Staying The Course
by Carol Lee
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…“
Hebrews 12: 1b
Recently, Jacob brought my attention to the reality and potential dangers of “Mission Drift“. It is the inspiration for this post. Over our five years of being on mission here at Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU), Jacob and I have had conversations on some aspect of this topic even before we knew how to tag it. So what is it?!!! Peter Greer and Chris Horst, who wrote a book about it, identify “Mission Drift” this way: “Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission.“
Consider this quote from an article written by Jim Schleckser:
“Did you know that Harvard University’s founding purpose was to “prepare ministers of upright character”? It would be tough to argue that Harvard still operates by that same purpose today even though it’s in the exact same place it was founded back in 1636. So what happened?
“In short, mission drift.”
Grappling with mission drift has been front and center for us here in northwestern Uganda, an underdeveloped and under-served part of a developing country, because the needs – physical, economic and social – are glaring and great. It would be so very easy for us to primarily or solely address physical and socioeconomic needs by pouring all or most of our resources of time, money and energy into them. We feel the almost irresistible draw of these needs like iron ore to a magnet. For us mission drift is not an “ivory tower” debating point, but an “in your face” daily filter through which we must sift every encounter and decision.
In such times Jacob and I remind each other of our filter question: “What is our primary calling and how does this situation or need fit in with that primary calling?” Not only do we not have the resources to solve everyone’s pressing problems, but it is not our primary goal, nor the primary reason for which funds were donated. We simply must put every request through the sieve of that important question.
The Apostle Peter received the sternest of rebukes from Jesus for viewing current events through temporal or earthly eyes. Peter’s vision was clouded by immediate concerns and not the overarching plan of God. He was concerned about the earthly success and reign of Christ. Jesus came to purchase, through His sacrificial death, people “from every tribe, tongue, people and nation” (Rev.5:9) and to make us a “...a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” so we could declare His praises who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9) How could Jesus be so unconcerned about the oppressive government of Rome? Jesus, in strongest terms, was saying that eternal needs trump temporal ones.
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? “ Matthew 16:26
Similarly, RAU recognizes that what people need supremely is reconciliation with God and the Church has been given the privilege of pointing to Christ who is the mediator of this reconciliation (Ephesians 3:10). Therefore, our primary calling is to come alongside the Church to strengthen and equip her for the task of being ambassadors of reconciliation and, specifically, to come alongside pastors and leaders (and potential ones) to strengthen, encourage and equip them in the role of “midwives” in the birth of new believers and the nurturing and training of maturing believers placed under their care. Most critically, RAU must vigorously maintain a concern for people’s eternal condition. As John Piper has put it, “We care about all suffering now, especially eternal suffering later.“
While keeping a clear eternal purpose in view, we can also emphatically add that God does not pit heaven against earth or caring for the spiritual needs of people against compassion for people experiencing physical, social and economic needs. Scripture teaches that compassion and justice are qualities which God values and demonstrates and expects His people to extend to the world. Needy people cannot be ignored, nor can a blind eye be turned to them, nor can a hard heart be allowed to guard itself from from an interest in their plight. In Isaiah 58, God harshly chides His people: “Is not this the kind of fasting [act of earnest devotion] I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (vs 6-7). Similarly, James warns us against turning a needy “someone” away with a smug blessing:
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)
Within the context of these weighty considerations lies our daily struggle to be faithful. While we maintain a firm grasp on our primary calling, we do everything within our power to address the needs around us and in the most helpful and sustainable way possible (When Helping Hurts:How To Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself, Corbett & Fikkert). The Agricultural component of RAU ministry grew out of the awareness that, in a socioeconomically poor community, church members are unable to support a full-time pastor. Equipping a pastor with skills that allow him to be successfully bi-vocational is what “Farming as a Business” training has done for many leaders. (This benefit has been extended into the community at large because of the RAU Agricultural radio program as well as bringing community leaders to RAU.). Severe quality of life and life or death medical needs have weighed in heavily on our decision to seek funding in certain circumstances. Seeing the pressing need for clean, accessible water in remote villages has moved us to appeal for donations to enable the drilling of boreholes. And there are a hundred smaller scale issues which arise every day that pressure us to maintain our primary calling while not turning away from or hardening our hearts to the precious people (and their very real struggles) with whom God has called us to live in community.
