“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:9-10
“The Lord has given us a table at which to feast, not an altar on which a victim is to be offered; He has not consecrated priests to make sacrifice, but servants to distribute the sacred feast“. ~~~John Calvin
Whether here (in Moyo/Afoji, Northwestern Uganda) or when visiting in the USA, Jacob and I are conscious of the truth expressed in the quotes above. It is the very current on which we have been carried from the start and on which we continue to be carried: God has, in extravagant love and self-sacrifice, enabled us to participate in His feast and to ensure, through loving self-sacrifice, that others have the same opportunity to enjoy and distribute the feast, not only in Jerusalem, but in the uttermost parts of the earth.
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”
Jesus in John 9:4
As hard as it is to keep zig-zagging across the world, it is this “feast” which clarifies our focus and moves us to participate in the distribution of the sacred feast and to plead with others to do the same. The travel is wearying, but the destination is a blessing: divine appointments and opportunities to fellowship with friends and loved ones, affect their mission worldview and to impact their affections and priorities. This includes opportunities with our own family as well as many churches and individuals and we are refreshed by them and their loving care. Remembering that our days are numbered, it is a privilege to be weary for the right reason!
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
In the midst of busyness, God has been faithful to provide periods of respite and joyful reunion. Without doubt, visits with our family are some of the best times: reconnecting and getting a better glimpse into the joys, interests and challenges of each of our children and their families. Parenting and grand-parenting is a lifetime occupation and we appreciate knowing more clearly how to pray for each family member and being able to continue to impact their lives as well as to enjoy who they are and who they are becoming by the grace of God and the Christ-conforming work of the Holy Spirit!
So…for now…this is our life! We are endeavoring to see each season of our comings and goings as all part of the same calling – just different arms of the same body of work.
We were in the USA from February 8th until March 28th. Our reunion was so sweet with our beloved biological family: (Josh and Becca, Eliza, Ben, Vera, Nora and our newest, Olivia; Anna came with the girls, Keira and Clara, and picked us up at the airport and Kenny joined them later) and spiritual family: Lifegate Church, Seguin, Texas. During the initial weeks of our visit, we were privileged to meet with the faithful at Good Shepherd Evangelical Church (Geronimo) and Gospel Life Fellowship (New Braunfels). We also met with our RAU American Board and received wise counsel, encouragement and accountability. After just over two weeks in Seguin, we began our cross-country travels, first to Higgins, Mississippi with First Baptist Church . Then, we had a few days back in Seguin before continuing the marathon of travel – to Forest Hill, Maryland at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church (PCA) , then on to Iowa for a couple days to see Jacob’s family, then to Stephenville Texas to see Anna, Kenny, Keira and Clara as well as our dear Rocky Point Baptist Church. Lastly, we went to Chattanooga to spend time with Josiah and his fiancee, Unyae. That was a blessed time getting to know the daughter who will be added to our family in December and who has already been added to our hearts! Our last week and a half was back in Seguin where we, in a great flurry, were finishing up personal business, sorting and packing for our return trip to Moyo/Afoji.
And everywhere the Lee’s went, bad weather was sure to go! This provided us with some good storytelling adventures: strong, chaotic winds with power outages and traffic jams, snow storms grounding planes, rain, rain and more rain! We spent an awful lot of time being cold. This made us miss the warm Ugandan climate – we realized that we prefer to be warm than cold!
Before the story lifts off to Uganda, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the churches and the many individuals who lovingly and faithfully partner with us in this adventure! As always, we are grateful for our sending church family, Lifegate, in Seguin. Their support and love are the fruit of decades of common life and uniting purpose. We are expecting them to be a part of the Reaching and Teaching program next year. A special “thank you” to Beth Baitz, secretary par excellence, whose help simply cannot be overstated! We could not do what we are doing on this side without her doing what she does on that side! Also in Seguin, we have had the blessing and support of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Faith Lutheran Church, and Good Shepherd Evangelical Church and, in New Braunfels, Gospel Life Fellowship, whose amazing generosity extends from even its youngest members. Dayspring Fellowship in Austin has been a blessing “on the ground” through Paul George as well as through on-going prayer and financial support from both members and leaders. High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin has been an amazing partner in sending Reaching and Teaching teams and, particularly, through Delmar Hager (the “Kindle Man”) with Study To Be Approved. We are looking forward to High Pointe member, Maeghan Bell, joining us for a 3 month period starting in May! Rocky Point Baptist in Stephenville, Texas has become a second home for us as they have taken Anna and her family “under their wing” and have included us in that care. Through our partnership with Reaching and Teaching, we anticipate increasing team work with them. Rocky Point blessed us beyond measure by sending Kenny and Anna to work with us for 2 weeks. Recently, we were graced to visit First Baptist Church in Wiggins, Mississippi and to experience their extravagant care. We look forward to a visit from Pastor Robby Rikard and his family here in Uganda! Further north, we visited Forest Hill Presbyterian Church (PCA) and Pastor Jason Van Bemmel and are overwhelmed to be beneficiaries of their prioritizing the spread of the Good News worldwide as well partnering in the Reaching and Teaching program at RAU. Much thanks goes to M.A.R.S. (Missionary Agricultural Resource Services) who has been our primary partner in the Agricultural services and capacity building projects at RAU (Extension services, Inputs, Weekly Agricultural Call-in Radio Program and Demo sites). You have enabled us to keep Emma on board and to be a source for change in this community!
