of support has been my family, not forgetting mum’s oven that I use to date. The start and growth of this business has been largely enabled by people. You could do it alone but you may not finish the race and assuredly you will be slower.
5.What are your current products?
We currently have a list of 19 Cake flavors with the orange/passion chiffon being a major favorite, we also have cupcakes, muffins, quick breads, granola bars, oatmeal cookies, brownies and toasted muesli cereal. We for sure keep adding to the list.
In the last two years we have participated in the Cake Festival organized by Edumed Trust as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility. It is an annual event that brings together various bakers who get the opportunity to offer their products for sampling with the aim of raising funds to educate bright needy students through high school.
Philip,Maggie,Emma at Cake Fest 2017
Morris at Cake Fest
Philip & Maggie attending to clients
7. What challenges did you face when you started out?
I struggled with pricing because I feared to lose clients but overtime the business was not making money despite having good products and a good number of orders. I finally allowed for the prices to be reviewed and this has positively reflected in our revenues.
We plan to open a bakery shop and increase our products to include everything pastry and dessert. From that shop we hope to open a few others, particularly looking forward for a branch in Kampala, my friends over there keep asking for one.
Friendships are critical know who to listen to and who not to listen to. I believe God sends you the right people to help you through your process.Currently,at Cake Culture it’s myself as head Baker and Morris,the tech guy who also doubles as the delivery guy.
“The local church is the hope of the world’-Bill Hybells. This simply means , the church is a solution to the problems the world`s experiencing. Meet Soul Touch International whose priority is to be church to the vulnerable children in slums around Kampala.
1. Who is Soul Touch?
Soul Touch International is a registered Christian organisation that was initiated by a group of university students in 2011; under the leadership of Ronald Amanya to respond to God`s call to preach the gospel and help needy children in slums, believing that every sinner can turn into a saint and every slave can become a master given time and opportunity. We focus on gospel missions, student outreach and child care. Child care is handled under the soul care project.
2. How do you get the kids under soul care project?
They are recommended by a school, church, police or organizations in the community. The soul care team follows up the child in order to get full recommendation from the local council of that community and then the family`s consent. Parents need to give us permission to take on their children .
We take on kids who are deemed to be needy, vulnerable or less advantaged from the slum communities of Katanga, Bwaise, Kasokoso, Kawala and Mulago. We register children between 5-9 years. The idea is to evolve with them upto university level.
3. How many kids did you start with in 2011 and how many do you have currently?
We started with only 2 children (Paul and Denis) from Katanga who were not attending school at that time because their parents lacked school fees and other scholastic materials.
We currently have 30 children under our Soul care project .They are all enrolled into various Nursery and Primary schools for example Batvalley, Buganda road, St.Martin, Kawala Junior,and many others.
4.What more do you offer the children besides school fees and taking care of their school needs?
Mentor-ship where we connect them with mentors who can inspire them to fulfill their dreams.
Family empowerment involves helping the parents of the children start up their own small businesses so they are able to sustain their families. It also involves visiting with the families and praying with them to ten to their emotional and spiritual needs.
5.Challenges Soul Touch has faced since it’s inception.
Financial constraints since the budget expenses are always high especially when school begins.
Fundraising is tedious since the term Ngos and money has over the years received a bad reputation.
Rent since we have to maintain an official address.
Soul Touch International is a growing organisation with most of our staff being volunteers who are not easy to depend on as their commitment and experience is not reliable.
6. What are your sustainability plans?
In partnership with Makerere Palliative care unit,we started a piggery project in Wakiso which can partly support the organisation.
We have started teaching our children to make crafts which we will in turn sell off .
7.How can people partner with Soul Touch International?