A Year in Review

A Year in Review:

–The Christian’s hope can never fail–

We travel through a barren land,
With dangers thick on every hand;
But Jesus guides us through the vale;
O, The Christian’s hope can never fail.

Huge sorrows meet us as we go,
And devils aim to overthrow;
But vile infernals can’t prevail;
O, The Christian’s hope shall never fail.

Sometimes we’re tempted to despair,
But Jesus makes us then His care;
Though numerous foes our souls assail;
O, The Christian’s hope can never fail.

We trust upon the sacred word,
The oath and promise of the Lord;
And safely through each tempest sail;
O, The Christian’s hope can never fail.
-Author unknown,
Gadsby Hymnal 1838
I have been struggling in writing this update for a few weeks now. I would sit to start writing and once I was a paragraph in, stop. I was frustrated, I had little to no motivation but most of all, I was worried and scared. I was scared to share the grief, the hopelessness, the anger and the sorrows that we had faced at times over this last year. But in refusing to share these trials and struggles with you, I have also been refusing to share the amazing goodness that Christ has displayed to us.
Please forgive me!
This morning as I was opening my computer and contemplating on what I would write, the hymn above began to play. It immediately echoed the Spirit’s conviction in my heart, a conviction that I did not want to hear. In the depths of my despair, I wanted to lose hope. I wanted, looked and expected a reason to give up. I was refusing to trust in the “steadfast love and unending mercies” of my Savior. To share this journey, I will recount some of the trails that we have walked through. I will bullet point them because the trails are not the emphasis of this story, the goodness of the Lord in the midst of these trials is the point.
Over the last year, our family has faced:
+ a change of team leadership,
+ multiplication of the MTW teams here in Uganda,
+ a break-in while we were asleep in our house,
+ a change in the team’s desire for our recruited ministry objectives,
+ family struggles back in the US,
+decline in our financial support account,
+ a ever-hungry money-pit of a car,
+ a home filled with mold and mildew,
+ the loss of two families here in Uganda with which we were growing our refugee ministry,
+ the death of my grandmother and
+ the closing of our home/sending church.

“Huge sorrows meet us as we go, And devils aim to overthrow”…

That line of the hymn aptly describes this year’s journey. Both Angel and I nearly daily felt like we were being inundated, overwhelmed and defeated by constant and target attacks; trials that seemed to come to the most sensitive and vulnerable areas of our hearts. Leaving the house at times has been hard… making plans for the next season has been hard… trusting in the Lord has been hard…

Though numerous foes our souls assail”…
but
“O, The Christian’s hope can never fail”!

Saying all this could be fine or it could be rubbish. It all hinges on one word, hope. What is a Christian’s hope? What is my hope? What is bringing comfort in the midst of these trials?
Our hope is in Christ alone and His steadfast love! These scriptures, these truths affirm in who and what we are to place our hope!

 

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
Exodus 15:13 (ESV)

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Exodus 34:6b-7 (ESV)

Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.
You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.
Job 10:10-12 (ESV)

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Psalm 17:6-7 (ESV)

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Psalm 25:6-7 (ESV)

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:22 (ESV)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:28-30 (ESV)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:56-58

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven…
Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20 (ESV)

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
James 5:11 (ESV)

 

In the last year, we have seen the abundant goodness of the Lord demonstrated to us personally and through the ministry into which he has called us. We have struggled throughout the year to obtain NGO (non-governmental organization) status within Uganda. That process was completed in October. Many hurdles had to be crossed, but the Lord provided His favor.
Our work with the sojourners in the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement has developed. Through the Lord’s goodness, we have seen His abundant provisions enable us to care for their requested needs. In one case, the Lord provided in ways beyond measure. So much so that we were able to facilitate the transit of over 400 refugees from South Sudan to Uganda for the cost of 200; they even had a Ugandan military transport accompany them!
God’s goodness has also been apparent in the provision of our Ugandan church home. We truly love New City Community Church. We have received wonderful teaching and opportunities to join in their ministry. This leads me to how we see the Lord using us in the Year to come.

 

The Year Ahead:

 

The two primary ministries for Angel and I going into 2017 will be continuing to grow and develop our ministry with the South Sudanese refugees in Kiryandongo. Much of our ministry will revolve around community development training (Farming God’s Way and Community Health Evangelism), spiritual training (refresher course workshops for pastors, elders, evangelists and leaders), outreach to the youth in the camp (Jesus Film presentations) and trying to meet and provide for the physical needs of the residents through medical missions trips, housing and water needs, educational assistance and emergency transportation needs. I am also excited about our work here going forward because our church, New City, wants to explore joining in the service to the fatherless, widows and sojourners in this camp.
Along with our refugee work, Angel and I have also accepted a position at New City Community Church serving in an administrative role. We will help the session with the logistical needs of the church, administrative needs like maintaining church rolls, aiding in communication and just serving where we can. One of the exciting opportunities is for Jeremy to work with some of the young men of the church to create an accountability/discipleship group. One of the hopeful outcomes is to encourage a heart of service that will ultimately encourage these men to take on servant leadership rolls within the church. On January 1st, New City Community Church will be moving worship services to the campus of African Bible College. This move will enable us to use their chapel, classrooms and have an office there. The possibility for future ministries, Sunday school classes and small group meetings is exciting. We are looking forward to these exciting possibilities.
In 2017, our half of the MTW team in Uganda should be whole. We have had 2 families in the states on home ministry assignment and one new addition raising support. We would ask for your prayers for MTW-Uganda in the coming months that the Lord would be glorified through our efforts. That the plans and decisions that we make would be honorable to the Lord and that we would be good witnesses of people who are totally dependent on the Lord. We so appreciate your love, your encouragement and your support. Thank you so much!
I opened with the lyrics of a great hymn and I would like to close with the lyrics of another.

 

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner’s prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet.
-Dear Refuge of My Weary Heart
by Anne Steele

 

With much love,
Jeremy, Angel, Riley and Genevieve

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: