The Missions Council

What are we teaching?

Posted on January 25, 2014 by Jonathan

October’s theological training focussed on the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology).

The Person of the Holy Spirit

The Work of the Holy Spirit-Part 1

The Work of the Holy Spirit- Part 2

November’s training focussed on the Plan of Redemption (Soteriology).

Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Effectual Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

 

This upcoming month’s training will focus on the Doctrine of the Church (Ecclesiology). I greatly appreciate your prayers as I study and write.

 

Jonathan

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What is the Aletheia Project?

Posted on January 25, 2014 by Jonathan

Aletheia Logo

The Aletheia Project is an NGO in Uganda seeking to equip local communities for sustainable development by training leaders and by coming along side of them as they seek to be agents of holistic change in their localities.

 

Description

We seek to work with groups of pastors from various denominations who have a desire to know the Word of God and the God of the Word. We focus our efforts on deep village pastors who have no other access or opportunity to receive theological/pastoral training. We are currently working monthly with around 500 pastors from 4 districts, 6 denominations, and 215 churches. We have been amazed by the hunger and passion of the leaders we are working with throughout the country. (Our teaching material is made available on .pdf at: www.missions.wsbaptist.org). This model of ‘teaching teachers’ is based on the training commission given by Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 where he instructs Timothy saying, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” We are convinced that this model of training leaders is the best way to serve and equip the local church around the world.

Through our monthly trainings we also have the opportunity to teach about business, leadership, personal finance, and public health/sanitation. As the pastors take their newfound or reinforced knowledge of God’s Word to their churches, we also want them to take back biblical principles such as good stewardship, integrity, and prudence etc. that will help them act as agents of holistic development in their communities. Problems like Malaria, Waterborne-Diarrhea, Tribalism, and Corruption can all be overcome and it is therefore our conviction that the existing network of churches, when educated, can contribute to the eradication of each of these (and other) unnecessary plagues on society. Many developmental hindrances are matters of the heart, to which the gospel speaks directly and powerfully.

This network of pastoral training also affords us the opportunity to come along side of local churches to pursue sustainable development projects in their communities. We attempt to craft the projects around the particular needs of the communities and the giftedness of the local church leaders/members. In Namatumba we have established goat projects that sustain themselves and provide income generating assets to widows and other vulnerable members of society. In drought-ridden Kumi we have set up water harvesting systems with the desire to demonstrate the value of using existing resources/assets to endure seasons of drought. In NE Karamoja we have set up work-for-aid projects that mobilize the Ik community for their own development (road projects, honey harvesting projects etc.). In exchange for time invested in the community, we provide solar-powered water purifiers (www.solvatten.se) that were donated by Atlas Copco (www.water4all.org). All of our projects are designed with the desire to be both self-sustaining and gospel-centered because of our conviction that loving our neighbor is something that is to be done (1 Thess 2:8) with wisdom (1 Thess 5:14) and a heart for their eternal good (Matt 22:37-40). Church History has proven that the gospel comes with transforming power that is holistic in nature…beginning in the heart of the individual, it is then evidenced in the life of the church, and then contributes to the development and transformation of society at large.

We also have a radio program on 89.9 every Sunday that enables us to reach people all over East Africa (www.spicefm.ug/). We have been blessed to teach on a variety of subjects and Scriptures over the course of the last two years. The teaching is primarily focussed on Christian discipleship but is evangelistic in its tone.

The translation of solid resources is also a priority for us (books and teaching material). We are currently working on translating our materials into 3 different languages (Swahili, Runyoro, and Lugandan). The hope is that, through translation, these resources will be useful to the local church long after we are gone.

We have been seeking to establish libraries in each of our training locations. This effort has been spurred on through the many donations of books from West Salem Baptist Church as well as African Renewal University (www.arccuganda.org). African Renewal University has generously donated hundreds of books to the project that they received from international initiatives by The Gospel Coalition (thegospelcoalition.com) and Desiring God (desiringgod.org). We are seeking to stock each library with a whole range of titles ranging from ESV Study Bibles, Commentaries, Theological Textbooks, to books covering topics like leadership, marriage, parenting, etc.

Our passion is the glory of God through the ministry of the Word… which equips the local church for it’s local and global mission of making disciples. Loving God ultimately and our neighbors genuinely, we find our motivation in the gospel of the grace of our God and we long for others to be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. Soli Deo Gloria!

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Yoga noyi!

Posted on April 17, 2013 by Jonathan

Kumi

“Yoga noyi” has nothing to do with the Eastern exercise. It is part of the Atesso greeting used in Kumi where we just held our second April training. The brothers and sisters who gather here each month for this training are such a joy to be with. Their passion for the Word and their enthusiasm in their study is truly inspiring. Many of the pastors are from deep in the villages of the surrounding districts and ride their bicycles for miles over terrible village roads through the seasonal torrential rains in order to come each month for the training. Their testimonies to God’s grace in enabling them to participate in such classes are so encouraging to hear. They send their greetings to everyone back at WSBC who is praying and giving to make these meetings possible “Yoga noyi!” And they also desire for me to express their deep gratitude for the sacrifices that you all make to serve them, “Yalama!” (Thank you!)

 


This is a picture of the sunset that escorted us into Kumi the night before the trainings. This month we are studying the Doctrine of Christ. Focussing on the glory of Jesus Christ for a month is a terrific blessing. It has been a joy to work through…but very difficult to condense into four messages. These are the points that we are working through this month (you can see all of the training outlines in the blog post below).

