“2020 Vision” And The Grace Of Divine Interruptions

By Carol Lee

From the Water Tower

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and cancelling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps—reading the Bible.  When we do that we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that, not our way, but God’s way must be done…it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.”
This is the LORD’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are
higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so my word that comes from my mouth
will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
Isaiah 55:8-11

Hands down, 2020 has been the most insightful, strangest, best, worst, most frustrating, life-changing, helpful, alarming, most fruitful year—various aspects of life owning their own adjective and each one of us, perhaps, claiming our own unique description reflective of our experience. It has proven to be a year where God has re-arranged our schedules and changed our plans according to His thoughts and His ways — His good, loving and grace-begetting thoughts and ways.

Joseph Tenney admonishes us (borrowing truth from Bonhoeffer) “to cultivate a disruption theology, as it were. This benefits both the one doing the interrupting, as well as the person being interrupted because it is in those instances God reveals himself in ways we may never have seen or experienced otherwise. God is erecting visible signs of the cross in our path for our benefit to show us that his kingdom is at hand — to invite us in his work.” As Christina Fox (Desiring God contributor) puts it, “these interruptions are acts of God’s grace,” simply because we are reminded of who is in charge. In this most unusual year we have been given the opportunity to see our lives through the corrective but disruptive lenses of God’s sovereignty and receive “2020 Vision.”

Our new agenda came quite into focus in March and the subsequent months. As Elisabeth Elliot, through her writings, urges us to do in hard times, we had to “do the next thing.” As time and events have unfolded, we have put our “hand to the plow” doing the next thing and have seen God’s grace shaping our hearts and activities.

With regard to our hearts, it has been a spiritually rigorous season for Jacob and me in the way that exercise pushes and presses a person to new levels of fitness.  We are being stretched and strengthened.  There are days when we have grown weary in the fight. On such days, we are grateful that God is the one who “holds us fast“. On our better days we have the joyful hope that the formation of Christ in us and the goodness of God in what He allows is that ribbon at the end of the race on which we keep our eyes fixed and our hearts set. 

Some trials come with clouds AND rainbows! The birth of our 8th grandchild, Lillian Sophia, is the rainbow–the grace! Being so far away and being unable to love, in person, this precious newborn is the cloud. We are grateful though that, as grandparents, we are never far away from blessing our children and grandchildren through the portal of prayer! This applies to our many friends back in the States as well–we long for that deep fellowship. Distance is the cloud, internet is the rainbow!

To ongoing trials unique to our calling (producing endurance==>character==>hope) has been added a season of grieving losses. Jacob’s Mom, Gertrude Lee, passed away under hospice care in September, just a few days before her 92nd birthday. COVID-19 restrictions had a disruptive effect on the family’s ability to gather around her all together in her last days. It was a long-expected, but still painful loss for Jacob, particularly because he could not be near to support his father and siblings. It is the greatest blessing that, because Gert (Mom) loved Jesus, we do not grieve without the hope of seeing her again at the feet of Jesus in our heavenly home! (John 14:1-3) Such trials have been unwanted intruders, but they have brought with them comfort from the God of all comfort, the grace of remembering that this world is finite and that we hang the hat of our hope on heaven.

There is also the grace of the “mundane.” While keeping a hands-on administrative eye on all the activities on campus, Jacob, having greater opportunity to read, has gained wonderful, soul-soothing and faith-building insights in his continued study on suffering from a biblical standpoint by many authors. His hope is that what he has learned in his reading and through experience will heal where it hurts in the hearts of those he seeks to serve here. Though our list has intersected on a couple of books, mine has had a different emphasis. I continue to press on in the study of Ma’di by working through the New Testament line by line and side by side with the English Bible and the one available dictionary. I have gracious friends here who also fill in or shed light where words are absent from the dictionary or where grammatical structure is unclear. It is helping so much in understanding structure and improving vocabulary as well as in conversation–and conversation is the grace of fellowship.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4)    

That is a remarkable passage because it calls and alerts us to something counter intuitive. We don’t typically experience joy in suffering; in fact, many of us lose our joy even in the face of the smallest obstacles. Now, don’t misunderstand what James is calling you to here. He’s not saying you should rejoice BECAUSE of pain and loss. This is not a call to some kind of joyful Christian stoicism. Rather, James is saying that you have reason to rejoice in the middle of your travail because of how God is using your suffering to produce in you what you could never produce in yourself. Suffering in the hands of God is used to fill you up, to grow you up, and to complete God’s work in you. You either hook your hope to a physical, situational life of comfort, success, strength, and pleasure or to a life of rich spiritual awakening, growth, and Godward glory.” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering)

With the interruption of a changed ministry calendar has come the opportunity to slow down and be reminded of the grace of being on a team.  We have seen each team member here at RAU grow in his or her skill and creativity. 

For, example, Onette Zorah, with a degree in Child Development and Children’s ministry, has a vision to see sound teaching developed for the children in local churches. With that desire in mind, he has been re-working a Sunday school curriculum into something more simplified and user-friendly for Sunday school teachers in our local communities.  This curriculum and training would become a component of the Pastoral/Leadership training which is offered here at RAU.  

Pastor Henery, is another example.  Jacob picked up on the fact that he has the interest and aptitude for all things mechanical and has encouraged it with opportunity.  Henery utilizes every opportunity to observe and learn while other mechanics disassemble, repair and reassemble complex machines. He puts it into practice. On top of that, he has proven himself to be a genius at creating parts which don’t exist or are not available locally.  Jacob has often shared with the men here that, when he was growing up (on the farm), his dad refused to put money into buying newer, fancier gadgets no matter how much Jacob and his brother complained. His dad’s admonishment was always, “We can fix this and make it work!”  That same mindset has also served to push Pastor Henery in his creative genius to find solutions that would normally send someone to the parts store! 

Then, there is Zakeo.  He readily put on the mantle which was passed to him in the Agricultural arm of RAU’s ministry—a great example of 2 Timothy 2:2 (teaching faithful people who, in turn, teach others).  Early on, Jacob has also urged Zakeo to pick someone from among the RAU team to whom he could also pass on his expertise so that the flow of knowledge does not ebb, but becomes an ever-rising tide.  Zakeo has displayed great administrative ability; opportunities have arisen for that quality to be maximized and utilized for the glory of God.

Tiondi Patrick has become the expert in painting (including excellent finish work). Fred and Ijjo Patrick are the tile laying experts.  The others are offer their strength, perseverance and faithfulness to allow RAU to function like a well-running engine. The ladies are doing a superb job in the cooking department. We are so very blessed to not only have people of expertise, but co-workers with whom we can share life and laughter.

With hand to the plow (literally and figuratively) we are progressing well with the second planting season.  All the 18 box gardens (the 5 new ones included) are in use at various stages of growth (this is a particular demonstration we want to promote: planting in stages and in smaller quantities so that harvest is periodic and on-going, rather than large harvests all at once that exceed the demand or ability to consume–unless the farmer’s goal is primarily business).

RAU would like to thank, once again, M.A.R.S (Missionary Agricultural Resource Services) for its ongoing support of the agricultural endeavors on our campus. They have a wonderful vision for sustainable agricultural training around the world and we are grateful to be included in their efforts!

Inter-cropping has continued in the rows between the mango and banana trees.  We have beans, onions, rice, sweet potato, yams, sugarcane and passion fruit. Also, the banana trees are being reduced to just one between each mango tree instead of the two which were spaced there.  This is because the mango tree foliage is expanding (as expected) and crowding out the banana trees.

