“Back in the Saddle Again”
Oh my! Our three-week break has come and gone! It was a very pleasurable and surreal parenthesis in what has become the main theme of our life experience: giving flesh and bones to the vision and mission of RAU in Northwestern Uganda.
It was pleasurable to be reunited with our precious, growing family. Joshua and Becca are doing a wonderful job in nurturing and discipling Eliza and Ben and in using their gifts to strengthen their local church, Lifegate. They have their hands full with a 2 1/2 year old and a one year old! Josiah is still in Chattanooga, working as an internal auditor for TVA. It is awesome to see his growth as a person – in compassion and wisdom and grace. Anna and Kenny are loving their new role as the parents of Keira Lynn and are doing a great job of navigating the joys and difficulties of parenting a newborn. (It was Jacob’s first time to see Keira…”Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!, He chortled in his joy!” – The Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll) We spent over a week in Stephenville with them and were especially blessed to have Josiah with us for most of that time. What a privilege to be “assigned” to this family to love, disciple, and nurture in the Lord!
It was a pleasure to be reunited with our spiritual family, Lifegate. This is a relationship not to be taken lightly. I was recently reading in Matthew 12:46-50 about the ones whom Jesus regarded as His brothers and mother: “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven.” While Jesus upheld biological ties, “honor your father and mother,” there were no more binding relationships to him in the earthly realm than His relationships with those that were obedient to the Father. This is why we hold a high priority for maintaining strong bonds with the ones who have committed, along with us, to follow the Lord. Our church family is important to us because, in a unique way, we are pursuing and worshiping and making known the Lord – together.
It was a pleasure to connect with members of the Body of Christ at large – to see that the unity of the Spirit extends beyond our “church walls,” and that seeing Jesus’ Kingdom come is a priority that binds us across denominational and organizational lines. We are grateful for the MANY who want to keep the main thing the main thing: making Christ known and seen and experienced in word and deed. In this respect, we have been encouraged by the many brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we have been connected who are involved in ministry in Uganda through an organization or personal involvement, and to know we are serving side by side with the same purpose and mind. We also thank all of you who are partnering with us in some way, either by prayer, finances and personal care…or all of the above!
On the lighter side, our taste buds have enjoyed pleasurable excursions, as is evident by our growing girths which, humorously enough have no “lighter side!”
And, oh, the pleasure of hot showers!
We enjoyed the pleasures of moving about where traffic lights and regulations make driving mostly predictable and where smooth roads allow you to “fly” across the miles.
We had the pleasure of straight forward transactions and set prices.
We enjoyed the pleasure of material abundance.
1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.” We certainly enjoyed the pleasure of things which we recognize as having been provided by the Lord and we do not complain!
However, there is something about lavish pleasure and comfort that is numbing. We felt it. And there is something about suffering and want that awakens the senses, especially spiritual. Though we were not personally experiencing suffering and want we certainly were identifying with our friends who were. It was a strange tug of war between getting comfortable in our present enjoyments and remembering that not all of life everywhere else is as good as we have it.
There was this aspect of our experience that was surreal. Concurrent to our coming to the States, civil war broke out in South Sudan. How disheartening to know that this new country, which had only recently won independence through blood, sweat and tears, was turning on itself in a brutal civil war.
Knowing the facts, it was surreal to be so insulated from the harshness of them. Hearing personal accounts from people in the midst of the conflict rendered the bubble of safety that is America (for the most part) an almost dream-like place. Jacob and I both felt the uncomfortable tension of emotionally juggling two drastically different experiences; there was a sense of urgency to get back and be in a position to help, if possible and, at the same time, a deep desire to enjoy the cheer of family.
Over this last week, as I have reflected over the pleasurable and the surreal, I realized that our being over here in Uganda plays an important role beyond the day to day Kingdom work we do. Just as hearing personal stories from the front lines kept us engaged and concerned in matters other than our own, so our being here to provide you real time stories and facts can serve you by stirring in you a fresh concern for the real needs and priorities of the rest of the world. Hearing firsthand accounts of events makes it difficult to ignore or become numb to them. It helps all of us by making us uncomfortable with remaining self- preoccupied, uncaring and inactive. I have heard it said that issues don’t often affect us or change our attitudes until the issues become personal or hit us close to home and then we spring into action!
Christians were not made to be bench warmers, but to be loving, active and obedient “doers of the word.” Isaiah 58 6-8 states, “No, this is the kind of fast [devotion] I want. I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for the homeless, oppressed people. When you see someone naked, clothe him! Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood. Then your light will shine like the sunrise; your restoration will quickly arrive; your godly behavior will go before you, and the Lord’s splendor will be your rear guard.” Hebrews 10:24 exhorts us with this: “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works.”
So please accept the uncomfortable prod of this exhortation as a means of grace and growth!
As we head back up to Moyo and RAU tomorrow morning, these are the priorities and needs that are set before us:
1. Safe travel by bus to Moyo.
2. Safe delivery of the container which is officially released, but not yet on the road to Moyo.
3. Assessing the needs of refugees in the area and using, with wisdom, the resources that some of you sent with us for meeting their needs. Pray for wisdom and compassion.
4. Upcoming Yumbe pastors’ retreat at RAU (in February) and the American Team (Kevin Turner, founder of SWI and others) who will be serving them.
5. Ongoing opportunities to serve pastors in the area through teaching and resources.
6. Developing plans for outreach and pastoral training in Yumbe and Obongi.
7. Church planting efforts and raising up of young men to pastor fledgling churches.
8. The possibility of a young man, Z___ coming for a 3 month internship to serve and learn in any way he can (probably in May).
Thanks again for your prayers, encouraging words and financial support, without which we could not do what we are doing.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support!
Carol (for the both of us)
Web Site: www.ReachingAfricasUnreached.com
For those who have asked, 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!
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