Plodding With Purpose
by Carol Lee
“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
― John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.“
Jon Bloom wrote this in an article about “plodding“: “Purpose to be a plodder. A plodder keeps moving. A plodder perseveres. A plodder presses on. A plodder knows the disappointment of unrealized ideals, feels the fear of failure and exposed deficiencies, and the ambiguity of too many demands, options, and tasks. But a plodder isn’t immobilized by them. He or she presses on in the faith that God will supply the needed strength (1 Peter 4:11), wisdom (James 1:5), and direction (Proverbs 3:6).“
Most of what we do here at Reaching Africa’s Unreached is a “plodding” along in the tasks we have been given (and have chosen) to do. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says, “In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” What is recorded here is our day to day, doing-what-we-know-to-do activities (done, hopefully, in a faithful and joyful way).
Since our last retreat the pace has slowed, but only long enough to plan the next thing. So often, too, the “next thing” just shows up, so we are learning flexibility and an attitude (I don’t say we have these attitudes down pat – but we are ever learning) of servanthood and compassion for whatever situation or person that shows up! Many times it is a Pastor or Christian who needs a resource or some encouragement. And often it is someone with a medical/physical issue which needs care and resources. Both of these things happened just today: Jacob received a young man who was looking for helpful theological resources; I received an elderly woman with conjunctivitis who needed help with the medication; also today we both spent time counseling a young man who was having pastoral and personal problems. That is life – no matter where one lives – and plodding on faithfully and joyfully is our calling.
Our young student was happy to see us and greeted us enthusiastically with vigorous hugs. I am sure she thought we might not come since it was so late. It was a joy to see her and her environment and to provide her with some treats and supplies which she needed. Her mother sent along some home-cooked goodies (which also tells of the work of the Holy Spirit in the softening of this mother’s heart for her daughter!). It was a joy to also have an outlet for motherly love and encouragement and prayer for “N.” Please keep praying for her to grow in her new found faith and her mother and other family members that they would know and experience the love and grace of Jesus through the Word of God and through the love of Christians in Yumbe.
Meanwhile, back at the mechanic shop, Jacob and Zorah, as mentioned above, were hanging out, waiting for an ever-growing list of problems to be found and fixed. This story, though it could be seen as a frustration and delay, has the providence and kindness of God written all over it! Along the bumpy and dusty patch of road between Yumbe and Koboko, one particular bump brought about a particular sound which, though it had a sort of musical clang to it, was NOT music to Jacob’s ears! When he checked he found a broken stabilizer bracket in the the front end. The reason we can see God’s kindness in this is that it happened on our way to a place where something could be done to fix it – rather than on some remote “road” in the Metu mountains where, apart from a miracle, nothing could have been done to fix it and no wrecker would have been available to come and haul the Land Cruiser to town! Even the ever-growing list of problems was a blessing because the problems were identified in a place and at a time where they could be seen and fixed. This is a blessing indeed as we look forward to some rugged outings in the near future.
This Friday, March 20th, Jacob has been invited by some Koboko Pastors (who attended a RAU Retreat) to come to Koboko for a day of teaching for them and fellow shepherds. I can’t think of many groups of Christians who would do this, but these men asked him to come and teach on the Biblical view of suffering, a topic which Jacob normally includes in the Retreat curriculum but which was left out due to a time crunch. He may be able to provide 2 sessions of teaching so that their organizational effort can be maximized. We so appreciate the desire of these leaders to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word of God! Please be praying for this event. Jacob, Zorah and Joseph (who organized the event and is spending some time here with us) will go Friday morning and then Jacob and Zorah will come back on Saturday. There will be 50 or more leaders present.
Next Tuesday, March 24th, we will head to Gbari (“Bah-ree“) for another day of discipleship teaching for new believers and medication distribution in the community. (One of the bounties of our visit to Arua was finding a wholesale pharmaceutical shop where we were able to get de-worming medicines and to fill a wish list of medications for a nurse in the Gbari area whose clinic was in desperate need of medicines.) Gbari is the place in the Metu Mountains where a fledgling church was started and where Geoffrey, from Aya Baptist, has been sent as a missionary Pastor along with his family. Nothing short of revival has been happening in this remote and rugged region. It is RAU’s commitment to stand with men who are sent to hard-to-reach and hard-to-stay places so that the living Church of the Living God can find a firm and growing foothold in a spiritual desert.
“The work of evangelism is never complete until the one evangelized becomes an evangelizer.”
Dr. Herschel Hobbs
With regard to this, we are asking for financial help on behalf of the Gbari church for $1000 which would purchase one half acre, build of a simple grass thatched church structure, a tukalu for Geoffrey and his family and a latrine for the church members to use. Please pray for a desire and means to supply this need.