The mango grafts (from the grafting skill learned by Zakeo) are being planted in the 3 acres across the road. Currently, the soil has been prepared with manure and the holes dug. Here is what Jacob wrote about that in a Face Book post:”Always be prepared” means to always be preparing, which is what we have been doing on our Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU) campus as we maintain the box gardens,field crops, and planting of 130 newly grafted mangoes in 3 acres across the road. This will give a total of 770 grafted mangoes on RAU’s 20 acres of demonstration land.The push to plant grafted mango trees (grafted mangoes which are most desirable for juice) has been a theme from the beginning and leaders and community members have been encouraged in it. Mangoes can be a great source of income with proper long-term planning, especially now that a juicing plant has been constructed in Yumbe District. Zakeo has been trained in the skill of grafting and we have at RAU the root stock as well as the scions. We are ready to continue to pass along that knowledge (2 Timothy 2:2) alongside biblical knowledge and basic economics. In 2020 we have not had any formal training here on the RAU campus due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, we are prepping for the time when restrictions ease and we can resume on-site training, not only for Agriculture, but especially for the Modular Biblical teaching.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Jacob and Zakeo attended their first meeting for this year with Moyo District Local Government/District Production Office and other partners in the Livelihood sector (other NGOs) on September 22nd.  This partnership is an attempt to capture all the production activities for reporting to the central government, but also to coordinate with and monitor all entities to avoid duplication of services. It was Jacob’s first venture out of the campus since our arrival here.

COVID-19 restrictions are loosening somewhat, though with many Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place.  Jacob had to wear a mask while out and about and follow the protocol of hand-washing and seating distance.  Otherwise, the traveling restrictions are lifted with a limit of 4 people per private vehicle and public transport vehicles half full.

Pastor Tobious (Ayaa/Metu Mountains), Pastor Godfrey (Obongi), Charles (Yumbe) ,Joshua Abraham (Darfur Sudan), Salah (Nuba Mountains Sudan) and Absalah (Nuba Mountains Sudan) in partnership with RAU, are all eager to resume discipleship and evangelistic outreach activities.  It’s not that work has ground to a halt, but each one (and the churches and people they represent) has continued Gospel work and the witness of a gospel-centered life while seeking to comply with government guidelines during these days of lockdown.  Jacob has missed working shoulder to shoulder with these admirable men and is trusting that the Gospel partnership will soon resume with full force.

Churches are allowed to meet now.  However, some of the requirements of the SOPs are such that they are frustrating many small churches from gathering together if they are to follow every requirement, the key one being having to have a temperature gun to monitor for fever.  Many of the small congregations barely collect 10,000 shillings in an offering each week. The temperature guns cost anywhere from 200,000 to 450,000 shillings ($56-$127)—totally out of their range of affordability.  We are eager to see how this will play out and if the government will soften its recommendations (temperature gun) for the sake of some normalcy.

We still have the goal of bringing another container of ESV Global Study Bibles to RAU in the near future. To date, through the gracious gifts of many and the concerted fund-raising efforts of some very special friends of RAU, we have raised $82,382.38. The goal of $200,000 is needed for a container of 20,000 Bibles to reach RAU.  Due to COVID-19, our original deal could not be made with Crossway. So, hopefully, once we are near our goal of $200,000, we can strike an equally great deal!! These Bibles, like the ones which came five years ago, will primarily go into the hands of church leaders and other leaders in the community. We have an increasing number of relationships with church leaders here in the West Nile of Uganda as well as in both South Sudan and the Republic of (North) Sudan who read English well. The ESV Global Study Bibles which came five years ago are nearly gone. They are a vital resource in our walking out of 2 Timothy 2:2. Thanks to all who are giving and to those who have made it their mission to stir up the support! As we hear of the Republic of Sudan opening up and becoming politically stable, we are especially eager to get these Bibles, in addition to Arabic literature from authors like D.A. Carson, J.I.Packer and others, in the container so that such impactful resources can make their way to Sudan while doors are wide open.

Current picture of containers. The new one would be set to right with the roof continuing and a space between which, Lord willing, would become a chicken coup.

We are making progress!!! We are just above 40% of our goal!

Jacob is wrapping up renovations in two of the rooms in the Big House (Guest House) so that when the “gates are open” and COVID restrictions are lifted (especially the 16 day quarantine which puts a damper on short term team plans) we will have some comfortable quarters for the teams that do come.  We look forward to that day with GREAT joy!!! Oh how we have missed all the wonderful brothers and sisters who have come alongside us in mission in the past!

Romans 12:4-7 “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are different activities, but the same God works all of them in each person.  A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good…”

We can’t end our newsletter without recognizing a key component of our RAU Team—YOU, our partners in the Gospel—the fuel of everything RAU does. RAU is only a pipeline of grace from your hearts of love, vision, prayer and financial support to the communities and leaders we serve. Our prayer is that you will KNOW the value of what you do and give. We are reminded of that passage in 1 Samuel 30: 23-24: “But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” The ones who are on the “front lines” are no more vital than the ones who preserve or provide the supply.

Jacob and I pray that this year, though troublesome in many ways, has been an opportunity for each of you to recognize the heart of God in the interruptions you have faced.  Charles Spurgeon said, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”  Our ability to see clearly is closely related to our ability to trust God fully, especially when circumstances are undesirable.  We pray that you have received “2020 Vision” that has in view the grace of divine interruptions.

Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

Prayer Requests and needs:

  • The village of Ayaa is in dire need of a well-functioning borehole (water well). RAU’s first borehole was the Ayaa Baptist Church borehole back in 2014. It had been serving a population of 3000 community members or so. This year, the borehole collapsed. Community members have had to go back to trekking for a mile or two to streams to collect water. As Dry Season approaches, many of the streams will dry up, making the trek for water even longer. During the writing of this newsletter, Jacob had made a post on Face Book with an appeal for donations. As of now, the request is an already answered prayer, for the money HAS been raised through several families and individuals!!!! The cost is $8,000 and we have a very reputable driller right here in our Moyo community who has drilled 9 of the 10 boreholes which RAU has been able to put in place in the very remote villages in the Metu Mountains–thanks to many wonderful donors.
  • Moyo is reporting 10 COVID-19 cases in the hospital (on latest report). Support for severe cases is limited if not non-existent. Pray for those suffering and pray that the numbers will not increase, for it would surely be a heavy hit here. Pray that conditions will improve so that ministry can happen more fully than it is. Pastor Tobious, especially, has been pleading for times of discipleship teaching.
  • Continue to pray for and consider giving towards the goal of another container with Bibles! Tax deductible checks may be written out to Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU) and sent to our home church: Lifegate/RAU Missions; 395 Lifegate Lane; Seguin, TX; 78155. OR tax deductible donations may be made on our web page through PayPal with a notation of “For Bibles”. This is the link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=WAR99DL4JFWXQ
  • Pray for Jacob and me! We desperately need grace in this season of our lives to see with “2020 Vision” what the Lord is doing and to have his mind and heart in ministry.

With love and godly affection,

Jacob & Carol Lee, RAU

Website: http://www.ReachingAfricasUnreached.org  

Tax deductible  charitable donations may  be made via PayPal or check.  PayPal also has a way to make recurring monthly gifts. Recurring monthly gifts are very helpful to the ministry. To do so, please click on the PayPal link below. PayPal deducts  a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal and by check are tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable organization.  If you wish to write a check you may write it out to R.A.U. and mail it to Lifegate/RAU Bibles, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.    

PayPal Link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=WAR99DL4JFWXQ    

Go to RAU’s Facebook page for up to date reports, pictures, musings, and exhortations: www.facebook.com/ReachingAfricasUnreached  

For YouTube Videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRmHafoBSemE7jS8kEHCG6Q/videos  

The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!
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 When at least 35% of the world, “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!
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 Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!
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 I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our  ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!
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Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!

