Always Be Prepared
By Carol Lee
“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,“
1 Peter 3:15
“For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.“
“If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining”
― Max Brooks
“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”
― John Wooden
“Most people fail in life because they were not prepared for the opportunities when they appeared.”
― Orrin Woodward
Recently, during one of my language lessons, we were reading Ma’di parables and came across one that carries the same meaning as the above quotes. “Mvuka li aci andra kpe!” (“In vain you cut (make) your shoes right before the fire”.) As I was doing my creative brainstorming for this newsletter, what was distilled in my thinking is that the few months since we have been back here at RAU have been this sort of preparation in many areas of the ministry. Times of preparation can seem barren of meaningful activity or effective ministry, but being ready for the “sudden” floodgate of opportunities makes you glad that you did the needful groundwork.
With the “start & finish line” in mind, Jacob painstakingly oversaw the last stages of the new Missionary House Duplex and, before that, the completion of the expanded Hall of Tyrannus, ensuring that the final product was pleasing to the eye and functional for many generations. [Building in this remote region is not easy as tools and supplies are not easily acquired. Every step is very very labor-intensive!] Our goal was to have at least “our side” of the Duplex ready to move into before the team (from Rocky Point Baptist Church Stephenville Texas) arrived for our North and South Sudanese leaders’ retreat. Jacob and I had been looking forward to being settled into our (new) home so that as we approached a very busy season of ministry we would have a haven of rest and feel more prepared. We did move in with only a day or two to spare before the arrival of the Rocky Point ministry team—not as ready as we would have liked to have been, but moved in!
What initially inspired the new building was the vision of having other families come and share the load, the joy of the work of the various branches of RAU ministry and most importantly having a team to pass the baton on to when the Lord takes us home to glory. At the writing of this newsletter, “our side” is complete minus a few small issues. Our expert carpenters, Nkata and Lawrence, returned home for a short break to see their families and rest a bit, after which they will return to finish up the other side of the Duplex and put the finishing touches on our home. Then we will be fully ready for the ones the Lord has in mind to come and share the load.
Another area of intensive labor and preparation has been our 20 acre Agricultural Demo Farm. March and April are typically the busiest as ground is made ready for planting and then the planting and weeding are done. This year, 2019, much like 2017, had an extended dry season. Meteorologists were saying we should anticipate famine for northern Uganda among other areas of Uganda and neighboring countries. Climbing prices of staple food items in the market are already indicating food scarcity. There were reports that both host community members as well as refugees in the near by settlements in our area will not have enough food to sustain them well due to the lack of a timely and adequate rainy season. Tobious, Pastor of Aya Baptist Church in the Metu Mountains, also wrote that the rains seriously delayed to come in sufficient quantity for timely planting in some of the mountain communities where he lives and works. Thankfully, since then, the rains have come and farmers are planting.
In response to this information of potential food shortage, RAU has been preparing in several ways. We are continuing to nurture our banana and mango trees (bananas produce suckers which we sell for a significantly reduced price and the mango seedlings will be grafted for sale as well). Meanwhile we are inter-cropping between fruit tree lines with a Rosette-resistant variety of ground nuts (peanuts) — Serenut 14R. In the past, the local community has experienced > 50% loss of production using the local variety of g-nut. The plan in buying and planting improved varieties of various crops is to multiply seed so that churches and the community can benefit by purchasing improved seed (with increased production) at greatly reduced prices in order to boost their production for sale and consumption. To add to the Cassava (an improved variety which is ready for consumption in 6 months vs the 12-18 months of other varieties) that we harvested, RAU purchased millet from a local farmer that can be ground along with the Cassava for an emergency, nutritional food source. Our vegetable seedling beds have been filled and re-filled as we plant some vegetables for demo and our own consumption and also for selling affordable seedlings to community members for their gardens.
Apiku Emma, our Principal Agricultural Extension Officer (PAEO) is continuing to oversee the demo farm operations and challenge and inspire the local communities on the radio every Thursday evening to see farming as a potential business rather than mere subsistence activity. Recently, Uganda’s President Museveni visited Moyo (as well as other West Nile towns and cities) and charged the citizens to focus on farming for improved livelihood. It was an opportunity to underscore that evening on the radio the Thursday he was in Moyo what RAU has already been doing for the last 3 years since adding an Agricultural component to the ministry: improved farming techniques and technology, farming as a business, and timely extension consultancy. As a response to a need in the community for recommended seed, agro-chemicals and tools and equipment, Emma and his wife, Vivian, started their own business called Apiviva Agrotechno Consult and Supplies, Ltd. As you can imagine, Emma is even busier now as he offers on the spot consultation for farming questions at their shop, in addition to the sale of reliable inputs and equipment. He is also bringing new technology to RAU so that it can be demonstrated for local farmers and increase our own production.