The number of individuals and churches who budget us into their lives is simply astounding. All of you together strengthen us to continue as “servants to distribute the sacred feast“ Thank you from our hearts!
Our thanks cannot be complete without a huge commendation for Apiku Emmanuel (Emma) who managed with excellence and faithfulness all the activities and finances while we were away, providing us with detailed reports and balancing the books down to the last shilling. Agricultural projects (such as the Funya chinyi–funya juu anti-erosion trenches and the planting of the soy beans) were initiated and completed. He provided a training for our staff on Entrepreneurship, Business Planning and Financial Literacy. When urgent and vital issues arose which affected normal operations and the safety of RAU, Emma handled them with wisdom. He hosted many visitors, represented our organization well and made us very proud.
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa
The whole team here on the ground at RAU has been a blessing through their faithfulness in work and love and loyalty. We love each one and are grateful for their vital part in the upkeep and functioning of RAU ministries. Our campus looks as it does because of their hard work. We were blessed by their welcome of us back to RAU as they greeted us with signs and singing, a goat and chickens. After preparation of the goat and chickens we enjoyed a beautiful meal together.
We are grateful for Patrick Bukenya (Ugandan NGO Board of Directors member) and his beautiful family. Patrick contributes wisdom to decision-making processes and is so helpful in operations from the Kampala side. Nurse, Nyombi Sam (Ugandan NGO Board of Directors member) has been a tremendous help not only in the medical area but also in the daily operations prior to his going on to upgrade in the nursing profession. We look forward to seeing how he will be used wherever the Lord directs him.
Our return to Uganda this time around was unusually blessed. Kenny and Anna Danley, our son-in-law and daughter, were sent by Rocky Point Baptist Church to encourage us and to serve with us for nearly two weeks. Though long flights are never fun, their company diminished the sting of saying our goodbyes and the discomfort of a long journey. We had a few misadventures along the way – delayed flights, luggage missing the connections and adjustment in our plans. Somehow, it was less disconcerting because we were in such good company. When we finally arrived to RAU and our baggage also made it, Kenny and Anna were immensely helpful, unpacking, organizing and….doing it together was a blast! Jacob got Kenny busy with the screw gun and a few projects. Anna organized and labeled all my closets of supplies.
Anna and Kenny had the unexpected opportunity to preach and encourage through the word of God and their testimonies. Wednesday evening was Jacob’s turn to be “on air” at TBS radio station, Moyo. Jacob gave his spot to Kenny and Anna, and, with Emma (ever faithfully interpreting), they did a fantastic job! Both Jacob and I were beaming with pride to hear them both share with such clarity and genuineness. They were well prepared and effective.
A night and day of rain postponed our visits into the Metu Mountains but gave us the opportunity to get REALLY organized, thanks to both Kenny and Anna. There is nothing like community to make work seem less like work and more like fun!
Kenny and Anna got set down a little easy on our first trip to the Metu Mountains. We were supposed to go to Oku on Thursday (which is the behemoth of outreach trips), but we stayed home because of heavy rains to organize.
So, on Friday, we went to Gbari/Arapi/Duku/Oyo as planned. It so happens that the logging companies have been out that way and had forged a “road” all the way to Oyo, which means we did not have to do any hiking, except up the small, steep path to where the church meets. One of the goals – to identify candidates for leadership in their church – was accomplished. Places this remote need much care and so identifying faithful caretakers is vital. Kenny and Anna shared beautifully there as well as in Duku, and Gbari.Arapi.
THE MAN! THE MACHINE! THE MISSION!
Saturday was the “dreaded” (by me) adventure to Cinyi and Oku where Anna and Kenny both spoke. Anna had asked for Missionary boot-camp, so…she got just what she asked for! Hahaha! It’s amazing how an outreach can be such a mixture of joy and misery all in one! But! That’s the Oku trail for you! The fact that it requires so much discomfort and even pain (for us out of shape folks) makes the joy of reaching Oku a pleasure and encouraging them and being encouraged by their joy an even greater pleasure. Feeling the crunch of the long hike down and up the mountain gives us such a major appreciation for the community members who must walk up the mountain path we walked, but even the rest of the mountain climb which we usually traverse by Land Cruiser. The Lord has given us a heart for their situation and a desire to help them improve it in many ways, some of which are encouragement in the word, clean water, agricultural expertise and medicines.
We couldn’t believe that Sunday, our last full day with Kenny and Anna, had already arrived. We traveled back to Aya to worship with our brothers and sisters from Aya and Ijujo Baptist Churches. Anna shared a testimony and Kenny preached. After a lunch hosted by Anzeti Ronald, one of the very successful participants in Emma’s Ag Extension outreach to the Metu Mountains, we headed back RAU so that Kenny and Anna could begin the packing process to return to the USA. Our friend, Eric, came from Arua to pick them up. Thankfully, he got here around 2 pm and so it gave us a little extra time with them.
