Seeing Is Knowing And Knowing is Changing And Changing is Loving
By Carol Lee
“The more you get set into your own world, the smaller your world becomes.”
“There is a kind of magic-ness about going far away and then coming back all changed.”
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.“
1 John 3:2-3
Jacob and I were once given this illustration (which I have put into my own words) of how living in another culture changes you: “Imagine that you (an American, let us say) are culturally the color BLUE. And imagine that the country to which you have moved is culturally YELLOW. The “yellow” of the country to which you have moved begins to rub off on you and it mixes with the “blue” that you are. Now, instead of being completely blue you are beginning to look a little “green” because, as you know, in the kingdom of art, blue + yellow = green. When you return to your home country, you are no longer blue (you aren’t like everyone else) and, in the country from which you just traveled, you don’t blend in either because you are not yellow but green. You will never be fully blue again nor can you ever be fully yellow.” This illustration describes Jacob’s and my experience so well as our “norm” has been scrambled by our cultural transplantation; its effect has been to make us somehow cultural “vagabonds” so we no longer comfortably “fit” in either place, nor do we think or see some issues the same way we used to.
Traveling widely is not an automatic ticket to a broadened perspective and not traveling doesn’t exclude a person from treasuring the wider world — the needful for both is appreciation of a “foreign” measure or perception of beauty, values and practices. However, experiencing (with all one’s senses) the novelties beyond home borders has an impact which cannot be compared with that which is only read about, seen via media or imagined. There is a Ugandan proverb (found similarly in other African countries) which says, “He who believes his mother to be the best cook has never traveled beyond his own village.” How impoverished we are if we have never tasted the goodness of other cultures and the richness of another’s community whether at home or abroad!!
Diversity is spice and richness! The world (along with the many Tribes and Nations and Peoples and Tongues) is vast with kaleidoscopic beauty and rich heritage. Every culture bears the birth mark of our Creator and Father and reveals the creative variety derived from His very being. However, self-centeredness has also marred every heart and culture, so each heart and every culture is in need of re-imprinting. Ultimately, God is the Designer and Definer: we are His design: vastly diverse and valuable according to His definition. Lack of appreciation for cultural diversity diminishes us. Appreciation of differences enriches us for in the collective of them we see the multi-faceted immensity of God.
More consequential than our own culturally-confined preoccupation is the greater impoverishment stemming from spiritual myopia–worldly centrism. A pre-judging, narrow preference for our own culture is merely a symptom of our rebellion toward the One who envisioned and orchestrated ethnic diversity and an eternity filled with worshipers from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, an eternity full of the glory and beauty of the Creator Himself of which this world is only an inkling. We simply cannot see what we are missing out on, not only by our cultural exclusivity but, especially, in dismissing the preeminent, eternal, glorious reality of God!
SEEING His glory and grandeur, intelligence and creativity, purity and goodness and His justice and mercy makes us mindful of our smallness and our significance in His creative work. KNOWING the Lord by all the means through which He has revealed Himself and understanding His design enables us to embrace His priorities and worship Him above our (by contrast) petty lives, earthly perspectives and treasures. First John 3:2-3 sheds light on the fact that seeing will result in full knowledge and fullness of knowledge will produce a change. The richness of our future hope will inspire cooperation in the process of being changed and CHANGING. Restorative change will generate LOVING openness because we have been made new and, by new nature, we will be re-imprinted to display to the world the unifying God of diversity who breaks down dividing walls through the reconciling work of Christ, the perfect image of the invisible God. We will want to invite the world to experience the same redeeming love. To the degree that we, the Body of Christ, do not declare this with our lives is the degree to which we have lost sight of or never had sight of the fullness of God.
Recently, we welcomed our last team to RAU for a special retreat and ministry within various communities. Stephen McConnell, and Bret Williams (from Currey Creek Church in Boerne, Texas) and Brenda Vordenbaum (from Lifegate, our home church) teamed up in Texas to make the arduous journey here. A sure sign of love — that folks would travel 6 days (3 here and 3 back) to engage in Jesus-inspired, loving service in the remote West Nile region of Uganda. The resources that they brought will have impact beyond their time here. Stephen had been before, but it was new for Bret and Brenda and their first impressions evoked emotions and wonderment. The long drive from Arua to Moyo made room for them to see, begin to be changed and grow in love for new cultures and peoples.
