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Worker Spotlight: Kyamuhangawa Jalesi

Kyamuhangawa Jalesi is a native of Uganda. He is one of our farmworkers at the Rwenzori School of Preaching in Kasese. He works hard on the farm. In addition to his normal farm duties, he has been tasked with teaching the students about farming and overseeing their work on the farm. I am always impressed with his hard work ethic. Seldom do I catch him sitting down.

He also stays busy away from the farm preaching and evangelizing. He has been laboring with the Nyambuko church of Christ in the mountains near Kasese. This year they have worked hard and purchased land for the church and erected a church building constructed of mud and sticks. This type of construction, known as Waddle and Daub is common in Africa. Through the evangelism efforts that Jalesi has helped with at Nyamboko there have been two baptisms in the month of October.

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School Report: Talawanda School of Preaching

Classes are once again in full swing at Talawanda, and the students are doing fine. We are in the second academic quarter of the second year for this first group of students. Gregg and I will be at the school in November, and will both be teaching a course in Bible doctrine as well as working with the students on the farm.

As we are in the dry season, this is the time to prepare for the next planting. The students are clearing more land to expand the farm for the next season. The Bananas are producing nicely, which is really helping to feed the students. The chickens are providing the backbone for the farm, both with food and meat and eggs to sell.
Evangelism is going well even during the difficulties caused by COVID-19. We have been able to help the village with water and maize from the farm.

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School Report: Modelle School of Preaching

Classes continue as normal at Modelle. The students and faculty are paying careful attention to hygiene and health practices.

The farm has yielded a nice harvest of Coco Yams, vegetables, and Casava We are working on planting a crop of both sweet and Irish potatoes.

The combination of COVID-19 and the continued fighting in Cameroon provides a challenging environment for evangelism. The staff and students continue to go out twice a week to evangelize in the nearby villages. While many people have fled the area for safety, those that remain are gaining respect for the school and their stand for God and His Truth.

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School Update: Rwenzori School of Preaching

During the month of October, we were able to receive a concession from the local government, and as of October 26, the school at Rwenzori is once again open and holding classes! Of the fifteen students, thirteen have returned. One of the students had a substantial change in his situation during the lockdown and will be unable to return. Another is at home suffering from Hepatitis and likely will not return.

In the meantime, the work on the farm has continued all the while. Crops are growing heartily, and there is much work to do. Through the Lockdown the school has been able to provide help to brethren and neighbors who are suffering.

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Upcoming Dates

Gregg and I are excited to be able to finally return to the mission field in person. We are not exactly sure how travel will be changed as a result of COVID, so we are approaching our first trip back to Africa with some extra precautions. We will be traveling to Tanzania for two weeks to do a review of the school and see how things are going, and also to work with the students directly.

After our return, I am continuing to visit with our supporters and share updates about the work that the Lord has done this year. If you are not yet on my calendar and would like a visit, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

During the time that I have at home, I will continue to stay busy with evangelism here in Itasca. Over the holidays we plan to take some time to be with family. As we travel to central and south Texas for those visits we hope to be able to visit with some of our supporters in that area along the way.

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Counting For Christ

As the month of August arrived, I found a unique opportunity for evangelism: The United States Census. I had signed up to help count residents of Hill County where we live, and finally, I was called. After a day of training to be issued a device I was off and running. So, for the next six weeks, I was blessed to knock on roughly 1400 doors in and around our town. In this way, I was able to meet a number of people that I likely wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.

Through the course of the conversations that were had at the doorsteps of these homes, I encountered fourteen individuals who were interested in learning more about the Bible. This has kept us plenty busy hosting Bible studies in our home and visiting others that I contacted.

In September we began the process of revisiting you, our supporters, and sharing a detailed report of the great things that the Lord has done this year in spite of, and in many cases, because of the global crisis created by COVID-19. We have not gotten to visit with everybody yet, but we are working on filling up our calendar for December and beyond.

There is virtually nothing that COVID has not touched. We have had to cancel and reschedule some of our appointments due to confirmed cases among some of our supporting congregations. We have lost some of our support as a direct result of the impact that COVID has had in some places. Our prayers are with the brethren that are being affected. I know that many have lost much more than support, and some of these losses will never be reclaimed on this side of eternity.

At the beginning of October Leah was privileged to speak at the Texas Ladies for Christ retreat in Brady, TX. School for the boys is back in full swing. I am studying Spanish together with our oldest son so that I will better be able to reach those living around us who do not speak English. We greatly appreciate your prayers and continued fellowship.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More by Jack Wilkie

Published by Focus Press, Inc. (June 20, 2020)

141 pp.

