Pressed Down, Shaken Together and Running Over
By Carol Lee
“Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”
It has been a while since we last sent out a newsletter due to a tight schedule, so we pray you excuse the length of the report!
These last three weeks of ministry have born witness to the truth of the above verse in Luke as we received two teams from the USA, back to back, during the first 3 weeks of September. We knew it was going to be a busy season, but we were equally confident that the bounty we and the people of this region would receive was going to be immeasurable. Whatever we at RAU have given to the mission was given back to us in such an extravagant measure as verse 38 describes! A good measure. Pressed down. Shaken together. Running over. Poured into our laps. We couldn’t be more grateful!
When the team (Pastor Edward and Jennifer Heinze and their daughter, Kara Beth and Elder Tony and Kourtney Landes and their daughter, Kelci) from Rocky Point Baptist Church arrived here on Saturday, September 2nd, it was “hit the ground running” mode for the next 2 weeks. With just an evening to get settled and rested, on Sunday we and the team walked to a local church where several of our coworkers attend (Fodia Pentecostal Assemblies of God). Pastor Edward preached and Tony also shared a word of encouragement from the Scriptures. It was a joyful introduction to the exuberant and energetic way of worship experienced in most churches in Uganda. The following days of ministry would take place in the Metu Mountains (Gbari/Arapi/Duku/Oyo/Aya/Ijujo/Alugodu/Cinyi/Lea and Oku), Moyo town, along the River Nile (Palorinya and Obongi) and in Yumbe.
Jacob and I had requested that the focus of ministry teaching be on marriage, parenting and children’s ministry. We have seen these topics as vital for growth in church members and it has also been frequently requested by leaders and others here in Uganda. Without hesitation, I can say that the teachings “hit a nerve” and proved to be a great forum for looking at what scripture says versus what culture says about marriage and family. Pastor Edward did a wonderful job of laying out scriptural principles and also of fielding very difficult questions relating to cultural scenarios such as polygamy (and implications for people in this situation who become believers), dowry, infertility, divorce and parenting. We had some VERY interesting round table discussions in the evenings, trying to sort through what the Bible speaks to these issues in black and white and where scriptural prescription is gray! We were all stretched!
On Monday and Tuesday, we packed into the Land Cruiser, experiencing a good measure of being pressed down, shaken together with lots of laughter running over and headed to Gbari and Arapi (Monday) and then Aya (Tuesday)! Jacob and I loved giving our team this unique experience of rural “roads” (some, more like paths) where “everything that can be shaken, will be shaken”! The difficulty of the terrain gave us all a greater appreciation and compassion for the communities who live in these remote villages and for the itinerant pastors who walk to them each weekend for Sunday prayers and discipleship. I have never seen more grateful recipients of the teaching and children’s ministry than these gathered saints from Gbari, Arapi and Oyo and from Aya and Alugodu (and all of the subsequent church communities we met with over the next two weeks).
On Wednesday, we remained at RAU, partially to allow the team to catch their breath, but also because Jacob was due to speak on the radio that evening. He was happy to pass that baton on to Edward to give a special message to the community of Moyo and surrounding areas via TBS station within Moyo town. The “down day” also gave the team opportunity to prepare for upcoming ministry and to unpack the 28 tubs of ministry supplies which they had brought along with them that were shipped up from Kampala by bus!!! Most of the tubs were filled with tracts designed for Muslims which Jacob had had made up in the USA, but there were also many other items which cannot be gotten here that Rocky Point members contributed to. A special “thank you” to Kourtney Landes for your unbelievable packing and organizing skills and all the energy and love it took to accomplish such a feat. We are sure you put more into it than any of us realize – and it was an immense blessing and that they all made it safely and intact as well – that is nothing short of a miracle.
