God Sees

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This is how we found her on Wednesday.

We have known for some time that her situation was bad. She may have a mental problem – or epilepsy – or some kind of demonic oppression – and she fell into a fire and burned her leg horribly. The wound became infected and she cannot walk. Her newborn son was severely malnourished. Her young boy, five years old or so, is lame. Her husband abandoned her for another woman. Her house is a collapsing ruin. She is totally unable to care for herself.

The mission began feeding the baby. He is improving. And every day, we sent food for the mother. We hoped she was improving, too.

Then the news came that she was very badly off. We found her lying on the ground in the sun, unable to move. Starving. Dying. No one had fed her for days. Severely dehydrated. Covered in mud and filth. In intense pain. Almost unable to respond.

Family and neighbors had left her to die.

The situation is as desperate as can be imagined. Some things are better left unsaid, unseen.

But God sees.

And the daughters of God went to work. The gentle women of our church went to the village and did what no one else would do – they gave her water, fed her, bathed her. Loved her. We read Scripture to her, prayed with her, sang for her. Organized to repair her house.

Thursday, we tried to take her to the mission clinic. Treatment was not possible. She was screaming in fear.

The ladies of the church are taking food to her each day. Two days now, and the change is amazing. She is in pain, but she is sitting up. Talking coherently. Sending greetings.

Food is essential to life. That is obvious. But food cannot accomplish such a change. Only the love of Christ can do that. And he sees and cares for the forgotten and the rejected.

Please pray for this poor soul. And pray that everyone in Karamoja will know who we are – and above all, know who Jesus is – by our love.

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Old to New

Old

This is our friend Kocho:

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We met him months ago in Akuyam. He was an outcast from his family and obviously starving to death. We gave him a chapati and told him to come to the mission.

He came. We fed him and sent him for medical evaluation at our mission clinic. He was diagnosed with hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is a very serious disease, and there is no easy or inexpensive way to treat it.

New

He kept coming. We gave him food, but his relatives started taking it, so Dengel Joyce – a dear sister and church member – welcomed him to come and stay with her family.

Now he was eating. The mission provided him with a large lunch each day and food for other meals. He was doing light work around the compound and taking responsibility for himself. His entire demeanor changed. He was happy! He had a new family. He walked around all day praising God. “Thank you, Jesus!” He had thought he was going to die, and was surprised to be alive.

He was a little better, but he really needed additional care. Finally, it was decided that the mission would send him to a hospital several hours away for additional treatment. The doctors there diagnosed him with both hepatitis B and type 1 diabetes. They wanted him to stay so they could try to stabilize him.

He stayed much longer than we anticipated – more than a month (and more than $100). In God’s kindness, the head nurse in Kocho’s ward was a Christian, and she was willing to help take care of him while he was there.

He finally returned to us this past Wednesday. What a shock!!

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When he saw his own picture, he was amazed! He is not even the same person he was before! He is praising God and so happy!

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And so are we. Many, many people have been concerned and praying for Kocho. His improvement is a wonderful testimony of God’s kindness to the entire community.

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Old Again

The day after he came back, Kocho was going to the clinic to discuss his ongoing needs with our staff. He climbed into the vehicle with me.

By the time we got to the clinic – just three or four minutes – something was not right. He was praising God out loud, but sweating profusely. He did not respond when I asked him, multiple times, to come with me. When he finally got out of the car, he could hardly stand.

He was rushed to a room. His blood sugar was low. The staff worked hard and he stabilized quickly.

We discussed the situation with him and thought it was under control.

Then yesterday, on a muddy afternoon, we got word that Kocho was having a problem at his home in the village. Joyce ran to investigate. It was true. I was asked to drive out to get him. In God’s mercy, the vehicle didn’t get stuck.

Kocho had fainted on the path. We loaded him into the back of the vehicle and drove straight to the clinic.

The staff once again did an excellent job. A test showed that his blood sugar was low. They tried to stabilize him with glucose, and he was regaining consciousness. The clinical officer told me that in another 30 minutes, he would have been dead.

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The test was repeated after a few minutes, but it showed his blood sugar had dropped even lower. It became clear that we didn’t have the right glucose concentration. We called ahead to Tokora, the nearby hospital: did they have what we needed? They did and were standing by to help. We rushed him there.