On Friday, March 27th, Jacob will do some open air preaching in a village market somewhere near Yumbe town. It is a market Friday so more than the usual amount of people will be there. Virtually all of the listeners will be Muslims. Please pray for “plowed ground” in the hearts of those who will hear the Best News Ever and for heart-penetrating and wise words from the preacher!
One resource that has been an immense help in the Yumbe and Obongi area is the book called, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi. It is an autobiographical story of a young Pakistani man whose journey took him from a sincere devotion to Allah and the tenets of Islam to deep faith in the saving work of Christ over a long period of questioning, searching and with the help of a humble, loving Christian friend. We have placed this book into the hands of several Imams and other Muslims as well as into the hands of Christian leaders for whom this resource will be a benefit in their interactions with Muslims. Just this weekend we heard of the testimony of the son of a Muslim man who died. The son came to stay in his uncle’s home (who is a Christian) and, after reading this book, converted to Christ from Islam because the questions that he had were answered in this book. Please consider purchasing copies of this for us to bring back from our Stateside visit which is coming up soon and/or to be placed in the container.
On the following Tuesday, March 31st, we (and I am tentatively including myself in the “we“) will, once again, head up the Metu Mountains and then hike over rough terrain to another remote and virtually unreached village called, “Oku.” From what we have heard, there has been little or no reach of The Best News Ever into this village. Pray that as the Gospel Story is shared hearts will “see and savor Jesus Christ” (John Piper) and will gladly trust in His lavish love and sacrifice for them! Pray that lasting fruit would be borne and that a thriving Church could grow there with the help of faithful disciple-makers.
We are so happy to report some fruit and progress on the medical need and provision of treatment that was written about a good while ago. Many of you may remember “Mildred Forgive,” the young baby girl with hydrocephalus. Recently, her mother brought her by for us to see her progress and to receive some help to get Mildred Forgive to her next appointment. Oh. My. Goodness! The transformation is amazing, as you will see in the photos below! Thank you for giving and praying and loving!
The building and renovation of the tukalu near the house is coming along nicely. Once finished, it will accommodate 4 double bunks and a queen-sized bed. It will have an enlarged bathroom and a sitting room attached. Not only will we be able to include 8 more pastors at the retreats, but we will have a nice set-up for a visiting couple or family who wants to stay for a while for ministry.
Please also remember our “Fill the Container Drive.” Praise the Lord, we have funds for 2000 of the 5000 Global ESV Study Bibles we are hoping for. It is $10 per Bible, including shipping to Seguin, if we buy them in bulk (5000). The money for purchasing and shipping the container here is already in place. We only have to fill the container with the hoped for supplies.
As we look towards the rainy season, we have as a major priority the mounting of a winch on the front of the Land Cruiser to help extricate us out of any “muddy situations” which may arise.
Jacob is also hoping soon to get the ground plowed and ready for planting another crop of soybeans and a good number more of grafted mango trees. This will happen once there have been some ground-soaking rains to soften up the dirt.
Yesterday (Tuesday, March 17th) Jacob took the whole day to refresh his soul in reading Jesus Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You, by J.D. Greear. Jacob reported that it is one of the BEST books he has ever read on the work and role of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life. He was personally encouraged, refreshed and enlivened by it. He highly recommends the book!
I am enjoying Zorah’s love for and interest in guitar, music and worship. We have a growing, common repertoire of songs and are enjoying practicing it has been refreshing to harmonize and play “the eggs” (percussion instrument in the shape of colorful eggs!) Maybe, ONE DAY, we will include a video of us singing one of the songs!
We don’t hear as often from Sam these days. He is very busy, immersed in his Nursing studies. We are continuing to pray for him that the Lord would bless his mind and that Sam would be prepared for even greater service as he fine tunes his skills as a nurse. He has been such a blessing to us at RAU and we are grateful for his partnership and leadership in RAU.
Patrick Bukenya is doing well, along with his family. He is doing a fabulous job of leading at First Presbyterian and is a vital liaison for RAU. His children, Genesis and Gabby are growing and blossoming beautifully. Vickie continues to show great wisdom and leadership in her profession as a Pharmacist. Patrick has given us a good report on the 8 children that were sponsored to attend the school which was started by First Presbyterian Church of Uganda. See them looking “smart” (the Uganda term for “beautiful”) in the photos below!
The men and women who help us here at RAU on a daily basis are such a blessing to us. Our love and appreciation for them grows daily. We are blessed to have them as co-workers with us in this West Nile Region of Uganda. They, especially, understand the daily plodding in faithfulness, but they are seeing the bigger picture which is a steady progress in the Kingdom of God and blessings that come through faithfulness.
We cannot end a newsletter without also expressing our gratitude for the Rope Holders without whom we could not plod faithfully and joyfully! Your financial support, prayers, love and enthusiasm are to us like the air we breathe – absolutely vital! May the Lord bless your lives as you bless us!
Thanks for reading this.
Love, Carol (and Jacob)
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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