Mark's Newsletter August 2020

On my way back to Karamoja I had so many questions running through my mind. This pandemic still seems to be raging on and here I am trying to get miles away from a place I am familiar with. What happens if I get sick along the way? What happens if I am carrying the disease to this remote place? Most of my questions were coming in along those lines (what happens…). I want to imagine many other people have such kinds of questions as they are potentially putting themselves and their loved ones at risk of contracting the disease. Then I figured many people had their reasons to get back into harm’s way.

Take an example of a doctor treating patients of this disease, the reason he or she risks everything cannot be because they want money. I doubt that for money, someone would risk this much. I imagine some people even decided not to work in these times. I believe it is because of love that these doctors are putting themselves in harm’s way to attend to people. In other words the guiding (supreme) ethic is not the love of their lives but love itself (Love for God’s creation). And when I talk about love here I mean the kind of love that is patient and kind, love that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude, love that is not irritable or resentful, that does not rejoice in wrong doing but rejoices with the truth, that bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things. I realise that to love in the Christian sense is to pay the price of being in a relationship with another (to give of yourself), much like God did in giving his begotten son as a ransom for many. The scripture goes something like; “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. It’s this love that gets people valuing things like justice when signing up to be lawyers or judges, people signing up to be in the army or better yet, it should be the love that gets us serving in most of these fields of work. I insist on a love like this because I believe any motivation short of this love I described will be seen for that in the fruit of the work because the justice won’t be achieved, medical services won’t be delivered, a generation will not have been taught the very reason for our existence, to love.

So love has doctors working, judges and many other services except the church (the institutional church). Is it that we are less loving as a church or that we don’t acknowledge the love exhibited or shown by the church? What I know is that to love as I described by putting yourself in harm’s way for another is a love Christ described vividly in the scriptures and embodied in his death on the cross. This means that as the church (body of Christ) that is commanded to follow Jesus by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we should be ready to pay this price to love. And I believe this love includes preaching, teaching, prophesying and so on. In other words church must go on. And so I got worried as I shared with people because it seems like church can wait and more surprised by fellow professing Christians. But I insist church must go on because it is on the same principle of love that other people serve with that church should essentially operate.

I used the word must referring to church continuing and every time I use the word must I realise there’s always a cost involved. And the cost in this case must be paid as well for the people that desire to continue being a church. As we pay this cost we must realise that it includes that tension of being sensitive to this real disease and consequently not putting people in harm’s way.

So in effect the church needs to try all it can to follow operational procedures to stop the spread of the dis-ease because like I said to love like Christ did, we might even have to pay the price like he did. (If it means fa-thers in homes getting to lead bible study, then let them do it because at least they still can access their household. if it means fewer people in a study while distancing, do it. If it means doing it online, by all means). Paying the price might mean an increased financial cost or more time spent but it must be paid by an obedient church. At the end of the day I insist church must go on in every possible way that doesn’t violate the life of another. I will leave this tension for everyone to resolve as they continue serving the lord wherever they are. As for me I arrived safely in Kaabong and have finished my self-quarantine.

The weather here has been really cold but we are thankful for the handfuls of rain that keep this place from drying and I hope that it will be good for the harvest because some people seem to be worried it might not be good for the yield. Church in the sense of meeting and conducting service is still a bit tricky but we will continue to meet the few lay readers who want to be a part of the work as we do discovery bible study (DBS) which is a good tool in encouraging people to be responsible for obeying the things taught by the Lord Jesus. DBS is more focused on obedience and so we are continuing to use it alongside other material we find helpful for equipping, encouraging and training the brothers who want to serve Jesus among the Dodoth and Ik peoples of Karamoja. We are seriously engaging with our Ik brothers to translate the bible and other reading material into their Ik language as our more recent development so we ask for your prayers as we figure our way around it to see it done effectively and efficiently.
A summary of what we intend to strategize on as a team here in Kaabong is to set up four teams of at least two persons each in four convenient locations of Loleliya, Ik, Lotim, and Loyolo to help in church planting. We invite you to be a part of this work and we always ask that you pray to the lord of the harvest to see it through. So far we are a team of three in Lotim and we are partially involved among the Ik because we need a fourth person set up more permanently at the Ik ridge. We already have the housing figured out in both Lotim and the Ik ridge and so we do invite anyone looking to do cross-cultural missions to see if we can work in the harvest field. The provision for this work is always from your continued prayers and financial support and so we thank you for always being a part of the work. Continue including us in your prayers as a team to be faithful in the work the lord has given to all of us who have believed the good news.

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