On Thursday and Friday we were back up in the Metu Mountains to meet with members of Ijujo and Cinyi (Thursday) and Oku and Lea (Friday), providing the same teachings on marriage, family and children’s ministry. While Edward and Jennifer were with the adults, during all the teaching sessions, Tony and Kourtney Landes, along with Kelci and Kara Beth, poured their energy into children’s ministry. They did a spectacular job with the many children in attendance. It was a joy to see each one of these team members instructing, interacting with and loving on the children who, to a large extent, have never had this kind of special attention paid to them. I was especially proud of Kara Beth and Kelci for stepping up and playing a great part in serving and loving these young ones. It always helps when there is a soccer ball (“football”) involved! The soccer balls were special in that they were decorated with colors which represented the Gospel and which could be used as a means of explaining the Gospel to those who have never heard. Each of the churches was given a soccer ball.
We saved the physically most grueling day – Oku and Lea – for the last of the Metu Mountain ministry days. As you may remember from previous posts or from Face Book posts, not only is the RIDE down and back up the mountain a test in endurance for us and the Land Cruiser, but the hike down into Lea and Oku and then back up again presents me with my greatest attitude challenge and physical stress! Jacob’s great delight to take new groups to the pristine “ends of the earth” in Oku, is pitted against my “I’ve already seen pristine” mindset and lack of physical stamina. This time, the clock (and possibility of rain) was warning us against taking too long in the valley – and I was its mouthpiece!!! The clock won out and we had to start our ascent without seeing the far reaches of Oku village. True to form, I, and those nice enough to stick with me were among the last to make it back up to the vehicle, puffing and panting and red-faced! The piece de resistance was squeezing as many additional, hot and sweaty riders into the Land Cruiser as space would allow taking the arduous, jostling ride back up the rocky mountain trail.
Without a pause, we were back on the road on Saturday, this time to Yumbe and for a very unique experience – a meeting with Imams/Sheikhs and other Muslim community members who have seemed to be very open to hear of Christ and His teachings. We met at a school in Aringa sub-county (a part of Yumbe district) and were greeted in a very friendly manner by all those gathered. I was glad to see several women and many children in attendance as well as the men. After some introductions, Jacob started up the teaching session (which is what the Khard, Ayile, had requested). (Note: a Khard is an elected leader of a geographical area from among other Imams/Sheikhs, very highly respected by the others.) Jacob spoke from Mark 2:1-12, on how one truly receives forgiveness of sins, and then Edward spoke from John 1, on Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh and lived among us. Khard Ayile gave us a specific time limit as he said it was market day and people needed to leave by 2pm. The listeners were all amazed by the precision of our teachers stopping exactly at 2pm (American Standard time)!! In addition to the teaching, Jacob passed out de-worming tabs, literature and English and Aringa Bibles. We pray that these gifts may be used in any way the Lord sees fit to draw the Aringa people to Himself.
On Sunday we headed back to Yumbe to worship with the lovely people of Pilgrim’s Church in Yumbe. After the service and a quick lunch, Edward started on his marriage and parenting teaching, while the Landes’ and Kara Beth met with the children outside. The questions and concerns were no different here relating to marriage than in any of the other places we visited – always very lively questions and discussion! We do not envy leaders here who have to counsel people in these very real and tricky issues.
Jacob and I and the team were all equally grateful to finally have another down day at RAU on Monday. Four days in a row of travel and ministry was a real stretch for us all. We were refreshed and enjoyed the fellowship of one another.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we were along the Nile River at two towns – Palorinya (where Edward and his son had had the privilege of being 6 years prior) and Obongi (where Pastor Godfrey lives). This is where we finished up the marathon of marriage and family teachings and children’s ministry. The time in Palorinya was especially meaningful for Pastor Edward to revisit and renew old friendships and to bring the rest of his family to a place which held great memories and meaning for him. Wednesday, after the teaching time in Obongi, heavy rain seemed to be looming and the roads were already nearly impassable prior to rain (with potholes almost as deep as the Land Cruiser is tall), so we made a quick visit to the Nile River for some photo ops and then headed back to Afoji to RAU.
