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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Interested in the language learning process?

I am sure many of you are interested in how our language learning is going. Well, Ngkarimajong is a difficult, but not impossible, language to learn. Luckily we are surrounded by native speakers most of the time and that helps speed things up a bit. We also have someone on the team (Robert Lane) Who has studies linguistics and is tasked with developing for the echelon team a language learning program. As he is developing it he is sharing some of his insights on his blog. I thought some of you might be interested in checking it out. So here is the link:
http://swiftmessenger-languagefiles.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 2, 2012

building a tukal part 1

Karimajong Power tools

So on the Echelon basecamp, otherwise known as Frontier Outpost 1 there are two ‘houses.’ These houses are nice and comfortable. There is also currently space for 3 small guest rooms. They have 2 twin beds a toilet and a sink and share an outdoor shower. There is also another Guest house that is currently being used by our friends the Schrocks. This is like a small open flat with a toilet and a sink and outdoor shower. Since we will be having more guests and even 2 new families coming to Uganda we are needing even more housing. 
Also, Once we get to Sudan we want to be prepared for building our own simple basecamp. We would like for the buildings to be made out of local materials and the houses to look like that native Tukals of the area. So we decided to experiment here in Uganda. We thought we would build one on the compound and see if we can outfit it for a family and learn how we could possible make something like this work in S Sudan. It has been an interesting process. I thought you guys might be interested in joining us in this journey. Here is how far we have come so far. We are mostly watching and learning from the Karimajong men who are building. 
First we measured how wide we anted the structure to be. then, we made a circle and the guys dug holes with long pieces of rebar and then put these support poles in the ground.

then, they made the supports level more or less


these reeds were brought from the bush, they will be used as the supports that wrap around the roof.

We went to the forest and cut down some trees. then the guys took the bark off the trees by beating it with a rock.

 some of those poles were then used to connect the supports

they connected the poles to the supports and one another using tree bark ropes. The ropes are soaked in water to make them more pliable then when they dry they shrink up and get tight.


the larger poles from the forest were used to make the roof's support poles.

then the reeds you saw earlier were bound to the roof poles with wet bark rope and some nails.

this is the bark rope being cut to the right width. It will then be soaked in water an used.

It is starting to come together.
Next step, putting grass on the roof

but we will save that for part two.