As the RAU team has done its work of preparation, God has been gracious to do His part of sending rain which has, once again, brought life and lushness to the RAU campus. It’s always a stunning sight to see the fertile beauty that is characteristic of “The Pearl of Africa”—Uganda. We are very grateful for Missionary Agricultural Resource Services (M.A.R.S.) which partners with us in agricultural ministry endeavors! They help to keep us afloat in our agricultural endeavors and moving forward!
Just in the nick of time, our prep goals were met (mostly) and then it was “hit the ground running” for the season of ministry for which we had been preparing.
Due to the size of the team, the Rocky Point team was able to fly directly into Moyo’s grass strip on Monday, June 17th, which cut off a good 6-8 hours of extra travel and many potholes! It gave them a little time to unwind before the retreat started the next day—except for the ladies, Lura and Marty—they got to experience the famous Boda ride in to town and the fun shopping and market experience. Hmmm…I think they weren’t too eager to repeat it! Hahaha!
At the time of the retreat, we were blessed to have visiting us our friend and brother, Misengile Samuel, from DRC, who was a great help and a joy to be around!
The Rocky Point Team came well prepared to teach and serve. By 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, we had already received our first Retreat attendees. Thanks to Lura and Marty, the registration process was like a well-oiled machine. As members arrived from various Refugee settlements (Rhino Camp, Morobi, Palorinya, Bidi Bidi and others), they were registered and settled into one of six tukalus or Lydia’s house. After refreshing themselves with a bath and lunch they were ready to start the first session of Module 3 (Hermeneutics—Heads, Church Ordinances —Hands, Several Fruits of the Spirit —Heart) of Reaching and Teaching’s 9 Module Curriculum entitled, “Head, Hands and Heart.” Rocky Point sent 4 excellent teachers to cover the topics. This was a blessing that allowed Jacob the freedom to continue with administrative and managerial duties. Each module is organized as 5 days or 40 hour of teaching. During the week there was an afternoon session on “Farming As A Business”. The teaching team was also able to bring valuable resources in Arabic from “The Gospel Coalition International Outreach”. Jacob loves the idea that the written word is a teacher–a missionary that never grows weary and spans through the generations.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
RAU Leaders Retreat #32
The benefit of having the attendees here at RAU is that sessions can start on time and include an evening session as well. The Lord has blessed so that we have the beds for both the attendees and trainers, as well as the ability to feed and transport the men from their various refugee settlements. All of us ladies (in the kitchen as well as Lura, Marty and I) ensured that the men were well-fed and their needs cared for. The retreat started Tuesday morning and ended Saturday at noon. It’s amazing how quickly bonded people become when such a compressed and intense is spent together! [On July 15th-24th, the same group of men will return for Modules 4 & 5 (Church History and Systematic Theology) with Jason Van Bemmel (Forest Hill Presbyterian Church (PCA)) and Bob Brown teaching.]
On Sunday we traveled to Obongi to visit and encourage Pastor Godfrey and Obongi Town Church. Recently, money had been provided for them by a lovely family to build a semi-permanent structure that could protect them from some of the elements. On behalf of the church, Godfrey expressed such gratefulness for this blessing that kept them from being rained on, chased from tree to tree or being beaten down by the sun. Most of us would just not go to church if we were presented with these same conditions on Sunday. Special thanks to the family who had a burden for this dear gathering of brothers and sisters.
Monday was “a day off”—which was anything BUT! Jacob had every single guy using every single talent they had to fix every possible problem (plumbing, electrical, solar, mechanical, IT and internet issues)! And I had recruited Marty and Lura to do some re-organizing projects. They were all such a blessing and what was accomplished will make our lives considerably easier after they have returned to the USA.
Tuesday and Wednesday were slated to be Metu Mountain “white-knuckle mission adventures.” However, on Tuesday, the Land Cruiser developed a clutch problem which could not be resolved in time for the team to go the Gbari/Arapi/Duku/Oyo side of the mountains, much to the disappointment of everyone. Tobious made a special trip the churches there by boda to explain to all the dear ones waiting and to cheer them as much as possible.
