Posted by: jacobgillard | January 2, 2012

2011 in Review

Dear Friends, we really value the relationship that we have with you.  This post is about a very special aspect of that relationship—the one where WE post and YOU read, learn & pray!  Thanks for walking with us and may the Holy Spirit of Jesus keep you firmly planted in the Word for the duration of 2012!   — Jake (and family)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: michellegillard | December 28, 2011

Our 4th Christmas

We just celebrated our 4th Christmas here in Uganda.  It’s hard to believe Evangeline was two when we celebrated our first one in 2008.  This week we had a party, we went to parties, and enjoyed a festive church service—so wonderful!

People are mourning with us now that we have tickets to return to the USA in late January.  Most Ugandans don’t believe it when they hear we are leaving.

Just this evening, we just returned from dedicating the new land for our Kampala congregation.  Someone told me in a hope-filled voice that maybe we would return to Uganda someday.  I think after three years, we have become part of their normal lives.  They are accustomed to seeing us, being with us, expecting us at events, counting on us.  But soon we will just get on a plane and we will be gone.  It is all very sobering.  Thank you for the prayers as we take our leave.

Posted by: michellegillard | November 30, 2011

Will she read it?

I have had a relationship with a particular Muslim woman for over two years. I have taken my time to live a Christian life and be a friend to her. More recently on two occasions I have shared the Gospel with her. She took to hearing it cheerfully and with a loving openness that a friend would give to another friend. Then this past week I gave her a bible in her own language. I told her that I have known her and she has known me. I said that it is time I give this to her. It was wrapped and she was leaving so there was no pressure for a response. But I am asking that if you have a moment, please pray for my friend, “H”. Pray that she will be drawn to the bible sitting in her home. Pray that she will open it. Pray that if she opens it God will teach her the truth found in Jesus Christ.

Thanks, Michelle

Posted by: jacobgillard | November 25, 2011

When a Bumper Sticker is Not Enough

sibyangu

It is very popular in East Africa to make a statement on the back of your car, taxi, or truck. Sometimes a bumpersticker is just not enough so why not display it on half the back window?

Ugandans may not enjoy First Amendment rights like Americans but there’s something very refreshing about how they at least put innocuous thoughts out there for people to react to—and in a big way.

As for myself, I’m not a bumper sticker person but if I were, I might display ‘ssibyangu’ on my back window—as in the taxi above.  The translation?  “It’s not easy.”

Think of it as roughly equivalent to “Uff Da!”

(And if you’re not from the Upper Midwest you might need a translation for that!)

Posted by: jacobgillard | November 20, 2011

Official Notice

We were sent to Uganda in 2008 to serve as missionaries with the Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda (LCMU).  We began the task with joy and started off by assuming the best about each of our new colleagues.  For three full years we have done a lot of listening and observing.

In more recent days, the LCMU has decisively forged for themselves a path upon which we cannot follow.  For this reason, we can no longer in good conscience be affiliated with them.  Please allow this to serve as an official notice that we no longer serve the LCMU.

The above notwithstanding, it would be impossible for me or any other foreigner to be a missionary of the LCMU because the LCMU no longer has a valid NGO certificate (the previous NGO certificate expired on 24 June 2011 and you can see a copy for yourself here).  Mr. Stephen Okello, NGO Forum representative to the October 21-23 “Delegates Conference” in Jinja even stated during the conference that the certificate had expired.  The LCMU is therefore unable to cater for work permits for anyone.  The LCMU’s ability to present itself before the international community as a legally registered church should be questioned by all.

It is worth noting that the LCMU is not in ‘altar and pulpit fellowship’ with the LCMS—nor has it ever sought to be an official partner church, nor a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC).  That being said, LCMS World Mission has yet to come to its own conclusion regarding its future relationship (if any) with the LCMU.

Posted by: jacobgillard | November 16, 2011

Mailing List

I cleaned up our email list—the one hosted by Yahoo! Groups. There were 26 addresses that were bouncing and I removed them. So if you’ve stopped getting our email updates (approximately 2 to 6 times a quarter) you may want to sign up again. Do you see the purple & yellow Yahoo! logo in the right column? Just give it a click and follow the instructions.

Posted by: michellegillard | November 11, 2011

Being Back

We have been back in Uganda for two weeks now. (We didn’t post it on this blog but we were in the States for 7 weeks for a much-needed ‘respite furlough’.  We sent out three email updates during that time to those on our Yahoo!Groups email distribution list.  If you didn’t get it, just give a shout and we can send it your way.)

Now that we’re back, we enjoy visitors welcoming us back almost daily. We love eating local lunch again (matooke, beans, rice, soup i.e. meat with broth, fresh mango, avocado, etc). The weather is fabulous. But a sadness fills our hearts.

We are no longer working with the Lutheran Church Mission Uganda. The church has had some difficulties that make it impossible for Jacob to continue teaching and training their leaders.

What next? We simply do not know. We ask for your prayers in this time of uncertainty. Until we get a better idea, we relish in God’s word, daily prayer, and enjoy every day in this land we have come to care for so much.

Now, let’s end on a happier note with a cute kid pic.

Amelia and the loose tooth

This may be the last pic you see of Amelia with all her teeth---at least for a while. A top one is coming loose!

Posted by: jacobgillard | September 20, 2011

Will Nuba Be The Next Darfur?

