Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Great News!


Pastors Growing, Maturing, and Training Others

After many years of working with the young local pastors and with the village pastors, we are beginning to see fruit of the labor! Jess meets for three to four hours every Wednesday morning with six of the young pastors here at Calvary Chapel Jinja for intense Bible study, but also for pastor training. They often go through a book of instruction such as Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp, reading each page and discussing the meaning, and then talking about the changes that need to be made to their lives to become more Christlike in their leadership roles. Jess has seen these young men grow tremendously in their maturity in the past year.

Also, the village pastors continue to come for a three day training every three months, and they pack a lot of learning into those three days! Jess usually picks one theme and then decides on the teachings to be done under that theme. Then he teaches several of the sessions, but also asks Moro Steven, J.B. Too-lit, Isaac Wootton, or other Calvary Chapel pastors in Uganda to do much of the teaching as well. Then different ones of the village pastors give the morning devotions to all the men. They have great fellowship as they learn more about God’s Word and about being teachers of that Word and of being godly leaders in their communities. In addition, four of these pastors stay for two weeks’ extra training each time in a foundations course that they take back to their village churches and then teach to others that want to learn. One of the pastors is teaching a class of 20 men, most of them village pastors from other churches that want to know the truth of God’s Word instead of just what they have heard from others! 

Jess and Bev Rich Calvary Chapel Jinja Uganda August 12, 2014
The next big pastor conference will be in October - the “Calvary Chapel East Africa Pastor’s Conference” - and it will be held in Nairobi, Kenya. Jess is hoping to take at least 14 men from the churches associated with us at about $200 each to this conference. He is also coordinating efforts with other Calvary Chapel missions in Uganda to see if they can send some of their pastors as well, so that everyone can go together in one big bus. This will be such a wonderful time of teaching, learning and fellowship, and it will grow the men in maturity, as well as encourage them in the work they do for the Lord!


Jess and Bev recently did a quick trip to the U.S. to take care of a little business, both personal and ministry. First, Jess was able to officiate at the wedding of his son Jake in beautiful Leadville, Colorado. Then from there we went to South Carolina to speak to Jess’s doctors about possible surgery to eliminate some of the more severe symptoms of his Parkinson’s Disease. It seems that there is a possibility of Jess having surgery even before the end of the year or early next year, depending on things like getting insurance and/or financing for the surgery and aftercare! We are waiting now for an exact amount of funds that we will need to raise to be able to pay for the surgery, but if this procedure is done, it would probably “reset” Jess’s physical abilities back 7 or 8 years. This would be more than a blessing, and would enable us to stay in the field for a longer period of time. We will let you know when we hear more details.

**This is my first attempt at a small newsletter, and I know that my graphics are not great, but please bear with me while I learn, and next time I will try to have more pictures!
Prayer Requests: Pray that Jess’s surgery will happen and be wildly successful and that God will make financial provision for it.

Pray that God continues to provide financially for the mission in Uganda.

Pray for the pastors as they grow and mature in their lives and godly leadership abilities!

Pray that the men and women of Calvary Chapel Jinja and all our outreaches continue to grow and mature in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord!

For giving to the mission and its ministries, please contact Calvary Albuquerque online for directions, or mail a check to Calvary Missions, 4001 Osuna, NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.
Jesse’s email: Bev’s email:

Eph 1:17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, our glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A day in the life of.....

Many people have asked us what our days are like here.  It's been a few years since I have blogged because I quit when Jesse got so good at it.  :-)  But I decided to write this out for some friends one day, and thought I would post it here in case anyone felt like reading it.  Grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for a bit!
As for a day in the life of - I can sort of give you an idea - but today is a slow day.    Right now we have two people renting our two apartments, and they come to dinner every night.  Last night they brought another missionary that is working with them because he lives in a different place and hasn't had anything to eat but bananas since he has been here (two weeks).  He came last night for a "home cooked meal" and couldn't stop eating.  He will be eating with us Tues - Fri nights of each week for the next month till his wife gets here. J  We also had three people stay the night with us in our house.  They work in Karamoja and were on their way to Kampala and then Entebbe today, but we are about the limit of their driving range, so they came to supper and stayed the night.  Just as they ALL arrived for supper last night, the dog trainer arrived (an hour late) to work with the two new dogs that we just got yesterday. AND we had no water all day because there was a break in one of the main lines in town.  Water came back last night at 8pm.  And I was up this morning at 6:00 to let the guard out, and then make everyone (except the dog trainer) breakfast before they all headed off to their respective areas.