Genuine Faith And Joy From The Mines Of Suffering And Trials

Genuine Faith And Joy From the Mines of Suffering and Trials

By Carol Lee

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Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9

In our hiatus from the “norm” of ministry because of in-country COVID-19 restrictions, Jacob and I have been doing a lot of reading these last months.  It helps even more that rainy season has impeded our internet signal and outside work, so there is less scrolling and more page turning!  In this particular season of life, the topic of suffering has captured our attention for obvious reasons related to the pandemic, our particular Sub-Saharan challenges, and for less obvious ones that are part of our sinful humanity.  We both are grateful that God has given teachers and writers to the Body of Christ who have not only experienced suffering and the testing of their faith, but have discovered their faith to be genuine in the mines of their suffering. We are blessed to receive their wisdom through the gift of books.

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Below is a list of the most helpful ones on suffering that we have read followed by three quotes from our favorite and most encouraging books.  The quotes highlight several aspects of suffering—the inevitability of it (physical & emotional) and our understanding of and response to it—and the suffering we experience in putting to death our sinful nature so that the resurrection and triumph of Christ may be revealed in our thoughts, attitudes and actions.

  1. From Weakness To Strength, by Scott Sauls
  2. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, by Timothy Keller
  3. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, John Piper & Justin Taylor, General Editors
  4. Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, by Paul David Tripp

  5. J-Curve, by Paul E. Miller
  6. Suffering is Never For Nothing, by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Suffering doesn’t so much change your heart as expose what has been in your heart all along. Difficulty has an amazing ability to reveal what’s inside us. Trials reveal your true thoughts and desires, where you have been looking for life, where you have sought meaning, and where you have looked to give you hope. Suffering will always expose the true nature of your relationship to and communion with God.” Paul David Tripp, Suffering is Never For Nothing
  • “Paul sees his suffering as sharing in Christ’s sufferings. Dying is followed by rising, suffering by comfort. The work of love repeats both the dying and the rising of Jesus. Like Jesus, Paul suffers so that others can be comforted…Paul sees his suffering as sharing in Christ’s sufferings. Dying is followed by rising, suffering by comfort. The work of love repeats both the dying and the rising of Jesus. Like Jesus, Paul suffers so that others can be comforted.”  Paul E. Miller, J-Curve

 

  • “Job’s friends gave true statements but applied these truths inappropriately. Biblical scholar Don Carson writes about Job’s friends, ‘There is a way of using theology and theological arguments that wounds rather than heals. This is not the fault of the theology and our theological arguments; it is the fault of the “miserable comforter” (Job 16:2) who fastens on an inappropriate fragment of truth, or whose timing is off, or whose attitude is condescending, or whose application is insensitive, or whose true theology is couched in such cultural-laden cliches that  grate rather than comfort’” Tim Keller , Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering

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    Jacob and I celebrated our 39th wedding Anniversary  on July 10th.

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Both Jacob and I are gleaning so much:  seeing the Gospel hammered down deeper into our understanding and practice, being taught to love and trust the goodness of God in all that He permits, allowing “light and momentary” trials do their work in exposing misplaced hope and learning to love, more earnestly, God, one another and our community through the death of self and our resurrection in Christ. These days and months are testing the genuineness of our faith in Christ and stirring in us a joy in the power of the Gospel to change us when circumstances are trying to the core.  Out of the mines of suffering and trials we are finding the gold of faith and joy  And we are grateful!

While the “pause” button is still on larger gatherings (which means no current trainings at R.A.U. Hall of Tyrannus ), we are pushing full steam ahead on the Ag Demo Plot (and ministries of mercy which present themselves) where we have “the go ahead”.

The unutilized, for now, Hall of Tyrannus

 Fully utilized 20 acre Ag Demo Plot

 

This year, RAU offered improved seeds to the community  [groundnuts (Serenut 14R) and rice (Namche 5)] at subsidized rates. These seeds are resistant to the more common pests and diseases which attack the plants.

 

The 640 grafted mangoes produced the best ever since their planting and many were sold to vendors for sale in the markets. In addition, farmers came to get seedlings of tomatoes, carrot, cabbage, eggplant, onion, sweet potato vines, banana suckers and green peppers.

 

Our biggest push at the moment is to increase the number of box gardens in which are planted vegetables and herbs in very visible places so that they will create inspiration and instruction, especially once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and trainings can be resumed for Pastors/Leaders/Community members.  The box gardens will, hopefully, show that anyone can produce much on a small, manageable scale. A key point which RAU wants to demonstrate is planting vegetables in various stages (box gardens/kitchen gardens) so that there is a constant flow of produce for sale or consumption. In our box gardens we have carrots,green peppers, egg plant,okra,green beans,sweet corn,cabbage,tomatoes,onions,coriander, dohdoh, sukumawiki, zucchini squash, and cucumber.  The hope is that, one day, increased production in the Moyo area (or wherever the pastors/leaders live) will mitigate the need for importing produce from outside and provide household income. Just recently, 5 more box gardens were built, bringing the total to 18.

Five new box gardens

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Box gardens

RAU will add 300 more grafted mangoes to the acreage using our own stock and local materials.  This will be one of the skills taught to the pastoral training attendees. Initially, we had bought special tools for grafting, but because we want skills to be reproducible locally,  we are going back to the more simple, less mechanized method of grafting.  Recently, a gentleman from the community who is well-versed in this method came to RAU to refresh our co-workers in that skill. The grafted seedlings will be planted across the road in the 3-acre section of land. Now that the mango trees have grown large, there is no longer space for two banana trees in between each mango tree, so the number is being reduced to one.  Eventually, there will only be room for mango trees.

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Grafting has begun

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This year in our first season (we have two growing seasons here) we planted some maize which has now been harvested.  We are trying to dry it for proper storage; however, this is proving difficult with the recent, persistent heavy rains.  Shelling will be done by beating the cobs with sticks and then it will be either sold or taken to a local mill to be made into the staple food of our area…posho, a food workers love to eat during the week days.

We had a good first season onion harvest. We have kept most of them for the dry season when onions are few.

Especially noticeable in the rainy season is the problem of erosion as parts of RAU land slope in two different directions.  This year, we placed yams and sweet potatoes in between the mango and banana rows in the most affected areas. Yam and sweet potato vines require mounds for planting, so they have been strategically placed to prevent the damaging run-off. This also provides an opportunity for learning how to control erosion.

Yams and Sweet potatoes

 Our second season field crops are: beans, g-nuts (groundnuts/peanuts), onions, rice, and sugarcane.  We will continue to plant crops between the mango/banana trees until the mangoes form a canopy.  After that, we will look at only planting crops which can do well in shaded areas.  As always, we incorporate crop rotation so as not to deplete the soil.

Previously planted beans, g-nuts (groundnuts/peanuts), onions, and rice

COVID-19 has caused a shift in activities and it has also opened up new opportunities to serve our brothers and sisters in various parts of the West Nile.  In the last newsletter, we shared about the  purchase 5,600 KG’s/12,345 pounds of “First Class” maize flour  which came from Kampala packed in 5 KG bags  and which was distributed in the Metu Mountains, Obongi and Yumbe. The reports we received from co-workers Tobious (Metu Mountains), Godfrey (Obongi) and Charles (Yumbe) are that the supply came at the right time and was a blessing to Church members as well as other community members.  We want to extend their thanks to all who graciously provided funding for that gift.

