Keeping Watch Over the Flock
By Carol Lee
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.“
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.“
1 Timothy 4:12
“But in many ways the selection and training of leaders are most important aspects of church planting because these individuals will not only manage church affairs, they will model the faith for good or ill.“.
David J. Hesselgrave
During Jacob’s early visits (2007-2012) to Moyo District, when the “Jesus Film” was shown to large crowds in the region, one on one witnessing, and open air preaching many people would respond to the invitation to trust in Christ’s redeeming love for them. Jacob’s pressing question to Christian leaders in the area was, “So, now that these people have trusted in Christ, who will disciple them? Who will be their pastor?” The sad response was that the most mature among the new believers would be identified and set in as their “pastor” — a recent convert, probably someone without a Bible and certainly someone without any Biblical training.
In response to the scarcity of biblically trained leadership, the mandate to identify and build faithful shepherds of the flock of God became the very fuel of RAU’s (Reaching Africa’s Unreached) propulsion into the northwestern region of Uganda which borders South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In an area where few to no Bible Schools existed when Jacob began his mission thrusts, it was clear that one of the most important activities in which RAU could expend energy was training up leaders. In J.D. Payne’s book (a book Jacob highly recommends), Discovering Church Planting: An Introduction to the Whats, Whys and Hows of Global Church Planting, he writes: “[L]eadership development is about the process of leading someone to faith in Christ and equipping that person to become a fruit-bearing disciple who begins to reach others with the gospel. The multiplication of churches requires the multiplication of leaders and disciples.“
This has been the thrust of RAU’s ministry from the beginning and it will, by the grace of God, remain a priority. We are coming up on the hosting of our 27th Leadership Retreat next week. RAU’s vision verses for the retreats are 2 Timothy 2:2 and Acts 19:9-10. Pastor Jason Van Bemmel and Bob Brown sent by Forest Hill Presbyterian (PCA) will be here to kick off the 1st Module for a new tier of participants in the Reaching and Teaching Bible training program with whom RAU is partnering. In this tier we are targeting 37 Muslim Background Believers (MBB) from the Republic of Sudan (North) who are currently in Ugandan Refugee settlements with the goal of preparing them to return to their own unreached people groups ready to take part in birthing new believers and discipling the new believers to do the same. It is an exciting privilege to take part in such a far-reaching plan; its ripple effects, we trust, will have a fanning and eternal reach.
Several weeks ago we held our 26th Leadership Retreat with a team from High Pointe Baptist Church out of Austin, Texas (where Maeghan Bell is from). The team consisted of Otis Fields (who had been here twice before), Kacey Hanson (who had come once before) and Micah Snowden, a newcomer. As someone who had never done any teaching in a formal setting, Micah did an excellent job and received some very positive feedback from the participants at the end. Otis was skillful in teaching, administrating the schedule (keeping things on track and being flexible where changes were needed) and leading the team in Module 4 of the Reaching and Teaching program. Kacey, as usual, was an amazing “serving machine“, ensuring that meals and snacks were ready and served, washing dishes and addressing anything else which needed attention. It was a lot of fun to have 4 women to help with all the details this time (my friend, Helen, was here for a visit). Every retreat is an underscoring of our primary and urgent goal of pouring into the lives of local leaders of the flock of God.
The Sunday after the Austin team left for the States, Maeghan, Jacob, Mindra, Pastor Henry and I headed for Yumbe for another evangelism outreach, this time in Kuru. The previous outreaches had been in Ambelecu and Rodo. Kuru is a conservative Muslim town and it was not an easy place where suspicion and resistance were keenly felt.
While some of the youth of Pilgrims Church (Yumbe town) were setting up the sound system, others of us were sharing and passing out tracts among the town’s people along the streets and in the market place. It’s amazing what a short greeting in a person’s own language can do to peak interest and expand openness to receiving something which could be perceived as threatening to them (like Christian reading material). Maeghan, Jacob and I each had someone from Pilgrims Church accompany us so that our attempts to engage the local people of Kuru could be translated, adding to what our Pilgrims Church companions had to share. We were all gratified to have had some meaningful interactions with people from Kuru who showed a genuine interest in what we had to say and who also had well thought out questions about Christian beliefs. After that, the youth group presented some songs and very energetic dances to draw a crowd for the preaching and the Jesus Film. Maeghan and I both agreed that the bar for membership in their youth group was set high (especially with regard to physical fitness and knowing dance moves!).
Jacob and Charles (the dynamic duo) climbed up on top of the Land Cruiser for a powerful message from John 10 about Jesus, the “Door” and “Good Shepherd“. Jacob was skillful at bridging from the Qur’an to the Old and New Testaments and helping the listeners to find validity in what Jesus was saying about Himself! Charles is THE most amazing interpreter that Jacob has had the privilege of working with! The energy, clarity and passion with which he mirrored Jacob’s message (not only verbally, but physically) in Aringa was, in itself, mesmerizing. It was a little nerve-wracking, though, watching them move around on the Land Cruiser rack, a small space a meter and a half off the ground!