Jesse got up this morning at 3am because the power went out and it woke him up, so he just got up an hour before his alarm went off.  He gets up at 4 am on Wednesdays so he has peace and quiet in which to prepare his Wednesday evening Bible study message.  Then as I get up at 6:00 to let the guard out, he goes back to bed till 7:00.  I get him up at 7:00, and then at 7:30 he goes out to meet our 6 young pastors for prayer, Bible study, study of a current Christian book (right now is Dangerous Calling), and tea or coffee.

At 8am the staff shows up for daily assignments, money, etc.  In the night, our worship leader's wife gave birth to a baby boy, so I gave Mary 100,000 shillings ($40) to help with her medical and she went to see the new mother and baby.  I gave Martin the key to the new van and he left for prison to go pick up the inmates and take them to the hospital.  I gave Steven money to reimburse him for the 2 new shock absorbers he put on one of our vehicles yesterday.  I made out a meal list for Irege (the cook) for today and gave him money for shopping.  I stripped the three beds the visitors stayed in and turned on the generator so I could wash them and so Jesse could make copies for his men's group.  (Power was still out.) Then Jess went outside with the guys and I finished making his copies and took them to him, and Rodah used the opportunity of electricity from the generator to iron some of our clothes.  I took turns introducing our staff and the boys that we sponsor (that work for us in holidays) to the new dogs.  The big one jumped on me (not well trained yet) and I had to go bathe and change.  J

At 9:00 Mary came back and I gave her money to go and pay the electric bills and go buy a box of paper for the copy machine.  Jess came in and made tea and coffee for the guys and went back outside.  Rodah and I put the first load of laundry on the line.  I called the electric company and asked about our power and they said they would send someone to fix it.  I tried to check my email, and received a message that our next door neighbors were leaving by the end of the month and had decided to leave their dogs with us after all and how happy they were about that.  We thought they had decided the dogs would be going somewhere else, so we had gotten other dogs.  Now we have eight dogs and should be safe from thieves at night! J

At 9:30 Jess is still meeting, and our visitors are ready to leave, so I escort them outside, help them pack up, pray for them, and send them on their way.  Then I go back in to read emails and see if there is anything I need to attend to.  Rodah's son Innocent needs to go to the Children's Hospital today for his checkup for his epilepsy, but he doesn't want his mother to go since he has begun to idolize one of the boys we support who works with us right now.  So I get Innocent's medical book, tell them to finish watering the new hedge that they have just put in day before yesterday, give them money to take boda-bodas (motorcycle transport), and tell them to go to the hospital after the plants are watered.

Then I go next door to where we have two men chopping firewood for the School of Ministry cooking, and I pay for their tea to the lady who cooks and makes chapattis, I give the two men money for lunch, and I pay them for their work for the day because I will probably be busy when they leave at 2pm.  I come back and put the second load of laundry on the line, turn off the generator, and call the electric company again.

Then Willy and Martin come and we look at the area we need to put up a shade for the new dogs, measure the area and decide what we want to put there, and then I give Martin money to go buy eucalyptus poles and paint and nails and screen wire.  I have a cup of coffee!!!!

Jess finishes with the young men and goes to work on the white van that he needs to get running so we can sell it so we can pay to get this land changed from Leasehold to Freehold so that Called Christians will own it instead of leasing it from the City Council. (Nice run-on sentence,  yes?) He has been working on it for almost two weeks and has taken it completely apart and is putting it back together again now that he has it running (sort of).  He comes in for a few minutes and I talk to him about the neighbors and their dogs.  He says tell them "no way" but in gentle terms.  Sigh. If they had only written one day earlier!

I go find John, Paul, and (not Ringo!) Willy to help Jesse put the seats back in the van.  Another missionary woman calls that she can't come over to tell me all her problems as planned because one of the children in her orphanage has acute pneumonia and she needs to keep him in her house with her for a while.

