Contentment Without Indifference
By Carol Lee
“I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by partnering with me in my hardship.”
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. (Psalm 37:3)
“Trusting the Lord — casting, not carrying, our anxieties — frees us to dwell contentedly, whatever our situation (Philippians 4:11–13), and faithfully “do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). When we take our eyes off what we’re waiting for and look around, we’ll discover more opportunities to do good — right now, where we are — than we could possibly do!”
It has now been 110 days of quarantine and lockdown for us since arriving in Moyo on March 9, 2020. Initially, it was a matter of a self-imposed, 14-day quarantine to ensure we were not endangering our community (14 days became 28 just to quell the rumors and suspicions within the community which was rightfully protective of its safety). Then, government mandated restrictions began and have continued up to now with little hope that the restrictions will be lifted any time soon. Moyo (our district) and several other border districts are enduring stricter lockdown measures in an attempt to prevent COVID-19 infected people from coming across the borders into Uganda. This means that vehicles (both private and public) are not allowed to move on the roads yet in Moyo District as well as several other border districts. Only with special permission from the President’s representative (the RDC) can a person use his private vehicle. A nightly curfew of 7 PM remains nation wide in addition to other restrictions. Cargo vehicles are, thankfully, allowed or otherwise food and other items would be scarce.
What to do? We are compelled by a scripturally informed conscience to live in a law-abiding way in our host country, Uganda. In addition, we want to convey care to the surrounding community who might yet perceive outsiders as threats. So, while using this time of seclusion for reflection, prayer, study, marriage-building, corresponding and planning, we are trying not only to be content in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, but also NOT to be indifferent to the needs around us or to the plans ahead.
Since our return to RAU, we and our crew of co-workers have been busy planting, weeding, watering and harvesting and many other activities. We are blessed to have a quality group of men and women working with us whom we are proud to also call friends.
Some of our RAU Co-Workers
The mangoes from our 640 grafted mango trees produced the best they have ever done this year. In spite of lockdown measures we were able to sell many (sadly not all) of them at a greatly discounted price to a customers who would come and get truck loads of them to take to other towns. Local vendors and neighbors also participated. The short video below the pictures helps explain some of the “why’s” of growing mangoes here at RAU.
At RAU’s Front Gate
In addition, there have been smaller vendors who have come for bananas and banana suckers, tomatoes, green peppers, rice and groundnuts (peanuts). Though rainy season has not produced as much rain as anticipated, we received enough to do some real good in Moyo district. However, other West Nile districts have not been as blessed and subsequently have suffered in producing food crops. This has made many vulnerable to hunger.
Various short videos on agricultural work (as well as others) may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRmHafoBSemE7jS8kEHCG6Q/videos
Recently, we had a providential opportunity to buy, from Emma’s Apiviva Agrotechno Consult and Supplies Limited Store, 5,600 KG’s/12,345 pounds of “First Class” maize flour (a staple food item in our area) which came from Kampala packed in 5 KG bags. Our goal was to help our host tribal communities of Ma’di and Aringa who either live in remote areas or are challenged in their ability to access food. This meant an additional cost of transporting the maize flour to remote village churches as well as to Obongi and Yumbe. Emma did an excellent job organizing transport vehicles to move the maize flour to the various locations; 70% went into the Metu Mountains, 15% to Obongi and 15% to Yumbe.
Trusted pastors in the Metu Mountains, Obongi and Yumbe with whom RAU has worked for years took on the responsibility of distributing the flour to the more remote Metu Mountain churches (Aya, Alugodu, Ijujo, Cinyi, Lea, Oku, Arapi, Gbari, Oku, Duku and Oyo) as well as in Obongi and Yumbe District.
As you can imagine, the distribution of the 5,600 KG’s/12,345 pounds of “First Class” maize flour has communicated love to the people in these areas and they are praising God.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Our main focus was vulnerable church members/families in the remote areas of Metu Mountains who have little access to purchase staple food items. There are no means of travel except walking and these villages are in difficult terrain and far from markets. Our hearts are also with Pastor Godfrey of Obongi Town Church and with Charles of Pilgrim Church Yumbe. Charles has close contacts with other churches in Yumbe District as well as Sheikhs and Imams who have become friends. We are so grateful to the Lord for His gracious provision through the people to whom He gave a burden of love to provide this necessity.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.”
Since the last newsletter there have been some changes: Emma, who had been employed at RAU for these last 5 years, decided to open a second Agro input/consulting store in Adjumani along with his Moyo store. This was going to involve a lot of time and travel on his part and he chose to pursue being a businessman full-time. He will continue to consult RAU in our Agricultural endeavors. Thankfully, he has done 2 Timothy 2:2 very well and has trained our RAU men to continue the agricultural activities including box gardens, crops and fruit trees for future retreat members and other visitors from surrounding communities. We thank Emma for the service he rendered to RAU and to the community and we pray for his continued success in inspiring the Ma’di people (and others) to take up farming as a business.
Emma’s Apiviva Agrotechno Consult and Supplies Limited Stores: Moyo and Adjumani
Another change has been our bringing onto the RAU team, Onette Zorah, who now has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Children’s Ministry. Our plan is for him to assist/train pastors who come for retreats in establishing a Sunday school program in their churches. Zorah had worked with us previously but was able to further his education and will use his training to build up local churches/church plants with which we have connections.