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Added to the disruption of pandemic restrictions has been the cascading effect of severe rains in southern Uganda around Lake Victoria (or “Lake Nnalubaale,” as it is known in Lugandan, given the fact that the lake was known to the nationals before the British “discovered” it!).  Due to excessive rain and flooding in areas close to the source of the Nile near Kampala, dams were at risk for breaking, so water was released. This put communities in grave danger further down the Nile.  Recently, we heard from Pastor Godfrey about severe flooding which encroached on and destroyed many homes along the Nile River in Obongi, including the tukalu which he and his wife, Lily, were renting.  They and many others lost almost everything in the flood.  Thanks, once again, to the generosity of many, we were able to deliver funds to Pastor Godfrey who distributed them to various families in need (in the church and the community which is primarily Muslim) and helped him to get reestablished.

In the picture above are some of the members of Obongi Town Church and some flooded tukulu’s. Pastor Godfrey is seated with some of our Obongi Muslim friends/leaders. They were appreciative to R.A.U.  for the help given to their community.

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We wrote about the small construction projects of expanding two guesthouse rooms.  They are coming along nicely, though efforts were temporarily diverted to the 5 new box gardens so they could be prepared for planting.  We are looking forward to the day when, once again, the rooms can be filled with visiting teams.

Speaking of construction, August marks the 9-year anniversary of breaking ground for “Big House” or Guesthouse.  We have come a long way since then and every building and project is a testament to the visionary and administrative giftedness of Jacob.

A picture history from Jan.2011-Present may be found here: https://reachingafricasunreached.org/r-a-u-guesthouse-building-pictures-2/

August 2011 and Present Day

December 2019 flyover in a MAF plane  of RAU’s 20 below:

COVID-19 scrambled so many plans, including the delivery of Bibles and other books to RAU.  Though delayed, the plan remains to raise money for 20,000 Tru-Tone ESV Global Study Bibles. We want to raise  bit more than our original planned shipment to make sure we cover all costs. Back in February we wrote about it in the post 20,000 ESV Global Study Bibles to RAU.  So far, we have raised $66,645 towards the $200,000 we are anticipating in order to have a special printing and shipping of them from the USA to RAU.  Please consider giving specifically towards this project.  It is the single most important resource we could place into the hands of Pastors and leaders in the Church in places where there is a famine of resources.

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As restrictions continue to ease (as they have been–very slowly), Jacob hopes/plans to join forces with Pastor Tobious and other leaders in the Metu Mountains for outreaches in the many villages hidden in the mountains for preaching and church planting. Pastor Tobious informs us there are many villages with not ONE SINGLE church in their midst. By God’s grace churches have been planted in Cinyi, Lea, Oku, Alugudu, Arapi/Gbari, Duku and Oyo. Leaders for these new churches are still in ongoing training.  Please pray for this endeavor and for leaders who can rise to the challenge of shepherding new churches which are birthed in preaching of the Gospel. We also look forward to further gospel outreaches and discipleship in Obongi and Yumbe District.

Metu Mountains

Metu churches

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Though it has been frustrating for trainings (RAU’s highest priority) to be restricted, it is equally comforting that God is sovereign in all human affairs.

“When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.” (Charles Spurgeon)

We know that seeds already planted and watered are growing and bearing fruit among the leaders who have received training, and we trust that, very soon, the door for such trainings will open again.

As Jacob says, “We must learn to adapt our plans to God’s plans and not the other way around.” (see Isaiah 55:8-9). Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” 

Being sure of this, we continue the work at hand and we will be ready for every good work which the Lord has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The good which God intends from the mines of our various trials will result in genuine faith, inexpressible joy, the salvation of souls and, most importantly, glory and honor to Christ when He returns and makes His plans crystal clear.  How good it will be if we can maintain the perspective that not every bit of good is visible from earth nor is all of it meant for this earth.  Our faith and joy are tethered in heaven.

Our prayer and hope is that the Church of the living God will have her sights set on things above where Christ is seated.  We pray that every trial will be a megaphone with which God communicates to His people HIS priorities.  We pray for the deep conviction that “...our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Thank you for your interest and partnership in the ministry of RAU.  Thank you for your prayers and personal concern.  We are blessed to be co-workers with you in God’s fields.

With Gratefulness,

Carol and Jacob Lee

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Tax deductible  charitable donations may  be made via PayPal or check.  PayPal also has a way to make recurring monthly gifts. Recurring monthly gifts are very helpful to the ministry. To do so, please click on the PayPal link below. PayPal deducts  a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal and by check are tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable organization.  If you wish to write a check you may write it out to R.A.U. and mail it to Lifegate/RAU Bibles, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.
Go to RAU’s Facebook page for up to date reports, pictures, musings, and exhortations:

The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!
 ———–
 When at least 35% of the world, “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!
 —————-
 Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!
 —————-
 I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our  ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!
—————
Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!
Jacob Lee

Contentment Without Indifference

 Contentment Without Indifference

By Carol Lee

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“I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by partnering with me in my hardship.”

Philippians 4:11-13

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. (Psalm 37:3)

“Trusting the Lord — casting, not carrying, our anxieties — frees us to dwell contentedly, whatever our situation (Philippians 4:11–13), and faithfully “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). When we take our eyes off what we’re waiting for and look around, we’ll discover more opportunities to do good — right now, where we are — than we could possibly do!”

Jon Bloom

From: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-are-you-waiting-for

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It has now been 110 days of quarantine and lockdown for us since arriving in Moyo on March 9, 2020.  Initially, it was a matter of a self-imposed, 14-day quarantine to ensure we were not endangering our community (14 days became 28 just to quell the rumors and suspicions within the community which was rightfully protective of its safety). Then, government mandated restrictions began and have continued up to now with little hope that the restrictions will be lifted any time soon. Moyo (our district) and several other border districts are enduring stricter lockdown measures in an attempt to prevent COVID-19 infected people from coming across the borders into Uganda.  This means that vehicles (both private and public) are not allowed to move on the roads yet in Moyo District as well as several other border districts. Only with special permission  from the President’s representative (the RDC) can a person use his private vehicle.  A nightly curfew of 7 PM remains nation wide in addition to other restrictions. Cargo vehicles are, thankfully, allowed or otherwise food and other items would be scarce.

What to do?  We are compelled by a scripturally informed conscience to live in a law-abiding way in our host country, Uganda.  In addition, we want to convey care to the surrounding community who might yet perceive outsiders as threats. So, while using this time of seclusion for reflection, prayer, study, marriage-building, corresponding and planning, we are trying not only to be content in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, but also NOT to be indifferent to the needs around us or to the plans ahead.

Since our return to RAU, we and our crew of co-workers have been busy planting, weeding, watering and harvesting and many other activities. We are blessed to have a quality group of men and women working with us whom we are proud to also call friends.

Some of our RAU Co-Workers

The mangoes from our 640 grafted mango trees produced the best they have ever done this year.  In spite of lockdown measures we were able to sell many (sadly not all) of them at a greatly discounted price to a customers who would come and get truck loads of them to take to other towns. Local vendors and neighbors also participated. The short video below the pictures helps explain some of the “why’s” of growing mangoes here at RAU.

At RAU’s Front Gate

In addition, there have been smaller vendors who have come for bananas and banana suckers, tomatoes, green peppers, rice and groundnuts (peanuts).  Though rainy season has not produced as much rain as anticipated, we received enough to do some real good in Moyo district. However, other West Nile districts have not been as blessed and subsequently have suffered in producing food crops.  This has made many vulnerable to hunger.

