The Welcome Hope of Spring

By Carol Lee

If we had not winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.

Anne Bradstreet

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

Martin Luther

Jacob and I are grateful for SEASONS, not only in the earthly sense, but also in the spiritual. Just as the dormancy of Winter gives way to the resurrection of fresh, green growth, spiritual winters create space and time for hidden growth and rest. This has been our experience.

After a long, hot, dusty, ashy Dry Season (our equivalent of winter just above the equator), the Rainy Season has come in earnest. It only takes one good rain to awaken to life new growth on plants and trees that have self-protectively hunkered down beneath the ground or have shed unsustainable foliage. The earth seems to sing its relief from drought through the songs of the birds and bugs and breaks out its Spring wardrobe of refreshing coolness.

The goodness of the rain also comes with the commission to make the most of its goodness through the hard work of plowing and planting while the rain does its work of watering. The fields of Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU) have been plowed and harrowed and planting has started–maize and beans–two staples in this region. The canopy of the mango trees has crowded out the intercropping of other plants which used to grow between the rows, so maize and beans will be sown mostly in the open fields of the properties that have not yet given birth to buildings and other projects.

The mango orchard is now producing in a great enough quantity to attract buyers for juicing plants. That has been Jacob’s plan and hope all along–that the sale of mangoes could contribute to the sustainability of the ministry. Zakeo, Ag Production Officer, took a gentleman, who had come all the way from Kampala, on tour of the orchard last week and who verbalized an interest in harvesting the whole mango crop for juicing. What an answer to prayer that would be!

The Box Gardens are coming to life with the rains and the dissipation of the withering heat of Dry/Hot Season. Vegetable production would have come to a complete halt if not for drip irrigation kits, courtesy of M.A.R.S. (Missionary Agricultural Resource Services), which allowed us to produce vegetables even during Dry season.

RAU provides a Demonstration Farm for various agricultural endeavors as a way to inspire and teach church leaders and community members about improved methods and “Farming as a Business“. Agricultural training will continue to be a part of our Leaders’ Retreats in hopes that leaders will be instructed, but mostly inspired (since most people have land and have already been farming to one degree or another). Jacob loves to make the point that a 5,000 shilling ($1.34) investment in a grafted mango seedling, if well nurtured and protected, can become a 500,000 shilling ($134) or more income-producing tree for years to come–and within 3-5 years. Every leader is encouraged to get several seedlings for each child they produce so that, in due season, they will have a steady income which helps to cover the cost of their children’s education. RAU’s Demo Farm gives an inspiring visual of what can be done, even on a small scale.

“…I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

Jesus, in John 10:10

Spiritually speaking, the “fields” of RAU’s ministry have been plowed and harrowed in the planning of upcoming ministry events–the fertile soil ready for the sowing of God’s word.

Spring” inaugurated a fresh season of ministry for RAU. We welcomed back Randy Southwell, with ABWE’s Good Soil Ministry, and his team members (Bobby Hile, Denny Nuwagaba, and Caleb Mitchell) to complete the Roots of Faith: Old Testament course which had previously been cut short by a medical emergency. The 6-day course was a “smash hit” and greatly appreciated by the 59 leaders who attended (49 of which were housed here on the RAU campus). Jacob and I were grateful, as always, for the friendship and fellowship we experienced as we got to know the team over several meals and in the venue of ministry. Roots of Faith: OT is just one of the courses we hope to take the same group through in this coming year.

In the midst of the training, a momentous opportunity presented itself to us. Jacob was invited as the Guest of Honor to speak at the launching of 9 more Old Testament Books in the Aringa Language (5 had been previously translated). In 2014, Jacob and I were blessed to attend the inauguration of the complete Aringa New Testament in Yumbe so to see the Old Testament pushing ahead is a joy. This rigorous task was accomplished through a partnership of Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), Here is Life (HIL) and Seed Company. For those of us who have not known life without a Bible in our language of birth and culture, this should impact us deeply. Just think how much of the fullness of meaning and knowledge we would miss if we only read the Bible in a second language and not our language of fluency! This point was well made during the Aringa celebration by a group of actors who dramatized the impact of “heart language” in a skit–with great humor! It was an immense honor for Jacob to participate, especially sharing in tandem with Onduga Charles, who translated Jacob’s message into Aringa.

Another blessing that the West tends to take for granted is the wealth of possession and opportunity not shared by a large portion of the world. We love to take our visiting teams to the Metu Mountains to show them the challenges and impactful context in which the leaders in this northwestern corner of Uganda live–remoteness, lack of resources and education (for many), sickness, physical hardship and living conditions and little to no opportunity to attend a Bible College or Seminary. For this reason, it is the joy and priority of RAU to walk alongside the leaders whom we serve, to encourage them spiritually and support them as much as we can in other ways as well.

