On Friday, the 14th, we watched the van loaded with 17 pastors from Yumbe District make a trail of dust as it left the RAU compound and we felt joy and satisfaction in all that was, by God’s grace, accomplished this last week. From the 11th, when the conference started, to its end on Friday, it was a steady effort to squeeze the maximum good that was possible out of this time. As goodbyes were said and hugs and handshakes were given on the last day, these were done with an appreciation all of us had in growing together in Christ. Jacob and I received a very special blessing in having these men gather around us, lay hands on and pray for us. This blessing was also extended to all those that work at RAU. What a way to end the retreat!
(Pictures and a video are below)
This special event had been in the works since last October. Initially, the plan was for our beloved brother and friend, Kevin Turner, with SWI (Strategic World Impact) to come for this time and bring his gifted friend, Jonathon Fletcher, with him to help us teach our brothers from Yumbe. The Lord apparently had different plans than ours. We have heard Kevin say, “God doesn’t have any plan B’s, only plan A’s,” however, we were saddened to hear that the reason for the change in plans was that Kevin’s wife, Tammy, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and would require immediate treatment. Please keep Tammy and the Turner family in prayer as she goes through rigorous and aggressive treatment. Understandably, this was a game changer for all of us.
Jacob called on our coworker, Patrick Bukenya (one of RAU’s directors) to help and he was gracious in accepting the invitation to come and teach alongside Jacob. Patrick also brought with him Kaabale David, an elder at First Presbyterian Church Uganda. Both men, as we learned, are excellent and inspiring teachers and served the pastors of Yumbe very well in teaching on principles of leadership! Jacob, Patrick and David each took 3 hour sessions each day and covered important topics of discipleship, leadership, suffering and evangelism. Not only did the pastors express appreciation for the teaching, but begged for future training. Between sessions there were many conversations around developing future events and opportunities and resources. This event was, by no means, the only one of its kind…there will be more with Yumbe leaders who represented different denominations.
One of the many blessings of the retreat was the opportunity to get to know these pastors a little more intimately and to identify the areas of difficulty in their personal lives as well as in their ministries in the context of living in a non-Christian environment.
One of the pastors at the retreat was a witness to the murdering of two American missionaries around eight years ago just outside of Yumbe, and he, himself, narrowly escaped. After the missionaries were bullied and then shot, this Yumbe pastor was locked in a hut which was then set on fire. He decided he would rather escape and be shot to death rather than be burned alive and found a way to climb out of the hut. When the armed men saw him, they told him to run and started shooting at him. By God’s grace he was able to escape without being hit by gunfire. Since that time there has been little help from the church outside of Yumbe. One pastor stated, “We thought that God had forgotten us!” Many times Jacob has been told that RAU is an answer to their prayers!
Part of the discussion during the retreat entailed helping them to strategize a respectful defense of their schools and property as well as giving them ideas to disciple their flocks so that everyone is prepared to give a humble, gentle and knowledgeable response to pressure tactics and a reason for their hope.
Among the prayer requests and accounts of challenges faced by the pastors, a very prominent issue is the low socioeconomic standing that most Christians have in the community. It is hard for them to keep their heads above water, economically speaking, and unexpected illnesses, educational needs and hardships can pull them under completely. This also means that a pastor cannot make his living by the Gospel and he must find means of supporting his family apart from pastoring.
Listed here are some of the specific requests by pastors for prayer: training and discipleship for church leaders, material/resources for training, people to come alongside them in their struggles, personal discipleship, financial resources to help the churches physically (buildings, transportation), illnesses in loved ones, financial resources for putting their children through school, prayer for the youth who are being drawn to the world or into Islam, wisdom in how to navigate, in a Christ-like loving way, political clashes and pressures and everyday living in an Islamic culture, unity among all the denominations that presents a positive answer to Islam, the joining together of all the churches as a united force in the region and so many, many more needs.
The pastors went away from the retreat with a renewed desire to reach their communities for Christ in a loving, gentle and powerful way.
As we move forward from here, this is what is in the works for RAU:
*On Monday, Jacob, Sam, Godfrey, and I will head to Yumbe town and District for a time of teaching, evangelism and medical outreach; this is being coordinated with pastors who were at the retreat. (See below the lists of medicines that were purchased for South Sudan refugees and for outreach in Yumbe this coming week) We will come back on Thursday.
*There is a plot of land available in Obongi for the same purpose of making a resource center and a location for interdenominational discipleship (Hall of Tyrannus:Obongi Branch).
*There are a dozen or so young men in the pipe line for mentoring/discipleship at RAU for pastoring/church planting.
*We are closely working with the Kampala police and the Japanese Interpol to get our money for the ’99 Land Cruiser which we purchased from Japan refunded so that another one could be purchased. It is difficult and expensive to find vehicles that can take us to more rural areas. Please pray we can recover our money and find another vehicle soon.
*For the first time ever, there is an Aringa New Testament that is currently being published. Aringa is the main language spoken in the Yumbe area. For about $4 a copy (which must be ordered ahead of time) we could purchase Bibles to give out in outreaches to that area.
*Jacob did an interview with a Dinka tribesman and pastor from Bor, South Sudan, who narrowly escaped after hiding himself in the Nile for over a week. They were being shot at by rebel groups. Many drowned in the Nile trying to save themselves. He is now in a refugee camp in Adjumani. Jacob will be posting the video interview on the website. It is here.
*There are at least 3 pastors’ retreats that could be quickly be organized if funds were available. When hosting these retreats RAU transports the pastors to RAU and back to their homes, feeds and cares for them while at RAU, and provides resources for them. Please consider helping fund these retreats and consider coming to teach (if teaching is your gift and passion).
I have been thinking, once again, about how much people in this region need resource and development help from those who are rich in both. There are so many things that can be done in, not only pastoral training, but vocational training. If you are knowledgeable in any areas that could help people build life skills please consider getting a group together to come over and help! The women of the area are very involved in bringing income to the family. They are eager to learn skills that will help them do so.
Your ongoing prayerful support is very much appreciated. Please pray for our safety and health and for provisions for all of these plans. We entrust them to the Lord. May they be accomplished according to His will and purposes!
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 (Click on the “Wish List” link and type in our names)
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! JL
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