We are so grateful to Rocky Point Baptist Church for sending them! I can say emphatically that everything (and more) that Rocky Point intended for them to accomplish here they DID! Jacob and I were immensely encouraged and I am certain that Kenny and Anna were changed by the experience as well. The only cloud to their sunshine was seeing them go and then rattling around in this big building by ourselves and walking by “their room” and not seeing them in there.
Well…we can’t mope around forever! So, we are forging ahead, keeping our eyes fixed on the privilege of serving the sacred feast!
The first business at hand has been to take advantage of the rainy season to continue to dig and plant. It was decided to also plant G-nuts (ground nuts or peanuts) and soybeans in the land where the education center will be. There will be weeding done in the already planted soybeans this coming week, which will come in a timely way for preparing RAU for an upcoming training for which we will be hosts. Emma and two other facilitators were asked by the local government to provide a one-day training on entrepreneurship and business planning. Jacob will have opportunity in the beginning to give out Bibles ,welcome the participants, and share RAU’s vision. We will be receiving around 30 Local Council (LC) policy makers from Moyo District (from the LC-V [i.e. Governor of Moyo District] down to the LC-1’s). Emma pushed to have RAU as the venue so that it could also provide an inspirational example for what will be taught.
Emma is continuing his radio Extension program every Thursday evening. Increasingly, we are getting the most encouraging feedback about the concrete benefits of the Radio call-in show in so many communities in the Moyo and Adjumani districts, with reports of improved production and financial reward.
The man is the first photo with the carrots is Drani Charles, who recently and suddenly passed away after a bad reaction to a bee sting. He left behind a widow and many children. Please pray for his wife, Jesca, and the children as well as for the church who will step up to help her.
Last year, Emma did many field extension outreaches, taking the Honda XL Boda up into the remote communities of the Metu Mountains. He was hoping to continue that outreach again, but the roads to those places are increasingly treacherous and risky for a motorcycle and until we are able to ensure his (and his colleagues) safety, we have to rely on other means of reaching the communities, such as through the radio program or when Jacob is taking trips in the Land Cruiser.
We are in the very infant stages of building our “Mission House” which will be a home for future long-term team members (for both a family and single missionaries who are called to serve with us). We are operating under that famous quip, “If we build it, they will come!” Hahaha! We have to be fully ready for the Lord to answer our prayers, right?!!
Jacob is continuing his evangelism, church-planting and discipleship outreaches into the Metu Mountain villages, Obongi and Yumbe District. There are difficulties in each place for different reasons, but the difficulties only push us to rely on the Lord for new strategies, new strength and trained leaders. In the two opposite directions in the Metu Mountains, Aya to the one side and Gbari/Arapi to the other, we are planning and praying for permanent church structures. Gbari/Arapi has had a foundation for some time, but we are looking for funding to raise up the building. During some of the recent frightening cattle-rustling invasions by forces from South Sudan, people often sought refuge up on top of the hill where the Gbari/Arapi church meets. We would love to see a church building there where many can gather for worship as well as trainings and be protected from the elements. In Aya also, we have seen the foundation nearly completed with the help of some generous donors. Aya is the main sending entity for church leaders and the central gathering place during trainings for the new church plants which have sprouted in the remote villages. Pastor Tobious and his flock have struggled many years to keep a decent roof on the church which they have outgrown and we would love to also see them enjoy a solid church structure.
“The more obstacles you have, the more opportunities there are for God to do something.” Clarence W. Jones
We, at RAU, want to be faithful in every way as servers of the sacred feast, to use the energy and resources entrusted to us to serve the surrounding communities spiritually, socially and economically. If there are not fundamental changes in each of those areas , we will not have accomplished our goal of seeing people and communities encouraged and growing in their faith in Christ, equipped to multiply their faith and empowered to improve their lives, especially after we are gone.
“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:11
Please be praying for us in all these endeavors and take note of our specific needs:
Personally, we need encouragement from the Lord through His word and through others. We need persevering grace through times of loneliness or discouragement. Please pray for our marriage and for all the relationships we have with people in this area.
Pray for all the programs we are running, from the discipleship trainings retreats at RAU (Reaching and Teaching and others) and the Agricultural outreaches.
Pray for on going discipleship in church plants and for more churches to be planted in villages where there is not a church.
Pray for good progress of the building of the “Mission House” as well as the answer to our prayer for the right families to fill it!
Pray for safety as we live so near the South Sudan border. We are not fearful, but we do recognize that things could change quickly, too.
Pray for the funding to complete the Gbari/Arapi and Aya church buildings
Pray for the testing and drilling which will take place this week for a well (bore hole) at the base of the hill where the Gbari/Arapi church meet.
This week, on Wednesday, Jacob has been invited to teach at the Anglican Kajo Keji Christian College here in Moyo on dialog with Muslims based upon his study and experience of dialoging with Imams and Sheikhs. Pray that his teaching and the resources will be helpful in equipping the students for loving, wise and knowledgeable interaction with Muslims that will bear the fragrance of Christ
Pray for continued financial support to walk out what God has called us to be and do.
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!
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