The team’s last full day at RAU, Thursday, was anything but a day of rest for them. Knowing that we had a 5-day Pastor’s Retreat coming up the next week, they showed us the greatest kindness by helping us to prepare the tukalus and Lydia’s House for the visiting pastors. It was a kindness which allowed Jacob and me to head into the Reaching and Teaching ministry with the least amount of stress we have ever felt prior to an upcoming retreat. That was an amazing gift! Once again, we received in extravagant measure – pressed down, shaken together, running over and poured into our laps! Thank you, Rocky Point Team! On Friday morning, as they waited for their ride from Arua, they prepped their own rooms for the next group due in the very next day!
Our friend Eric, from Arua, has been a great help to us now in ferrying teams back and forth who fly in from and out to Entebbe from the airport in Arua. It relieves Jacob of the pressure of driving back and forth and it saves the Land Cruiser from much wear and tear. From the reports we have received from the 3 teams we have hosted since coming back, Eric is a perfect gentleman and an excellent, careful driver
It was a blessing to welcome another Reaching and Teaching (R&T) Team, 3 from High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin (Addison, Augi and Maeghan) and 1 from Tennessee (Scott). The Reaching and Teaching curriculum and partnership is the perfect fit for what RAU has envisioned for church leaders in the West Nile region – an overview of the Bible as well as specific knowledge and study tools which every pastor or leader should have in caring for a flock. The R&T plan consists of 9 modules from David Sills book Hearts,Heads, and Hands. Module Three was the focus of study this time. Jacob and I rejoice in the partnership we are developing with the churches that send teams to teach and mentor. We particularly rejoice in the teaching and pastoral gifts that this team brought with them.
Like the team from Rocky Point, the R&T team did not have much down time. We walked with them the next morning to the PAG church next door where Addison and Scott shared the word. In the afternoon, while the men were reviewing for the upcoming teaching sessions, Maeghan and I were finishing up prepping the gift and resource bags for the pastors.
Monday was like stepping up to the starting line of a race. We were ready in position, poised to run. As I stated above, I have never felt more prepared, thanks to the Rocky Point team and to Maeghan who was so helpful with all the details of registration. The “starting gun” fired and we were off to a slow saunter as the first attendees started trickling in. Jacob and the men on the team were so good in welcoming the arriving pastors/leaders and helping them get settled in their rooms. Maeghan and I had the privilege of getting the attendees registered and set up with name tags, bottled water and a resource bag. It was good to see familiar faces as all of the participants were here for the last R&T Module 2.
Once most of the men had arrived and settled and had had a bit of lunch, it was really “off to the races” as the R&T team took over the sessions and kept on course until Friday noon when, as it happens every retreat, it’s all over before we know it! Addison (an Elder at High Pointe), Augi (a member of High Pointe) and Scott (from Tennessee) did an amazing job of keeping the tight schedule covering various topics. It was obvious from the interactions both in and out of the classroom that Addison, Augi and Scott cared as much about the people they were serving as in teaching with excellence. At the end of the evening sessions there was Q&A time which always seems to be greatly appreciated for the biblical wisdom with which each question is answered.
Maeghan was a particular delight to me – to have female companionship and a servant-hearted person was a gift. We had many opportunities to get to know one another as we ensured that meals and snacks were served and medical needs were addressed.
The retreat was over but we could not let the team leave without giving them of “taste” of the Metu Mountains terrain, people and ministry. On Saturday we took them to Cinyi where believers from several villages had gathered. It’s safe to say that Addison, Augi, Scott and Maeghan felt they had received blessings “pressed down, shaken together and running over” that day and in all the days preceding. I believe the “West Nile Bug” has bitten them and they will be back one day!
The only thing Jacob and I have disliked immensely about these last 3 weeks has been the goodbyes! Addison expressed amazement that, in such a short time, a group of strangers could become so closely knitted together. We agree! It’s wonderful, but, at the same time, that connection makes us vulnerable to the pain of parting.