Kumi sunset

The Person of Christ Part 1

  1. Jesus is 100% Man and it matters
  2. Jesus had a human body
  3. Jesus had a human mind
  4. Jesus had human emotions
  5. Jesus had human sensations
  6. Jesus will be a man forever
  7. Therefore Jesus is able to represent mankind at the cross
  8. Therefore Jesus is able to sympathize with us in our weakness
  9. Therefore Jesus is able to be the mediator between God and man
  10. Therefore Jesus has left us an example of God-honoring kingdom living

The Person of Christ Part 2

  1. Jesus is 100% God and it matters
  2. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in His powerful miracles
  3. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in His wise teaching
  4. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in His miraculous birth
  5. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in His fulfillment of prophecy
  6. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in the Father’s affirmation
  7. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in His sinless perfection and absolute obedience
  8. Jesus’ Divinity is seen in His triumphant resurrection

The Work of Christ Part 1

  1. Jesus’ Glad Submission
  2. Jesus’ Humble Incarnation
  3. Jesus’ Bold Proclamation
  4. Jesus’ Faithful Manifestation

The Work of Christ Part 2

Jesus’ Sacrificial Substitution
Jesus’ Complete Propitiation
Jesus’ Triumphant Resurrection
Jesus’ Great Commission
Jesus’ Faithful Mediation
Jesus’ Sovereign Reign
Jesus’ New Creation

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What are we teaching?

Posted on April 10, 2013 by Jonathan

I wanted to share with everyone what we have been teaching the pastors throughout the country during the monthly gatherings so far. These are the message outlines that we have given out to the brothers and are translating into their local languages. We are going to be studying the Doctrine of Christ this month (April). I will be starting in Kyangwali tomorrow and would greatly appreciate your prayers!

The Aletheia Project Introduction- “Truth” Word Study

The Aletheia Project Introduction- The Mission

The Aletheia Project Introduction- The Proposal

The Pastor’s Authority- The Word of God

The Pastor’s Authority- The Pastor and the Word of God

The Pastor’s Authority- The Pastor’s Sermon

The Pastor’s Authority- The Pastor’s Study

The Pastor’s Message- What is the gospel

The Pastor’s Message- The gospel is of first importance

The Pastor’s Motivation- Worship 

The Pastor’s Mission- Worship 

The Doctrine of God- God’s Being

The Doctrine of God- God’s Knowability

The Doctrine of God- The Attributes of God Part 1

The Doctrine of God- The Attributes of God Part 2

The Doctrine of Christ- The Person of Christ- Part 1

The Doctrine of Christ- The Person of Christ Part 2

The Doctrine of Christ- The Work of Christ Part 1

The Doctrine of Christ- The Work of Christ Part 2

 

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God is Good

Posted on March 9, 2013 by Jonathan

Well, it has been a wild last few months. Since the national conference in January, when Pastor Brett and Eddie came to visit, there have been experiences of great joys and serious struggles. Through it all however God has proven Himself to be both faithful and good.

water purifiers

After a long and drawn out struggle with Ugandan customs, we were finally able to clear the water purification units that were donated by Ray Shelor’s company, Atlas Copco, and were then able to make our way up to the Ik tribe. Accompanied by two brothers from Hoima, Bryan and Bunya,  we made the long trek up north. We met some challenges on the way including flat tires and forest fires. It took us about three days to make it all the way up the eastern border to the Morungule Mountains where the Ik lived, but by the grace of God we arrived and were warmly received by the people. This reception, however, was a short-lived prelude to some serious challenges.

I hadn’t been to visit the Ik for about a year and a half (Malaria kept me from going last year) and my memory of them as a people group was consequentially somewhat glamorized by the excitement of going seeing them again. I had forgotten the extreme extent of their struggle for survival, the moral degradation that had come to characterize their society, and the spiritual darkness that enveloped them as a people… I was quickly reminded. After our initially warm welcome I learned that they had had a lot more exposure to the outside world than when I had last seen them. Teams from different European University’s had travelled out to do anthropological studies on them. While it would have been my hope that greater exposure would lead to further development for the Ik, it appeared that it had done the opposite. The teams had not come to help the people but simply to collect data… so in order to establish a friendly relationship with the people they brought aid and flooded the people with stuff, bribing them for hospitality and friendship.

This was not helpful. When the Ik learned that my purpose in coming was to distribute water purifiers to men who had worked the previous two months of the road project, I found my warm welcomers to be disgruntled and disappointed. A begging culture had been established. I found the people not hunting though it was hunting season and not digging (hoeing) in their gardens though it was digging season.

On the second day of our time with the Ik we began distributing the water purifiers to the men who had done the work project. We sat with each of them individually and taught them how to use the units and gave them a hoe and a hat along with the water purifiers as a gift for their hard work. This took us the next two days but also gave us the opportunity to share the gospel with them and with others who were curious about what we were doing.

During the distribution we also did a simple but incredibly revealing survey with the men who had participated in the work project. Concerning the water situation: They have to travel, on average, 4 hours each day to get water from a natural spring and 100% of them said that the water was not safe for drinking. The men also said that, on average, someone in their family has Diarrhea (due to water-born bacteria) every three days. If these water purifiers are properly utilized these men’s families will be protected against this unfortunate killer.

Some other shocking information that the survey brought out: 90% of them said that they drank the local brew at least 5 times a day. This is partially because finding clean drinking water is difficult for them and this brew provides some nutrients as well…but it also means that they are drunk most of the day. They each earned, on average, 5000 UGsh ($2) per month by selling their excess meat or crops and 70% of them said that they spent that money on alcohol, though their families die from starvation and dehydration regularly (In order to get this alcohol they have to travel about 25 miles on foot to Kaabong).

As I tried to sleep the two nights we were there I was repeatedly awakened by the sounds of the men of the village beating their wives, of wives beating second wives, deep into the night. My heart raged within me with anger and frustration. Drunkenness, Wife-beating, Laziness…

I left the Ik very discouraged. To be entirely honest, I left disgusted. The people seemed to have embraced their plight and rather than working hard to change and overcome their many obstacles…they seemed have chosen to “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” A culture of begging, laziness, and drunkenness that was already a problem seemed to have been strongly reinforced…noticeably so even over the course of only a year and a half. The people had even less regard for the message of the gospel than in previous visits and could hardly stomach listening to the Word. So let me not pretend as if I rode in on my white horse and saved the day leaving the Ik developmentally transformed and eternally changed.