After the message, when darkness started to enclose us, the Jesus Film in Aringa was shown. Charles estimated that approximately 2,000 people were watching. The height of the screen on top of the Land Cruiser and the loud speaker system made it easy for people to enjoy the film from quite a distance away. It was amazing to see how big a crowd gathered for the movie (a media which few people are exposed to) especially under the cover of darkness (in a conservative Muslim town). Watching a movie in these rural areas is a very social activity with lots of verbal feedback and outwardly expressed emotions in reaction to what is happening on screen. It was amusing to hear laughter and shouts in places where we would have least expected it, yet, something in the film was producing a big response. Oh to be able to understand the language and to get insight into their reactions! When Jacob shows the film in a highly Muslim-populated area, he does not like to make a push for public profession of faith. Even if a Muslim were to be touched by the message or the movie, it could be dangerous for them to come forward publicly. One young man contacted Charles about placing his faith in Christ, but it was agreed he would meet up with Charles in Yumbe because of the fear of reprisals. Later it was reported to us that he had trusted in Christ as Lord and Savior.
Though there have been few open professions of faith in Yumbe District, we have a growing belief that the Holy Spirit is at work birthing new creations and faith in the saving work of Christ in the hearts of many. This propels us even more passionately to continue the trainings we are having so that there will be well-trained shepherds ready to care for the new sheep in the fold! Our energy and priority in evangelism is not “a notch in our belt” but our care for the souls of people for whom Christ came.
In recognition of the great task before us, we have been pushing full steam ahead on building our “Mission House” and simultaneously interceding for the families and/or singles whom the Lord will call alongside us in this task of training those who “keep watch over the flock of God“. We are so excited to watch the progress the builders have made on the house and we eagerly anticipate the “unveiling” of the team for whom we are praying.
A hopeful member of the team is Maeghan Bell! Her presence, gifting, passion for sharing Christ, desire to serve, her friendship and her example have blessed us all and she would be a tremendous help to RAU’s continuing ministry. It is our earnest prayer that her departure at the end of August will be temporary and that an exclamatory “yes!!” will be given by her sending church, High Pointe and that provision of her monetary needs will be a confirmation of God’s own “yes and amen“.
We continue to watch in amazement at the expansion of RAU’s reach in our Agricultural Training program in the role the program is playing in the lives of the leaders we are serving and in the agricultural development in the community at large. In addition to the weekly radio program, the local demo plot and the extension service into difficult-to-reach places, RAU is proceeding towards certification of our Agricultural Training so that participants can take a nationally administered exam which, upon successful completion, opens doors for employment by providing a nationally recognized certificate. Apiku Emma, will be entering his second year (research) of post-graduate course work in Project Planning and Management after which he will be qualified to oversee this program. Emma has also been invited to join in the monthly Review and Coordination meetings between the UNHCR and the NGOs involved in the Refugee settlements. This is an honor given due to RAU’s contribution to livelihood improvement through Agriculture. Part of the 2 Timothy 2:2 mandate involves hosting the meeting so that what is seen and learned can be replicated in other settings.
Whether in the arena of spiritual/Biblical training or in Agriculture, we know very keenly that the principle of 2 Timothy 2:2 (teaching faithful people who, in turn, will teach others to teach others) must be emphasized and practiced if we are to reach our goal as a ministry. It’s not enough that information and resources are disseminated to local leaders. It is imperative that a heart and mindset be imprinted upon them that what God has given by way of teaching and resources must not be buried, but multiplied; not only known, but obeyed and practiced. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48)
And, after all, the implications are not small; the very character and progress of the church depends on the character and progress of the leaders. The priority to pour into local pastors and leaders is to honor Jesus’ final commission to his disciples to go and “make disciples of all nations“.
“Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted.” C.H. Spurgeon
The next few months are full of such activities and we earnestly request your prayers! This is what is coming up:
- Module One of Reaching and Teaching for Tier 2 of Leaders (from Republic of Sudan); Jason Van Bemmel and Bob Brown are coming from Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Maryland. Their visit will include teaching in the retreat and other outreaches into the surrounding communities.
- July 25th: RAU will be hosting a joint meeting of the UNHCR and the 18 NGOs who are working within the Refugee settlements within our region. It is their monthly Livelihood Review and Coordination meeting. Though RAU has a limited role in outreach to the Refugee population, the community has recognized the contribution that our Agricultural Program has made and is making and has invited Emma to participate and provide important input in the meetings.
- August 2-4 RAU will host a youth group from Finland (under the leadership of Pertti and Heidi Soderlund). We will be taking them into the Metu Mountains to experience ministry in remote and difficult places. They will also go to Bidi Bidi camp to see firsthand the repercussions of the South Sudan civil war.
- August 9-22: RAU will host a team from High Pointe Baptist Church for Module 5 in the Reaching and Teaching program. Other ministry events are being planned as well.
- August 23rd-September 5th: Kevin Kolb will be coming from our home church, Lifegate. Kevin is a member of our American RAU Board of Directors.
- August 30th: Maeghan Bell leaves from Arua to head back to the States (much grace will be needed for this event!). We are praying she will be able to come back in 2019 as a full time team member of RAU.
- September 13-October 1st: Rocky Point Baptist Church team will be here for Module 2 of Reaching and Teaching program for the leaders from the Republic of Sudan. Other ministry events are being planned as well.
- Continued discipleship training in the Metu Mountain church plants and on going evangelism in Yumbe District and Metu Mountains.
We long for the support of your prayers and we are grateful for the support of your financial giving that keeps us moving ahead.
Love and blessings,
Carol (and Jacob)
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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