After the seats are in the van, Jess comes in for lunch and we eat lunch together.  Then we go to lie down for 30 minutes, and just as we shut our eyes, the electric company calls and they are at the gate.  I get up and go let them in and take them to the transformer that is on our property because that way we can protect it from thieves stealing the transformer oil out of it at night (which would cause it to burn up and us do without electricity for a month or so).  They work on the pole for a while and electricity comes back and I give them $2.00 each to buy lunch and they take off (after I check to make sure the power really is on!).  I come inside and Jess has just gotten up and is going back outside to work on the van.  I lie down and read for 15 minutes and then get up and try to answer some emails.  

I get a call from a Calvary Chapel pastor in Fort Portal that the man we have sent his way has arrived. The man had spent 24 years in prison under sentence of death, but his sentence had been commuted to life and he was released, but had no way to get started again.  He had traveled all the way here for several hours to get assistance from us.  So we kept him here for three days and then paid for his transport and some food to go back to Fort Portal.  When he arrived there, we were going to send money (you can do it pretty instantly here by phone) to the pastor who would help the man (John Baptist) to buy farming tools like a hoe, a machete (panga), a shovel, a watering can, and a sprayer.  After they bought those things, then there was also extra money to help feed John for about a month. I gave Irege the money and sent him downtown to send the money.  I throw the bedspread in the wash because Jesse accidentally got his shoes on it when he took his short rest.

I come back to the computer and start to answer some emails.  Irege comes and says that I have to check the Avocado tree that is hanging over the fence because that is how thieves got into Johnny Long's yard, and they could easily get into ours.  I go outside and find out he is right and ask that he and Willy cut off the offending limbs.  Then we start a search for the bow-saw which is always in the tool hut but is not there today.  Thirty minutes later we ascertain that it is out at the prison where Martin and Andrew took it on Monday to build an extra room on their pig house, and they would need it again this week so they left it with one of the guards.  I gave Andrew the money to take a motorcycle taxi out to the prison and bring the saw back, and Willy and Irege hacked the limbs off with a machete  panga) before Andrew got back.

Jesse came back inside and right now (4:30) we have a staff meeting.  And then tonight is Bible study from 5:45 to 7:00pm. (I have to remember to take out the keys to the gate to give to the night guard when he comes to Bible study, and also the key to the new van so that after the service, Pastor Steven can take home all the people that come from Danida, a slum area about ten miles away.) And then we have our two paying guests and our extra visitor over for supper.  After supper, Jess will go into our room (the office) and Skype with a woman who wants to bring a team out in June and have us host it.  I will sit on the couch with my computer, hoping to answer an email or two and entertaining our guests.  

During the meeting we decided that we CAN take the two other dogs and have them patrol a certain area of the compound with the night guard, but we will have to build an extra pen to keep them in during the day.

And just as I was sitting here finishing this email, Steven came back and said we have a "situation."  As he arrived in Danida, where he teaches a Bible study, one of the Bible study women's three year old son pulled a pot of boiling water onto himself and all his skin is peeling off and he is terribly burned.  So they took him to three different hospitals until finally Main Hospital admitted him and gave him a bed in the surgery ward.  But the father has no money to buy any drugs or needed materials, so Steven came here and we gave him money and medicines that they will need and he has gone back to the hospital to give those things to the father.

Now Jess and I are sitting on the couch with our two visitors, and we're hoping it's the end to a long but good day.  Hope this wasn't too long and tedious, but it is certainly a picture of a “real” day around here!   

