How You Can Be Praying for Us Here in Uganda

Picture of a boda boda – similar to the ones we used when we went to meet Elliot and Harold at the bus depot

This is our third day in Uganda.  We are praising the Lord for all His mercies to us through Jesus Christ.  We rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for the safe arrival of Elliot Khembo and Harold Juma from JTW Malawi.  They arrived at 2:00 am on Thursday morning.  My brother Timothy and I went to meet them at the bus depot using motorbike “taxi’s” commonly called boda boda here in Uganda.  It was quite an experience.  All the same we made it back to “home” safely.

In this post, I would like to share a few specific ways in which you can be praying for us.  These have been taken and adapted from Paul’s plea for prayer in his epistle to the Romans in Romans 15:30-33 which reads:

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

The Sunday before we left to come here, I preached on this text and and gave our congregation some specific ways they can be praying for us while we are gone this summer.  Here is a brief summary of what I shared with our congregation:

What Did Paul Ask the Roman Believers to Pray for Him?  Three things:  1.  That he may be delivered from the unbelieving Judeans,  2.  That his service might be acceptable to the saints, 3.  That by God’s will he may return to them and be refreshed in their company.

In a similar way, I ask that you please remember us and the JTW Team with us here that the Lord may protect us from those who may be hostile to the gospel.  No doubt, we will mingle with many unbelievers as we go about the work that the Lord has called us to do here.  Please pray that the Lord will go before us and protect us.  In addition to that, please pray also that those who do not believe might come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and find eternal life in Him.

I also ask that you please pray that our service here may be acceptable to the saints in this country.  We are going to be mingling with a lot of Christians (pastors and laymen alike) in a number of the local churches while we are here.  Please pray that our ministry to them may be tremendously blessed of the Lord and that it may be acceptable to them.  Pray that their hearts (as well as ours) may be prepared to receive the Word of God with faith.  Pray that our hearts might be good/fertile soil where the Word of God will thrive and bear fruit to the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Finally, please pray that by the will of God, we may all return home with joy.  Please pray that the Lord may prosper His work through us here during the time that we are going to be here and that we will all be able to return home with great testimonies of the mighty works of God among His people here in Uganda according to His will.

Why Did Paul Ask Them to Pray for These Things? 

First, it was for the sake/glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We too desire that in all that happens through us here might be to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Secondly, it was for the sake of love (i.e. as a demonstration of their love for him).  We too ask you to pray for us as a demonstration and proof of the love that the Lord God by His Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers for Him and for one another.  For these reasons, please pray for us brethren.

How Were They to Pray for Paul? 

First, they were to strive in prayer for Paul.  Paul’s appeal to them was that they put forth all that was within them in the duty of prayer on his behalf.  They were to pray with focus, faith and fervency.  They were to wrestle with God on his behalf and pray for him in their praying being assured that the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous avails much (James 5:16).

Secondly, they were to strive in prayer together with Paul.  When Paul begged the Roman believers to pray for him, he did not intend thereby to excuse his praying for himself.  Quite the contrary!  He had resolved to strive in prayer for himself too, daily wrestling with God and he invited them to join him in that endeavor.  Although he was so separated from them by a great distance, he nevertheless invited them to join him in prayer.  One commentator said, “those who are put far asunder by the disposal of God’s providence may yet meet together at the throne of His grace.”  And, “those who beg the prayers of others must not neglect to pray for themselves.  In the same way, we invite you brothers and sisters to strive together with us in prayer over these next few weeks.  May it please the Lord to allow us to meet at His holy throne of grace daily where we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need (Hebrews 4:16) through Jesus Christ and to His praise, glory and honor! Pray for us brethren even as we pray for ourselves and for you to the glory of God in Christ Jesus our Savior!

Hello from Uganda

This is just a brief post to let our family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ know that we have arrived safely in Uganda.  Our flights went really well – no drama at all.  Praise the Lord.

