Some Certain Pilgrims’ Progress
By Carol Lee
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.“
~~~Proverbs 16: 9~~~
“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
It has been too long since I have read John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” in its entirety, but what I remember about its description of our lives as an all-terrain journey is spot on! There are “conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5 NIV) and, yet, in Christ we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37)! The struggle with sin will not end this side of our destination, but Paul reminds us in Romans 8 that we are no longer under condemnation and are released from the power of sin. We have Christ as our best example who, though God in the flesh, learned obedience through suffering (Hebrew 5:8). Yet, Jesus also promised us His peace that surpasses understanding and joy and fullness and power in the Holy Spirit. Paul described himself and his companions as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). That is a pilgrim’s true journey and each of us are pilgrims in progress.
But, I am so glad that a SOVEREIGN and LOVING God is the one superintending this journey towards dependence and growth with eternal foresight and wisdom and with the power to make something beautiful even out of our messes. There are towering mountain top experiences we could not have imagined and daunting chasms and valleys I DEFINITELY would not have designed into our adventure. Jacob’s and my journey is not more treacherous or dramatic than others’ by any stretch of the imagination (in fact, we have suffered little compared to many), nor more victorious or glorious for sure, (many have done greater exploits for the Lord)! However, ours is the story we know most deeply and personally and so we have the greatest vested interest in our being certain of God’s love and sovereign plan and in making progress on our way!
Just like Christian, the main character of Pilgrim’s Progress, we have carried burdens and turned them loose at the cross, encountered pitfalls of discouragement but found comforting words written and offered to us like a life-line for which we have reached out fiercely and held on to tenaciously. We have faced fiery darts of trials and temptations and found trusty weapons to overcome. Along the way we have encountered companionship and friendship in the “Faithful” and “Hopeful” who are on the same path. As Christian fixed his eye on “that light” in the distance, we have fixed ours on Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 2:17-18
As you read the chronicles of progress over the last month and a half of these certain pilgrims, Jacob and Carol, I hope you will join us on this adventurous journey and that you will see and feel your part in this unfolding present-day pilgrims’ progress. We apologize for taking too long in recording it.
Starting back in the beginning of September we welcomed Jacob’s dear friend, Don Fredricks, who comes to Uganda often to offer training in Aquaponics. Jacob met him on one of his trips to Pakistan with SWI. Thankfully, Don planned a detour to come and see us here at RAU! He also brought his grandson, John Alcantara, to experience Uganda and to assist him in his trainings. Emma was able to attend last year’s training as well as this year’s held in Arua. Don and his wife, LeeAnn, are founders of a ministry, “Communities of Hope” in California where they live.
At the tail end of their visit we received several more visitors. Two (North) Sudanese leaders and brothers in Christ stopped in to get some Bibles and other literature to take with them to the Republic of Sudan for ministry. This happens fairly frequently now as our connections with Sudanese (north) grow, especially through our friendship with Joshua Abraham, a faithful man from Darfur whose story of coming to faith in Christ from a Muslim background is always faith-affirming and empowering. Just recently, Joshua brought another gentleman, Absalah, from Sudan who has been doing church planting in the Nuba Mountain region. It was Jacob’s greatest pleasure to load him up with Bibles and literature, knowing that all of these resources will reach people with few resources doing Kingdom work (discipling and planting churches) in places where few people (if any) have heard and believed the message of redemption in Christ.
Just as our visitors from Sudan were about to leave, Greg Lewis, with “Go and Tell Ministries” and his friends, Larry Nail, Dembe Arafat and Patrick Ngundo arrived. Jacob took Greg and his team to some of his favorite places in the Metu Mountains for ministry and for the opportunity of seeing what RAU has been up to. They came with a heart to love and serve the people of this area.
On September 15th, we had the privilege of receiving our dear family in Christ from Rocky Point Baptist Church who came for two whole weeks of ministry! For the first time ever, we received a team from Eagle Air Uganda IN MOYO!!! That was especially a blessing for the weary ones who had already been traveling for two solid days. It was a blessing for us because it meant more time with the team and flying in directly allowed them a day to get settled and acclimate to a new place and time zone.