It’s not fiction but real life.  Your own government wants to drive you off your land—indeed out of your own country.  They want you gone so badly that they resort to the aerial bombardment of civilians.  The safest dwelling places are mountain caves and sometimes your only food are greens.  Every time you hear the sound of an airplane you run to the cave for shelter. If only it were fiction, but unfortunately this is real life for the residents of the Nuba Mountains—some of whom are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Border States of Sudan

The peace deal between Khartoum and the South Sudanese rebels signed in 2005 left three notable unresolved problems: the border regions of Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. There has been heavy fighting in each one at some point in the last few months. (For your reference, Egypt is directly north of Sudan; Uganda is directly south of South Sudan.) Graphic courtesy BBC News.

Abyei and Blue Nile have received some coverage in the international press but in this post I want to draw your attention to a less-publicized but serious and a rapidly deteriorating situation in the Nuba Mountains. Some international observers are concerned that Nuba could become the next Darfur.

Nuba is geographically located in Sudan’s South Kordofan State but many of the inhabitants would prefer to self-identify with the brand-new country of South Sudan when considering social, cultural, religious, and political factors. The Nuba Mountains are a remote area with few roads so most of the movement within Nuba is done on foot. As you can imagine, communication with the outside world can be difficult.

A few of our church leaders in the Nuba Mountains were able to leave Nuba last month and they made their way to Juba. My boss and I met with them there and they were eager to tell us—and the world—about the war in Nuba.

Please read their 1-page report here.  Photos of those forced to seek shelter in caves can be seen here and are safe for viewing by all audiences.

We were also given photos of war victims.  The church leaders in Sudan and South Sudan believe they can best honor the dead by the reporting of this war in the international community but the photos of the war dead are very graphic (e.g. decapitated corpses, intestines spilling out, etc.) so in the interest of discretion I can share a private link to these graphic photos, upon request. (Similarly graphic photos are available by Googling “Nuba dead” and selecting ‘image’ results.) My boss and I have no reason to believe that these photos nor the above report are anything but authentic.

How can you help?

I urge you to consider telling the story of the atrocities in the Nuba Mountains.  Work it into your daily conversations—in an appropriate way, of course.  The survivors, their families, and the leaders in the Lutheran Church in Sudan will thank you.

Learn more about the various challenges in South Sudan on the dedicated page by BBC News, South Sudan: New Nation.

Posted by: jacobgillard | September 19, 2011

Long-Sought and Hard-Won

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South Sudan celebrated her long-sought and hard-won independence on July 9th, 2011. I was able to visit Juba and Malakal from July 12th thru 20th—just days after the official celebration—and the enthusiasm of the citizens of the world’s newest country was both glorious and infectious. As you can see in the photos of billboards around Juba, a lot of congratulations were in order.  At the same time, many people were quick to admit that the hard work was just beginning—after all, it’s not easy to build a country from scratch!

As if that weren’t a big enough challenge, the situation is further complicated by a host of political and social factors e.g. war in border states, an undefined border between the two Sudans, inter-tribal cattle rustling, etc.  This BBC News article of September 4th reports that tens of thousands are fleeing Sudan’s Blue Nile State into Ethiopia.  This BBC News article of September 2nd gives more background information. Less well known is a war on civilians in the Nuba Mountains that some observers are concerned could become the next Darfur. Stay tuned and read tomorrow’s post for more details but in the meantime you can check out this photo essay by BBC News In Pictures.

Posted by: jacobgillard | September 3, 2011

Year-End Funding Report

LCMS World Mission’s fiscal year recently ended and we have some great news to share about how the Lord has used many of you to make financial contributions that help keep us on the field.

  • 539 unique gifts were received over the 12-month period ending June 30, 2011.  We need to think of a special prize for Spirit of Christ Lutheran in Ham Lake, MN who made 47 separate donations!
  • Those wonderful 539 contributions helped us meet 107% of our budgeted goal.  I don’t yet know if our expenses came in over-budget or under-budget—but we’ll keep you posted.
  • 73% of contributions were received to fulfill a pledge.
  • 3% of contributions were received as reoccurring gifts.  (Reoccurring gifts are donations from donors who enjoy giving a specified amount on an on-going basis—often utilizing an auto-pay program.  It is similar to a pledge except a pledge has a defined time period attached to it whereas a reoccurring gift does not.)
  • 24% of contributions came from what I might term “casual” donations—except I’m sure there was nothing casual about it!

Here’s a huge THANK YOU to all of our financial partners.  We thank God for you!  We realize that your financial support isn’t always an easy thing—especially when the economy isn’t roaring along.  We are in awe of your sacrifice, faithfulness, stewardship, pledges, and gifts.  We do not take your gift lightly but consider ourselves accountable both to you and to God. Thank you so much for joining this holy calling!

Please Note:

  • All contributions are tax-deductible, as allowed by law.  Donations are receipted by LCMS World Mission in St. Louis, MO.
  • These donations directly support our “fielding expenses” e.g. salary, housing, benefits, airfare, visas, immunization, language study, children’s education, station travel & expenses, etc.
  • Other contributions were received for a few humanitarian projects that we administer here on the field but those gifts are NOT included in the above.
  • I’ll be more than happy to share the actual dollar amounts (total budget, total donations, total expenses) with anyone who inquires.
  • The May 2011 issue of The Lutheran Witness is a special report regarding Synod finances entitled “Blessings, Gifts and Challenges” and I encourage LCMS stakeholders to give it a whirl.  Allow me to note that LCMS World Mission is cited for overspending on page 1.  I don’t presume to know all the factors that led to this conclusion—it’s above my pay grade!—but rest assured that neither the Gillard family nor your support of the Gillard family have contributed to that problem because we’re a part of the new funding model called network-supported missionaries.  You can read more about it here.

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