By 11 a.m. the next morning (Wednesday) the Land Cruiser seemed to be in shape to try the most strenuous of the remote journeys — to Aya, Ijujo and Cinyi. This trip is the ultimate test for a Land Cruiser, not only the mechanical parts but the tires as well. It took a while to make it up the short-cut road as the rain had washed some very large ruts in the road which required all hands on deck to fill the ruts with stones and sand. There were some very happy people waiting on the other end and it was a joy and blessing for Jacob and the Rocky Point team as well. The team was able to make it safely back to RAU! Very literally, Jacob pulled the vehicle into the garage and the transmission gave out completely! The Land Cruiser apparently was making a bold statement that “Enough is enough!” Thankfully, since then, the Land Cruiser has received some tender loving care through the loving care of dear friends back home who have contributed towards some of the repairs.
A full and tiring schedule did not keep us from enjoying a few nights of movies with BUTTERED POPCORN!!! The laughter and time spent together was medicine for our souls!
Then…just like that, time was up and the team flew off into the horizon (again, from Moyo)! [We are always amazed at what a fast “race” it is to the finish line—once that starter gun goes off — the race is over in a flash!] The goodbyes were hard! The retreat attendees endeared themselves to us and, of course, the Rocky Point team is like family. There was a gaping hole left by the team’s absence.
In full throttle of preparing for moving into the house and being ready for the retreat, we experienced the grace and kindness of the Lord several times. First, a couple weeks before, Jacob was trying to help get some pieces of wood out of storage and the thing on which he was standing seemed almost to shoot out from under him (as if someone had yanked it out) and he was thrown backward and downward onto the harrow where his back hit a metal bar, missing his spine by an inch. Though the pain he experienced was excruciating and caused him to pass out (scaring the tar out of me, by the way), the physical and visible damage was miraculously disproportionate to the intense pain and the probability of serious injury or worse. We could only conclude that the Lord spared him and has more for him to do. A week or so later, Jacob started experiencing typical malaria symptoms and because the pressure to get things done was so great, we immediately started him on an anti-malarial drug. This, I believe, decreased the duration of his symptoms so he could do what was needful, though the malaria slowed him down and he was forced to take periods of rest. These events were reminders that the Lord has numbered our days AND He is gracious even when we underestimate the limits of our capacities!
The “space” between the last retreat and the next has been full of activity. Jacob has continued to press on with details (everyone around here will attest to the fact that there is NEVER a time when work is finished. No small problem goes unnoticed by Jacob’s keen eye).
Our Ag projects are booming! Every kind of vegetable for demo and consumption has been planted (tomatoes, cabbage, onions, okra, squash, cucumber, air potatoes, carrots, watermelon and others). The Rosette-resistant g-nuts (peanuts) are doing very well. Emma has introduce various technologies for inspiring farmers to try new methods and improve their production (grow bags, seedling trays, spray pumps, improved variety seeds). Our grafted mangoes did very well this year (and we can only expect it to get better, especially if we are diligent to control the fruit fly population, which is what spoils mangoes) and we were able to find a ready market for them. We are no where near break-even in terms of revenue, but every little bit helps to off-set the cost of managing the various crops. Banana suckers have been sold in great numbers as community members have seen how well bananas of several varieties can be grown in this region. We have been selling Namche 5 Upland rice and other seeds which have been multiplied. Ag knowledge and inputs have also been made available to the Refugee community. We are glad to be a part of the many groups who want to bring hope and opportunity for improved livelihood for our local communities, no matter where they come from.
Each retreat (this last one hosted 37 members of the Refugee community) Module has a portion of time set aside for Ag training with an emphasis on Farming as a Business. In addition, this last week, we were honored to host 50 students from an Ag Club within the Palorinya refugee settlement. Jacob took some time at the beginning to implant in them our theme: 2 Timothy 2:2 and the principal of multiplication through knowledge sharing and discipleship. Then, Emma took them around the demo farm, teaching and showing as they went. The significance was not lost on us that these young people will be the architects of their newly-formed country when peace has been secured and the re-building can start in earnest.
Two other very significant events have happened in the past month. Two of our RAU-Uganda board members achieved noteworthy milestones. They have both been a tremendous blessing to the ministry of RAU and we thank God for them and bless them both in Jesus’ Name!