“Compassion does not just happen. Pity does, but compassion is not pity. It’s not a feeling. Compassion is a viewpoint, a way of life, a perspective, a habit that becomes a discipline – and more than anything else, compassion is a choice we make that love is more important than comfort or convenience.“
Glennon Doyle Melton
The team arrived Saturday. On Sunday, we headed to Aya Baptist Church to worship together with the church there. Each of the team shared a little, and Bret Williams preached the word. [It’s a joyful inspiration — being crowded into the Aya church with barely an inch to move and, yet, there are numerous indigenous instruments and much jubilating in song and motion!] Afterward, we were treated to a wonderful meal through the hospitality of Pastor Tobious and his wife, Beatrice. This first event in Aya gave the team a foretaste of the dear people they had come a long way to see and know and love and of the bumping and jostling they were to experience in coming days and!!!
Monday was a day of preparation for the upcoming retreat. [I am extremely grateful for the wonderful crew the Lord has blessed us with in the men and women who work with us every day here at RAU. Without their hard work it would be exhausting to clean all the buildings and make up 36 beds. With their hard work, RAU has become “an oasis in a desert“.] Bret, Brenda and Stephen were fine tuning their plan for presenting the overarching story of the Bible through storybook form and excellent, in-depth teaching. Jacob was administrating the many activities involved in bringing groups to RAU for training as well as what happens here at RAU everyday, including construction and Ag projects. We were “ramping up” for the big event — a retreat for 36 people (13 couples and some who came without their spouses due to circumstances beyond their control).
This retreat was unique in that it was the first one for “couples” with husband and wife (Metu Mountain Pastors/church leaders and wives) learning side by side. Brenda had brought many copies of “The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name” along with protective covers (to emphasize care for the resource). Her heart was to teach parents (and specifically, mothers) God’s view of children, how we teach our children (by example, demonstration, direct instruction, questioning, singing and stories), the role of reading (and story-telling) and that the Bible is God’s true story of Redemption. Bret and Stephen had the weighty task of diving more deeply into the main themes (Biblical Theology) of the Bible. Altogether, they came up with the brilliant idea of having Brenda read (exactly how she would have read to her kids and grandkids — with great animation) a story from the Story Book Bible which corresponded to Bret’s and Stephen’s more in-depth teaching of God’s redemptive plan throughout history. This was an awesome way to communicate not only the important details of the message but also the joy of sharing the message with their children in an inspiring and interactive way.
It was entertaining to observe the impact of the teaching, to see husbands and wives following along together in the story book, to hear the important truths being underscored repeatedly and to know that the couples were hearing and receiving and being strengthened in the same information together. Part of the retreat time was given to Emma to teach about “Farming as a Business” which has been timely in equipping the leaders in the Metu Mountains and other regions.
Having a “couples” retreat presented us with some unique challenges, though. When women are involved, typically they are nursing babies. So, we had to arrange for babysitters from their villages whom the mothers would trust to watch their children and we provided diapers and wipes (a rare convenience for mothers in the Metu Mountains); it was a first for me to have to buy diapers for a retreat! We had a total of 8 children. An interesting aspect of Registration and Orientation was demonstrating modern plumbing and the use of diapers, wipes and proper disposal. What we, in the West, consider second nature and elementary, is a mystery and a novelty for those who have never had the exposure, so care was taken to make the women feel at home.
The retreat was a unique experience for a few of the men who had never been but, surely, for all of the women who rarely have an opportunity to get away from the demands of home. We realized it was not easy for many of them to organize the family members left behind so they, as couples, could get away. This was surely a hardship but, hopefully, also a refreshment. Our prayer is that what has been “sown in tears” will be “reaped in joy“!!
Not to give the team too much free time, Jacob took them to Gbari, Arapi, Duku and Oyo on Saturday after the conclusion of the retreat! (I was laid low with a spasming back and had to stay behind.) There were some joyful reunions as some of the people who attended the retreat were from these villages. Those that gathered were blessed by Bret, Stephen and Brenda’s teaching and storytelling once again. Tobious recently told us that children all around the Metu villages can be seen acting out Bible stories!!