No…I left them generally ungrateful and unconcerned. I was seriously discouraged.

But then I began to think. What am I to expect? You see I think we sometimes have it in our minds that the needy or the unreached are pretty people with smiling faces who are eagerly waiting for the gospel to arrive so that they can believe it all at once. We like to imagine that we will be received warmly and that the people we are serving will always be immediately grateful for the assistance that is given. But why would this be true? If “unreached” means predominately untouched by the transforming power of the gospel…If unreached means no clear gospel light in a society…then why should I be so discouraged to discover a culture of utter darkness. Where there has been no gospel influence why should I expect to find gospel living?

Jesus certainly did not come into a world that received Him with joy. No, the light came into the world but the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil(John 3:19). He did not come to gather the righteous…He came as the Savior of sinners, the redeemer of rebels. It was not that the people were even remotely worthy to be helped or that we were at all eligible to be saved. Instead, he came to rescue that which was lost. Not lost by accident….but willfully so. While we were running from Him (Romans 3:10) He sought us out and subdued us by His grace. He was not dettered by our wretched and willful slavery to sin…He knew the darkness of the human heart and chose to endure suffering at the hands of men and then to take our suffering under the wrath of God so that we could be forgiven. He condescended so that the wicked could be made righteous. Jesus came to “save His people from their sins.” For 33 years the eternally pure Son of God endured our world and it’s filth. He did not come with the expectation of being received with adoration and gratitude from the world…no He knew what was in man and that our infatuation with sin was so deep that only the perfect Savior could rescue us from our blindness. He He came with persistent love to redeem His bride, filthy as she was. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

As I drove away I was deeply convicted by how quickly my love had evaporated and was greatly broken by my weak endurance. The answer to such a people is not…”Fine, perish in your drunkenness and empty souls.” Jesus didn’t say that to me. He came with love and endured far more than I will ever be asked to in my service to the Ik. I may suffer under their discontentment and disregard but He already took Hell for those among them that will believe. And some will. Some will believe. Though I was deeply discouraged by their rejection of the gospel as a cheap and worthless message, I know that Jesus died for a church among the Ik and I am confident that the seeds of the gospel that have been sown and will continue to be, will one day be harvested, whether by me or by someone else. Jesus will receive the glory that He deserves from among the Ik. While their trampling of Jesus and His gospel enflamed a righteous anger within me, my longing for them to know Him and to flee the wrath to come brought my heart back to a place of love and sorrow. Though with a very imperfect love, I was reminded of my own heart and my own redemption and filled with renewed compassion. While I enjoyed  the benefits of being influenced by a more generally “Christian” culture with a more generally “Christian” morality, my heart was still just as lost…and wicked. And it took the steadfast and enduring love of my Savior to rescue me from the darkness of my own heart.

So pray for the Ik. The gospel alone has the power to redeem them as individuals and to transform them as a society. Pray for us as we continue the work projects for the distribution of the water purifiers. Pray that we would be given boldness and endurance in our proclamation of the gospel and that in all this we would love God ultimately and the Ik deeply. The glory of Jesus is worth it.

truck accidentOn our way back down the mountain we encountered another unexpected obstacle that God would further use to teach and transform me. On a rough section of the road from Kotido to Moroto we had a serious accident. My truck rolled twice on it’s side, crushing both the left and right hand sides of the front of the truck and throwing all of our stuff out of the back of the truck into the savanna that surrounded us. I can still vividly remember it as we rolled. My head hitting the window and then the ceiling, the glass hitting my face, the sound of crunching metal, and the abrupt jolting as we came to a stop. We had all survived. It was a miracle. We got out of the truck to assess the damage to our bodies and I was amazed that, though my head hurt, I didn’t have a single scratch. Bunya had some cuts on his arm and hand but was otherwise fine. Bryan, though he hadn’t had his seatbelt on and was thrown into the front of the vehicle, seemed to be the least affected. We cleaned up the mess that our stuff had made and changed the two rear tires that had both come off in the accident. Amazingly the truck had landed on all four tires and started when I turned the key. One of our tires was leaking air so we set off quickly hoping that we could make it to a village or maybe even all the way to Moroto. Initially I was speechless. My mind was racing and Bunya and I both talked about the very few but intense thoughts that had passed through our minds as the truck rolled. “I am going to die. I guess I am okay with that. Thank you Jesus for being my Savior. See you soon.” It was essentially that for both of us in so many words. I don’t usually like to make slick allegorical illustrations but perhaps this was a Jonah moment for me…coming out my Nineveh experience and ensuring that I had a truly eternal perspective and would go back to the Ik and endure faithfully in love. My mind was flooded with thoughts as we slowly drove along. It began to rain and I had to pop my head out of the car to drive since our dash board was crushed and the whippers didn’t work. Slowly by slowly we moved along this remote and terribly rough road out in the middle of Northern Karamoja. Surprisingly a vehicle began driving up behind me. I hadn’t seen but two or three the whole time I had been on that road and tried to move over so that it could pass but it stopped next to me.

It was Renee Bach, a friend of mine who works in the Southern part of the country but who had happened to be in Northern Uganda that week doing a malnutrition study…this was another miracle. Who would have thought that out on this remote road in the middle of nowhere, after I get in a serious accident, I would be met by a friend. She drove behind us all the way to Moroto ensuring that we didn’t break down or get stuck somewhere on the road. God was so faithful. I had been nervous that we wouldn’t make it and would have to abandon the truck and hike at night to find the nearest village center, which could have been hours away on foot. Having her follow us ensured that that wouldn’t happen. God is so good. He spared our lives in the accident, delivered us from any long-term or life-threatening injuries, and brought us back home safely. The Lord truly “watches over the way of His saints.” Proverbs 2:8