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Various short videos on agricultural work (as well as others) may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRmHafoBSemE7jS8kEHCG6Q/videos

Recently, we had a providential opportunity to buy, from Emma’s Apiviva Agrotechno Consult and Supplies Limited Store 5,600 KG’s/12,345 pounds of “First Class” maize flour (a staple food item in our area) which came from Kampala packed in 5 KG bags.  Our goal was to help our host tribal communities of Ma’di and Aringa who either live in remote areas or are challenged in their ability to access food. This meant an additional cost of transporting the maize flour to remote village churches as well as to Obongi and Yumbe. Emma did an excellent job organizing transport vehicles to move the maize flour to the various locations; 70% went into the Metu Mountains, 15% to Obongi and 15% to Yumbe.

Trusted pastors in the Metu Mountains, Obongi and Yumbe with whom RAU has worked for years took on the responsibility of distributing the flour to the more remote Metu Mountain churches (Aya, Alugodu, Ijujo, Cinyi, Lea, Oku, Arapi, Gbari, Oku, Duku and Oyo) as well as in Obongi and Yumbe District.

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As you can imagine, the distribution of the 5,600 KG’s/12,345 pounds of “First Class” maize flour  has communicated love to the people in these areas and they are praising God.

 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16

Our main focus was vulnerable church members/families in the remote areas of Metu Mountains who have little access to purchase staple food items. There are no means of travel except walking and these villages are in difficult terrain and far from markets.  Our hearts are also with Pastor Godfrey of Obongi Town Church and  with Charles of Pilgrim Church Yumbe.  Charles has close contacts with other churches in Yumbe District as well as  Sheikhs and Imams who have become friends.  We are so grateful to the Lord for His gracious provision through the people to whom He gave a burden of love to provide this necessity.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”

Galatians 6:10

Since the last newsletter there have been some changes: Emma, who had been employed at RAU for these last 5 years, decided to open a second Agro input/consulting store in Adjumani along with  his Moyo store.  This was going to involve a lot of time and travel on his part and he chose to pursue being a businessman full-time.  He will continue to consult RAU in our Agricultural endeavors.  Thankfully, he has done 2 Timothy 2:2 very well and has trained our RAU men to continue the agricultural activities including box gardens, crops and fruit trees for future retreat members and other visitors from surrounding communities.  We thank Emma for the service he rendered to RAU and to the community and we pray for his continued success in inspiring the Ma’di people (and others) to take up farming as a business.

 Emma’s Apiviva Agrotechno Consult and Supplies Limited Stores: Moyo and Adjumani

Another change has been our bringing onto the RAU team, Onette Zorah, who now has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Children’s Ministry. Our plan is for him to assist/train pastors who come for retreats in establishing a Sunday school program in their churches.  Zorah had worked with us previously but was able to further his education and will use his training to build up local churches/church plants with which we have connections.

Zorah

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If COVID-19 conditions are favorable and restrictions within the country and especially here in Moyo are lifted, we hope to have a large medical team from Mbale with Pearl Haven/E-5 Ministries here in September to do a Medical/evangelism outreach in the Metu Mountains as they did last year.  It was a huge success with 700+ people from the remote areas of the Metu Mountains being served and blessed by the medical team. Many of the clients that the medical team saw trusted in Christ for salvation during the outreach as well.  Please pray that circumstances will permit this ministry event to happen.  The folks in those remote villages are in dire need and the group which came was a great encouragement to them. May it be so, Lord willing, again this coming September.

Some pictures from Metu Mountain Medical Outreach September 2019

This video was done during the Medical Outreach.

 The good news is that since the video above was made, because of generous donations of God’s people, the roof is now on and windows/doors are in place at the Aya Baptist Church and the borehole has been done in Fodia, the village RAU is located in. It is producing much needed clean water for our Fodia neighbors. Also, the permanent church structure at  Arapi/Gbari Community Church is at beam level. With $12,000 (+/-) the roof  could be put on and doors and windows could be set in. (Remote area construction costs are bit higher than normal.) The goal is the same for the Arapi/Gbari Community Church as Aya: in addition to being a center for the church to gather, it will be a training center for that geographical section of the Metu Mountains. The Aya bore hole which was in the video was repaired with additional funds from RAU but, sadly,  the spot where the pipes were caved in and another separate bore is needed  close to the old one. It was the only source of clean and convenient water for Aya.

Below: Arapi/Gbari Community Church, Aya Baptist Church, and broken down borehole (well)  in Aya.

While RAU’s 2 Timothy 2:2 & open air market evangelism ministry activities have come to a halt for now and visiting teams have had to cancel for 2020, Jacob is using this “down time” to do a few renovation projects which will make the guest rooms in the big house a little larger (for more beds) and more comfortable for when teams are, once again, able to come.  These projects are also valuable in that they provide income opportunities for our workers during an economically difficult time.

Jacob and I are enjoying being in our new home–having a space which is uniquely ours to enjoy and invite others into.  It helps us to be “at home” here. As you can see in the photos, we were able to put up as a display some of the Ma’di handcrafted and culturally significant tools. Some items wee given to us and then John, our day watchman, made the others.  Obviously, they are not all to scale or they would be much bigger, but they are precious reminders of the Ma’di people we love and are called to serve. (Just to clarify, the person in the painting is not Ma’di but Masai, but we loved the painting so much!)

Our living room wall

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One of Jacob’s brilliant ideas was to move the library into our home.  The carpenters who have done a wonderful job for us in the past, came from Kampala and moved the shelves to various places in our home. With Zorah’s great help in packing and then helping (along with some of our strongest young men) to carry them, the large volume of books were stacked in our home.  Over the next 4 days, Jacob and I unpacked and shelved the books–an endeavor which left both of us hurting–just a little!!  Having them close at hand will be a help to Jacob as he continues to study and grow and prepare. It also frees up the old library to be a large dining and living area for visiting teams.

Jacob and I have attempted to make the most of these unusual circumstances–to be content but not indifferent— and are so blessed to have been strengthened in our marriage and personally.  Though we have been enriched in many ways, we hope it is not complaining to say that we are dearly missing all those we would have had the joy of being in ministry with and, of course, our family and friends back home.  We give thanks to the Lord in prayer for you all and we are praying for the many needs that are around us here:

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  • Many Ugandans are feeling the economic crunch and experiencing hunger and need.  Day laborers are forced into desperate measures in order to find food to feed their families.
  • Reports are that South Sudan’s COVID-19 infection rates are rising rapidly.  This, of course, is bad news for a country ravaged by war and desperate need.  South Sudanese within their country and within the refugee camps are suffering from sickness and scarce provisions. We are just a mile off the South Sudan border. The Ugandan police/army have  increased security along the Ugandan/South Sudan  border as it is very porous.  This also means that the virus has a greater chance of spreading in our area. This is one of latest reports from South Sudan: “Virus outbreak could spin ‘out of control’ in South Sudan”
  • We have been hearing reports from our co-workers that community members in our area are beginning to worry about their supply of food.  So many have depended on daily labor to provide for their families.
  • Pray that restrictions would be lifted enough for Jacob to travel to remote villages to resume small group discipleship/evangelism and for RAU to open its gates to farmers and visitors who could be inspired by the demo farm.  If restrictions can be loosened enough to allow for retreats here at RAU, though we may not be able to receive teams from the USA in the foreseeable future, Jacob and other Ugandans/Sudanese brothers could resume leadership trainings on campus.

Pray for training to resume in the Hall of Tyrannus

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  • Pray that the circumstances of COVID-19 would not be an opportunity for apathy to grow, but for preparations for future ventures to be made.  The Apostle Peter exhorts us to “always be prepared” which means we must always be preparing.  God has not quit working and His plans are not derailed. We must only open our eyes to see what He is doing and then jump on board!

“Waiting forces us to answer the question, “Where is your chief delight?” If our chief delight is in whatever we see at the end of our wait, then this wilderness will begin to feel like a death trap. But if our chief delight is in God himself, then we will find that he knows how to make rivers flow in the desert. And we will learn how to wait well.”

Scott Hubbard

From:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-to-do-while-you-wait

With Gratefulness,

 Carol (Jacob) Lee

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Tax deductible  charitable donations may  be made via PayPal or check.  PayPal also has a way to make reoccurring monthly gifts. Reoccurring monthly gifts are very helpful to the ministry. To do so, please click on the PayPal link below. PayPal deducts  a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal and by check are tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable organization.  If you wish to write a check you may write it out to R.A.U. and mail it to Lifegate/RAU Bibles, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.
Go to RAU’s Facebook page for up to date reports, pictures, musings, and exhortations:

The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!
 ———–
 When at least 35% of the world, “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!
 —————-
 Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!
 —————-
 I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our  ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!
—————
Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!
Jacob Lee

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God Has No “Plan B”

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God Has No “Plan B

by Carol Lee

It’s perplexing, isn’t it, this sudden upheaval of life and strange and scrambled routines and, for many, great sadness and suffering? Things were going well, for the most part, with a good trajectory.  What happened? Does God not love us? What happened to the Promise Box verse,  “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper and not to harm you“?  Did we not pray about the plans we had made or strategized wisely?  Didn’t we feel confident that our plans were “of the Lord“?  Is this world-wide catastrophe now the Lord’s “Plan B” for us–instead of His “Plan A“? What should we think?

Well, we should  think about Joseph in the Old Testament.  In his dreams, Joseph was given an exalted position.  Dreams (and visions) in the Old Testament were a significant means of communication from God and their interpretation belonged to the Lord.  So, Joseph’s TWO dreams of similar content were a great assurance that good things were coming for him.  And yet, Joseph experienced 13 years of pits and dungeons and mistreatment before any inkling of greatness.  He was every bit as exalted as foretold in his dreams, BUT it’s his response to the pits and dungeons and mistreatment that I love the most and that informs our response: “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result — the survival of many people.” (Genesis 50:20)

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Joseph being sold into slavery

No Plan B’s–only Plan A in God’s economy!

Think about Jesus. He lived a perfect, sinless life.  He came to do God’s will perfectly, yet he experienced suffering, shame and death. “Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him.” (Acts 2:23) The point is, THIS was God’s Plan A for Jesus, not the Plan B.  Jesus cried out in prayer to His Father, “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say — Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”  He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension–were NOT God’s Plan B.  They were His Plan A! 

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Whatever evil, devastation, suffering, disappointment, frustration and delay this monsterish COVID-19 (or any other painful trial) has brought us, God is NOT sitting enthroned in heaven with knee-knocking, nail-biting fear and disarray, trying to come up with a way to “fix it“.  He is carrying out His Plan A, whether or not we can see clearly enough to praise Him right now for the good He is working.  As I am writing, Jacob and I have been wrestling over some of God’s Plan A for us. BUT! the Lord is good and faithful–and so is His Plan A, no matter what it appears to be from our limited perspective.

We are not able to understand everything God does in our lives, because we cannot see from his perspective (Isaiah 55:8). We do not know what he is trying to accomplish or what mercies he is pouring out for us on this new path. Still, we can know that nothing in his plan will ultimately harm us, and everything in his plan will ultimately be better for us (Romans 8:28).

As each step unfolds, we are called to trust that God knows what he is doing and that he is taking us exactly where he wants us to be (Proverbs 3:5–6). Therefore, we have the choice of either trusting in our own understanding by continuing to try and force our own plans to work, or we can choose to trust God and ask that our desires be transformed into his desires. By his grace, we are empowered to forgo what we once wanted in order to say “Yes” to what he is asking of us now.

~~MaryLynn Johnson~~

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/exchange-your-dreams-for-gods-plans

William Cowper was a gifted poet and hymn writer who lived in the 1700’s. His counsel, which was birthed out of his own dark struggles with depression, is a mooring for us today:

God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform;
he plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill
he treasures up his bright designs, and works his sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust him for his grace; behind a frowning providence
he hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding ev’ry hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain.”

https://hymnary.org/text/god_moves_in_a_mysterious_way

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, “Pause, Reflect, Reset,”  Jacob and I had what we thought was a carefully, prayerfully made Plan A.  We thought that a full 2020 calendar of ministry was what the Lord wanted. God clearly said, “No.”  He had His Plan A for which we are so grateful now.  This is our 7th year of living full time in Uganda and Jacob’s 13th year since he starting ministering in this Uganda/South Sudan region. The year, 2020 would have been the busiest year yet, but God gifted us with a “sabbatical” which has been sorely needed.  In these past 7 years we have forged through with great energy (especially Jacob) to accomplish much, with very little respite.  However, it has taken a toll from which we both have needed recovery.  We are grateful for this Plan A of the omniscient Lord who knows what we have need of even before we ask.(Matthew 6:8)

Recently, I was reading verses 30-31 of Mark 6:  “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.”  Jesus is definitely calling Jacob and me to come away by ourselves to a remote place and rest a while”  and it proving to be refreshment and healing. We are connecting with each other like never before and we are refreshing ourselves in the Lord.  We don’t rejoice in what, by appearance, is great suffering, but we do rejoice in the gift we have received in the midst of the suffering.

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Most of OUR Plan A activities were cancelled but we are doing what we can within the scope of the restrictions placed upon the country of Uganda.  I love what Jacob recently posted on FaceBook:

God’s call upon us in any given situation he has ordained is to “respond” and not simply “react”.  No matter one’s “take” on Coronavirus, it has changed people’s lives. For us at Reaching Africa’s Unreached we have had to push back the many leadership trainings we had scheduled for the year. The short term teams coming to assist are not able to come. Even going out for evangelism and discipleship has been disrupted. Do we respond or react?

We have chosen to respond by investing our current “extra” hours to be examples to community on how farming can not only supply the needs for families but the needs of the community when crisis comes. While there are crisis times when food must be given to alleviate immediate suffering, this need is mitigated when people are producing more food than they can eat. Relief is vital in crisis, but we have to think beyond crisis to rehabilitation and development so that relief is not the rule but the exception.

Some of our plans were cancelled. Others, just postponed–such as our goal to get the $185,000 for 20,000 ESV Global Study Bibles by the Crossway deadline for printing.  So far, we have $40,000 dedicated to the Bibles and that will be held in a separate account until such a time as we have collected the full amount.  We are hoping that we can still have this amazing deal to get the 20,000 Bibles from the USA to Uganda for $9.25 per Bible (printing and shipping included)!! If you have the burden, please give towards getting these Study Bibles here. The plan is to put them into the hands of Ugandan, South Sudan, and The Republic of (North) Sudan church leaders hands. Over the years Jacob has been given, by God’s grace, the connections to be able to this happen.

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With the current state of the pandemic of COVID-19 and its trajectory, mostly in other areas of the world, but also in Uganda, we have decided to cancel and not schedule (or reschedule) any short term team visits until after our March 2021 visit to the USA. A big part of this decision is affected by the perception of threat in our surrounding communities from foreigners visiting from countries where the Coronavirus has been widespread and deadly in its impact.  RAU has worked hard to build trust within the community and to be received by them.  Even if COVID-19 is contained and eliminated within Uganda, the pandemic is still raging and expected to be a threat in other countries for, likely, the rest of 2020.  Therefore, we want to mitigate distrust and ill will so that, when the fire of COVID-19 has died down, we have the good will of the people that we love here and their trust that we have their interests at heart.  This is painful for us because of the love and the relationship we have developed and hold for the short term ministry teams that have partnered with us in walking out 2 Timothy 2:2.

