“Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].”
Psalm 92:13-14 (Amplified Version)
In the context of current societal values, the elderly can often feel obsolete…docked…useless. However, in the Kingdom context, this is not to be. At a time in their lives when “older” Christians have the most wisdom, perspective and, by God’s grace, spiritual growth, “old age” can be the time of greatest fruitfulness or effectiveness in the Kingdom of God!
And that’s what Jacob and I are telling ourselves…and each other! Hmmmm!
Never have we experienced more clearly the truth of the scripture in 2 Corinthians 4: 16: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” We keenly feel the reality of our outer self wasting away and, yet, by the grace of God, we have never seen the prize so clearly or felt a continually renewed yearning to press on in the things that really matter. So…if you see Jacob and me getting a little “sappy” and “green” you’ll know what’s going on!
A week ago, Jacob, Zorah and I, along with a vehicle full of passengers, went to Gbare and Arapi to follow up with the new believers there. One of the main items on the agenda was negotiating with the elders (leaders in the community) the details for the land which is to be purchased for the Gbari/Arapi church meeting place and a home for its Pastor, Geoffrey, and his family. That took up most of our time there, but it was important to make headway on this project.
After agreements were reached everyone met together for a lunch prepared by the Pastor’s wife and other ladies. Following lunch, Jacob encouraged the gathered crowd with an excellent teaching on some of the attributes of God while I met with the healthcare workers to divide up the medicines which we had brought along. Our friend and fellow missionary, Denise Carlsen, had brought us a box of Ma’di Bibles from Yei. We were able to distribute some of them at this time.
Finishing out such a day as we enjoyed in Gbari brings with it the satisfaction that fulfilling of one of the central goals of Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU) – strengthening local pastors so that they can strengthen their people – has made progress.
In between outings, it has been one of Jacob’s greatest joys to pour himself and resources into young men who show promise and a calling to being a shepherd/Pastor. The two pictures below show Jacob and a young man, Patrick (full of zeal and promise), talking under the mango tree. It was Jacob’s pleasure to provide him with a bag of resources from RAU and a Kindle library of books through the ministry of Delmar Hager (Study To Be Approved).
Last Friday, as planned, we traveled to Yumbe District to a town called Okpotani where we had received permission by the township leaders to set up near the local market to do open air preaching. While we were waiting to receive instructions as to where to set up the sound equipment, the Youth Group from Pilgrims Church (Church of Uganda), Jacob, Zorah and other members from the local Church, handed out copies of John Piper’s “Quest For Joy” (in Aringa and English) and talked to many of the people making their way to the market.
While the sound equipment and instruments were getting their final adjustments, a worship team from the Okpotani Church of Uganda drew the crowds with some rousing worship songs. They are a faithful and joyful group of men and women!
We thank each of you who specifically prayed for this outreach! Please continue to pray for the discipleship process. Pray for the men of this area to find a meaningful life in Christ along with meaningful work rather than a mind-numbing existence in alcoholism . Pray for the women who struggle to maintain their families that they would find hope and help in the Savior. Pray that they all would be “oaks of righteousness, trees planted by the Lord to reveal His splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3)
Thank you, too, for the prayers you offered up for the outreach to Oku, in the Metu Mountains. This last Tuesday, Jacob, Zorah and Mindra accompanied Tobias and some of his church members to the very remote village of Oku – so remote, in fact, that they had to park the vehicle and hike over hill and dale to reach it! It was only slightly comical to see, the next day, some hobbling men who weren’t use to the rugged terrain of these mountains! However, 10 people responded to the offer of salvation through Christ as it was shared in that village! That makes every aching muscle worth it! Here is the link to several videos and photos which Zorah took of the trip:
Short YouTube Videos of time in the Metu Mountains Oku/Ijujo region:
When they finished up in Oku they hiked back up to where the vehicle was parked and headed to Ijujo where several hundred people were waiting at Ijujo Baptist Church to be refreshed in the Word of God and to receive some medicines. There are no end of opportunities in the Metu mountains. It is the goal of RAU to come alongside the Pastors and leaders in this region to ensure that solid discipleship happens and that the church becomes firmly rooted in the knowledge and love of Christ. The prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians is what we pray for the Church scattered throughout the Metu Mountains (specifically) and in the West Nile region (generally)!
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19
What an overwhelming and impossible task – from a human perspective! But… thanks be to God who did not leave us without hope, but gave us a mighty Savior who did not leave us alone but gave us the awesome Holy Spirit to empower us for that task which He called us to do!
” Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21
April 2, Jacob, Zorah and Pastor Henery set off for Obongi where Pastor Godfrey had arranged for a meeting with some of the Imams and other Muslims with whom Godfrey has been in dialogue. In past visits, RAU had been able to supply some literature to these men, including an ESV Study Bibles, a Arabic story book highlighting stories from the Bible, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (by Nabeel Qureshi) and others. They wanted to meet to discuss what they have been reading.
They met under a large Muvule tree along the main road through Obongi. Jacob gave a teaching from Luke 15, directing everyone’s gaze to Jesus. Afterward, a local healthcare worker handed out medicines which were provided through the generosity of those who support RAU and are a “fleshing out” of the love of Christ to the many Muslims in Obongi. Jacob also handed out some of the last reading glasses we have (limited to number 2.00’s). There was one more person who just could not read without the help of reading glasses, so Jacob gave him his own pair. By the end of the visit there must have been at least 100 people who had gathered. Our prayer is that the Lord would open their eyes to the beauty of Christ and that faith in His life and sacrifice would find a place in their hearts.
Today, Zorah, Jacob and Godfrey headed out to Gbari (not without a few “knots” to untangle beforehand) to finalize the transaction on the land for the Church building. It all went well. Now for a few signatures from the sub-county department. That is worth celebrating!
Speaking of celebrations, I had my 55th birthday “the other day” and we were blessed to celebrate it with our good friend, Denise Carlsen, who is living in Moyo for the time being – until it becomes clear where the Lord wants her to settle. She had shown the folks where she is currently staying how to make guacamole and chips…man! That was good! Thanks, Denise, for that memorable celebration.
The expansion of the tukalu near the mango tree is coming along nicely. It is as beautiful as it will be useful in the future when we are either housing visitors from the States (or elsewhere) or added room for 8 more pastors for a retreat bringing our total number of beds for pastors at retreat to 26.
The tractor which Jacob was wanting to hire for plowing the ground finally arrived today.
Thank you to all who have given towards the goal of getting 5000 ESV Global Study Bibles to load in the container! We are making headway towards that goal. Don’t forget about the other resources we have requested that will benefit pastors here in the West Nile region. Bosco, a Pastor/friend of ours (who is a teacher as well as a pastor near Obongi) and we (RAU) were featured in an article which was written for The Gospel Coalition International Outreach. The article highlights why filling up and getting another container out here is so important.
It’s rainy season now…it rains pretty much every day, turning this place, once again, into a lush and green paradisaical location! A great place to grow “sappy” and “green” in our old age!
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