If COVID-19 conditions are favorable and restrictions within the country and especially here in Moyo are lifted, we hope to have a large medical team from Mbale with Pearl Haven/E-5 Ministries here in September to do a Medical/evangelism outreach in the Metu Mountains as they did last year. It was a huge success with 700+ people from the remote areas of the Metu Mountains being served and blessed by the medical team. Many of the clients that the medical team saw trusted in Christ for salvation during the outreach as well. Please pray that circumstances will permit this ministry event to happen. The folks in those remote villages are in dire need and the group which came was a great encouragement to them. May it be so, Lord willing, again this coming September.
Some pictures from Metu Mountain Medical Outreach September 2019
This video was done during the Medical Outreach.
The good news is that since the video above was made, because of generous donations of God’s people, the roof is now on and windows/doors are in place at the Aya Baptist Church and the borehole has been done in Fodia, the village RAU is located in. It is producing much needed clean water for our Fodia neighbors. Also, the permanent church structure at Arapi/Gbari Community Church is at beam level. With $12,000 (+/-) the roof could be put on and doors and windows could be set in. (Remote area construction costs are bit higher than normal.) The goal is the same for the Arapi/Gbari Community Church as Aya: in addition to being a center for the church to gather, it will be a training center for that geographical section of the Metu Mountains. The Aya bore hole which was in the video was repaired with additional funds from RAU but, sadly, the spot where the pipes were caved in and another separate bore is needed close to the old one. It was the only source of clean and convenient water for Aya.
Below: Arapi/Gbari Community Church, Aya Baptist Church, and broken down borehole (well) in Aya.
While RAU’s 2 Timothy 2:2 & open air market evangelism ministry activities have come to a halt for now and visiting teams have had to cancel for 2020, Jacob is using this “down time” to do a few renovation projects which will make the guest rooms in the big house a little larger (for more beds) and more comfortable for when teams are, once again, able to come. These projects are also valuable in that they provide income opportunities for our workers during an economically difficult time.
Jacob and I are enjoying being in our new home–having a space which is uniquely ours to enjoy and invite others into. It helps us to be “at home” here. As you can see in the photos, we were able to put up as a display some of the Ma’di handcrafted and culturally significant tools. Some items wee given to us and then John, our day watchman, made the others. Obviously, they are not all to scale or they would be much bigger, but they are precious reminders of the Ma’di people we love and are called to serve. (Just to clarify, the person in the painting is not Ma’di but Masai, but we loved the painting so much!)
Our living room wall
One of Jacob’s brilliant ideas was to move the library into our home. The carpenters who have done a wonderful job for us in the past, came from Kampala and moved the shelves to various places in our home. With Zorah’s great help in packing and then helping (along with some of our strongest young men) to carry them, the large volume of books were stacked in our home. Over the next 4 days, Jacob and I unpacked and shelved the books–an endeavor which left both of us hurting–just a little!! Having them close at hand will be a help to Jacob as he continues to study and grow and prepare. It also frees up the old library to be a large dining and living area for visiting teams.
Jacob and I have attempted to make the most of these unusual circumstances–to be content but not indifferent— and are so blessed to have been strengthened in our marriage and personally. Though we have been enriched in many ways, we hope it is not complaining to say that we are dearly missing all those we would have had the joy of being in ministry with and, of course, our family and friends back home. We give thanks to the Lord in prayer for you all and we are praying for the many needs that are around us here:
- Many Ugandans are feeling the economic crunch and experiencing hunger and need. Day laborers are forced into desperate measures in order to find food to feed their families.
- Reports are that South Sudan’s COVID-19 infection rates are rising rapidly. This, of course, is bad news for a country ravaged by war and desperate need. South Sudanese within their country and within the refugee camps are suffering from sickness and scarce provisions. We are just a mile off the South Sudan border. The Ugandan police/army have increased security along the Ugandan/South Sudan border as it is very porous. This also means that the virus has a greater chance of spreading in our area. This is one of latest reports from South Sudan: “Virus outbreak could spin ‘out of control’ in South Sudan”
- We have been hearing reports from our co-workers that community members in our area are beginning to worry about their supply of food. So many have depended on daily labor to provide for their families.
- Pray that restrictions would be lifted enough for Jacob to travel to remote villages to resume small group discipleship/evangelism and for RAU to open its gates to farmers and visitors who could be inspired by the demo farm. If restrictions can be loosened enough to allow for retreats here at RAU, though we may not be able to receive teams from the USA in the foreseeable future, Jacob and other Ugandans/Sudanese brothers could resume leadership trainings on campus.
Pray for training to resume in the Hall of Tyrannus
- Pray that the circumstances of COVID-19 would not be an opportunity for apathy to grow, but for preparations for future ventures to be made. The Apostle Peter exhorts us to “always be prepared” which means we must always be preparing. God has not quit working and His plans are not derailed. We must only open our eyes to see what He is doing and then jump on board!
“Waiting forces us to answer the question, “Where is your chief delight?” If our chief delight is in whatever we see at the end of our wait, then this wilderness will begin to feel like a death trap. But if our chief delight is in God himself, then we will find that he knows how to make rivers flow in the desert. And we will learn how to wait well.”
Carol (Jacob) Lee
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!
Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!