Biblical and agricultural leadership trainings before Covid-19 days.

COVID-19 has been an eye-opening, wake-up call for the church regarding long-term mission and short term ministry.  A quote by Darren Carlson was posted by Jacob on his Facebook page which speaks volumes: “Short-term missions is a $2 Billion industry.  And right now it’s at $0.” This is not to diminish the blessing of short term ministry, but to bring long term missions back into full view and priority.  Jacob wrote extensively about this issue in a previous post.  If you missed it or would like to read it, you may find his post entitled “Musings on the Corona-19 and Short Term Missions” here.

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Currently, we are in lockdown on RAU campus.  Jacob has not left it since our arrival here.  The lockdown is likely to continue until June or maybe even longer–it has been rumored that it may continue for the rest of this year.  If restrictions are lifted to where Jacob is allowed to leave the RAU campus, he is ready to pursue one-on-one discipleship in the Metu Mountains, Obongi and Yumbe as well as evangelism in remote areas.  Until then, Jacob has committed himself to thinking through and working on a RAU curriculum (theological, pastoral, apologetics, agricultural, financial saving /investing/business etc.) for leadership training which would be especially geared for our Ugandan and South Sudanese/Sudanese brothers.  We are  committed to walking out 2 Timothy 2:2 vision for the long term.  A huge goal would be to have a pastoral training program which is approved by the Ugandan government.  Jacob is going to enlist the help of some qualified men to assist him with that process.  Having an RAU curriculum would allow training to continue without impediment or restriction and to happen in small groups remotely or in larger, more organized settings such as we have had for the last 7 years here on the RAU campus.

Earlier 2 Timothy 2:2 Training’s

During this time of watching and waiting, we hope that your commitment to pray and partner with us financially will continue so that we are in a position to “hit the ground running” when restrictions are lifted.

Though the WHOLE WORLD has experienced an upheaval and the future and our plans seems uncertain, Jacob and I are awestruck by our growing knowledge that the Lord is seated on His throne, unchanging, in charge, powerful, good, loving and holy.  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now [we] know in part; then [we] shall know fully, even as [we] have been fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12). We are experiencing a peace not defined by external circumstances but, in the midst of devastating circumstances, a peace informed by our steadfast hope in WHO GOD IS!!

Our prayer for all of us is that, no matter how deep the struggle, we will be convinced that “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) and that God has no Plan B’s (or, as Jacob does, Plan B through Zed)– only Plan A–AND IT IS GOOD!

With Gratefulness,

 Carol (Jacob) Lee

Tax deductible  charitable donations may  be made via PayPal or check.  PayPal also has a way to make reoccurring monthly gifts. Reoccurring monthly gifts are very helpful to the ministry. To do so, please click on the PayPal link below. PayPal deducts  a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal and by check are tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable organization.  If you wish to write a check you may write it out to R.A.U. and mail it to Lifegate/RAU Bibles, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.
Go to RAU’s Facebook page for up to date reports, pictures, musings, and exhortations:

The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!
 ———–
 When at least 35% of the world, “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!
 —————-
 Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!
 —————-
 I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our  ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!
—————
Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!
Jacob Lee

Musings on the Corona-19 and Short Term Missions

17457899_10208614021443831_15588082780692761_nGreetings from the Uganda/South Sudan Border!

Carol and I are praying for God’s grace and mercy to be extended to you, our friends and family in America, as well for all who are suffering the direct and indirect consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We thank God for his mercy over Uganda. Please continue to pray for Uganda. Looking back, I can see God’s providence in moving Uganda to put restrictions on those entering the country before there were any confirmed cases of the virus in the country.

I have been pondering some things in the context of short-term ministry trips and the COVID-19 virus. We at Reaching Africa’s Unreached are willingly complying with all of the Ugandan government’s mandates and seeking to leverage all that we have and are for the advancement of the gospel.

This week, we started planting corn and beans (pinto-like), which can be harvested in around 60 days. We have a lot of RAU-grown rice in the container and have been skinning it so as to have food stock for our local community if things get worse. We now have about 1.45 tons of this RAU-grown rice in the container ready to be cooked and eaten. We have much more  RAU-grown “un-skinned” rice in the container along with a lot of RAU-grown g-nuts (peanuts) and soybeans, which we will also keep in reserve.

First Season Planting

Soon, we will be planting an acre of onions, which are still in the nursery beds. The box gardens are/will be full of vegetable plants or seedlings. Our 640 grafted mangoes are loaded with fruit and our many bananas are coming back strong after our dry season. Even though we cannot have farmer’s groups/pastors here, the demo plot it is still serving as example to the community of how farming as a business can be help in raising the economy of our community. The food reserves we have can be a good testimony of Christ’s love if food stocks in the area get low.

Emma, RAU’s agricultural expert, will continue to give advice to farmers via RAU’s weekly 2 hour radio broadcasts and by answering questions via the phone. We are encouraging everyone to be active in their fields and gardens during this time of planting first season crops. Please continue to pray for the agricultural ministry arm of RAU that we can be an examples of God’s mercy and grace.

I had lots of plans for the month of March for discipleship and evangelism in the Metu Mountains, Obongi, and Yumbe, but they had to be postponed. Lord willing, by the second week of April, we will be able to push forward in these areas while following the Ugandan government’s guidelines.

Previous Outreaches in the Metu Mountains, Obongi, and Yumbe District

We are disappointed our ministry friends/partners have to cancel their trips to us. Our April training of local pastors is on hold, as well as our June and July training with Sudanese. We have other trainings which also follow that could be postponed if things do not change. I do hope that the virus has run its course soon, but even if it does, I do not see travel opening up through Europe to us in the near future. Looking at the repercussions of the virus in Europe and America, it does not seem wise to have partners traveling here from or through areas that have the virus, even if they could.

A Previous Church Leadership training and Agricultural training

People are well aware of how Covid-19 is transmitted, even in our remote area, because of all the media coverage. We, as a ministry committed for the long term, are of the conviction not to do things which may seem safe in our eyes but look questionable to our community. So, we do not think it wise for the time being to have visitors at RAU from countries with the virus. Living and working in our community has given us a lot of leverage for gospel work, which could quickly evaporate if it appears we do not have their best interests of the community in view.

The Law of Love

  “Therefore let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother or sister.”

Romans 14:13 CSB

The whole world has been affected in major ways by this current crisis. It has given me pause to pray over and ponder what the Lord may be doing. I am certainly no prophet, so I can only pontificate. I see the COVID-19 pandemic as being a means for the Lord to make people (both the lost and saved) come to grips with the shortness of life and the fact that the comforts of prosperity and security can easily vanish. I pray that God’s people, the church, see God’s hand in this and press courageously forward, taking this opportunity to proclaim the gospel of grace in word and deed.

I have also been musing on the coronavirus’ affect upon foreign missions. I am thinking and pondering about what the Lord is wanting me as well as the Body of Christ to see more clearly and, in turn, act upon. Could it be that the Lord is wanting his people to focus more on long-term commitment in cross cultural ministry, along with keeping the passion of short-term ministry? I believe the answer is yes. By God’s grace and mercy, He set my heart on being a missionary 44 years ago, and I have been involved both short-term and long-term cross-cultural ministry during these years.

Fulfilling+the+Great+Commission+Make+disciples…teaching+them+to+obey+everything+I+have+commanded+you.

I took my first Short-Term Mission (STM) trip to India in 1979 and, thereafter, more trips to India. One of these was with Carol shortly after we were married. We were there for six months. Our oldest son was born there at that time. Later, I took two ministry trips to Pakistan and numerous ones to East Africa (South/Central/Northwestern Uganda, South Sudan and D.R. Congo).

