Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wisdom from the Grey Fox

There are times here where I can get overwhelmed or frustrated by serving others. Sometimes, I 'grow weary of doing good.' There is so much than can be done in a place full of people with genuine needs and of course others with not so genuine needs. You have to sift through the requests and determine which people to help and which ones you have to say no to. But there is a never ending line of people who 'need' something. It can often significantly cut into the time I have set aside for work/ministry/chores, etc. Then I just get frustrated and just feel like an errand boy or servant, I am jealous of my own time. I was reminded today while getting water for a local elder about the words of a former mentor, the "Grey Fox" Dr. James Shields. He was my preaching professor back in University. A great man of God, he was a country preacher who was more concerned with your character than anything else. But he helped me to adjust my attitude about a lot of things and whenever I start complaining to myself about serving others I remember what he taught us. He said, "Ministry is NEVER convenient. Preaching, teaching sharing the gospel, etc. These are your responsibilities, but it is something you do, plan for and execute on a regular schedule. But true ministry happens when you are too busy to serve, when you would rather be doing something else but you stop to serve someone in whatever way the Lord gives you opportunity to do so. If it works within your schedule...it is not ministry." [paraphrased]

I think this plays out as you look at Jesus life, because he always seemed to know how to handle people in need. He knew when to say no but he always seemed to minister, especially when it was inconvenient. I thank Jesus for this example and I thank Dr. Shields for teaching it to me.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST


Many of you have been following the saga of Longolomoe and Moses and his desire to take her land (that officially belongs to the Baptist Mission) Well I am asking again for urgent prayer as we continue battling for this woman and her wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of all of our neighbors. Tomorrow we will be having a very important meeting about the land. Moses and his wife have been gathering a group of people who they have bribed and promised everything from roofing materials to houses. We will also be present with the Elders of the area, the Police Chief, the mayor, and practically everyone who has a stake in this dispute.

The documents are very clear that the property belongs to the mission, but the survey of the land is stopped until this is resolved. once the survey is complete we can get the final land title and this should be over, for good. So I am asking everyone to pray! Pray that we will prevail and through this act we can further establish our place in the community and earn the right to speak to them about Jesus. Pray also that Moses and his wife will repent and turn their hearts from wickedness.

The meeting will be at 11am Uganda time. I believe that is 2 am Central time in the US. God knows what is going on and he hears your prayers whenever you say them so please lift us up and pray fervently for this situation. We sincerely thank you!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Life, Death & Ransom: UPDATE



Well, we have made it several months and had very few problems. Longolomoe has been sick a few times but overall she has been doing okay. For several months Moses was no where to be found, we just went on about our lives and ministry.

Then last week I recieved word from Longolomoe that Moses had returned to her garden and was cutting bricks from the soil and drying them there. The intention was then to stack the bricks and cook them with fire. So there are obviously several problems with this. 1) Moses and his wife are making another play to steal this land. 2) By cutting away the top 10”-15” of the top soil her garden is going to struggle for several years. 

The police were called and now we are dealing with the authorities. On Friday, as two of our friends were walking down the road, Moses wife and her workers began to verbally attack them and threatened to have them killed. Another police report was filed. Please pray for a quick and positive resolution to this situation. It could not have happened at a worse time. We are recieving 28 people for a 2 and a half month missionary training and I don’t have time to deal with all of this. So, Please pray fervently that we can get this solved and move on.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First fruits

So I wanted to tell you all the story and introduce you to some new members of your family in this post.

So, I had been praying for Nalebe now for 2+ months, He had been my gardner for about 3 months.  Nalebe is a quiet man, I had hardly heard him speak a dozen words since he has worked for me. In my last prayer update I also asked my prayer partners to pray for the salvation of Nalebe. In fact my main motivation for learning language became learning enough that I could share Jesus with this young man.Well, as we were showing the Jesus film in the manata where he lived i looked for him, to see if he came to watch. I found him and he was standing and glued to the screen. Throughout the movie I prayed that Nalebe would understand and believe.

The next morning when I left the house I saw Nalebe and after handling the typical morning disasters, I made a b-line to speak to him. I asked him what he thought of the movie. He said it was very good (He was smiling from ear to ear) and he said watching Jesus and the things he said and did was amazing. He told me he wanted to follow Jesus. I told him I would be happy to show him Jesus' path and help him follow. We planned to talk about the specifics soon. Everyone was ecstatic. I may or may not have done a little dance.
In this picture Nalebe, in the middle is telling us he wants to follow Jesus.
Since Nalebe has begun to follow Jesus we have seen a drastic change in him and it is clear the spirit is moving and teaching him new things everyday. He has told us he would like to participate in our missionary training in January. Please pray for him. Pray for his wife, pray for him to be bold and to grow in wisdom and love for Jesus.