Jacob and I have had a very different week – quieter but not boring! We have definitely taken time to reflect on and rejoice in the friends we have come to know and love. At the same time, other opportunities to serve this region are put before us to consider, pray about and work towards.
Our Agricultural extension service has continued throughout these 3 weeks as Emma has taken his expertise to the rough, hard to reach places in the Metu Mountains as well as over the airwaves on TBS radio station every Thursday evening. RAU is privileged to play a role in the development of the West Nile communities through Ag development. The positive feedback we receive encourages us to continue our efforts in Agricultural training in addition to discipleship, evangelism and church planting.
Here are the opportunities before us as we serve the communities in northern Uganda:
- Please pray as we will be hosting six Muslim background pastors from North Sudan who were forced out their country and are in a nearby refugee camp (Uganda now has passed 1 million refugee mark with most of them staying in our West Nile area). This next Monday and Tuesday they will be at RAU for Bible study. We are hiring a van to bring them. Omar, a former Sheikh who has become a very outspoken believer, and a friend he has been witnessing to will join us too. A young Imam will be with us too. He is a young man to whom we have been witnessing for the past four years…he recently has confessed Christ. Also, another Sheikh who has confessed Christ as Savior will be with us. It should make for a very interesting two days. Jacob is thrilled about this opportunity to study the Word together with them. The men from North Sudan may pave the way for other opportunities to reach a very needy place for the gospel!
- Jacob hopes to spend much time the next 6 weeks in evangelistic outreaches and continuing discussions with Muslim leaders in Yumbe District and Obongi sub-county.
- We are targeting 3 unreached villages in the Metu Mountains for church plants as well as bore holes. These villages have no witness of Christ love in them. Pray that these villages will also have living active churches joining the 8 other villages which now have a new churches. Funding has been given for one of the three bore holes already.
- A recent incident which took place near Aya highlights the medical needs which are always pressing. Here is a recent post which Jacob made on Face Book:
“Thank you to all who prayed for Opini. He is now back at his home, continuing to recover. Opini was the boy who was bitten by a cobra while grazing his family’s goats in a remote part of the Metu Mountains near Aya. By God’s grace, Pastor Tobious was nearby and quickly took him by motorbike to the Aya clinic. Carrying him by foot would have taken some time, but because of our generous supporters, we have been able to provide a motorcycle for Pastor Tobious to use in all of his overseeing ministries in the Metu Mountains!
The rural and isolated mountain clinics often do not have meds for snakebites or run out of them quickly. Again, by God’s grace, we had delivered injectable hydrocortisone on the previous Saturday to Tobious to give to several clinics. Fortunately, Tobious had some doses remaining with him and brought it with him to the clinic to refurbish their supply. The clinic personnel gave him a dose immediately. He was unconscious most of the night but woke feeling good enough to eat some food and walk to the bathroom. We just received word from Pastor Tobious that, when he went to check on the boy this morning, he found that Opini had already gone off to school! Wow!
The picture below is Opini with his mother in the Aya clinic. In His love God has brought about a remarkable recovery in answer too many who have prayed and through the many who provided funding for medicines…thank you! Since the time we began ministering in these Metu Mountains communities, this is the 4th person we have heard about whose life has been saved by injected hydro-cortisone! Praise the Lord!
This makes Carol and me want, all the more, to help get more of this medicine to Metu Mountain clinics. We receive many requests from clinics for help in stocking helpful item and so, as often as we have funding, we are trying to get de-worming tabs, malaria treatment, anti-fungal creams and others to the clinics and into the remote villages. It is a long walk to the Metu trading center and to Moyo. Through your help we can continue to buy more of these drugs and put them into the hands of trained district medical personnel.” (https://reachingafricasunreached.org/donations/ )
- Through a generous donation given specifically for the purpose of starting a Christian School, we are able to purchase a piece of land across the road from RAU. The money is enough to purchase it, clear it, fence it and make it ready for school buildings. Pray that this vision will become a reality.
Carol (Jacob) Lee
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!———–When at least 35% of the world; “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!—————-Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!Jacob Lee
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