Saturday and Sunday were days of preparation for the upcoming retreat, both physically (readying of resource bags and registration tasks) and spiritually (prepping for the upcoming FULL week of teaching for the men). The attendees (second track of leaders) on their way were Sudanese refugees (from Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile North Sudan and a few from the northern part of South Sudan) who had to flee and take refuge twice over in two different countries. They were coming to receive teaching from Module 2 of the Reaching and Teaching curriculum, “Hearts, Heads and Hands.” On Sunday we headed to Pastor Henry’s church next door where we received a warm welcome and enjoyed the joyful gathering of God’s people to worship in song, prayer and the preaching of the word.
Monday, the first day of the our 29th retreat, was, as always, the most chaotic as final preparations were made and we waited for attendees to arrive and get them registered and settled in their Tukalus. The value in having 2 ladies, Toni Tozzi-Wehnert and Alisa LaRue, to help with all the details cannot be overemphasized – not to mention, their awesome company made the mundane and stressful things a joy! It was a “normal” Monday Registration as attendees trickled in from the various refugee settlements around Uganda. Once everyone was settled in and had cleaned up and eaten lunch, the teaching sessions began and from there on out, the engines of the retreat machine were whirring steadily until the final day – Friday!
The Rocky Point men (Edward Heinze, Jeff Dyke, Scott Manley and Sterling Cooper) did a wonderful job of teaching and encouraging and fleshing out the truth. Module 2 covered an overview of the New Testament, the Pastor’s character, and prayer, joy and thinking all things honorable. It has been wonderful to have an already developed curriculum which covers all the important aspects of Pastoral care with regard to “head” (sound doctrine), “heart” (character issues) and “hand” (administrative responsibilities).
In the breaks between sessions or before supper, many of the young men would rally for a football (soccer) match or hang out with one another and members of the teaching team. What I loved so much was the pastoral care that the attendees received from the men on the team: excellent teaching + excellent one-on-one care = 2 Timothy 2:2.
Included, very intentionally, in the retreat was an afternoon set aside for agricultural training by Emma who also has 9 Modules mapped out so that by the end of the Modules of Reaching and Teaching they will also have received training on many aspects of “Farming as a Business”, including vision casting, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and business planning. In one of the photos below, you can see Salah Hamed, one of the attendees, who did his homework from the first module and is showing off his rice field!
When the last vehicle carried off our friends back to their homes after the retreat, it was a sigh of relief and satisfaction in having finished another wonderful training. Thankfully, we had the rest of Friday and Saturday to recuperate and prepare for “the next thing” which was our outreach to Kulikulinga Trading Center in Yumbe District on Sunday afternoon and night.
We left for Yumbe late morning on Sunday and then waited at a guesthouse there (sipping soda and relaxing) until the youth group from St. Paul’s Pilgrim Church (where Onduga Charles is one of the leaders) had gathered all their equipment and packed 15 young people into one tiny pick-up truck. Then it was off via bumpy dirt roads to Kulikulinga. There was nothing easy about setting up such an outreach–logistics are always a challenge. Some of the youth immediately began assembling the sound equipment while the rest of us teamed up with other youth to canvas the neighborhoods handing out tracts and inviting folks to the open air preaching and the “Jesus Film“. The youth team had already started singing worship songs and dancing to gather the crowd. Then, Jeff Dyke (who was determined to give it his all though sick with “a bug”) preached a message on how we can receive a clean heart. Edward took his turn next and preached another clear Gospel message. Charles did the interpreting (and you would not believe the fire in this man if you have only talked with him in person — the man can preach!). Finally, Pastor Henry and Mindra assembled the huge movie screen and set it in place atop the Land Cruiser and the Jesus Film was shown to a large gathered crowd. It was a long day and we did not arrive back to RAU until about 1 a.m. Monday morning.
Thank goodness for the “day off” on Monday. We needed it for rest and to prepare for yet another retreat (Number 30), this time for leaders from the Metu Mountains, Moyo and Obongi, who arrived the next day, Tuesday. This retreat was specifically aimed at training the leaders in pastoral care (using the Pastoral epistles as a foundation) and addressing the many issues that arise in a church setting.