travelling to ikFrom there I began February’s monthly trainings in Kyangwali, Kasese, Kumi, and Namatumba. It was a joy to be with the brothers once again and to feast upon the Word together. We examined our final foundational study in February looking at The Gospel as the pastor’s message and at Worship as being the Pastor’s Motivation and Mission. It was awesome to see and hear their response to the clear explanation and biblical definition of the gospel. Please pray for the trainings as they grow in number, that they would continue to grow in depth, love, and passion. I sincerely believe that the Lord brought us here at this particular time for a reason and that we are working with these particular brothers for a reason as well. There seems to be a real hunger for the truth in a world of false hopes and empty promises. These men want to know God. They are tired of counterfeits and half-truths. They are seeking the Word and are receiving it with joy and thanksgiving. Please pray for them as we begin our Doctrinal studies this month looking at the Doctrine of God. My study this week on this subject has been sweet to my own soul and I greatly look forward to rejoicing in it with them throughout the rest of this month. I will be beginning in the West in Kyangwali, the Congolese refugee settlement, and will then head east to Kumi and Namatumba, and afterward will be in Kasese. Please pray especially for the work that God is doing in Kasese right now. Pastor Alfonse is the overseer for that area and has been receiving many requests to take the trainings out to rural villages. I will be spending a week there with him to follow up on three groups (besides the one that we have been hosting already every month). He has already met with these groups deep in the Rwenzori mountains on the border between the Congo and Uganda. Pray for us as we travel to them and pray that God would bless the preaching of the Word. Please pray that in all we do Christ would be honored in the hearts of men and that the Lord would receive the glory due His name.

Thank you for all that you are doing to make this possible. Your sacrifices are not in vain and your prayers are mightily at work!

In Christ,

Jonathan

all the kidsp.s. The kids are doing great! They are growing so much!  They are in school and are generally performing well. Bryan has been helping them a lot with their homework and has been a real blessing in their home the last few months. Pastor Gordon’s wife, Esther, and another young Christian lady named Mary are also both going to be working in the home with Jane soon which is a tremendous answer to prayer. I was reminded that I had not given the full story for baby grace so I wanted to post it here for everyone to see. Pastor Gordon’s mom was contacted by a nurse who had heard about the work that the church was doing to help the orphans already and told her about a baby whose mom was mentally handicapped and was incapable of caring for her newborn little girl. She had been neglecting and even beating the baby after birth so they asked if Gordon would take her until they could find a different solution. Gordon was hesitant when he initially heard until he went and found baby Grace left alone crying and covered with flies on a hospital bed. So she came to the children’s home where she is still today. Her mother is a Congolese refugee and has been deemed mentally disabled by UNHCR (refugee arm of the UN). The representatives from UNHCR have come out to the children’s house a number of times and thanked us for what we are doing for her because they do not have the ability to care for infants and would have had to leave her to suffer and probably die with the mom if we hadn’t been willing and able to help. She has become a part of the family now so it is our hope that she will be able to stay as long as UNHCR will allow. Thank you for praying for these kids and for Jane! Pray that they would come to know Jesus and that Jane would continue to be given endurance and love as she raises these kids!

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2013 Aletheia Conference Recap

Posted on January 23, 2013 by Jonathan

By Pastor Brett

There are so many places to begin and so many places to end when it comes to recapping the 2013 Aletheia Conference. There are individual stories of faithful men and women, dear friends, who serve the Lord with gladness, there are stories of God’s faithfulness to sustain the soul and provide in difficult times, there are stories of gospel triumphs in homes and churches and communities, and then there is the work that God did in our own hearts by His Spirit.

 

But through it all there is a common thread, a common bond in all of God’s work: God was working through the power of His word for the glory of His Son to accomplish His purpose in all of us. I know that for Eddie and I, we both were stunned afresh at our absolute dependence upon God. With some travel difficulties, delayed bags, and other worries which now seem silly, God humbled us and then had us where He wanted us; where we could be used of Him. We also had the joy of being with our brothers and sisters in Hoima and worshipping and serving alongside of them. Seeing Jonathan was an absolute joy for us, and seeing and meeting the brothers and sisters there reminded us again how deep the blood of Christ runs in all of our veins uniting us in the Sprit’s bond of peace. At the conference specifically, there was a hunger and eagerness to hear the word from day one. I have personally only been to one other conference, but the attentiveness and eagerness of this conference was different. Bibles were opened, pens were in hand, and notebooks were being filled up. In fact, on the last day of the conference, I saw one young man in the dorm alone copying his notes from one notebook to another, either for his own benefit or for someone else.

 

Let me give a few examples from the conference just so you can understand the work of the word of God. The first comes from Eddie. Eddie taught 3 messages: The Pastor’s Qualifications, The Pastor’s Relationship with His Wife and The Pastor’s Relationship with His Children. These messages really struck a chord, with everyone there. One man sent an e-mail to Eddie saying that he took those messages and had a conference on the 17th and 18th of January to share what he had learned with 30 other pastors. He has already planned for a second conference in April. His response, “The [word] was powerful” and “ [I] am not the same.”

 

Another example is a godly, older, woman of God. She said her reason for coming to the conference is that she heard Jonathan preach the word of God and share with them the truth in her own district. She said, “Whenever you hear someone speak the truth you follow them. And we are following Jonathan because he speaks the truth.” The group she came with rode 8-10 hours to be there. Praise the Lord!

 

A third example was at the end of my last class on Wednesday. We finished the message and were walking through some questions. I let them know that they were dismissed but no one moved. There weren’t any shuffling of papers or anyone getting up, so I said again, “You can go get tea if you want.” And one brother spoke up and said, “We are just sitting under the sweetness of the word.” Wow! So we just sat for a few more minutes and savored the sweetness together.

 

Church body at West Salem, I just want to thank you so much for you willingness to give and pray and support and send in this ministry. God is being greatly magnified! We really are apart of a great work of the Spirit of God! Jonathan has been blessed with zeal, focus, energy, wisdom, messages and favor there. I know that sentence makes him uncomfortable, but it’s true and we should praise God for that. The Lord really does equip those He calls. So please continue to pray for Jonathan, the pastors there, and their churches. And may we all be encouraged to treasure and savor and do the word of the Lord.