Sunday was a completely new experience for the team: Yumbe District for Open Air, one-on-one outreach and the “Jesus Film” showing. The leaders (both Christian and Muslim) from Ambelecu (“c” is pronounced “ch“) had requested Jacob and the St. Paul’s Pilgrim Church Youth group to return for a second time — an encouraging sign and a request Jacob was happy to fulfill! Such a trip never allows their return before midnight, so Monday was planned as a day of recuperation for the team.
Tuesday was the final day for a “White Knuckles Mission Adventure” with Jacob before Brenda, Stephen and Bret returned to the USA. It was “the big one” — Ijujo, Cinyi and Oku — one of those “for the joy set before Him He endured the cross” kind of trips. The team experienced firsthand that reports of the grueling nature of this particular adventure were not at all exaggerated! Anyone who has been there will agree that you had better do some physical training before attempting the climb back up from Oku/Lea!! However, I think everyone who has been there also agrees that the joy is worth any cross to meet with the dear people who live so remotely.
The end of a team’s visit always comes around too quickly! Jacob and I are familiar with that feeling of excitement in heading back home to the States to be reunited with family. We are also too familiar with that sad feeling of waving goodbye to those heading back. On Wednesday, our dear friend, Eric, came to drive the team to Arua for the puddle jumper to Entebbe and then their flight to the USA. We were relieved to hear of their safe arrival back Stateside. Thank you, team, for our wonderful shared adventure!!
Before leaving Wednesday afternoon, though, Brenda was so kind to help me (as my back was still a little touch and go) prepare for our friends, the Perry’s, missionaries in South Sudan and then in Uganda but now heading back to the USA. Jeff and Elizabeth and their 8 children — and a dog! — needed a place to lay their heads while they cleaned the home they were leaving. It was a sweet time. We wish them well as they transition back to the USA where Dr. Perry will continue practicing medicine and Elizabeth will keep on doing her wonderful work of home schooling their children. They leave a Christ-honoring testimony of loving service, friendship and community involvement and an example for me of acculturating in a way that honors the people with whom they lived.
Watching friends come and go has inspired Jacob and me continue to work towards and pray for others joining us in this journey. Toward that end, Jacob has been taking advantage of a cleared ministry calendar to focus on the Mission House building. He has the goal of a certain level of progress being made before our return to the USA for our son, Josiah’s wedding (to Unyae Smith) in mid-December. The house is taking shape and many projects will be done while we are away by our skilled and trustworthy Sub-Contractor, Pastor Joachim, who has proved himself well on this building. The Lord has blessed us with other skilled men to do their part: Electrician, Moses, Plumber, Joachim and Carpenters, Tikka and NKata. Pray with us for the right people to come at the right time and fill up this house and live in mission with us!
As the end of the year is closing in and ministry events are over, so is growing season on our Ag Demo Plot. We are expecting a great yield on the rice and the groundnuts (peanuts). The bananas and passion fruit continue to produce and we have enjoyed the benefit of it. We have hosted several teams interested in the Ag component of RAU: a group of TOT (Training Of Trainers) with ZOA and a smaller group of local farmers (Pamoju Farmers Association). Emma always looking for some new crop to introduce, both for demonstration as well as our consumption is going to be planting “air potatoes” which are actually from the yam family originating in Africa and Asia. They grow on a crawling vine and, in this region, are used for their antibiotic properties among other benefits. Another venture will be to plant “Brother’s heart” fruit trees which also have medicinal properties, particularly, anti-cancer. This fruit is known in other places as “Soursop” or “Guanabana“.
Jacob took a short, one-day trip to Obongi to encourage Pastor Godfrey, his wife, Lillian and the congregation, Obongi Town Church, he shepherds. They have been meeting under a ‘constantly falling apart’ shelter. Jacob wanted to spiritually strengthen them through the word of God but also look at what would need to be done to make a more sound structure in which to meet and which could be a witness among the Obongi town people. The church now has a metal roof instead of the tarp. The rains have been ravaging the roads which are used by many heavy vehicles making deliveries to the Refugee settlements along the road. Jacob and his team almost didn’t make it but, as you might suspect, the Land Cruiser is a beast under tough circumstances. So, Jacob’s goal was met!
As Jacob and I put things in order (a huge task in itself) to come back to the USA, one item on our list is to begin to transition our mindsets to another culture. A little more “yellow” has mixed into our “blue” and so we are looking even more “green“. Each trip, with all the blessings it brings, serves to remind us that we have changed; this world is not our home — we are sojourners. While we are in this world, though, we want to, with open arms and open hearts, embrace the people of each culture into which we are set and appreciate what God is doing in each place, each setting and each life. Sometimes we do it well — and sometimes we don’t. So, we need a lot of grace!