Nalebe's baptism

Joy of the Lord
Baptizing another new believer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Swallow your missiology



After 10 years in South America working among remote unreached people groups. I had developed a system, a missiology if you will, that worked well in our environment and was effective in making disciples. I spent a lot of time on my knees seeking God and asking what I should do and I feel like we were pretty successful in accomplishing what God set out for us to do.
Along the way, we tried a lot of things. Some of them worked and others were disasters. One thing we tried in South America was the Jesus film. In a word, disaster. The people were more interested in watching a movie than in Jesus. It was completely non-reproducible and new believers thought if they did not have equipment to show the Jesus film they could not share their faith. So, When a friend offered to help us show the Jesus film in Kaabong, my initial thought was, “No, way!, never making that mistake again.” However, after a few days I couldn’t shake the idea. I shared it with Bobby, His response was the same as mine. Then after a few days I confessed to Bobby, that as strange as it sounds I have a peace about sharing the Jesus film. He confirmed that oddly enough he had the same peace. So, grinding our teeth as we went We went ahead and told our friend he could come. 
We had no idea what the future held. In this case there would be a full scale spiritual battle going on in Kaabong, there would be a death of a dear friend that would cause people to question their mortality, and the spirit of God would be on the move. The Jesus film then had a very different affect than our previous attempts. It caused people to fixate on the Person of Jesus and his teachings. Everywhere we went people were talking about Jesus. Everyday new people came to us and told us they wanted to follow him. Then after following him they began proclaiming the Good news to those who have not heard! God knew what was needed and I am so glad we swallowed our Missiology and our pride in order to follow the plan that God had laid out.
I will say that we did make a few changes, for any of you who are interested. Instead of giving an alter call or asking people to raise their hands or say a magical sinners prayer. We simply told them that if they are ready to repent of their old ways and begin to FOLLOW Jesus every day. Then please come to us and we will show you his path. And that is just what we have done, many have now been baptized and we are in the early stages of discipling these new brothers. But we are taking these steps as we are on our knees and seeking Gods will for this very situation and for these very people. We don’t ever want to wretch back up our tired old Missiology and rely on it instead of Gods indwelling Spirit. I hope this testimony encourages you to do the same. Tomorrow we will introduce you to your new brothers! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Lion AND the Lamb.


I am sure that some of you are feeling a little uncomfortable regarding the things that have taken place this week. You are wanting to be faithful to pray, and you are okay to pray for protection for Longolemoe and her sons and even salvation for Moses, but the idea of praying that God would show Moses his displeasure with his sorcery, etc and show him his power by taking away Moses’ ill gotten gains. Well, that makes you a little uncomfortable and that is okay. It opens us up to a bit of a discussion.
There is an epidemic here in Africa that is also common in America and elsewhere. It is this prevailing idea that God is like a nice and gentle old grandpa who just wants to spoil us with gifts and love. Concurrently Jesus was sent to teach us only how to love and to be kind to others. The Holy Spirit is sent to help us to feel good about ourselves and comfort us in times of need. Though many of these things are certainly true they are not the whole truth. Because Scripture teaches us also that Our father is jealous for his name and his wrath is often unleashed because of our sins, and though He is slow to anger and abounding in love when he finally does get angry...you better hope you are not on the receiving end. And Jesus did teach us how to love and care for one another but he also consistantly called out the pharisees for their sin and turned over the tables in the temple. You see he was both the Conquering lion from the tribe of Judah and the Lamb that was slain. And God’s Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and help us find our identity in Christ but he was also sent to convict us and others of sin in our lives. 
You see what we have done is that in our minds we have tamed God. We have shaved his beard. We have chosen to hold fast to the parts of God’s character that benefit us in some way but those things that make God scary we have hidden in the basement. The things that actually make us have a Holy fear of God we have omitted from our theology. Why? because we want a God that we can manipulate and control, not one who is in control of our lives. We want to have a say in what we should do or where we shold go or even who we should marry. Instead of surrendering ourselves fully to him and allowing him to direct our lives. I must admit it is a scary thing living in submission to God, you never know where it will take you. But I have found that God has taken me to many unexpected places, from the hospital bed to the bush of Africa. and though it is not what I would have imagined for my life, I am glad I followed him because I have learned that he does have good plans for our lives and he truly does know what is best.
Now what does that have to do with what happened last week with Moses? Well, If our God is weak, passive and kind, then calling Moses out on his greed and sorcery was wrong. And no doubt telling him that he would lose his riches and would not prosper until he repented and turned away from his sorcery and greed was also out of character with that god. In fact the idea of punishement and even hell are out of character with this ‘god’. 
However, if our God is powerful, loving, just, kind, jealous, righteous, holy and he DEMANDS obedience. Then we see God showing his love but also showing his displeasure. We see things like Ananias and Sapphira being swallowed up by the earth for their greed and lying to God (Acts 5:1-11). We see Paul blind Elymas because he perverted the ways of God by mixing sorcery with the Jewish faith (Acts 13:4-12), We see Peter cursing Simon the sorcerer and his money because he wanted to manipulate God with money (Acts 8:9-25). So though, many of us (myself included) are indeed uncomfortable with this part of God’s character, we can not deny that it exists. and In fact it is what makes him the only God worthy of worshiping. It is his Holiness that causes me to want to fall on my face in worship. It is true that our God is slow to anger and abounding in love (Ex 34:6-7, read both verses for the full context), however there is a couple of things that anger him everytime in scripture, idolotry and sorcery. In fact, i think the use of scorcery is the only time in the new testament that you see Christians curse anyone. And this is the very situation that we found ourselves in with Moses and it is also why I feel our response was in keeping with the new testament example.
Now, if your misgivings were not because of the character of God, but because of the faulty earthly vessel chosen to speak these words in this instance, you are right to question. I am fully aware of my own sin, as are others. But I want you all to know that I spoke those words out of obedience to what God’s spirit was speaking inside of me. They did not come from my own heart or even my personal desires for Moses. It is still our hope that he and his wife will repent from this wickedness and find their hope and salvation in Jesus. I hope this helps a little in understanding the situation and maybe it even causes us to discuss a bit the character of God. That is, after all what the comments are for! Feel free to post your opinion.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life, Death & Ransom, Part 3 (4&5)


