Pages rustle between my ears as I mentally flip through the last twelve months. Coffee stains and bright, yellow highlighter marks color the small print. Every day has a story.

Today, I shall tell you of the faces. For they are the most unforgettable. Yes, I will tell you their stories. For in their stories you might see their faces. Below are some of the many faces that I cannot forget. These are the profile pictures, the snippets, the iceberg tops, the life “trailers”, if you will, of those who’s lives could fill up a hundred books. Consider it a….a teaser.
Mrs S.
Last school I met a kingdom “mother”. I was not expecting this friendship nor did I anticipate the incredible encouragement and inspiration that leaked out every time we talked. I messaged this lady—I will not share her name or the others for various reasons—in order to find contacts in Uganda for the outreach I was about to lead. She met up with me shortly after and we had an unforgettable conversation. Her story and perspective was mesmerizing.
You see, Mrs S had done missions for many years. She lived in Uganda for several of those years and many ministries were started and people were helped. But God said, “Let it all go.” So she did and God began to reveal the heart of revolutionary missions through family. Thousands of years ago the Lord said “and he will turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” (Haggai 4:6) Mrs S let go. In turn, the Lord gave her an international, multi-dimensional, and radically refreshing ministry. Mrs S has been asked to lead hundreds of churches, speak at various conferences, and, with her Ugandan family, has started the journey of discipling the nation through building relationship with government officials and helping develop agricultural reformation. She has started a non-profit organization and a business. In many ways, Mrs S is one of the most influential people I know.
 And yet she still invites me to her home to talk about the Father’s face and drink coffee. In her home and stories, I have seen a vivid representation of God and the very real release of his kingdom. Mrs S has an extraordinary life of experiences and encounters and she shares this with anyone who asks.
Pastor J.
Through Mrs S, I met Pastor J, one of the most respected spiritual leaders in Uganda. He has ministered to many far and wide all throughout Northern Uganda. He is a missionary to his own people, a brilliant farmer, gentle pastor, church planter and father. All the students on the team I led were honored to walk beside him in April and May of 2018. We lived in his home. We ate his food. We traveled with him to various locations that included a refugee camp and a church in the wild land of cattle herders, we ministered in prisons and underneath the neighbor’s mango trees, and met government officials in their offices. The footsteps of Pastor J are many. The few we were privileged to walk in were large. Through it all, I watched this man. He carried a quietness and firmness like no other. He took time with all who asked for it. He told me stories. He told me of living during the occupation of the LRA (Lords Resistance Army). He told of following the Lord’s voice into the lands of the then-violent cattle raiders known as the Karamojong. He told me of miracles and trials, of provision and healings that cannot be properly retold. I have not yet met one who walks the way he does. He was one who always seemed to be listening to the mysterious whispers of God and he waited patiently to share what he heard.
I don’t think Pastor J, or “Baba” which means “Father” in Uganda, ever spoke more than he listened. I told him many things that he remembers to this day. Only a few weeks ago he called and asked me about my family. I was moved to my core. Walking with Baba showed me the nature of the Kingdom we have inherited, he showed me the unconditional love of a Father bent on blessing his children. I hope to walk in Northern Uganda again. For I learned more than I could have in years of studying books. I met Pastor J there and now I call him “Baba”.
Do you see these faces? Faces that reflect the Eternal Father? I do.
Time and space fail me now. How I can tell you of the man who traveled New Zealand from top to bottom and back, towing a hand-made tabernacle and speaking and worshiping on the streets? How can I tell of watching him as he tells the gospel and leads Mrs D into a personal relationship with Jesus or of cleaning the gutters in a wetsuit with him a few weeks later? What about Mrs H who has served in YWAM for thirty plus years and throughout those years has led over a thousand students into deeper walks with God? Or the woman who’s husband crashed and suffered a massive brain injury that left him without any memory and destructive habits? She’s lived with him in this condition for longer than I’ve been alive and she smiles as she tells him how he is doing so much better! What about my brother who was on the streets of New Zealand tormented with depression, who, just last month, was spreading the gospel in India? What about the man I worked alongside in a stuffy office who met Jesus on a bed of suicide and, after he gave his heart to Him, heard God’s audible voice speak scripture verses for years before he ever read the Bible? What about my brother who gave almost all his clothes and belongings away and bought a one way ticket to Egypt? What about them?!
You have a story, too. I have one. Your neighbor who has people over at 2am and the driver who forgot to flick on his turn signal, guess what? I bet they both have a story.
I read John 17 a year ago and I was deeply moved. Since I learned to recognize the voice of God in my thoughts and experiences, I have asked God what his will is for me, for you, and for the world we live in. I believe he has placed many thoughts in my mind, and I know he has in yours whether you recognize it or not. But should we ever be confused let us remember that surely his will is found in the prayer he himself prayed. That they would be one. When I read that, I weep and ask, how?
I ask, how? How can two opinionated, bible-believing people with Strongs Concordances and even stronger disagreements, be one? How can a homeschooled kid from Pennsylvania connect with a government official in Uganda? How can one-color churches find a way to welcome the other shades of melanin? How can drastically different cultures celebrate their unique beauty together instead of tolerating their language on bathroom signs? How can we become one? Maybe there are different ways.
But I have personally reached a simple and foolproof baby step. It is as simple as making eye-contact and asking, what is your story? In their story, you understand their perspective, their eyes. In their eyes, you find their heart. And in their heart, you will find the stunning reflection of the Father who made all in his image. If we, as a church and a family, decided to ask why instead of say how, we might fulfill the second greatest commandment, answer the prayers of Jesus, and live in the culture of heaven before we become roommates for eternity.
So may the stories continue. I may not agree with my family’s every conclusion and various theological premises. But now I choose to know them and now I can stand with them. I can weep with them, I can laugh with them. May you join those I have described above.  May you join them in presenting your pages to the Author of life. He isn’t finished. Neither am I.
Faces & their stories isn’t just a new project for me or a random article to collect dust on the shelves of WordPress. No, it’s a fluid like blood in my body. I must tell you of them, I must encourage you to look for them! I’m excited to soon share the next step of the journey. Faces & their stories isn’t just a trend, it’s a destiny. So let’s keep in touch!
Timothy Ornelas