Jacob and I hope this has given you insight into our everyday struggles and opportunities! We sincerely hope that it will inspire you to pray for us specifically, frequently and fervently. We desperately need wisdom, grace, discernment and provision. Thank you for standing with us with your prayers and financial support!
Reasons to praise the Lord:
- A new bore hole (well) in the Gbari/Arapi area near the Gbari/Arapi Community Church. This is the fifth well completed in a remote village of the Metu Mountains.
- Many visits from pastors, community members and leaders. Bibles, Christian literature,counsel, and prayer are a part of many of these visits.
- In the past months around 1200 ESV Global Study Bibles as well as numerous ASB Arabic Study Bibles AND many Kindle Fires with portable solar panels loaded with the Jesus Film and books (donated by Study To Be Approved), biblically sound books via Gospel Coalition International Outreach, pamphlets and tracts on their way to MBBs from the Republic of Sudan as well as church leaders in the nearby South Sudanese refugee encampments.
- Emma graduated “First Class” in his post graduate course, Project Planning and Management
- This past Friday, 18th, we hosted an Ag training for local Moyo Town Council leaders/farmers
- This past Saturday, 19th, one-on-one gospel sharing, open air preaching from the rack of the Land Cruiser and showing of Jesus film took place in a Yumbe District market. Jacob made it back to RAU at 1:20 AM Sunday morning. He was very tired but said it was a “good tired“. The area is predominantly Muslim. A number of soldiers were assigned to the team and things were peaceful. They had good one on one interactions with many gospel tracts having been given out…Aringa “Quest For Joy” and “Who do you think is the Most Amazing Person who Ever Lived?”. Jacob preached from John 10:1-18 from rack of the Land Cruiser. They had a bit of trouble getting the sound to work for the Jesus film but eventually got it going. Co-worker, Charles, estimated that a crowd of 1000 (+/-) watched the film. The gospel was heard and the call to repentance and faith in Jesus was given…may the Lord bring many into the “fold”! The plan is to target many Yumbe trading centers in the months ahead. Pray that many hearts are opened to the gospel.
- Maeghan Bell from Texas will be here this week! She will be with us for, initially, 3 months and then perhaps more permanently if the Lord confirms it! Yay!!!
- Misengile Samuel, from D.R.Congo, is coming for a visit! It will be good to see him again and hear what the Lord is doing through him in the D.R.Congo
Please pray over the following:
- Ongoing ministry in the Metu Mountain church plants (pray for Jacob, Tobious and the many church members who are becoming more actively involved in the process).
- We are planning another large gathering for baptisms at Aya Baptist Church; pray for those who have professed faith and for the pastors who are accountable for their well-being
- Ongoing Ag ministry (pray for Apiku Emma as he oversees the many activities – demo plot, radio program and trainings which he does here and in the community)
- The Mission house building: land is cleared and materials are being collected for the commencement of construction; we are hoping to have it ready by the time we travel back to the USA in December!
- Aya and Gbari/Arapi permanent church structures – foundations are almost complete; funding for the completion of these church structures is needed. These two structures would serve their local congregation and near by church plants as centers for training.
- Pray for the pastors over the 10 village churches in the Metu Mountains as they rally together to increase their unity and mutual encouragement. The pastors and Jacob are looking at new villages without a single church for church planting.
- Four upcoming Reaching and Teaching retreats on the RAU Campus
- June: High Pointe Baptist Church, Module 4 of 1st track students from Moyo,Metu Mountains,Obongi,Yumbe, Koboko, and Bidibidi Refugee Encampment.
- July: Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, Module 1 of 2nd track students from (North) Sudan (Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile States) residing in Ugandan refugee encampments.
- August: High Pointe Baptist Church, Module 5 of 1st track students from Moyo,Metu Mountains,Obongi,Yumbe, Koboko, and Bidi bidi Refugee Encampment.
- September: Rocky Point Baptist Church, Module 2 of 2nd track students from (North) Sudan (Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile States) residing in Ugandan refugee encampments.
Thank you for all your prayers and support,
Carol (Jacob) Lee
RAU was recently registered with Amazon as a non-profit organization to which a percentage may be donated for every dollar you spend there. Here is the link if you are interested:
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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