Thirteen years ago, I first began ministry in Uganda/South Sudan in the Moyo Uganda area. In 2013, Carol and I physically moved to the RAU campus north of Moyo. Since 1979, I have seen the many positive things associated with short term missions and now in my latter years also the importance of living in a culture full-time for the advancement of the gospel and Christ’s building his church among all peoples and languages.

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RAU is located at the tip of the pen

COVID-19, by God’s sovereign hand, has, at least temporarily, put a pause on short term ministry (STM) trips. I cannot help but think that this hiatus placed upon short-term trips is meant for the church to look at how STM’s can better serve the advancement of the kingdom. My sense is that emphasis needs to be put back on long-term ministry efforts, with the emphasis on STM trips connected to and supporting long-term ministry work.

Covid 19
COVID-19, by God’s sovereign hand, has, at least temporarily, put a pause on short term ministry (STM) trips.

While the number of people going into long term cross-cultural missions has stayed the same over the years, short term work has multiplied so that 1.5 million Americans now go on short-term trips each year. Ideally, the growth in long-term and short-term should have, at least, remained the same. The great increase in short term ministry workers has not decreased the total area of the world without a gospel witness.

The laborers continue to remain few for the nearly one-third of the world which remains without the gospel. Unless God’s people leave their culture to live and proclaim the gospel among this “one-third,” they will remain without a gospel witness (see Romans 10:13-17 ). In my research, I have seen some astounding charts! The chart below only tracks to 2001. I am quite certain the trend has continued to 2020. If any of you can point me to more updated chart I would be grateful. Even so the one below still illustrates well what I have been saying.

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I think the increase in short-term ministry growth alongside the lack of growth in long-term, cross-cultural ministry has come for several reasons. Most likely this reflects the West’s “quick fix” culture.

“…In the contemporary Church, there is little difference between having a fleeting ‘burden for missions’ and a starry eyed wanderlust. The call for long-term missionaries willing to lay aside their lives for the cause of Christ found in past generations is mysteriously absent today. The mission enterprise is taking on the flavor of a microwave culture aimed at scratching our consumeristic itch…” 

Alex Kocman, from the Introduction to David Joannes’ The Mind of the a Missionary: What Global Kingdom Workers Tell Us About Thriving on Mission Today.

Again, I see great value in STM trips done when connected to workers on the ground in given location. However, I really believe, at least for now, it is way out of balance. Personally, I think it may have become a way for many Christians to “straddle the fence” when it comes to missions to one-third of world which will not be reached unless God’s people cross cultural boundaries for the long term. For the gospel to advance, we need more gospel-proclaiming, Jesus-loving believers to leave home and live in the midst of the people they want to see won for Christ.

From 2007 to 2013, I took many trips, lasting from 2 weeks to 2 months, to the Moyo area and during that time I saw increasingly that if we were going to make a lasting impact in Moyo/Yumbe area, Carol and I needed to move and live in the midst of the people. In the beginning, it was especially hard to break into the culture. But I am certain that now, after living here just seven years, we have been, for most part, more accepted in the community than would have been possible if we were only visitors.

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Some Yumbe Muslim Leaders at RAU

For instance,  we had a group from the Moyo sub-county Land Board Committee on our front veranda working together for several hours to get a land title for the 3 acres we had purchased across the road. Knowing the cultural cues of hospitality and their knowing we are here as Mundru (white) Ma’di’s gave us, by God’s grace, good interactions and progress. The community seeing RAU’s mercy ministry aspects for them, the fact that we remained here during 2014 Madi-Kuku conflict, the breakout of the civil war on our “doorstep” in South Sudan, and now our not leaving during Coronavirus are all ways we can break down barriers that short-term ministry efforts are unable to do. In most cases, people on STMs do not even know what barriers need to be overcome.

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Moyo sub-county Land Board Committee on RAU’s front veranda

Over the years, we have had many faithful followers of Christ who are willing to come for short-term ministry (both young and old), but when pressed by me (more boldly recently) to live abroad, the obstacles and objections flow freely. I truly believe this needs to change in the church, and it very well may be that Covid-19 might be the nudge the church needs. (Remember, these are “musings” from my heart and, of course, from context of a very biased person who believes and has experienced the reality that long term commitment in cross cultural ministry is what is needed by God’s people reach the one-third of world that has little-to-no gospel witness.)

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I rejoice that many local churches and short-term ministry groups are leading the charge in taking steps in the right direction. But even with such ministries, there are many challenges and barriers of trying to do things from afar. COVID-19 alone is a clear example.  It is a positive trend that these ministries are working towards long-term goals with long-term people. Similarly, it is the mission and vision of Reaching Africa’s Unreached  to walk out 2 Timothy 2:2 with our local church congregations and join their hands with the hands of local churches in America to see that churches are planted where there are none.


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Reaching Africa’s Unreached’s Theme

I strongly encourage every mission-minded pastor and STM team member to read Holding the Rope: Short-Term Missions, Long-Term Impact by Clint Archer. I believe this little book gives the right kind of advice needed in the church today on STM.  I also recommend all of Darren Carlson’s (President of “Training Leaders International”) articles on STM beginning with “Toward Better Short-Term Missions”. Another very helpful read is “A Philosophy of Short-Term Missions at Cornerstone Church” by Preston Sprinkle. RAU’s reading list for STM teams includes this book and articles as well as others. The reading list may be found at the bottom of this RAU web page: “Fact Sheet for Short-Term Ministry Teams to RAU” 

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I certainly don’t want to discourage any the ways you are seeking to be obedient and to do what you can, given your circumstances in your respective ministries and churches. In 2020, many of our ministry plans were centered around STM teams coming to participate with us in walking out 2 Timothy 2:2. We are grateful for these specific teams as they are ones that “get” the long-term commitment needed in missions.

However, with the shut-down of travel, we are having to adjust.  If we had other long-term missionaries here with us, there would be less of a pause in leadership training as well as evangelism outreaches and church planting in villages which have not one church. Please know that part of these reflections flow out of the desire to have other team members here long-term and the great burden for an area with so few gospel workers for the ripe harvest fields.

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In closing, may I challenge those of you who are lovingly and graciously involved in STM trips to pray, consult with your local church, and consider moving to and living in a culture without the gospel? One-third of the world needs dedicated disciples of local churches to relocate and live in their midst to proclaim the gospel of grace.

End of Sermon Exhortation 1

And let us pray together that local churches around the world would pray and send forth laborers (Romans 10:13-17) who will move out of their cultures and into unreached cultures, bringing the gospel to those who are in darkness and under the power of Satan, so that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus! (See Acts 26:15-18).

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This is where we are at with raising funds to bring 20,000 ESV Global Study Bibles to RAU. These would be primarily placed into hands of church leaders from West Nile Uganda,South Sudan, and Republic of (North) Sudan. Read more about it here: https://reachingafricasunreached.org/2020/02/28/20000-esv-global-study-bibles-to-rau/

With Gratefulness,

 Jacob (Carol) Lee

 

Tax deductible  charitable donations may  be made via PayPal or check.  PayPal also has a way to make reoccurring monthly gifts. Reoccurring monthly gifts are very helpful to the ministry. To do so, please click on the PayPal link below. PayPal deducts  a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal and by check are tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable organization.  If you wish to write a check you may write it out to R.A.U. and mail it to Lifegate/RAU Bibles, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.
Go to RAU’s Facebook page for up to date reports, pictures, musings, and exhortations:

The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!
 ———–
 When at least 35% of the world, “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!
 —————-
 Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!
 —————-
 I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our  ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!
—————
Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!
Jacob Lee