 

 

“The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure,

making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the Lord is clean,

enduring forever;

the rules of the Lord are true,

and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings from the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

In keeping them there is great reward.”

 

Psalm 19:7-11

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The Ik Tribe: Clean and Living Water

Posted on December 16, 2012 by Jonathan

Tucked away in the mountains of North Eastern Uganda, is a primitive tribe of men and women known as the “Ik”. Dwelling in small huts along the border between Kenya and Uganda in east Africa, the Ik tribe’s lives are characterized by a constant struggle with survival.  Their mountainous home is littered with obstacles that greatly inhibit their ability to simply survive. From drought and famine, to raids by the neighboring tribes the Ik people are daily confronted by life threatening realities.

 

 

They are ignored and frowned upon as a blemish on the East African landscape for their primitive ways of living. The Ugandan Government has yet to acknowledge the gravity of their plight. They were pushed off of their more fertile and lush land in order to create a national park and game reserve; and were then displaced to these mountains and left to, at best, fight for survival, or at worst, die off altogether. Broken and weak this society is without nearly every modern amenity that the developing world enjoys. Death is an unwelcomed, yet frequent, visitor to this people group and little is being done to help.

In 2009 we spent about a month with the Ik (and have been blessed to visit them two other times since). While the entire story of those first few encounters is worth sharing as a testimony to the amazing grace and provision of God, there was a major struggle that the Ik were enduring during my second two weeks with them that I want to share now.

I left them during a time of serious drought that required them to wake up at 4AM to fetch water…they wouldn’t arrive back until 8AM. Chasing water wherever it could be found was a very dangerous task as the most consistent water holes are shared by the neighboring tribes who travel across the mountains that the Ik live in in order to raid one another’s cattle. I was told that after I left, the village that I had been staying with lost a number of people to the drought. They were found sleeping by the streams having dug into them in hopes that they would hit water. All of the nearby water sources had either dried up or were undrinkable. This tragedy marks a seasonal struggle for the Ik tribe that brings with it various challenges for each of their mountain villages.

While perhaps not as immediately evident as their physical plight…The most devastating reality plaguing the Ik is the spiritual darkness and confusion that has enveloped them. They have been visited by Anglican and Catholic missionaries in the past who attempted to “Christianize” them via baptism but preached no gospel. Thus today they will call themselves “Christians” and yet have no concept of who Jesus was or what he accomplished on the cross. The moral corruption and spiritual depravity that has consumed their culture can be observed after only a short visit. Alcohol and forest drugs have become the staples of their culture. Beating their wives and children is common practice…and laziness abounds. These are all symptoms of the great problem for the Ik…. Corruption of the heart that reaches into every area of their lives. This is the great problem…rebellion against the God who gives them (and us all) life.

So what is being done?

We have been praying for the Ik for a long time. We have taken 4 trips to stay and struggle alongside of the Ik. We have hiked their mountains and slept in their huts. We have hunted and we have eaten with them. By the grace of God we gained a platform for the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

 We began in Genesis and moved through the Bible, telling them the story of who God is and all that He has been doing since creation. We told them of the horrific fall of mankind. We told them of the struggle of Israel and the continued rebellion of mankind. We told them of the wondrous salvation that God worked in Jesus Christ…and we told them of how they fit into this story. Since, we have been blessed with continued opportunities to proclaim to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have seen little fruit so far but we are confident that God will redeem from among them a people for His own possession…And we pray that if it be the Lord’s will, He would continue to use us to that end. Ultimately we desire to be able to either train up a man from within Uganda or from among the Ik to go, live, serve, and preach among this tribe.

It has been a while since we were last with the Ik but I am planning to return in January. A Swedish company called “Atlas Copco” has donated water purification units that we will be distributing among the Ik in an attempt to alleviate some of their physical suffering. We have begun a road-work project among them that involves the potential recipients of the units serving their communities by clearing and establishing a road to their villages. In return for working on these roads we will be giving out the units and training them how to use them. This will prayerfully help to establish a better work ethic among the men, and ensure that the units are utilized to their full potential by those who were willing to work to get them, rather than simply handing them out freely, to be cast aside by people who do not really desire them. We are going to begin by handing out 10 units in January and will begin observing how they are used so that we can do the next distribution/ work project in an even more diligent and profitable way. One of the men that translated for us in our previous visits is mobilizing the road work and will be continuing to help us in these distributions.

The joy that I have in distributing these units is that we will be able to demonstrate the power of the resurrection through our actions, and facilitate the opportunity to proclaim it to them as well. What a gift from God! By demonstrating the power of the gospel through our lives, we are afforded the opportunity to proclaim the gospel with our lips. While the drought and ensuing death is devastating to the Ik, their greatest and most desperate need is reconciliation to God…they need to know the Savior King, Jesus Christ. Please pray that this project would be used mightily by God among the Ik. Pray that they would gain access to clean drinking water…and that they would drink deeply from the living water of Christ so that their thirst can truly and eternally be quenched. Thank you all for everything that you are doing to support this work. God intends to use all of us for the sake of His glory among the nations.

Jonathan

p.s. It might be an odd request, but I want to ask you, the one who is reading this blog, to take a few minutes each day leading up to this Christmas to pray for the Ik tribe. Pray that, just as Christ broke into the darkness of our world so long ago, He would come and reign in the hearts of the Ik so that, perhaps for the first time, a company of redeemed sinners from the Ik tribe can join together with one voice praising the name of Jesus. As you celebrate Christmas with your family and friends remember that Jesus came…and that He is coming again. These realities must shape our our present, our future, our days, our nights…May He reign forever as the LORD of our lives and especially during this season, as the focus of our celebration.

