Updated January 2023
When one gets older ( I turn 68 in September) there is not only more to think back upon, but it also seems, at least in my case, that one spends more time looking back and remembering God’s grace and mercy! I remember my childhood days, being raised on an Iowa farm by a loving, God-fearing family and relatives and learning the importance of a good work ethic. I remember at age 20 that dusty road outside St. Olaf, Iowa, after midnight, having to stop my ’69 Dodge Charger. I stepped out of the car and, under deep conviction, wept over my sin, placing my full trust in Jesus: His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. By God’s grace I said, “I am yours Lord…I will do anything and go anywhere you want”. I remember several weeks later as I was in one of our farm’s corn fields, sensing God’s call to missions and saying “Yes“.
I remember leaving Iowa for Seguin Texas–a big step for a farm boy who had never been far from home and almost turning around in Kansas City. I remember being taken in by several loving families in Seguin who loved Jesus deeply. I remember being under the fiery preaching/teaching of Leonard Ravenhill (L.R.). His love for Jesus was exemplified in his devotion to prayer and passion for missions. He made an indelible mark upon me! I remember being in L.R.’s office when he pointed to a large world map behind him and after quoting Romans 15:20 said, “Jacob, there are people who have never heard of Jesus! What are you going to do about it?“ I remember at that time receiving the conviction to go to those who had no opportunity to hear about Jesus.
I remember going through the New Tribes Mission (Now called Ethnos) training program where I was taught by many missionaries who loved Jesus and His mission deeply, returning back to Seguin Texas and, shortly thereafter, going on a three-week mission trip throughout India. On that trip I saw first hand the work of the gospel to the unreached. After returning to Seguin, I remember when my heart was drawn to Carol Mayer, daughter and granddaughter of missionaries to India. I remember 6 months later, on July 10, 1981 when I was married to Carol, the love of my life. I remember, a few months after our marriage, selling everything and moving to Aurangabad, India, to proclaim Jesus and the birth of our firstborn, Joshua, in a small mission hospital in Kodaikanal, India. I remember having to leave India 6 months after our arrival because we could not renew our visa’s and learning there in India the difference between “presumption” and “faith“, as well as the importance of being sent out by and being under the cover of a strong, gospel-centered, local church.
I remember , after returning to Seguin in 1982, becoming a part of Lifegate Church, a church family which has taught my family and me what it means to be a disciple of Christ. I remember becoming a teaching elder at Lifegate in 1984 and going back to India in 1985 to proclaim Jesus to the Koya tribe in the remote regions of the eastern Ghats. I remember the births of Josiah and Anna, our second and third-born. I remember the precious times of our children growing up and how fast that went by. I remember them graduating from college and, afterwards, receiving beautiful new daughters in-law and a son-in-law. I remember our growing number of precious grandchildren (we currently have nine).
I remember both Carol and I continuing our education–my Bible classes at Hill Country Bible School San Marcos TX, getting my Bachelors degree at Texas Lutheran and my Master’s degree at Covenant College and Carol becoming a Registered Nurse. I remember my many years of teaching at Lifegate Christian School and my times as a Principal there and then my teaching years at Nixon-Smiley High School. I remember the great joy of being in the classroom with so many wonderful students.
I remember traveling to Uganda with a group from Lifegate Church on a short term mission trip in 2006 and returning to Uganda in March 2007 and ministering in and around Moyo, North Uganda and into South Sudan and the seeds of Reaching Africa’s Unreached being planted in my heart there and on the many other trips to Uganda and South Sudan as well as to northeastern D.R. of Congo. I remember my D.A.R.T. training with SWI. I remember my two trips to Pakistan in ’09 and coming to the realization that there are no closed doors to the gospel, just more risky ones.
I remember the establishment of Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU) in 2010 and its receiving NGO status and, in 2011, and RAU’s purchase of 17 acres in Uganda, just a mile south of the South Sudan border.
I remember breaking ground for the RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus in 2011 and God’s help in building such structures in the African bush and, later, the purchase of 8.6 acres to bring the RAU campus and demo farm to 25.6 acres. I remember Carol and I selling our things in Texas and moving to the RAU in July 2013.
I remember the many groups of church leaders from Uganda, D.R. Congo. South Sudan and the Republic of (North) Sudan from 2013 to the present who have come to RAU’s Hall of Tyrannus for multi-day module training’s and 2 Timothy 2:2 and Acts 19:9-10 becoming core verses for RAU.
I remember the 30,000 ESV Global Study Bibles, 1,000’s of theological books in English and Arabic, the 600,000 Dual language tracts, coming in three separate containers and, with great pleasure, placing these resources into the hands of church leaders and seeing them transported to church leaders in D.R. Congo, South Sudan, the Sudan (Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile State, Darfur and Khartoum city) and Chad. I remember the conflicts in neighboring South Sudan and the Republic of (North) Sudan which brought 100,000’s into our area and, providentially, brought refugees from unreached tribes to RAU for training and resources who are now themselves walking out 2 Timothy 2:2. I remember the opportunity to train church leaders, community members and refugees in vegetable and grafted mango production, keying in on “farming as a business“. I remember having dialogs with Aringa (an unreached people group) Sheikhs and Imams on the topic, “Who Is Jesus?” I remember one prominent Sheikh saying “Jacob, I want to be a Christian!“
All this remembering helps me see and understand more fully God’s grace and mercy. When I take note of how many times God admonished His people to remember, I know that it is because I am prone to forget. This remembering assures me that when the Lord starts a work he finishes it (Philippians 1:6) and that the grace He has poured out in the past and present can be counted on in the future.