Longolemoe and her son Apus



Once again thank you all for your continued prayer. This week has been the biggest roller coaster of our entire life on the mission field. So here is a bit of an update on what God is doing here in Kaabong. It has been a wild ride, so try to keep up.
Praise God, the land dispute is settled. Legally the land belongs to the Baptist Mission. We have given Moses every opportunity to resolve the issue and he has failed to do so. The curses that were cast upon us were a failure and his threats have not amounted to anything. So today we spoke again with the police and they confirmed that Moses had no claim to the property and they would enforce it if necessary. 
SO, this means Longolemoe can return to her garden! We will be hiring oxen to plow Longolemoe’s garden tomorrow (Sunday) We will also be planting for her, corn, sorgum and some vegetables. Let me also share that she and her sons are unharmed and have not been affected by the curses. In fact she is looking healthier every day and her appetite has returned. As soon as we have fast enough internet I will upload a picture of her for you all to see.
As far as Moses is concerned, we have gone to him a couple of times giving him the opportunity to repent and turn from these greedy selfish ways. He has continued to manipulate and threaten both Longolemoe and even some of the elders. So I think that God is fulfilling the prophecy given earlier about his riches. In the past week he has lost a large plot of land, We had offered him a sum of money to pay the debt of Longolemoe, he refused more than a dozen times thinking he would still get the land. Now the woman is going to be receiving the benefit of the money. It will be going to pay for plowing the field and for buying her seeds and food to hold her over until harvest. So he has lost money, land and influence this week. Please pray for the repentance of Moses. Pray that he would turn to God and he would turn away his wrath.
On another note, this week God gave us the first fruits of our ministry here. Two of our closest friends here came to us and told us they wanted to follow Jesus! It was incredible, there has been a huge change in both of them and we are amazed to see God work in such mighty ways in our midst. I will be writing an update very soon that introduces you to some of our new brothers. Until then, please be praying specifically for Nalebe and Ngole. They should both be baptized on Monday.
Our God Reigns
--j

PS: It took so long for us to have the internet to post another blog that there is even more news. We have plowed and planted Longolemoe's garden. She is doing VERY well and recovering well. Moses has continued to be a problem. The day after we planted her garden he went out early in the morning and tried to disturb the seeds that were planted. We were not terribly concerned since it is our God who sends the rains and even causes the plants to grow. Since this all began and you were praying, around 20 men have come to Christ and there have been 13 baptisms. It seems pretty clear who is going to win this showdown.

PSS: Still more news, Moses has continued to find someone who he can pay that will help him get the land. The first curse they put upon us has not worked so they have gone to the witch doctor again to accomplish their plans. We heard from Longolemoe that she was afraid and asked us to  try to pay off the powers that be to take off the curse. Instead some of the new believers went to pray with her and share with her how she could know Jesus and have no fear.