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He was quickly set up with another drip, and in just a few minutes, he was much better.

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Why is this happening? Is he getting too much insulin? Not enough food? Too much physical activity? We are not completely sure. He spent last night and all day today at the clinic, where his blood sugar can be conveniently tested before he injects himself and eats.

One thing is clear. Kocho’s life is still on edge. The days that remain to him are known only to God, but they will probably not be easy.

New at Last

Please pray with us for Kocho. Pray that his condition would stabilize, and that he would be able to live a productive life. But pray most especially that he would possess and exhibit true, saving faith in Jesus Christ: that alone will bring him the blessing of eternal life. No more sin, no more diabetes, no more lonely tears – only joy forever in the presence of our Savior. What would a redeemed Kocho be like then, what shall we ourselves be!

To that weighty glory we press as we call the Karimojong to Christ.

My Lord, My Strength

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“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:1-2

As I laid there on the bed, wasted from the fever and pain, these words from Psalm 18 rang in my ears and filled my prayers.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for your Spirit, the Comforter, who applies the sweetness of your Word to weak pilgrims such as myself. Thank you Father for your earthly messengers of grace and mercy such as our clinical staff! They have diligently and graciously cared for my needs at odd hours and done so cheerfully. Thank you for Christopher Verdick (and his faithful and supportive wife, Chloe) and for his endless efforts in managing the clinic. Thank you for our missionary associates, through whom you have provided for me child care, supper, and support. Thank you for Pastor Okken and family for their constant care and support for our family. Thank you for my children. They have hovered over me like butterflies, checking on their sick mama, making meals and doing other household chores to keep the family going. Thank you for the prayers of Karimojong friends and friends and family all over the world.

I am especially grateful for my dear beloved husband, whose tender care has nursed me to health over and over again these last eleven years. Father, thank you for this gift. The older and weaker I have gotten the stronger and deeper his love has grown for me.

Thank you Lord for sickness, for through this stressful and dark valley you have carried me in the palm of your hand and shown me all the ways I have been blessed. I bless your Name. “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.” Psalm 16:2

I walked to the clinic myself today for my second antibiotic injection. Although very tired, I am beginning to feel much better. I have been able to eat and drink and even do a few things around the house.

Father…. thank you for restoring me back to health again and being my strength!

~ Rashel

Teko Abraham

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This is Teko Abraham. He regularly attends our worship service in the village of Akuyam.

Here is part of his testimony of God’s goodness, reconstructed from what I remember:

Years ago, someone beat me. They were beating me for hours. They hit me on the head. I died.* They dug a grave for me. When I woke up, I saw the grave. They had put thorns in the hole so animals wouldn’t fall in. They were only waiting to bury me until some of my relatives came from a distance. Then I knew that God loved me.

* Unconsciousness is frequently associated with death. In Abraham’s case, it must have seemed final.

Psalm 107:15: “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!”

Bread

It’s the dry season here in Karamoja. Lots of wind, lots of dust. The days are warm. Fires consume the parched fields. The harvest was poor; food is scarce. People are hungry.

“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Jesus said these words, testing Philip; but “he himself knew what he would do” (John 6:6). Then he took five loaves and two fish and fed five thousand men. It was a sign.

At times, we also feel tested by Jesus’ words. We have so little to give. But we remember: “…the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). The Bread of Life, our Manna from heaven, took flesh to feed the world and give us life forever. He came to us, was born for us, was placed in a feeding trough for us, was finally broken for us. Man does not live by rice, posho, or chapati, and definitely not ngagwe, the local beer, alone! Jesus is the Living Bread that our neighbors need, and as a mission, it is our great joy to share Him freely. The Christmas season provided us with various opportunities to do that and to enjoy the fellowship we have in Christ.

Things change when you move to another country, and our family Christmas traditions were no exception. But it was fun to discover that the missionaries who lived and ministered here before we came kindly left us a Christmas tree! (Thank you, Tricaricos!) The kids and several of our young friends had fun decorating it.

The excitement begins:

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Beside the tree are Alebo Moses and Sagal David – Emmanuel is in the chair:

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Here are Angela (ahng-EL-ah) and Louse (low-OO-say) with a couple of large nutcrackers that, in the joyful scramble to decorate, nearly made it onto the tree:

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And finally, the finished product:

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After decorating, we shared a meal with these young men. They are dear friends. Please pray that the Lord would continue drawing them to himself and make them very useful in his kingdom.