From focuspress.org: https://www.focuspress.org/churchreset

Paperback $13.99 + shipping

eBook $9.99

Audiobook $8.00

From Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BKXHF3L

Paperback $14.00 (Prime)

eBook $9.99

Publisher Description: Shouldn’t church be… more?

If you’ve ever driven home on a Sunday with that question on your mind, you are not alone. When we read about the church in the Bible there’s a beauty and an appeal to it that so often seems missing. In our busy, distracted, consumeristic world it seems as though becoming a self-sacrificial, tight-knit, Christlike family like the early Christians is a pipe dream.

In Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More, Jack Wilkie traces the problem back to its roots to show how we’ve deviated from God’s plan and how we can get back on track. How can we stop operating as an organization and start living like a family? How do we stop creating church customers and start making dedicated disciples? How do we abandon man-made strategies and rediscover the power of God’s design? Church Reset casts an exciting vision for what Christ’s church can be by pointing back to what it was meant to be from the very start.

About the Author

Jack Wilkie preaches for the Forney church of Christ in Forney, TX. He is also the editor of The Focus Press Blog, where he writes on Christian living, the church, and cultural issues relevant to Christians. He has written one other book, available excusively from Focus Press – “Failure: What Christian Parents Need to Know About American Education,” and “Church Reset: God’s Design for So Much More.”

Contents

Introduction

  1. Shouldn’t the Church Be … More
  2. Going Out of Business
  3. Church Reset
  4. Jesus Is the Mission
  5. Together
  6. One Another
  7. “Go” vs. “Bring Them In”
  8. Out of Gas
  9. Holy Spirit
  10. Teaching Christ
  11. Living Christ
  12. Questions

Conclusion

Value of the Book

This book makes a very challenging point when it comes to the work, focus, and growth of the Lord’s church. Everything comes down to one point: The main work, and therefore activity, of the church AND of Christians is to make disciples. Based on that, evangelism is not a program, but part of the fabric of Christian life. He points out that a healthy congregation is not spinning around an amazing preacher but is a network of working and growing Christians. Being the church is not focused on what we do in the building, but on what we do for the rest of the week.

Weaknesses of the Book

Several times in reading the book I felt like the author had a very negative view of the church as she is. Granted, he makes the disclaimer that this is not the case. Still, the very premise of the book implies that the whole thing needs to be turned off and back on again.

The author seems to express the idea that there are things that the Spirit does directly to and for the Christian, but that in order for that to happen we have to get out of His way.

Suggested Use

I would not use this book as the basis for a class. However, as a personal read I see value in it. I think it could help church leaders rethink the way that the work is approached. I also think that it might have some value with those who are “on the fringe,” encouraging them to step up to the plate and BE the church rather than COMING to church.

Notable Quotes

 

Introduction

I certainly believe that doing things in the way God prescribed will lead to growth (both internal and numerical), but that’s not the same thing as “Try this method and you’ll get lots of people.” The important thing is to focus on process and not result. God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). It’s left to us to leave that part to Him and be faithful to His way of doing things. That’s the aim of this book. (Loc 98)

Going Out of Business

The businesslike approach to church creates customers who can only give a few hours per week and who can only consume, which places the onus on the providers to keep serving up these spiritual meals for the customers. Customers then choose the church where the preaching and teaching best meet their needs and the style they prefer. (Loc 366)

Just like the restaurant that rises or falls based on what they offer on the menu, so churches today have come to rise or fall based on what they offer on their menu of activities and programs. (Loc 380)

Church Reset

Perfect attendance is not a spiritual gift. God gives each and every one of us the Spirit for serving the people around us in some way. Until we have a system that disciples people and helps them find their role in the building up of the body, we are saying to the hand, “I have no need of you.” (Loc 643)

Jesus Is the Mission

Timothy’s job as the preacher at Ephesus was not just to preach good sermons. He was to equip others to join him in the mission of developing disciples. (Loc 933)

In short, a church full of Jesus followers won’t need to have their Christianity scheduled for them by some organizational leader. They will perform the church’s three-fold work of evangelism, edification, and benevolence organically, as part of who they are. (Loc 981)

Together

what we mean when we ask people to commit and serve the church says a lot about our understanding of the church. These things further the “individual contributing to an organization” mindset. “Serving the church” should mean serving the people of the church in some way. (Loc 1057)