Friday, January 7, 2011

Crazy Day and Abandoned Children

Well, I've said many times that our lives in Uganda are far from dull, and this one has certainly fit that description! It started early for me with things like these:
1. Helping a former prisoner (woman) start a business,
2. Meeting with the woman who is taking care of one of our sponsored children and giving her money for food and care,
3. Dealing with the local councillors about a part of the government that has been stealing from us for 4 years (they are going to lose their "tender" for the business they do for the council, plus if they don't pay us back, we will take them to police),
4. Making sure to put the money in the bank for one of our young men who is in school in Kampala,
5. Getting one of our Sunday School teachers (who is HIV+) in the hospital for severe malaria,
6. Sending one of our staff ladies to the clinic to get treatment for a chronic abscess that she has and then giving her medicine for it,
7. Getting J.B. ready to go to the North tomorrow to do the Introduction/Traditional Marriage of his nephew,
8. Talking to the young man that we have raised since he was in the 7th grade about his graduation from University in two weeks, and about the big party that we as the "parents" must throw for him, :-)
9. Sending out several mandatory emails,
10. Sending money to one of our village pastors whose children are sick and whose wife is in the hospital after having a miscarriage,
11. Making sure the volleyball court has all the weeds dug out of it before the youth conference next week, and also getting a huge hole dug to find the queens of "the termite mound that refuses to die" (beside the volleyball court),
12. And then all the "everyday" things like planning the daily menu with Irege, having Julie go and pay the water bills, getting Davis to repair our only bicycle, feeding the cat, and giving thyroid medicine to the dog.

BUT the MOST interesting part of the day happened between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Two children were abandoned at our gate. Their story is this: they have been living here in Jinja with their mother - their father died several years ago in Busia, their home. The girl, Grace, is 16 and was stricken with polio when she was 13. Over time, she has lost the ability to walk, and her hands are also affected. She weighs probably 50 pounds and seems to be very intelligent. Her younger brother Bosco is 7 and is all boy. Our staff describes him as "a bit stubborn." Their mother died in the hospital two weeks ago, and the hospital turned the children over to the police. They have lived at the police station for two weeks, but today the police decided they couldn't do anything with them and so went and "dumped" them at a local ministry for the handicapped. This ministry gets a large amount of funding from the U.S., but it only goes into the pockets and stomach of the Director of the ministry. Anyway, those people paid a boda-boda (person who provides transport on a bicycle), put the children on his bike, and told him to take them to Calvary Chapel and just drop them at the gate - not to bring them inside, but just to drop them. The boda-boda man did just that, so Grace and Bosco came to us for help. They have nowhere to go and do not have any relatives that they know of.
J.B. and I spent some time trying to find an orphanage or charitable organization that would take them in, but we were unable to contact anyone that could help them. The staff woman that was at the clinic came back to give me her results and get medicine, and she had great sympathy for them, so she is taking them home with her for the night and will feed them and give them a place to sleep. I will continue to call around and see if I can find a place for these children to go. I do pray that we can get some help for them. I am just not sure what to do with them at this time, but I know that the Lord will provide what is best for them. (Will you please also pray!)
And it is only 5:30 - with several more hours to go in the day. I wonder what else will happen before the day ends!
I posted on Facebook a couple of days ago that sometimes I am so very tired.... Now I am beginning to suspect the reason why!!
And this is only MY day! Jesse's was equally busy! We always have way too much fun!!
Blessings and love to you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Update from last Newsletter

Dear All,
Well, it's time for a newsletter again, and I know that because some kind person has just asked about the results of the things he was praying about from the LAST newsletter. Since I still don't quite have time to do an entire newsletter, I WILL respond to some of his questions (thanks Brian!) so you can all "catch up" a little bit!
His list and my responses:
1. NGO Application
Jess started getting the local paperwork for our application last September and we finally got the last signatures and stamps from local officials the week before Christmas. Then all the government offices shut down until after the holidays. We took a short one week break as well, and when we came back I locked myself in my office for two weeks from 10:00 to 5:00 every day and didn't even teach my usual Bible studies, just worked on all the paperwork we needed from the past five years so we could get recertification for 5 more years. The NGO office in Kampala almost NEVER accepts the application the first time you try to turn it in, as evidenced by two other NGO's that were sent back from there for "more information" at the same time I was about to turn mine in. But I went prepared with everything I could think of including three copies of the reports I was going to turn in, extra file folders, NGO stamp, NGO seal, inkpad, staples, hole puncher, paperclips, and extra recommendations, all of this covered with your prayers! The man was very difficult, but I humbly and meekly (NO JOKE!) kept my head a bit bowed and said "Yes, Sir" a lot, and he sent me back outside to do "one more thing," or get other information three times, but he finally couldn't find anything else wrong with it and ACCEPTED the application. Then he surprised me by smiling and telling me that I might get lucky and he would turn the application in to the board that week instead of waiting the usual two months. He told me to check back in two weeks. I almost broke into a "Happy Dance" in the parking lot, but was afraid he would think I was crazy and run out and give me my papers back! And then I went back in two weeks and we have been approved!! I have to go back again in two weeks to get the new certificates! Last time we did this it took us 8 MONTHS! God is good and we are blessed! Thank you for your prayers!

