Memories, Ministry, and Malaria
by Carol Lee
I hope this letter finds you well and hoping, not in the things of this world, but in things that cannot rust or be stolen and that have eternal value. I also hope that, though long, this letter will excite you and not bore you. There is so much to tell!
Many times in the past, when days were flying by and life seemed hectic, I had often found myself thinking, “Stop the world and let me off!” This is NOT the way I feel now, though the days are flying by and there are many things on the RAU daily agenda. I am immensely blessed in being allowed to live this adventure we have been called to. I am much more keenly aware that life is ministry and that it is about reaching out to include as many others as we can while we “hold on to [and hold out] the word of life.”
“So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the One bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of His good pleasure – is God. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by [emphasis mine] holding on to [in other translations: “holding out”]the word of life….”
Philippians 2: 12-16 (New English Translation)
I am being challenged more and more in the attitudes of my heart to do what these verses are exhorting – working out what God has worked in so that there is no hypocrisy, maintaining an awe and reverence for the One who is working in me so I don’t begin to think I deserve what only comes by grace, doing everything without grumbling or arguing because it is unthinkable that those who have received so much could be ungrateful or argumentative, and holding on to the word of life, because we are nothing without Christ, who is our life. And, how can we hold out the word of life if we, ourselves, are not holding onto the word of life? If these characteristics are not continually growing in us we cannot shine as lights in the darkness because we ourselves are in darkness.
I was bemoaning to Lucy (our cook) the other day, after receiving unexpected visitors and people with needs, and telling her that my heart is so unlike Jesus’ and that I need God’s help to be more open and willing to share what I have and not to grumble about those He sends my way. I see others who have so much less than I do being so much more gracious and hospitable. It is built into the culture here. Even if I don’t want to hurt someone in my helping by just handing out money as if it’s the answer, [When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor by Corbett and Fikkert], I can at least be like Peter and John who said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you.” (Acts 3:6) I can pray for them, I can offer tea and sincere concern, I can offer a job which will allow them to earn money and, sometimes, we can also give money if it is appropriate. But my own heart needs to be filled with light and ready to shine in the darkness!
I am sorry that it has taken me coming to a foreign mission field to see this more clearly. In America, it was all too easy to hide myself in work and home and busyness.
So here I am…in Northwestern Uganda…learning to love a new way of looking at the world – at those around me. I am truly thankful! But please don’t think that you have to leave where you are to live this out!
One of the biggest blessings of being here has been meeting awesome people as they come with their gifting and their love and desire to partner with us in what the Lord is doing in this part of the world. First, there was our longtime beloved friend, Ron Zeiner. Last week, it was our beloved “Tennessee Trio,” and this week it is beloved friends and brothers in Christ, Kevin Turner and Ron Day. Jacob already knew them; I knew of them, “but now my eyes have seen them!” And, oh! What a revelation it has been!
Meeting Kevin Turner for the first time is like standing in front of a gushing fire hydrant – intense! But what a refreshing, intense blast it has been getting to know him! His love for Jesus is intense. His passion to make Christ known is intense. His love for people and ability to show compassion is intense. His knowledge about anything and everything is intense. And…his silly antics…are totally and intensely hilarious. We all have laughed so hard that I am sure our veins are coursing with pure endorphins. Though, initially, some looked at him with wide-eyed wonder, they are seeing and appreciating his genuine love for Jesus and for them. They are enjoying looking at the world and their own life in Christ through his eyes. They are being encouraged in their faith, prayed for and cared for. Thank you, Kevin, for your friendship and partnership and generosity! Thank you for sharing with us what the Lord so uniquely and beautifully has done in and through you.
We are immensely blessed by Ron Day and his gift of film making. God called him as a youngster to have an impact by capturing artistically and beautifully the works that the Lord is doing around the world through His people. Ron’s hope and desire is that through well made films, people will hear the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, be moved and want to invest themselves in missions…and maybe even MOVE! He has been generous with his time and resources and has been busy capturing on film the various places and activities in which RAU has been involved and getting glimpses of life and landscape so that all who see his film will feel they are right there with us. We look forward to seeing the finished product! Thank you, Ron, for serving Christ and us in this way!
Kevin and Ron arrived on Tuesday evening, November 12, ferried by Patrick Bukenya in his vehicle from Kampala. They took the long and scenic route via Arua and were able to get some great footage along the way of some of the wild life…and no, I am not talking about Kevin! While Sam and Kevin joined together in “harassing” the monkeys and calling their relatives names (“Your mother’s a monkey!” and, “You give birth to monkeys!”), Sam was praying that Kevin would not try the same shenanigans on the bull elephants that they stopped to film.
Having arrived late on Tuesday evening, we “allowed” them one recoup day – Wednesday.