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Busy and Thankful

Posted on December 4, 2012 by Jonathan

This past month has flown by. I can’t remember ever having been so busy. I have found myself traveling through over 10 Districts and working in 7 of them. In an average week I travel Monday, Teach Tuesday, Travel Wednesday, Teach Thursday, Travel Friday, and arrive back in Hoima for the weekend to teach the bible study on Sunday morning and on the Radio Sunday night. With all of that being said, forgive me for just now updating you all. Though my schedule is certainly full it is an absolute joy and there is nothing else that I would rather be doing.

TRAININGS

It is amazing to see the hunger of the village pastors as they travel, by whatever means they can find, to arrive the night before the trainings…and then to see their joy as they sit under the preaching of the Word, taking notes and “amen-ing” with both their eyes and lips…I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world. It is overwhelming to see the response of the brothers. Whether in Nakasongola, Kyangwali, Kumi, Namatumba, or Kasese…the humble longing of these pastors to know God gives way to their glad submission to His Word.

We are working inter-denominationally with Anglicans, Pentacostles, and Baptists… the only qualification being that they come hungry to know God and willing to receive the Word. I have been repeatedly humbled by the public repentance of many of these brothers, whether it be for seeking their own glory, disregarding the Word as outdated, or abusing their stewardship as pastors. Our times of question and answer after the trainings have been filled, not with accusatory questions, but clarifying ones that expressly affirm what they have heard and desire deeper understanding and application. Our response times have been filled with quiet prayer, sometimes broken by a penitent cry of repentance. This is the power of God moving through His Word. This is the Holy Spirit convicting the hearts of men. This is the miracle of prayer…God’s people praying to Him as the sovereign Lord over all the heaven’s and over the hearts of all men. What a wonder. Don’t cease in your petitions of faith. Please continue to give and cry out to God for a harvest of souls for the glory of His name!

CHILDREN

With the same diligence please continue to pray for the orphans in Hoima. Doreen, Maureen, Annett, Marvin, Natasha, Christine, Nelson, Rose, and Sylvia are all growing up so quickly. The transformation is remarkable. Children who had previously lived only to survive are now learning to play, learn, and be kids. This is especially evident in the older girls. I am seeing their hard exteriors slowly being broken by the love and affection of Jane, Josephine, and the other church members. Rose, who was beaten daily when she lived alone in the village, is daily becoming more receptive to a loving hug. You can tell that they all feel loved. They each have their own struggles and we are praying for them as they are growing.

Jane is like a mother to them and they are surrounded by Aunts and Uncles from the church who are doing all they can to help her. Sometimes women from the church will go and help Jane cook for the kids. Other times church members will go help wash clothes or most often… just go and be with the kids, playing with them, helping them with homework, and teaching them Bible stories…showing them that they are loved. Lest I paint an unrealistic picture, these children struggle with sin just like any children do…but one thing that is unique is that because they have known what it is to suffer and to be alone, they are surprisingly humble and thankful for the kindness and generosity of others. I am excited to receive the gifts that you all have put together for them for Christmas. They aren’t expecting them at all so it will be such a joy to see their faces when they hear of your kindness and generosity towards them. Thank you for continuing to pray for Jane and these kids as they live life together, enduring it’s day to day struggles as well as celebrating it’s joys. Pray that they will see the glory of Jesus.

HEALTH

This past week I struggled with a high fever for a few days that nearly kept me from travelling to Kasese for the last of November’s trainings. By the grace of God I was well enough to travel on Wednesday but the 9 hour drive took it’s toll on me and I woke up the day of training doubting if I could teach even one message. Once again, God proved Himself mighty through my weakness. My sore throat and fever left me around 9AM that morning and I was able to teach the 4 sessions from 10-5. Almost immediately after I had finished teaching, as if to demonstrate that it wasn’t mere chance that had made me better during the teaching, my fever came back again and my throat began hurting again, worse than before. I went to sleep immediately after eating dinner that night and woke up the next morning feeling well enough to drive back to Kampala (the capital city). By this past Saturday I felt much better and had the joy of looking back on the previous week with thanksgiving in my heart towards God for His abundant grace and goodness. Please do pray that God would grant me health as I need to be well enough to travel in order to teach.

RADIO PROGRAM

Gordon and I have continued to preach on the Radio in English with Gordon translating into the local language, Runyoro. It remains an amazing opportunity to reach millions with the gospel. We finished up our study on “The Five Foundations of the Christian Faith” which was an examination of the 5 Sola’s of the Protestant Reformation. This past week we just answered the question, “What is the gospel?” We talked about why Paul called for the Church in Corinth to remember the gospel that he had preached to them, which they received, in which they stood, and by which they were being saved. We discussed the urgency of the good news and the rampant popularity of counterfeits, whether merely incomplete (God forgives you, Jesus loves you) or downright false (Be good and God will save you, Jesus died to make your life easy) that either ignored or abused the cross of Christ. We then worked through the gospel in Four parts that Brett has used with the youth to communicate it in a clear and memorable way.

1# God-Holy Creator

#2 Man- Rebellious Sinner

3# Christ- Savior King

4# Response- Repent and Believe

Please pray that the many who hear it will take it to heart and trust in Christ. Pray that we will continue to be allowed the opportunity with the Radio station as well.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP CLASS

We have begun a Church Membership program at Hoima Baptist Fellowship that involves the leadership establishing the church’s doctrine and teaching it over the course of  a 15 week class during the sunday school time before service. Pray for me as I teach this class, that I would have ample time for preparation and that the Lord would give me clarity and simplicity in the teaching.

DECEMBER PROJECTS

I will be spending the month of December preparing for the National Pastor’s Conference in January and procuring the Water Purification Units for the Ik tribe in North Eastern Uganda. Because of the time that this will require, and the interruption of the holidays, we wont be having the monthly gatherings…This will be good though because the Conference preparation alone will require me to do a lot of travel and will take up a great deal of time. (Also, my girlfriend Lisa is coming to visit for Christmas so I am looking forward to being with her for about 10 days time, during which we will be traveling to the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement and just spending time together here in Hoima. She is coming with a friend named Whitney who is a seamstress and she will be teaching pastor’s wives in Kyangwali and the church members at HBFC how to sew.)