2. Women's Ministry
I think I told you that we had our very first Pastors' Wives conference in December, and although a few of the village wives did not come, the rest of us were incredibly blessed!! It was a great time of learning and fellowship, and all the ladies who came were SO glad that they had taken the time and the trouble to join us. Kelli and I were the teachers, and we based some of the teaching on Proverbs 31, and two of the wives said they did not realize how important they were to their families and their husband's ministries, and that they were to DO so much. They were so used to expecting the husband to just provide everything. And one wife even admitted that she realized she was totally destroying her husband's church and ministry and that she needed to change. And I was as blessed and learned as much as these ladies did, and God was just so present through the whole conference!
As for other parts of the Women's Ministry, the group at the village of Iguluibi is great and they are growing so much! The Wise Women's Bible study here at Calvary Jinja has gotten smaller but the ladies who come don't want to discontinue the study because they are so interested in what they are learning, so we each gave a verbal invitation to all the ladies in our church last Sunday to see if we can spark interest again.
And the two Bible studies in the Women's Prisons are going really well also. Danielle, who teaches in the Main women's prison has had some health struggles lately and is even in Kenya today to see a doctor, so Mary (one of our Ugandan ladies) has been teaching in her place. And Kelli is in the States on furlough, so her Tuesday teaching in Condemned Women's Section has been covered by Julie, another of our Ugandan ladies. And I am still in Condemned on Sundays and loving being with them and helping them to learn through the power of the Holy Spirit more and more of God through His Son, The Word, Jesus.

3. Pastor's Conference
The Pastor's Conference that was held in December was GREAT, with Calvary Chapel pastors from all over Uganda attending, and the teaching done by our Jinja staff, both missionary and Ugandan, and by some of the missionaries from other areas as well. I took some of the men to the taxi park after the conference and they were all still talking about it, and one asked me, "Why weren't we taught these things years ago?" And I told him it's because they weren't mature enough then, but they have been growing so much in the Lord that now was the time. He said I was right, but that they were so blessed by the conference. There is another scheduled for next week, and men from other Calvary Chapels will again be teaching. The theme is
Phil 3:17 "Join with others in following my example...." and the men will be teaching by using an example of one of the godly men from the Bible.

4. School of Ministry
Jess weeds through the students during the year and usually ends up with the ones who are serious about learning who Jesus is and how to share His Gospel. If they are in the class for money or prestige or a certificate to hang on the wall, they usually drop out or are asked to leave before the year is over. This year there are only four men remaining with one and a half months to go, but they are solid and strong in the Word, and each will face persecution in his home church when he returns there because of the false doctrine that so many of the churches teach here. So please continue to pray for the guys in the School of Ministry as they prepare to go out and MINISTER!

5. Small business loans to pastors
Not always a winning situation. This is the month to find out about the man who makes bread and sells it. We loaned him one of our motorcycles to help increase his business. From his projections he should have earned enough by next month to purchase one on his own. We will continue to pray for this. One chicken business has failed and the pastor sold off all his hens (they were supposed to be laying eggs and he was selling the eggs but they didn't lay enough), and we do not know where it will go from there. The other who failed couldn't sell his chickens for enough to start over, so he followed advice from others (and from me) about different food, medicine for a certain disease, and leaving a couple of eggs or a light bulb or two in the nests so the hens lay better. His business is increasing again through God's grace. The guys who are selling shirts will report in during next week's pastor conference. And Apollo, who is raising sugar cane to support his family, plus fund other pastors' projects, has had a terrible time getting the sugarworks to accept everything properly and then pay him! First the men who had the sugar cane loaded onto their lorries and took it to the factory stole 10 tons and Apollo couldn't prove it, so had to buy another piece of sugar cane to go along with his because you have to turn in a certain amount. Then after it was all turned in, he had to go back between 15 and 20 times to try to get all the paperwork cleared and the money in his account. Each time he went, his file was "lost" until he came up with a bribe. He soon got tired of that, so each time his file "went missing," he would call Jess and Jess would have to go out to Kakira and see the manager and the file would be miraculously "found" on someone's desk. FINALLY they approved all the papers and told Apollo the money would be in his account in a month to six weeks. That should be at the end of February or the middle of March.

6. Healing for three children
Innocent with epilepsy, age 10, still has seizures daily in spite of prayers and seizure medication. Please continue to pray.
Jesca - 9 years old with abdominal cancer, was doing well on her chemotherapy, but her brother took her to the village to see her mother, she contracted malaria and died. But before she started her chemotherapy, we prayed with her to receive Christ, so she is in heaven with Jesus today, and that makes her completely healed.
Apollo's son Jessy - 2 years old with Sickle Cell Anemia. Jessy almost died in December and we spent two days searching the country for blood for him. Uganda was out of blood over the holidays. J.B. finally drove 2 hours away to a place that had blood, and Jessy was transfused. His blood level was below the line that sustains life. Please keep praying for Jessy.

There are other things that we asked you to pray for, but I need to close now and finish preparing for the Proverbs 31 study that the Calvary Chapel staff ladies and I have been doing for the last 16 months. It is one of the best times of the week, and we ALL are so glad we are doing this study. We agree that we have ALL changed greatly! A real blessing from the Lord!

So I guess I shall close here. I will try to answer some of the other questions later. I DO want to say that Brian reminded us that Jess and I need to take "together time" with each other or things in our marriage, and consequently in every part of our lives, will not do well. We did take a week off after Christmas, and we DO take time for each other. We are so blessed that we work well together - Jess doing his part to lead and guide spiritually (and to fix everything that breaks), and I doing my part to lead the women, but to get the day to day work details of the compound taken care of through our staff. Our love for each other grows stronger every day, and we are so blessed that God put us together as man and wife. Please continue to pray for his health as the Parkinson's Disease continues to progress, but please also know that we will continue to serve God here as long as He wants us to do so. We love each other, our lives in Uganda, our ministries, and especially our God. May He bless all of YOU in every way!
With love in Christ,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Greetings from Uganda!
We pray all is well with ALL of you!
Here's our update for the month - we have certainly not been idle!
I'll try to hit the high points and not bore you with the details, but you know how hard that is for me! There are many praises here, and many things that we ask you to pray about. Blessings to you all!

1. PRAISE - We had a pastor's conference in November on "The Word of the Pastor" and it was EXCELLENT and had pastors from Entebbe and Fort Portal as well as our own guys, plus Pastor Mohan from Kampala came.

2. PRAISE - We had a pastor's WIVES conference in December on "A Beautiful Woman of God - The Pastor's Wife," and IT was also EXCELLENT! We had five languages represented, but among our staff, we actually had translators for everyone!

3. PRAYER - Just before the wives' conference, Pastor Apollo and wife Betty's two year old son Jesse had to be admitted in hospital and they did not know if he would live. He was given two units of blood and diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. Betty is devastated because she has lost so many children to this disease. She has delivered 11 living children and has 5 who are still living. We will help with the best care that we can, but there isn't a lot you can do except fluids and vitamins.

4. PRAISE AND PRAYER - Pastor Apollo has been harvesting the sugar cane that we started for him as an income generating project. He is doing GREAT, but the driver and the asst manager assigned to him are trying to steal 10 tons of the sugar cane from him. He is in talks with the manager.

5. PRAYER - We have had to close one of our churches and remove the pastor - Simba James from Osia (near Tororo). PRAISE - But we have another pastor there - Michael Sande - who is starting a church in Tororo Town itself, and he already has as many members in his church as James did after 6 years. Michael is a good and godly man, and we pray God uses him greatly! PRAYER - After we closed and locked the church in Osia, James broke the locks off and still held services there so we had to involve the local government. We will see what happens now. We will be selling that land and church in March.

6. PRAISE - Three weeks ago Jess ran in the MTN half-marathon in Kampala. He did really well, and finished in a little better time than last year - 2 hours and 15 minutes. For a man with Parkinsons, that is an accomplishment (and I, Beverly, am really proud of him). He was happy to have done so well, and has started running in the mornings again when it's not pouring down rain.