In the middle of the week, Wednesday, Alisa, Toni and I had arranged with Pastor Henry’s church next door, a women’s one-day seminar, using the framework of “Ten Disciplines of a Godly Woman” (Barbara Hughes), but adding our own flavor and work to it. NONE of us considered ourselves teachers and we all felt out of our element, but we were received so heartily and as if what we offered was delicious food for hungry souls. We all went away encouraged, built up and strengthened. It was a joy to love on these women who pulled away from busy home duties and walked to the church to receive the teaching. We could not have done anything effectively without the excellent interpreting skills of Flavia. The seminar left us all with the distinct knowledge that such times of teaching need to happen more often.
I believe all of us felt spent in a very satisfying way by the end of Thursday! There was only one more day left in which to enjoy new experiences in ministry. Jacob had planned for the team to head up to Pristine (Aya, Ijujo, Cinyi and Oku/Lea). Unfortunately, the trip could not be completed. On the way back from Yumbe on Sunday Jacob had noticed that the Land Cruiser was having trouble with what he thought was the fuel pump or filter. He had some work done on it and thought it was fixed, BUT…part way to Aya Jacob realized that the problem was not taken care of and they had to turn around and abandon the plans. Disappointment all the way around!!! The team had so been looking forward to experiencing Metu mountain ministry. Jacob was able to take the vehicle to the garage and the problem was identified and solved, though not in time to make the adventure happen.
Friday became a day for relaxing and packing and enjoying one another’s company before departure on Saturday. We enjoyed one more “Movie Night” with popcorn and then it was back to the Moyo airfield (literally a field with a small cleared landing strip) Saturday morning. With sad goodbyes but happy memories we saw them off into the clouds.
Just a few days later we welcomed Paul Ortega and his team of 7 with Pearl Haven Ministries. Paul Ortega, Brooke (his daughter), Kintu Deo, Emma Edu, John Wilson, Isaac Hakim, James Musasizi and Francis Ssenyondo drove from Mbale, where Pearl Haven Ministries is based. Jacob was able to take them on two separate days to the Metu Mountains for ministry in the church plants there. Through Pearl Haven Ministries nine churches were blessed with clothing that church members from Pearl Haven Church in Mbale had collected and donated in addition to much needed medicines. It was a joy to interact and to hear of their zeal for discipleship and evangelism in their home places. It was also a joy to be able to make an investment in them personally through interactions and with Bibles and several books for their libraries. We are grateful for the desire the team had for ensuring that everyone, even those in our surrounding neighborhoods, had the opportunity to hear of Christ’s redeeming love.
On October 11, we were blessed to meet two men who had traveled all the way from California. Timothy Barley, a pastor at Valley Bible Church in Pleasanton, and Daniel Olvera, an exuberant young man being mentored by Timothy, were a delight to have. Their purpose in visiting was to “come and see” if their church and our ministry could be a good partnering fit. They were such an encouragement to us and the family of God to whom they ministered and, I think I can safely say that, they were encouraged by what they saw and experienced. We look forward to seeing how the Lord further connects our lives together with theirs and others from Valley Bible Church.
What may look like a lull in activity now for the next week and a half is not really that! Jacob is continuing to oversee the building of the Mission House — and it’s coming along so well. As I write, the roof is nearing completion, door frames will be put in soon and plastering will start. I have been busy doing this–writing a newsletter and helping Jacob in all his activities. We often entertain visitors who come to see the Demo Plot or have some interest in Agriculture.
One particular visit from a young Agricultural Scientist, Daniel Acema, was encouraging and helpful to our Ag program. Apiku Emmanuel had gone to him in Arua to get the pheromone traps for the devastating fruit fly which Daniel, through his own research had developed and produced. Through that meeting a plan was also put in place for Daniel to come to RAU to teach the men who work on our demo plot about controlling the fruit fly population and trimming the mango trees to maximize production and reduce pests and diseases. Emma had already instructed them in these issues; however, it was a great refresher course and an opportunity for hands-on learning and it helped to underscore the instruction they had previously received.