Also please pray for the following projects:

In seeking to determine the best way to distribute the water purification units amongst the Ik we have decided to begin a Road Work Project that will enable the recipients of the units to experience the joy of working for the betterment of their community as they earn a water purification unit for their family. This will give them a personal ownership of the units that will ensure that they are utilized well and cared for properly in the months/years to come. Free distribution would be much easier for us to do but this work project will help encourage hard work and discourage entitlement, as well as ensuring that the purification units are distributed to those families that will care for it properly and use it to it’s full potential. Please pray that this would be done well, that it would truly bless these people, and that we would be given boldness in our preaching through the opportunities that will be presented. Pray that Jesus Christ would be honored through in all that we do here.

We are also working on a Water Project in Kumi (SE). Kumi is a very flat and dry place where it is very difficult to find water. Most people have to go to the major town to get water for bathing and drinking.  They have only a few bore holes that supply the whole town and it’s surrounding villages. We are hoping to set up a water catchment system  at Kumi Baptist Church that will help provide water to both church and community members. One good rainfall during the rainy season will provide months of water that can be used for drinking, bathing, and cooking. The Church will then become a central point for water distribution during times of drought, providing the church members with ample opportunities to prove and proclaim the power of the resurrection of Christ. Pray for this project as it is still in it’s beginning stage.

 

Thank you all for all that you are doing to make this possible!

Jonathan

 

 

 

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Rough Roads Ahead…

Posted on November 12, 2012 by Jonathan

It has been a few weeks since I last updated the blog but I am happy to write that things are progressing well. I have been repeatedly brought to me knees in worship and thanksgiving for the work that God is doing.After a serious struggle last week, we were able to clear the container that had the tools, sound equipment and books on it. It was a challenge but God was faithful. This past week was my study week and I was able to finish the preparations for the November trainings. I am preparing to leave Monday afternoon (11/12) to go to Nakasongola in Central Uganda to meet with Pastor Lawrence and the brothers there. We will have the training with them on Tuesday, after which I will be traveling to Kyangwali, a Congolese Refugee Settlement  in Western Uganda. I have been told that the roads to both places have been washed out due to the rainy season so please do pray for me as I travel.
One praise that I cannot help but share concerns the children. We had taken the first 6 children to be tested for AIDs months ago and they were all negative…this was an amazing blessing since their parents had both it.

 

Two days ago we took Natasha, Marvin, and Rose to be tested as well…praying that they would also be negative. After the test we rejoiced to find that they were all negative as well. This is truly a miracle of God. All of the children’s parents were positive and yet all 9 of the children are negative. God is incredibly merciful. It has been a joy to continue to get to know them and  see there little personalities develop. I have been trying to take two or three of them at a time to town each week just to spend some time with them in smaller groups…it is amazing to see how much they love and care for each other. Please continue to pray for them as well as they go to school and grow up into the people that God has destined for them to be. Another praise in that regard is that, Josephine, a church member here in Hoima, is now living with Jane and the kids to provide part-time help for Jane. She is helping the kids with their homework, doing Bible studies in the evenings with them, and helping with other day-to-day activities. She is a real blessing to the kids, to Jane, and to the home. Pray that the gospel would be sweet and shocking news to the children. They are already asking so many great questions.

Also please be in prayer for Pastor Gordon. He has begun his introduction (traditional wedding) and wedding meetings in the community. Culturally, the groom and bride’s, friends meet each week for about 3 months to help organize and coordinate the introduction and wedding.

So far it has gone really well. A lot of people from the community have come to support him. It has been neat to see through that the impact that he has had on his city. Do pray for he and Esther though as this is a pretty hectic time. Their wedding will be the day after our upcoming conference in January. This will enable some brothers from WSBC and all of the pastors who are participating in the Aletheia Project to be present for the wedding. With that being said, please do also pray for the conference preparations. This will be the first time that all of the participants from their various districts will come together and meet each other. We are going to be studying “The Pastor’s Personal Holiness”.

Thank you all for everything that you are doing to support the work here!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:3-6

 

 

Here are this month’s message outlines:

The Pastor’s Authority: The Word

The Word of God: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  1. Introduction: Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name
  2. The Word of God is Inspired
  3. The Word of God is Valuable
  4. The Word of God is Authoritative
  5. The Word of God is Sufficient

The Pastor and the Word of God: 2 Timothy 4:1-8

  1. Introduction
  2. The Pastor’s Charge
  3. The Pastor’s Battle
  4. The Pastor’s Encouragement

The Pastor’s Study

  1. Introduction
  2. Approaching the Word
  3. Observing the Word
  4. Interpreting the Word
  5. Applying the Word

The Pastor’s Sermon

  1. Introduction
  2. The Sermon’s Purpose
  3. The Sermon’s Content
  4. The Pastor’s Preparation
  5. The Pastor’s Delivery

 

In Christ,

Jonathan

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“Is not my word like fire?”

Posted on October 22, 2012 by Jonathan

“Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29

This past week was an incredible joy. Pastor Gordon and I preached on the Radio on Sunday, continuing our study of “The 5 Foundations of the Christian Faith” (5 Solas) looking at the doctrine of “grace alone”. I was freshly reminded through my study and teaching of the truth that we can only cease to be shocked by grace if we 1) forget the depths of our need 2) assume that God is obligated to save…The gospel will always be both sweet and scandelous news to the people who remember that they were children of God’s wrath until he mercifully chose to make them alive in Christ Jesus- by grace you have been saved. This truly is great news!

Gordon and I left Hoima to travel across the country to Kumi for the trainings on Monday morning. We didn’t anticipate the rough roads that we encountered but we made it late in the evening around 9pm. It was such a joy to see Pastor David and many other brothers who have attended past conferences already gathered. We had a brief worship service that evening and spent some time in prayer before going to sleep. The next morning we found that many of the pastors had been inhibited from coming by the rains. We are in the middle of the rainy season and many of the roads were washed out as a consequence so a number of the pastors were regrettably unable to come. Still around 50 brothers arrived and Pastor David opened the service singing Amazing Grace and Rock of Ages, two of my favorite hymns.