Pastor Patrick Bukenya finished his Westminster seminary coursework and was officially ordained in the Presbyterian Church of Uganda. We were blessed to attend the very unique church service in which previous pastors, including the very first one, were present. It was a celebrated point of interest in the church service that a leader within a church could pass the baton on to the “Timothy’s” and “Tituses” of the next generation of leaders willingly through the process of mentorship and training.
We are also happy and proud to announce the graduation of Nurse Nyombi Samuel, RN with his BSN. It was a long and strenuous run for him. This accomplishment has great implications for him and the medical field is blessed to have a skilled, compassionate and upstanding young man among its ranks. Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the graduation ceremony. It would have been an honor to celebrate with him. We are confident that the Lord has something special in store for him.
As I read and re-read what I have written, I am struck by how much has happened—and yet—how much more needs to be done. In Jacob’s and my prayers this morning were mentioned all the different areas where grace-endowed efforts need to continue or to be started. There was that sense of so much to do and so little time and of being stretched thin. We have received emails requesting trainings to empower youth and other believers in Yumbe to effectively, lovingly and sensitively engage with their Muslim neighbors in sharing the message that is central to our life and hope as Christians. There are still villages in the mountains where no church exists. More and more young men from Uganda, South Sudan, and North Sudan are desirous of biblical training. Their hearts are to plant churches in their unreached tribes and villages. The needs and opportunities to bring about growth (spiritual, socio-economic, personal) seem insurmountable! However, our trust is in the Lord of the Harvest. He commands us to pray to Him to THRUST out laborers. And that is what we are doing. We pray that many more of you will be among those whom the Lord thrusts into the ripe harvest fields all over the world.
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“I have made you
a light for the Gentiles
to bring salvation
to the end of the earth.”
When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:47-48)…”…I (Jesus) am sending you (Paul/true for all Christ’s disciples) to them (the lost) to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me(Jesus).” (Acts 26:17-18)
Let us NEVER FORGET that a solid third of the world still sits in darkness, with little or no access to even hear the gospel message (there are roughly 2.9 billion unreached people groups –>”nations”,scattered across about 7,000 people groups). Pray for the light of gospel to reach these who are in darkness and for those who are seeking to shine Jesus, the light, out to them.
In the midst of our prayer let us actively be involved in reaching our neighbors who are without Christ’s forgiveness!
We also believe in the principal of multiplication that is mandated and demonstrated in scripture. Our belief and hope is that what we are teaching to faithful people here is being taught to other faithful people who will teach others ==> 2 Timothy 2:2. That’s the way the Kingdom of Christ has expanded in the past. That’s how capacity building has made its impact on cultures and communities. That’s how it will continue to happen. Our goal is not to create dependency on us or what we have to offer but to equip and inspire the ones we came to serve to develop their own God-given capacity to know and grow and then to spread what they know so that change is real and measurable and contagious!
As we pray, prepare (by work and rest) and press on, we also urge and exhort you who read this (as we constantly exhort ourselves and feel the pinch of conscience) to set Christ-glorifying, Gospel priorities. Jacob posted this on the RAU Facebook page by D.A. Carson: “Put the advance of the gospel at the center of your aspirations.” In order to “be ready” we have to believe that there is something worthy and requires our “getting ready”. The emphasis of this newsletter is “being prepared for what lies ahead” and not missing out on opportunities because of a lack of preparation. We will miss out on better things if, as C.S. Lewis says, we behave “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.” Our focus needs shifting and clarity so we will not be taken off guard when we are called to account in one way or another. I recently heard a song by Jonathan McReynolds entitled, “Make Room”. It starts out with these words: “I find space for what I treasure; I make time for what I want. I choose my priorities and, Jesus, You’re my Number One.” We pray that Jesus and His plans will be your Number One–and ours!! Always be preparing so that, when opportunity arises, you will be prepared!
Thank you to the MANY who through prayer, financial partnership, encouragement, physical presence and loving gifts are very much a part of RAU. We could not do what we do without your action. We are, as we have often said, a conduit of the grace of God flowing through you to the precious ones He means to bless and strengthen and equip for great and mighty things.
Continue to pray for the upcoming retreat of back-to-back modules. Pray for safety and strength and endurance and health. Pray the fruit that lasts would be produced in our lives and in the lives of those we love and serve.
Thank you and God Bless you,
Carol (Jacob) Lee
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