Looking back over the last 10 years in which we have lived and worked here, a lot of planting and watering has been done and, by God’s grace, we are beginning to see the harvest of leaders being equipped with resources and a deep desire to be students of the word of God, ones who need not be ashamed, who are “correctly teaching the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and living by the truth as well as applying that truth to their contexts with wisdom.

In addition to providing on and off-site training, RAU’s vision to put rich theological books into leaders’ and pastors’ hands is an on-going priority and investment. I cannot count how many times Jacob has repeated this phrase to leaders attending the retreats: “Leaders are readers and readers are leaders.” On Wednesday, the 29th, the long-awaited shipment of resources from Christian Book arrived on campus by lorry. Some of the books were ones which Jacob ordered and then hitched a ride on the Christian Book container. Others came through Christian Book for a considerable discount. Many were added for free! RAU still has thousands of ESV TruTone Global Study Bibles which are being intentionally placed into leaders’ hands with the hope that they will teach other faithful people to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). Thanks, again, to all who have partnered with us to make our ESV Global Study Bible project a reality as well as the project to get theological books here!

Along with the shipment of resources from Christian Book, we finally received all of the remaining Dual-Language tracts (pictured above: Aringa/English; Arabic/English &Madi/English) from LMI (a total of 600,000 now are at RAU). Doug Salser and the LMI team have done a beautiful job on the printing! We have already handed out many in the Moyo and Yumbe area. Thank you Doug and LMI!

In April, we will receive another team from ABWE–members of their International Healthcare Ministries (IHM) and leaders within ABWE–to benefit from the collective wisdom gleaned from their decades of service in the Healthcare sector around the world. RAU’s desire is to minister to the whole person and to be vessels of mercy to people in remote regions–to care about people’s eternal needs without neglecting their earthly ones. Our hope is that after doing a survey of the region, talking with Medical Personnel in the area and having brainstorming sessions, the team will help RAU come up with a plan for medical outreach and the development of specialized services such as Dentistry and Ophthalmology which are limited for this remote region–and, perhaps, other ministries that are yet unimagined.

Please be prayerful on behalf of the ministry of Reaching Africa’s Unreached of which you are partners in various ways: for wisdom, energy and supply for each teaching retreat; for the word planted in good soil to produce much fruit in the lives of leaders who lead their congregations; for all the upcoming teams who are coming to participate in the ministry of RAU–1) the Medical Survey Team from ABWE (April); 2) Paul Ortega and his Medical Outreach team from the USA and Mbale, Uganda (May); 3) The “Helping Without Hurting in Africa” authors (Jonny Kabiswa Kyazze and Anthony Sytsma, May); 4) Ron Zeiner for Old Testament Survey (May); 5) Pray for the ongoing Agricultural efforts which RAU hopes will have a sustainable impact on the lives of people; 6) The possibility of and financial supply for working with a Dental group (Hope Smiles) in Jinja who want to come and do clinics in the Moyo area; 7) For the wise distribution of theological resources to key leaders. 8) Please be in prayer for Zorah who is planning to spend extended days at Aya Baptist to teach gathered Sunday school leaders and to equip them with curriculum. He and his wife, Josiane, are already working with Pastor Henry’s church in the Children’s ministry. 9) Pray for Pastor Tobious in the Metu Mountains, Onduga Charles in Yumbe and Pastor Godfrey in Obongi and Joshua Abraham in the refugee settlement camps as they labor in the Lord and persevere in hard places and hard situations. 10) Pray for Paul George as he prepares to return to RAU after an extended time away.

Join us in prayer for the Pryce’s and Langworthy’s who have committed themselves and their families to link arms with Jacob and me and the team here. It remains one of our greatest longings and prayers to have others to “come over and help us” and who can continue what has been started. They are in the fundraising season of missionary life and we ask that you pray for their success and participate in it if you can.

We cannot end this newsletter without mentioning our dear brother, Kevin Kolb, who recently died and now has the most longed-for experience of resurrection life in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has shed mortality for immortality. Kevin has many accomplishments to commend him, but the one most precious to us and appreciated by RAU and by Jacob and me, in particular, is the role he played as a Board member for RAU’s 501c3. Kevin’s skill set served us well on many occasions. His love for the Lord and for the mission of the Church, and his loving support of us was and always will be a blessing.

“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:7-9

What a privilege to be co-laborers with God in His field! We could not be more aware or grateful that we are not in this endeavor alone. “For it is God who is working in [us] both to will and to work according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) And, your prayerful, enthusiastic, loving financial partnership is an indispensable component of this work–the “fertilizer“–if we want to keep in line with the Spring Garden theme–that nourishes the growth of the ministry.

With hope for on-going fruitfulness and rejuvenation of the mission and harvest in the West Nile region of Uganda, and with gratefulness for your friendship in the Gospel,

Jacob and Carol Lee

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RAU’s Mission and Vision Statements/Statement of Faith:

The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!

Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with 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!

Jacob Lee