Throughout the course of the day, as we worked through each session, I learned that a large number of the pastors were Pentecostal. The Pentecostal church here in Uganda has a well established reputation for syncretism in worship, prosperity theology, and a  general disinterest in biblical orthodoxy. In past conferences that we have held many Pentecostals, upon hearing the preaching, have chosen to just stand up and walk out, even leaving the conferences early…but this time, by the grace and power of God, it was radically different.

 

By the end of the day when it came time for question and answer it was evident that God had united out hearts in submission to His Word. We had worked through some hard doctrine and some very convicting truths that (without trying) would have directly collided with most pentacostal beleifs and practices. The focus of this first month’s training is the eternal value of the truth and the pastor’s calling to seek, know, treasure, protect, and proclaim it. When it came time for the Question and Answer Session (after the first 4 messages) a man who had been sitting in the back of the room stood to his feet, using the crutches at his side, and began to speak. His began to confess his sin and publically repent for not being faithful to Christ or His Word. He expressed his sorrow for his sin and his longing to know the truth. He then called all of his brothers in attendance to commit themselves to this training, quoting one of the passages that we referenced in our study, Jeremiah 9:3. In it God was rebuking Israel, and his rebuke of them could aptly describe our world today, “…falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the Lord.” This brother confessed that this was the reality and expressed his desire that the trainings continue. After he sat down many others stood and expressed the same conviction and longing. It was a miracle of God. We then dove into some intense questions and searched the Scriptures together seeking the answers. While the brothers were disappointed to find out that we would only be doing the training for one day, they were encouraged that it would be happening each month. God is faithful.

We then travelled to Namatumba for the second training of the week and found that the rains had washed out many of the roads in that area as well. Around 40 pastors attended this training… and almost all of them were Pentecostals. Once again I found myself praying that God would give me the proper boldness, absolute clarity in my speach, and the appropriate gentleness as I preached His Word…By gentleness I don’t mean that I wanted to attempt to soften the blow of the truth…but I wanted to preach it with grace and humility so that I could remove any unnecessary offense. God was so faithful. Once again, after the first message brothers stood expressing their gratitude and their desperate need for this kind of training. Many of them throughout the day continued to express the reality that they had not been faithful to the Word and that it had not been from malice but sheer ignorance…they had just been imitating what they had seen others do. We had to spend a good portion of time in question and answer just emphasizing that they could still be forgiven. They understood that they had been misrepresenting Christ and leading people astray…now they wanted to know if they could truly be forgiven and restored. It was amazing…Those of you who have come in the past know how incredible this is. Nothing but the gracious will of God could have accomplished this…His Word is indeed like fire, like a hammer that breaks hearts of stone into pieces.

I am writing from Kampala today although I am meant to be traveling to Kyangwali. The shipment containing my tools arrived this weekend and I have been working through the process of clearing it for the last few days. It is frustrating as I had hoped to be in Hoima last Friday. The Ugandan government has no concern with honoring my schedule however haha. Unfortunately I have to be present in order to clear the shipment with customs and I can’t leave it to be done another day. Pastor Gordon is going in my place to Kyangwali tomorrow to lead the trainings there. Kyangwali is a Congolese refugee settlement that I have been blessed to spend a lot of time in in the past. Please pray for him as I believe the situation there will be very similar to what we have seen so far. Pray that the Holy Spirit would move mightily through the preaching of the Word.

I will be traveling to Kasese in the SW on Wednesday if I can get the container cleared and we will be holding the first training there on Thursday. I am especially looking forward to this training as it will be the last location and will be made up of many different pastors from various denominations who have been working through some of our past materials already. I have never met most of these brothers but Pastor Alfonse (the overseer in that district) has shared with me that they are eager to begin the training.

Another answer to prayer concerns some challenges that we met earlier this month when we decided to change the format for these trainings. We had originally planned and budgeted to help provide food for one meal at each training since the original format meant that the pastors would arrive in the morning and depart in the evening on the day of training. All of the overseers were in agreement that this was not practical as even pastors from within the district may require a day to arrive at the training site. The plan changed to have them arrive the night before the training day and depart the morning after. This was a wise decision as otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to start on time and many pastors would have been left out. The only trouble was that this pretty much made our previously established budget obsolete. We had a decision to make…the goal is for these trainings to become self-sustaining as soon as possible so if we just increased the amount of money that we gave for each gathering, we  might be able to accommodate more pastors but it would only make it more difficult in the future to hand everything over and less likely to be able to be maintained after we are gone. So after discussing, all of the overseers were in agreement that after the first month we would have to limit the number of brothers who participated to accommodate what we had budgeted. This was a hard decision but it was necessary…We want to do it with excellence and in a way that can be handed over as soon as the Lord wills. With that being said…the amazing thing so far is that, when we shared that with the brothers (in each location), they all expressed their willingness to personally sacrifice in order to ensure that they and others could come, whether by contributing food, paying for other brothers transport, or whatever would be necessary. So while we were planning to have smaller groups next month…it appears that we will likely grow in number. The brothers here are already owning the project. This is phenomenal and is an amazing answer to prayer. Please pray that this would continue and that the financial struggle would not be a hindrance to the establishment of these gatherings. Pray for the hearts of the overseeing elders, that they would continue to labor for self-sustainability and that the Lord would bless all of their efforts to serve their respective districts. Our prayer is that God would continue to shape this project according to His own will. Please pray that all of us as leaders will have hearts of humble flexibility seeking for God to accomplish his plans…and subjecting ours to His will.

Thank you once again for your commitment to the mission here. I have already mentioned to many of your over the phone and through email that I sincerely felt prayed for each time I stood to preach. That was a great and emboldening joy. Please continue steadfastly in prayer being watchful in it with thanksgiving. I love and miss you all!

In Christ,

Jonathan

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