On Thursday, Abraham took the crew to Metu Mountain for open air preaching in the market. It had been raining and the roads were a mess. Immediately after preaching, Jacob began to feel sick with what was most certainly a bout of malaria. The joy of being stopped by a husband and wife on the way back who wanted to respond to the message that was preached was more than enough to overcome the misery of malaria. Back in Moyo, Jacob had his blood tested but, because the one who would read the test was not there, he started on Coartem immediately and went to bed. The next morning the blood test came back ‘negative’, but Nurse Sam says that was because he took it too early. All the symptoms that hung on for four days definitely pointed to malaria (which Jacob defines as “flu to the 10th power“.)
On Friday, Abraham, Jacob, Ron, Kevin,Alfred, and Sam took a day trip to Yumbe. (Yumbe is a city of 35,000 with less than 100 evangelical believers in it.) Though Jacob was ill with malaria, he felt he simply could not miss the landmark meeting with the few pastors of the city for strategizing effective ways of reaching out to unbelievers and also for the strengthening of the believers. Jacob remarked afterwards that he couldn’t have planned it any better if it were his to plan. He was thrilled with how the meeting went and was impressed by Pastor Ben (one of the three evangelical pastors in Yumbe), who has truly been a light shining in the darkness in his life of servanthood and integrity in the community. Pastor Ben wrote Jacob an email which expressed his deep gratitude and the joy and encouragement he felt in having others come alongside in support. He stated that the few believers there had felt very discouraged in their outreach to a difficult place, but the encouragement of partners was immeasurable. The Lord knows our needs and He is building His church! It is wonderful to be a part of that work.
On Saturday, Jacob stayed home while Ron and Kevin, Abraham and Sam took another trip. The plan was for Ron and Kevin to experience a small village church, to do some preaching and to encourage the believers. Ron, again, had opportunity to capture these experiences on film. On Sunday, Abraham picked up and delivered Kevin and Ron to the churches in which they would be preaching. (Jacob and I stayed home.) Kevin was a trooper in that, though suffering with a skull-splitting headache, he could not be held back from preaching…for two and a half hours! “For the joy set before him…” Ron had the joy of praying with a young teenage boy who wanted to receive Christ in response to his message.
Sunday night, Abraham, again, took Ron and Kevin to the open air meeting in the Moyo market. It was a difficult evening, to say the least. First, Kevin, still with splitting headache, preached, stopped briefly to go behind the vehicle to vomit (pain-related nausea) and then preached some more! Amazing. Second, the crowd was less than attentive – they were there for buying and selling. It was, however, an encouragement that several came forward to confess their need of a Savior. One man, in particular, came forward resolutely, stating, “I really need to be delivered. I need the Savior.” Only on the other side of time will we know the full fruit of this effort…”the foolishness of preaching.”
It’s Monday now. Jacob is feeling a bit better and has decided to go with the team to Obongi. We had talked to him the night before about taking one more day to rest, but he was resolute in declaring, “How can I ask people to be willing to suffer in delivering the gospel, when I am not willing to do so myself?!” It’s Kevin’s turn to rest so he can be relieved of his massive headache and hypertension. Ron is on task with his camera in tow. Abraham’s vehicle has new shocks which he installed this morning. And they’re off! Once again, this is a strategic visit – to encourage and strengthen the few believers who are in Obongi and to strategize. Godfrey, whom Jacob is helping to prepare to pastor there, has been in Obongi all weekend. A number of people were added to the church in Obongi during the evening open air preaching. We look forward to enjoying the fruit of this effort.
It won’t be long and this team visit will also be a past tense experience. One of the most difficult things in having people come to and go from RAU, as I mentioned before, is the “going” part. There is a huge vacuum there that pulls us into a bit of a funk. We are impacted by our visitors in what they give while here, but, also, by what is missing when they leave!
One sweet salve for this wound is that in one month from now we will be back in Seguin and Texas to enjoy some sweet reunions with family and friends for Christmas. It will be refreshment that will re-energize us to return in January and to refresh others as we ourselves have been refreshed!
Some things to pray about:
1. We are still waiting for the container to be released so it can make its way up here. Pray for safe transport here.
2. We still do not know the exact location of the Land Cruiser. The last we had heard, it had not yet left Japan. Please pray that it, also, would make it to us safely.
3. Wisdom and funding for church plants/evangelism in Muslim dominated Obongi and Yumbe. Discipleship of young men to be shepherds there.
4. Future pastor retreats at RAU and more housing for the pastors when they are here.
1. We had had some difficulty with the water pump and were worried that there might be a problem with it. Praise the Lord, it turned out to only be a “switch” problem. Our generator is in Kampala for repairs so right now we are borrowing Abraham’s to pump water.
2. Most of the building is done and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel There will always be something that needs fixin’ or building, but we are happy, for the time being, to be done with the greatest portion of it.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support.
Carol (for the both of us)
Small packages and letters may safely be sent to:
Jacob & Carol Lee, PO. 55, Moyo Uganda, East Africa
Our “wish lists” may be found at Amazon
The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it. May the Lord grant each of us His followers the wherewithal to be obedient disciples!
Tax deductible charitable donations may be made via PayPal. PayPal also has a way to make reoccurring monthly gifts. To do so please click their link below. PayPal deducts a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal are now tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501 c3 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 Missions, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.