BUSY WITH WHAT MATTERS
By Carol Lee
“The opposite of busy in today’s world is sustained, focused attention. It is deep engagement in activities that really matter to us, or in conversations with those we care about.”
― Tony Crabbe
Having moved back and forth between the USA and Uganda for several years now, there is something which strikes us. In the States there is a massive machine of activity which cannot be resisted and draws us in like an object being swirled in to the vortex of a whirlpool. Coming back to Uganda is like hitting the reset button and being allowed to think about and calculate the activities which will channel our energy and focus. Though being here has had its challenges (as we have shared in past newsletters), this ability and opportunity to define our busyness has been a blessing.
This past Christmas was sparse in terms of holiday scurrying, but it was celebrated sweetly and simply nonetheless. There were not many “Christmas activities”, but we enjoyed engaging activities and conversations.
Jacob was invited to preach at Pilgrim’s Church in Yumbe, so we left early from RAU to make it for their combined Christmas service. His sermon was a reminder of the centrality of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel: “Emmanuel, God with us; Jesus (‘the only one who CHOSE to be born’) CAME to die, to bear sin and to rise in conquering power over sin.” The church service was a wonderful (though long!) opportunity to celebrate this central message.
After the service, we were invited to the home of Jackson (one of the leaders in Pilgrim Church ) where we enjoyed good conversation and food. It was a special treat to celebrate with Omar who was enjoying his first Christmas. This Christmas season was a time of expanding our emotional definition of family. It was especially a time to have the light of scripture narrow its illuminating beam onto Jesus so we could see and remember and savor our Savior!
On Tuesday, Jacob and Samuel went back to Yumbe to meet with the Yumbe District Khard. Here is what Jacob wrote about this very encouraging day:
“I had a good day in nearby Yumbe. Samuel and Henry rode with me to Yumbe where we met Charles and Omar. We then met with the District Khard, Swahib, and had a blessed time. We met in his office just outside Yumbe town’s very large Mosque. Although I have been doing dialogs with Imams and Sheikhs in Yumbe for 18 months this was my first time to personally meet this leader of leaders in Yumbe.
Upon arriving I presented him with a large bunch of bananas grown at RAU which he joyfully received. He was very cordial,hospitable, and appreciative of the Bibles, literature and medicines he had received a few days earlier. He had begun reading them. In our our discussions I found out he has jurisdiction over 219 mosques and their Imams in Yumbe District. He gave his approval on further dialogs with Imams and Sheikhs in Yumbe District. This is a big praise the Lord!
We also discussed how we can best bring in agricultural training for his leaders. I also brought up the idea of conducting weekly English classes for Imams. Many of them who have received our English reading materials want to learn English better. I will be getting a newsletter out soon with more information on this on how you can pray and support this endeavor. I was clear with him that this would be done with Christian teachers and perspective and he was OK with that.
Before leaving I presented Swahib with a drip irrigation unit on which Omar will train him how to use, two cases of Bibles (ESV Global Study, Arabic, Swahili, & Aringa NT’s) and a number of books, including my Christian-Muslim Dialog ( https://reachingafricasunreached.org/allahs-korbani-plan-o…/ ). He plans to happily distribute the Bibles and books. The Lord has given me another good Muslim friend and pray that I may be a good witness to him and all those he leads. God is good and He is good all the time!”
Tomorrow we head back THROUGH Yumbe to Arua to pick up good friend, John Howarton. Jacob has a full and engaging schedule planned for us all! It makes me tired just thinking about it – though, without doubt, it will all be worth it! We will have outreaches into the Metu Mountains and Obongi. We have been invited to participate (both in biblical teaching and agriculture) in Pilgrim Church’s Youth Conference (over a 3-day period). We will also host a leaders’ retreat at RAU while John is here.
Every endeavor in which we have become involved during the last 3 1/2 years has only strengthened the initial hook and line which reeled us in to the West Nile region of Uganda: “training leaders (with the least available services) well who can also train the ones they lead“. The scope of the training has broadened to include agriculture for sustainability and economic capacity building among the communities we serve. We are steadfast in the desire to strengthen church leaders in their faith and ability to lead well, but our understanding of their need has broadened to include ways to help them be self-sustaining. Agricultural training helps them make better use of the main resource they have: fertile land.
The influence and scope of our training programs is also broadening as we assess the widespread need for communities of the West Nile to improve in their capacity to meet their own needs (and all the more so as refugees from South Sudan flood into our district). This is best being accomplished through the Ag training provided over the radio by Emma, our Principle Ag Extension Officer, as well as through on the ground training here at RAU or on demo plots in specific nearby communities. Our training has grown to include Imams and Sheikhs in Yumbe (with drip irrigation) and other key leaders. Our hope and desire is to express, in tangible ways, the love and care of God the Father and to display AND tell the excellency of Christ to all those who will listen.
To these ends we continue push to see our training center built to accommodate more students (adult learners), whether it be for biblical training or Agricultural capacity building. We have been keeping this goal before you as often as possible for two purposes:
1. We are entering into a partnership with “Reaching and Teaching” to host students through a 3-year Biblical studies program (3 modules per year for 3 years). The modules are in written form in a book by David Sills called, “Hearts, Heads and Hands”. We want to have a facility which will accommodate the students well for classes and for studying and living.
2. We are continuing to expand the scope of our Ag Extension services from church leaders to Imams and Sheiks and, hopefully, key leaders from the Refugee camps. Having a larger and better lit classroom will be a great advantage for hosting larger groups of adults for Ag training.
We strongly plead for your financial burden-bearing partnership with us. The goal is to start as soon as possible (during the dry season) to build so that the classroom and dining/study quarters will be ready by the time our team comes from “Reaching and Teaching” as well as for our regular church leader retreats and agricultural training center for the community. Building this classroom/study /dining hall will allow us to move the Library into the current Hall of Tyrannus and open up another guest bedroom in the house when we have larger groups coming to serve. We do have enough funding given to start the building but not to complete it. The cost of building materials has increased considerably since our initial estimate. We are making adjustments in the plans to minimize costs. We are needing $20,000 for completion. Jacob has spent many years in construction and makes sure every dollar is used wisely.
Another need (and opportunity) we would like to put out there is our desire to hire (as mentioned above in Jacob’s post) 4 Christian English teachers to teach Imams and Sheiks in Yumbe. We will also need to get the curriculum for the teachers to use in helping their students learn English. We hope to divide Yumbe District into 4 geographical areas that will allow Imams and Sheiks easier travel to the learning centers.
Does all of this sound overwhelmingly busy? – YES! However, as the beginning quote states, “ It is deep engagement in activities that really matter to us, [and] in conversations with those we care about.”
Your partnership paves the way for this vision to be realized. Your prayers are a means of calling down heaven’s resources and grace. Your loving communication with us encourages us to stay busy with things that really matter!
Thanks for that!
Carol (and Jacob)
For those who have asked, small packages and letters may safely be sent to:
Jacob & Carol Lee, PO. 55, Moyo Uganda, East Africa
The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it. (Jacob Lee)
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