One of my brothers, Timothy and his friend Tom met us at the airport and dropped us where we will be staying for the next couple of weeks.  Our hosts, Dave and Darlene Eby have graciously and warmly welcomed us for which we are very thankful.  Dave and Darlene are on the faculty of the Westminster College and Theological Seminary here in Kampala.  Timothy is studying for the ministry there.

This evening, we were invited to a graduation banquet.  My youngest brother, John Joseph (affectionately called JJ), is graduating from the African Bible University here in Kampala this Saturday.  We are looking to being at his graduation where I will be doing some speaking alongside other more prominent speakers.

After we got “home” from the banquet, we got word that Elliot Khembo (National Director of JTW Malawi) and Harold Juma (Director of Missions & Outreach, JTW Malawi) are due to arrive in Kampala, late tonight.  They are coming to join us at the Preaching Conference which will start on Monday, June 4 and will run till Friday, June 8, Lord willing.  After the conference, Elliot, Harold, Timothy, JJ and I will travel to northern Uganda for a few days to explore the next steps for JTW’s plans to establish a new mission work in that region.  These are all wonderful and exciting developments for us and we are looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store.  Please remember us in your prayers as you are led by the Spirit.  More later!

Wishing you every blessing in Christ,

Fletcher & Family!

Prayer from the Valley of Vision

O God, Thou are very great, my lot is to approach thee with godly fear for thy condescension equals thy grandeur, and thy goodness is thy glory.

I am unworthy, but thou dost welcome; guilty, but thou art merciful; indigent, but thy riches are unsearchable.

Thou hast shown boundless compassion towards me by not sparing thy Son, and by giving me freely all things in him;

This is the foundation of my hope, the refuge of my safety, the new and living way to thee, the means of that conviction of sin, brokenness of heart, and self-despair, which will endear to me the gospel.

Happy are they who are Christ’s, in him at peace with thee, justified from all things, delivered from coming wrath, made heirs of future glory;

Give me such deadness to the world, such love to the Saviour, such attachment to his house, such devotedness to his service, as proves me a subject of his salvation.

May every part of my character and conduct make a serious and amiable impression on others, and impel them to ask the way to the Master.

Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful, injure the prosperity of my soul, but rather increase it.

Send me thy help, for thine appointments are not meant to make me independent of thee; and the best means will be vain without super-added blessings.

Source:  Bennet, Arthur, ed., The Valley of Vision, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1975, p. 256-257

The Great Exchange!

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Through Christ’s active and passive obedience, God sees us as if we had never sinned before Him and also as if we have always done the right thing.

Man of sorrows! What a name
for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim!
Alleluia! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood;
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Alleluia! What a Savior!

Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
spotless Lamb of God was he:
full atonement-can it be?
Alleluia! What a Savior!

Lifted up was he to die;
‘It is finished!’ was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Alleluia! What a Savior!

When he comes, our glorious King,
all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing:
Alleluia! What a Savior!

This Momentary Marriage – The Story of Ian & Larissa

Desiring God posted the story and video of Ian & Larissa which I found to be amazing and beautiful because it depicts for us all what Christ-like love looks like in a marriage.  We need strong Christ-centered marriages especially in our day where divorce is so rampant.  Unfortunately, many (including Christians) choose the “easy-way-out” when marriage gets difficult or tragedy hits as is the case in Ian & Lisa’s story.  But it is important for couples to realize that the foundation to a strong, enduring and thriving marriage relationship must be built on the things that are primary and NOT on things that are secondary.  To put it another way, Christ, His purpose for marriage, and His will and work in our personal lives should be the foundation as well as the goal of every Christian marriage.

I recommend this video to you along with John Piper’s book on marriage, This Momentary Marriage:  A Parable of Permanence.

Watch this video, learn from it, be challenged and remember to pray for Ian & Larissa.