7.PRAISE - Speaking of rain - the prayers of the Saints are working in this area this rainy season! It is probably the best rainy season Uganda has had in 5 or 6 years and it seems that almost everywhere in Uganda crops are growing this year! Maybe we will have a season without quite so much hunger!

8.PRAISE - Jess and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary on December 7th! Hurray! Two thirds of our married life has been spent in Uganda!

9. PRAYER AND PRAISE - Don and Danielle Pierce, the couple who works with us, have had a difficult two months. Danielle has been having what appears to be seizures, and this has never happened to her before. She went for treatment in Kampala, but there isn't an MRI machine or even a proper EEG machine in Kampala, so she was referred to Nairobi. They traveled there and after extensive testing, the neurologist says Danielle is not having seizures but has some sort of nerve problem/disorder. She is in the process of changing medicines, is growing stronger and not having so many seizure-like episodes. PLEASE keep her in prayer.

10. PRAYER - We had to fire a man who had worked for us for almost 5 years because of excessive drunkenness. It was a difficult thing to do because he has a wife and four children, one of whom is just a month old. But there were many problems because of his drinking, not the least of which is that he works for a church and a pastor, and that was damaging the reputation of the church badly. So we paid him 6 months salary and transported him and his family and possessions back to his home area of Kitgum in the North. Please pray that God changes him and that his family does not suffer.

11. PRAYER - We are in the process of getting ready for our Christmas Prisons Program that our kids will perform in 6 prisons in three days the week before Christmas. Then they also do the performance at our Christmas Day service as well. It's a lot of work, but it's an incredible blessing for the men and women that are ministered to in prison by this program.

12. PRAISE AND PRAYER - There was a court ruling that affected many of the men and women on Death Row - the Condemned Section of the prison. The ruling states that if you have not been executed within three years of finishing your final appeal, it is cruel and unusual punishment and your sentence is commuted to "Life." "Life" under the Commonwealth law is 20 years. So 110 men - mostly the members of our church in the prison - had their sentences commuted to life and were moved from the "Condemned" to the "Convicted" section of the prison and are now serving what is basically a 20 year sentence, starting from the date of their conviction. We are thrilled about some who will eventually be released, but also realize that there are some men in this group who should never, under any circumstances, be released from prison. Pray that God touches their hearts and they realize it is only through His grace that they will be free, and that they come to Him completely.

13. PRAISE AND PRAYER - Kelli has gone back to the States for two months. We are all missing her terribly, but hope she has the BEST furlough possible.

14. PRAISE AND PRAYER - Jess and I will be taking furlough from April through June. We haven't made a schedule yet, but will be doing that VERY soon.

15. PRAYER (for School of Ministry Students on holiday) - This is the final week for School of Ministry until after Christmas, and our guys will be going back to their villages for the holiday. Jess had to dismiss one student for immorality, and the man's pastor was adamant that he was being framed, but in truth, he was guilty, so he isn't here any longer.

16. PRAYER FOR STRENGTH (AND WISDOM) - Last Saturday, Jess had to conduct and wedding and a burial on the same day. The bride and groom got here 2 hours late, and then it was a 2 hour drive to the village after the wedding, so the burial also started late. At the same time, there were at least a dozen other things going on here at the compound, including the new "Street Kids" ministry, and it was quite a zoo. I usually would be around coordinating, but I had to take an elderly woman to Kampala for some things she needed there - she is a widow and her husband is the one who is buried here on our property. So it was a fairly "normal" day here - absolutely crazy!

So after all that, please keep us daily in prayer! And we will never take your prayers for granted! They cover us with God's grace!