Our Agricultural program (the demo plot and the weekly 2-hour call-in Ag radio talk show) continues to be a great inspiration, encouragement and challenge to the surrounding communities. Emma stays abreast of all the latest research, seeds and products to ensure that what appears on our Demo plot is cutting edge. Emma and Jacob are often seen walking through the fields and discussing problems, solutions and plans. The feedback that Emma gets from leaders within local Livelihood organizations and personal stories from small-business farmers affirms that we are heading in the right direction in the Agriculture ministry. Our goal is to inspire church leaders to improve their capacity to provide for their families and futures. In the meanwhile, that capacity building has been extended to the community at large. We are grateful for this opportunity!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2: 10
“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 2: 18-19
On Sunday, Jacob, Mindra and Pastor Henry (who have become very adept at assembling and disassembling the movie screen for the Jesus Film) and Charles (and the youth of Pilgrim Church in Yumbe) teamed up to return to Ambelechu for sharing the message of Christ with the community members through one-on-one, preaching and the Jesus Film. Jacob went there 2 months ago and the Muslim leaders and other community members asked them to come back. Jacob’s expectations were exceeded. People were ready and eager to hear. A large group gathered (with the drawing power of the choir) ready to hear the preaching from the top of the Land Cruiser. Jacob’s text was Mark 2:1-12. Charles estimated that there were approximately 4,000 people who gathered to watch the Jesus Film. Please pray that the Gospel which is the power of God for salvation would do its mighty work in the hearts of all who heard and that the whole district would enjoy the aroma of Christ.
Our Mission House is making great progress through our contractor, Amamaru Joachim, a local bi-vocational pastor. He is proving to do great work and the house is looking really beautiful. Jacob and I keep talking about and imagining those families whom the Lord will call to work alongside us!!
You have read of the many activities that have taken us over all kinds of terrain, both physical and spiritual. You have met in these chronicles the “Hopeful” and “Faithful” who have journeyed with us. And you, our friends who hold the rope for us, are the hopeful and faithful who have accompanied us as well. We pray you have seen your part and felt the value of your role in some certain Pilgrims’ progress!
Here is what is coming up and what really needs your intercessory prayer:
- October 27 – November 8: Dr. Stephen McConnell and Bret Williams (from Currey Creek Church in Boerne, Texas and Brenda Vordenbaum (from Lifegate and mother-in-law of Stephen) come for ministry (couples’ retreat with leaders from the Metu Mountains and discipling and evangelistic outreaches in Metu Mountains, Yumbe and Obongi).
- November 25 – December 2: First Presbyterian Church Youth tentatively set to come for evangelism, discipleship and mercy ministries in the Moyo area.
- We have identified 5 remote areas in the Metu Mountains where there is clean water underground (testing has been done) and where 5 bore holes (wells) could be put in. The only lack is the funding for them. The cost for each bore hole is $8,000 due to the remoteness and difficulty of the terrain for the large truck and equipment. Please consider contributing to this venture. The exhilarating joy expressed by those whose struggle for accessible, clean water is infinity times greater than the depth any machine has to go to bring the water up.
- Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Republic of Sudan who are experiencing immediate threats and persecutions for their faith in Christ. We received word from our friend, Joshua Abraham, that there were 13 Christian leaders who had disappeared without a trace. These are the men to whom we have been channeling Bibles and other Christian literature, taken there by the very men we have been training here at RAU through the “Reaching and Teaching” program. You can read more about this persecution in the link. Jacob just received word today (Oct. 22) that 12 of the 13 men were released. The whereabouts and condition of the 13th man are still not known. Please continue to pray for him and for this whole situation.
- Mid December: Jacob and I return, by God’s grace, to the States where our first stop will be Chattanooga, Tennessee to celebrate the wedding of our son, Josiah, to Unyae Smith! We are exuberantly excited!
Thank you for all your prayers and support! We pray you continue in both!
Carol (Jacob) Lee
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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!—————-I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!Jacob Lee
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