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Some of our wonderful MKs also set up a festive Christmas corner in the common room where we eat lunch during the week. Left to right are Megan, Caleb, and Jacob Okken; then our Emmalene, Joshua, and Hannah.

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Young ladies making cookies with missionary associates Angela and Heather:

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…and eating them!

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Friday last was market day in Namalu. The church Mercy Committee arranged to give Christmas gifts of food to some people in need, so Pastor Dave, Omena, and I went to buy the things that were needed. So many people!

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Here Omena is helping fill the caveras (plastic bags) with posho:

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And here are some of the members of our church Mercy Committee: Omena, Lomilo, and Joyce. I’m thankful for their love for the church, their generosity, and their desire to share the love of Christ.

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Our Christmas Eve worship service was very well attended – as was worship on the Lord’s Day, which fell on Christmas. We thank God for the privilege of serving others with the Bread from heaven!

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After both services, some of the ladies broke into songs of praise to the Lord:

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Our mission station usually gathers to eat together on Saturday evenings, as we did again on Christmas Eve. We were immensely blessed to have many good things to eat. Here are a few of the cooks with some extras:

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Our missionary associate Angela has been teaching the MKs piano, and after dinner, they gave us a lovely recital of Christmas music:

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The piano is such a blessing! Thank you, dear Whitlows! Now to figure out how to tune it!

Several elderly folks joined us for Christmas lunch, which was a real delight. Here are Loyep Daudi (a church member), Peter, and Alice (another church member).

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The Christmas holiday here is followed immediately by Boxing Day. We took part of the morning to visit our friend Louse John Bosco and his family in the nearby village of Naturum. Everyone crowded around to see the muzungu visitors, and I was able to briefly explain Matthew 1:21 (“you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”) and to pray with them.

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Here Louse is reading the text from his own Bible. He loves the word of God.

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Our family began celebrating Boxing Day some years back. Our tradition is to have “feats of strength and games of skill,” sometimes goofy, sometimes serious. Here Joshua attempts the javelin throw (using a broomstick with a rock taped on the end):

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As everyone knows, a solemn parade (with fanfare) is the perfect addition to these types of events, so we always have one at the beginning and one at the end:

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It was a lovely time.

God is drawing the year to its close. We expect the rains will begin again in a few months. Seeds will be sown, plants will grow, there will be a harvest. People will eat.

But that bread will not last. The only unending, sufficient, satisfying supply is the Word of God, the Son who became Bread for our faith. May you eat – may we all eat, and live forever!

A Feathery Friend

Today, my friends and I were playing a game of soccer when all of a sudden some of the boys started to shout, “Acule, acule!” (“Eagle, eagle!” in Karimojong). I heard a noise and turned to look. I saw what they meant. There was a juvenile yellow-billed kite flapping around in a thorn tree like it was entangled in the thorns. Then it fell to the ground. It could not fly because of a bad wound in its wing, probably from the thorns. My friends and I caught it and we took it to my Mom. She and Dad were amazed!

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Dad suggested that we take it to the dove coop to let it heal. So we put it in the coop, and Mom cleaned its wound. We gave it some water and put it in a box with a towel in it. We’re keeping it there for now, and we’re planning to feed it live rats and maybe some lizards until it recovers.

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– by Joshua L. Robbins

There is Joy Before the Angels

…over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).

Isn’t it marvelous? The flaming ministers of God, who so fiercely guarded the way to the tree of life, are now commissioned to serve those who will inherit salvation: and they rejoice every time the Lord finds and rescues a lost sinner!

Just a few weeks back, we got a taste of that joy. Pastor Dave and I met with Veronica, the wife of Anyakun, and listened as she professed her faith in Jesus Christ.

As we sat with her, the unseen exultation was augmented with a crowd of very visible children:

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Two weeks after, she publicly declared her faith and was received as a member of the church. (Her husband has been a member for some time.)

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Such a wonderful occasion calls for feasting! Anyakun and Veronica (on the left) joined us and many others to celebrate the goodness of the Lord in saving us lost sinners.

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Rejoice with us and with the angels! And pray that Veronica will be faithful in her walk with God and continue growing in her love for Christ.