One Another

That kind of closeness—to be known at our worst and still loved—is what we’re all longing for. We can only get that by confession. (Loc 1394)

“Go” vs “Bring Them In”

We gather together to worship Him, not ourselves, and not our visitors. Marketing our lively worship experience is not the same as evangelism. (Loc 1500)

People were still interested in the Gospel. They just weren’t interested in giving up their night to walk into a building full of strangers to hear what they saw as our interpretation of the Bible. Honestly…who could blame them? (Loc 1542)

Out of Gas

there’s a large difference between asking God to help us with what we’ve already planned to do rather than putting our plans at His feet and asking for guidance. To draw on Abraham’s example, when we do the former, we’re asking God to bless Ishmael rather than accepting that He might have another child in mind. (Loc 1761)

When we have the proper understanding of prayer’s effect on our spiritual lives and the life of the church, we stop asking God to make a clear path for us and start asking Him to strengthen us for whatever path He has for us. That’s exactly what our brethren did in Acts 4:29-30. Where we might pray for safety and an end to persecution, they prayed for boldness to speak regardless of the consequence. (Loc 1824)

Teaching Christ

Jesus was the greatest preacher and teacher of all time, yet nowhere do we see Him saying, “Alright, that’s your kingdom class for this week! Go act on what you heard, and I’ll see you next Sabbath!” (Loc 2036)

Frankly, the small group method is exactly what it would look like if someone tried to shoehorn the Biblical need for community and disciple making into the business model. (Loc 2098)

Living Christ

As a church leader, this may very well mean scaling back on the church schedule. If people are constantly expected to be at the building they aren’t going to have time to practice these things. (Loc 2204)

When it comes to helping people grow in Christ, the kitchen table can be just as effective as the pulpit—possibly even more. It’s in the informal setting of the home that we can share questions, help people learn at their own level and pace, and pray specific prayers together. It’s where Jesus did much of His teaching. (Loc 2260)

Questions

Because disciples are hand-made, a church culture of loving, family-like Jesus-followers can not be built any faster than the disciples are made. (Loc 2495)

When “church” is 90% or so focused on what happens in the building on Sunday, and women aren’t allowed to participate there, then it’s not unfair to say that women are second class citizens of sorts. If, on the other hand, the Sunday gathering is just one part (an important part, but still one of many) of what the church does, we can meaningfully say, “Women are allowed to do nearly everything but that.” (Loc 2553)

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Evangelism

Upcoming Dates?

As restrictions are beginning to ease somewhat, it appears that the current distress isn’t going away any time soon. This year’s calendar has not turned out to look anything like we had planned. All of the things that had been on my calendar are now erased.

I have kept busy with evangelism and ministry here in Itasca as well as managing the academic programs at Modelle and Talawanda. The faculty at Rwenzori is ready to go whenever the government gives them the okay.
While our work has not looked the same there have been some unique and incredible opportunities for the Gospel that have arisen. I would love the opportunity to come and encourage your congregation and share an update about how God has opened doors through all of this. We could arrange to do this in person or virtually. Just let me know what works best for you. Thanks for your continued prayers and fellowship in the great work of equipping evangelists and sending them into the fields to harvest.

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Church Crisis

Rwenzori School of Preaching Update

The school in Uganda remains closed due to COVID-19 pending authorization from the government to reopen. There is still no word as to when that might happen. Even in the midst of the ongoing lockdown, God is not locked down.

Mbusa, our director has planted a new congregation in the village of Kidodo with 15 members. The faculty and students in their dispersion continue to evangelize aggressively. One of the students has converted five souls in the mountain village of Nyambuko. Work on the farm continues, and the crop continues to feed the workers and those in need around the school.

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If You Know These Things

In washing the feet of the disciples, Jesus gave us a powerful example. This isn’t the idea that we should literally go around washing each other’s feet, but rather that even the most humble of tasks are not beneath our station in life because they were not beneath our Lord.

When we learn to set aside our pride and our concern for what we want, and our own worries, and look outward a change takes place. When we begin looking at others, searching for opportunities to serve and bless them the world looks different.

Jesus says that when we understand this truth, and when we put it into practice that it will bring blessings into our own lives. Another way to translate “blessed” in John 13:17 is “happy.”

When we stop focusing on our own troubles and focus on how we can serve and help others, Jesus says that we will find happiness. This life of service is what we are called to as Christians. It is what we were made to do.