Bless you and keep you always!
With love in Christ,
Bev and Jess

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ugandan Burial

Today Jess, Ryan, Kelli, and myself, along with ALL of our Ugandan staff members went to the burial of the son of a very good friend of ours. Mama Agnes has been in our church as long as it has been in existence, I think. She is in her early 50's, which is old for Uganda. And one of her sons just died of complications from AIDS. He's only about 30 years old. Agnes was inconsolable. Our Ugandan guys did most of the visiting and planning with her yesterday, and we helped pay for a lot of the food that was served. J.B. and Martin went and bought the coffin this morning, and J.B. drove Agnes and some of her family out to the village, while the rest of us took various family members plus friends and church members as well. And on top of that, three "Coaster" buses were hired to take friends and relatives to the burial. Customs here are very different than in America. The body was on display at Agnes's home, and when you come to do "visitation," when a woman steps into the yard, she throws her arms on top of her head and starts wailing. This unites you with the mother and/or family in grief. And no one is ever buried in town. You take the "dead body" back out to the village that your family comes from, some young men - friends or family - dig the grave and then either brick it in, or make a cement floor and walls, and then the ceremony is held in the front yard of the family. There is usually a quarrel over who will do the ceremony since the family members come from different faiths and churches. Today the mother, Agnes, had asked Calvary Chapel and Jess in particular to do the service. J.B. made sure that this happened. Jess spoke beautiful words of salvation, and several gave their lives to Christ today. Then we went up the road a ways to where the grave had been dug, and the coffin was lowered into the grave with ropes. Then people threw dirt into the grave, and an iron sheet and a steel mesh was put over the top. Then a thick layer of cement was put over that, and everyone went back home, trecking through someone's sweet potatoe field on the way.
There were several times today when my heart was really touched for Agnes and I grieved with her, but the moment that I will remember forever is when I had my turn to give my condolences in her house as she sat by the coffin, and when I walked in, she had the other women unwrap Eric's face in his coffin (they wrap the body in several bedsheets) and she touched his face and said, "Mama Bev, this is my son. This is my son." And then we cried and cried together.
Eric had prayed with Jess to receive Christ two months ago when he realized that he had little time left. We do believe it was a true decision for Christ, and this gave Agnes some comfort. Please pray for her - she is a widow and lost her husband a few years ago. When we arrived today, she found that because the family doesn't want her and her family buried there, all the cement had been broken off her husband's grave - a great insult and dishonor - and that was almost as hard on her as burying her son.

Friday, November 13, 2009

News From Condemned Prison!!

Today an incredible thing happened!
I have written in a couple of our newsletters that the Death Penalty laws in the country of Uganda were changed about a year ago. The Uganda Supreme Court upheld the Death Penalty and said that men and women could still be condemned to die under the law. But they also ruled that once a person had exhausted all his or her appeals, if they were not executed (execution is by hanging in Uganda) within three years of the end of their appeals, their death sentences were to be commuted to life in prison.
The problem with this is that there is no such thing under Ugandan law as a "Life Sentence." A life sentence actually means 20 years, with an actual possibility of being released after about 14 years because of "good time." This caused a big question within the prison system because about half of all the Condemned Prisoners have finished all their appeals but have not been executed within the next three years. And since there is no "life sentence" actually on the books here, the prison system did not know what to do with them.
It seems that the ruling came today, and Jess got a call that 110 Condemned men were transferred today from the Condemned section to the Convicts section instead, and now they just have to serve out the remaining years of a "life" sentence!
Most of these men were members of the "church" that Calvary Chapel leads in the Condemned Section in Kirinya Prison - in fact, all of the church leaders were a part of this group! And three men had been in prison so long that they were actually released!
The Bible does support the death penalty, but we are so happy for most of these men because they truly show changed hearts through the fruit in their lives. Now there is a HUGE chance that in the next few years many of them will be released to go back to their villages and give testimony to what God has done in their hearts and lives - they will go back as completely changed men!
Of course, Jess, J.B. and Steven have been with these men for so many years now that they have made good friends among them, and it was hard to think of those men with whom they had a relationship being hanged to death.
Now there will be a big task ahead of Calvary Chapel Jinja as our pastors see who will possibly be released next and then will need to find a way to go ahead of those men to prepare the families and villages for the homecoming of people that personified "evil" when they went away to prison.
But it was an exciting day full of joy and prayers and worship. Jess went and spent the afternoon at the prison, rejoicing with those who got the good news, and sharing God's Word and praying and praising the Lord! It was an amazing day!
There is one woman in the prison where we minister who is also possibly eligible for this release. Her name is Charity, and her heart has changed completely from the nineteen year old girl who murdered two people in jealousy to a woman who helps lead the prison church and the other women to stand firm for the Lord. Please pray that God would grant her mercy. She is a friend to Kelli and I and to our Ugandan staff women, and we would be very happy to see HER be given a news chance at life as a witness for Christ!