Please be praying for us in these last few weeks, especially Jacob. He, though weary, is working with great focus to ensure that the quality of the work reflects the beauty and glory of the Lord and which sets the bar of doing all things well. I am pushing on getting this newsletter done and then making a video to show when we travel in the USA. I need lots of grace for that — in the form of patience, know-how, vision and creativity!
Some other things to keep in prayer and some things for which to give praise:
- We have the money for 2 of the 5 boreholes (wells) we would like to put near remote villages in the Metu Mountains. Underground water has been found. Please consider this project in your year-end giving. Because of the remote and rugged terrain where the wells are being drilled the cost per well is $8000.
- Praise! Here is what Jacob wrote about a very special gift we received just a few days ago! “We have just packed 5,000 Bibles and 2,500 Creation-to-Christ ‘Story of Jesus Christ’ picture books in our container donated through Ben Cohen with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship! These Bibles, along with our 8,000+ ESV Global Study Bibles which came in 2013 and 2015 are being distributed. Our primary targets for the ESV Global Study Bibles have been for Ugandan, South Sudanese, and North Sudanese leaders as well as Imams and Sheikhs (the latter have also received ASB Arabic Study Bibles and Aringa NT’s). Now, with these NASBs, we can also get Bibles into the hands of church members who can read English. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! I love this quote of Ben Cohen: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is dynamite in the heart. It is the POWER of God to save!””
“The printed page is a missionary that can go anywhere and do so at minimum cost. It enters closed lands and reaches all strata of society. It does not grow weary. It needs no furlough. It lives longer than any missionary. It never gets ill. It penetrates through the mind to the heart and conscience. It has and is producing results everywhere. It has often lain dormant yet retained its life and bloomed years later.” SAMUEL ZWEMER
- Pray for Josiah and Unyae as they get close to their wedding day; pray that we all arrive safely and can celebrate it well!!! We are so blessed to welcome her into our family, though she has already been deeply welcomed into our hearts!! What a beautiful person she is!
- Pray for the harvesting rice and G-nuts (peanuts) and post-harvest handling activities. It’s a busy time and there are many different Ag programs happening.
Growing season has been fruitful — and so has the long ministry season filled with team visits, retreats, ministry in hard-to-reach places and just plain hard places. Jacob and I are, once again, thankful for every person who serves as a conduit of God’s grace in seeds sown, plants watered and fruit born. The encouragement of your participation comes in so many forms: prayers, encouraging words, financial support, wise counsel, resources and physical presence. We fervently desire the Gospel and gracious goodness of God to have long-term impact in the West Nile region of Uganda, South Sudan and (North) Sudan. Please continue to partner with us financially on a monthly or one-time-gift basis. There is so much yet to do! As 2018 comes to a close, please consider RAU’s ministry in your year-end giving. It will be an investment with eternal dividends. The message below expresses our hearts very well:
Jacob and I will be back in the States, not only for Josiah and Unyae’s wedding, but also to visit other family and friends and churches. First stop after the wedding will be in Stephenville with Anna and family as well as Rocky Point Baptist Church before we land in Seguin with Joshua and his family and our beloved home church, Lifegate. Seguin will be our launch point for all further travel. We will be visiting churches throughout our stay in the USA and we look forward to being reunited with many friends. One special stop will be a visit with Edward and Jennifer Heinze at Southern Seminary where we hope to be able to meet others at the Seminary who might be keenly interested in joining full time with RAU. While we are in Seguin, we will need the use of a vehicle. If anyone has one we could borrow it would be greatly appreciated.
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!—————-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
Tax deductible charitable donations may be made via PayPal or check. PayPal also has a way to make reoccurring monthly gifts. Reoccurring monthly gifts are very helpful to the ministry. To do so, please click on the PayPal link below. PayPal deducts a small amount from each gift as a processing fee. All gifts given through PayPal and by check are tax deductible as Reaching Africa’s Unreached has 501c3 tax exempt status as a charitable organization. If you wish to write a check you may write it out to R.A.U.and mail it to Lifegate Missions, 395 Lifegate Ln., Seguin Texas 78155.