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners[1] – A Book Review

John Bunyan is best known around the globe for his classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress ($0.99 on Amazon Kindle) which is deservingly the most popular and influential book in Christendom (aside from the Bible).  However, a sad consequence of this, is the fact that Bunyan’s other works have been greatly eclipsed by the popularity that Pilgrim’s Progress has enjoyed over the centuries.  Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Bunyan’s spiritual autobiography) is one such work.  In my view this book (just like Pilgrim’s Progress) is a must-read for all Christians.

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (FREE on Amazon Kindle) gives the reader some insight into the life abandoned to the saving and sanctifying grace of God.  One is impressed by the graciousness of the grace of God and how He relentlessly pursues His children.  In this autobiography, Bunyan does what should be natural for every child of God.  He sincerely diminishes himself and gratefully magnifies the grace of God reminiscent of John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  One cannot help but see 1 Timothy 1:15 written all over his life.

Bunyan is not ashamed to talk of his former life of sin and rebellion against God, but he does not celebrate it.  On the contrary, he mourns and grieves over that and reaches for grace of God for his soul’s salvation, sanctification and solace.  He clings to the LORD even as He clings to him.  I personally find Bunyan’s view of sin very convicting.  I am ashamed that I do not loathe my sin as I should.  Bunyan saw sin for what it really is, “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the Law of God” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A 14).  Sin is a direct offense against the holy God!  I wonder if this is your view of sin.  May the Lord be merciful to us!

Another thing that stands out in Bunyan’s life after he became a Christian is the account of his spiritual struggles.  He struggled so much with getting assurance of his salvation.  While some have dismissed this as merely a result of too much introspection, I think it is an indictment on all of us in the Church of Jesus Christ today.  While we may have a high view of God and of the efficacy and sufficiency of His grace, we have a low view of sin.  As a result, our thoughts and lives are often in danger of gravitating towards and bordering on antinominianism.

However, the Lord graciously minister’s to Bunyan’s need for assurance through His holy Word as He always does.  In Bunyan’s life, this came through the instrumentation of Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians.  Regarding this, Bunyan writes:

The God in whose hands are all our days and ways one day brought into my possession a book by Martin Luther.  It was his commentary on Galatians.  It was so old that, if so much as turned it over, it was ready to fall to pieces.  I was so pleased that such an old book had fallen into my hands that when just a few pages into it, I found my condition so comprehensively described by Luther’s experience, it was as if his book had been written from my own heart (p. 72-73).

He further writes, “apart from the Holy Bible, I consider this commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther to be the best of all the books that I have ever seen for a wounded conscience” (p. 73).

Reading Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners will truly open your eyes to the depth of your sin and the immeasurable greatness and abundance of the saving, sanctifying and comforting grace of God through Jesus Christ.  You will better understand what Paul understood when he wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).  I am yet to come across another autobiography of the soul-searching, soul-nourishing candor and stature as Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.  I hope that you will get your own copy soon (if you don’t already have one) and that you will read and re-read this wonderful story of the abounding grace of God in the life of John Bunyan.

For those who may be interested to delve into Bunyan’s other writings, I recommend The Complete Works of John Bunyan, published by the Banner of Truth Trust (ASIN:  B0007F9CPM).  Soli deo Gloria!

[1] Bunyan, John, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Evangelical Press, Auburn, 2000

The Best Book for a Wounded Conscience

John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, the second most popular book in Christendom (second from the Bible) wrote the following in his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners:

…Apart from the Holy Bible, I consider this commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther to be the best of all the books that I have ever seen for a wounded conscience.

Of his own experience with Luther’s commentary on Galatians, Bunyan writes:

…The God in whose hands are all our days and ways one day brought into my possession a book by Martin Luther.  It was his commentary on Galatians.  It was so old that, if I so much as turned it over, it was ready to fall to pieces.  I was so pleased that such an old book had fallen into my hands that when, just a few pages into it, I found my condition so comprehensively described by Luther’s experience, it was as if his book had been written from my own heart.

I highly recommend to you both:

Of course, if you have never read Pilgrim’s Progress, I highly recommend that too.