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Thursday, June 23, 2005

CALVARY OF ALBUQUERQUE MINISTRY STUDENTS EXPERIENCE A SLICE OF LIFE IN JINJA, UGANDA

By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

JINJA, UGANDA (ANS) -- A team of students from Calvary of Albuquerque’s School of Ministry is getting first hand experience about life on the mission field.

They’re in Jinja, Uganda (about 75 miles from Kampala), where a thriving Calvary Chapel is led by missionary Pastor Jesse Rich.

By e-mail, missionary George Apostle, who assists the Rich’s in their work, said the team is having an impact.

“It has been real busy here and we just love the School of Ministry (SOM) team,” Apostle wrote. “They are a blessing. We just came back from one our Calvary Chapel village churches, in Iguluibi. It's about 45 minutes from Jinja. The SOM team and some of the members of the church all went out to the neighboring huts and evangelized. We were inviting the people to come and watch our skits and dramas that we presented in the town center, and also invite them to the church at 2:00 pm for worshiping and the teaching of God's Word. There must (have) been at least 120 people at the church. It was great.” (Pictured: Children's Ministry Outreach in Iguluibi - through www.globaladventures.org).

Jesse Rich’s wife Bev reiterated what Apostle said, writing to Global Adventures, (the missions- sending organization of Calvary of Albuquerque (www.globaladventures.org/news.asp?NewsID=24),  “We are just loving every minute that this team is here with us. And they are doing GREAT work! Things are pretty incredible here right now, and we'd love it if they NEVER went home. I would have written to you all this morning, but we haven't had power today and it just came back on. The team was out rafting and bungee jumping for the day and came back excited, tired and happy. They are all probably sound asleep by now!”

THE MINISTRY OF CALVARY CHAPEL OF JINJA

Calvary Chapel of Jinja has a thriving ministry, working with, among others, prisoners, women, youth, and the sick and disabled. (Pictured: The SOM Team Enjoys a Meal - through www.globaladventures.org).

According to Calvary’s web site (www.calvarychapeljinja.org/prisonminstry.html),  the prison ministry includes a men’s and women’s Bible study, a prison ambulance run and medical assistance and a clothing and blanket distribution program.

The men's Bible study is held in three different prisons during the week. Each prison has a midweek service and a Sunday service.

According to the web site, “Each ministry has the same Calvary- style expositional teaching, but each prison has a different feel. In Remand (Prison) alone, a man can await trial for up to six years. Being innocent before proven guilty has no bearing in this place.”

A twice weekly women’s Bible study is taught by Bev Rich. According to the web site, the women's ministry not only teaches the Bible but also teaches English literacy classes to the women. To assist her, Bev Rich is accompanied by a team of three Ugandan women who interpret, lead music and pray.

The church’s “Prison Ambulance Run and Medical Assistance Program” works with sick prisoners.

“Generally within most third-world countries the prisons are underfunded and feel that prisoners have no rights,” the church web site reported. “Some prisoners with debilitating illnesses can be forced to walk four miles to receive treatment. Our ministry provides transport Monday through Wednesday for these prisoners to and from the hospital. Alongside of the transport much of the medicine is paid for by the mission. We also stock the pharmacies of the prisons as often as the funds are available.”

The church also provides a clothing and blanket distribution program twice a year. According to the web site, every six months the church purchases t-shirts for the prisons, and these serve as their “uniform.”

According to the web site, “These shirts are sold in bulk, and are what Americans send over from Goodwill. Each bundle holds about two hundreds t-shirts and each time we distribute eight bundles. We also attempt to provide blankets for all the prisoners every two years.”

Th church also has a seed distribution program to help improve the diet of the prisoners to whom they minister. As a rule, the web site reported, prisoners only received Posho (maize and water cooked together to make a dough) and beans.

According to the web site, “The contribution of the seeds allows the prisoners to eat greens and cabbage and add more nutrition to their diet. The seeds in the past have been donated by Larry Sallee of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although he has given in the past, if you feel called to send anything then please do.”

The church also has a School of Ministry (www.calvarychapeljinja.org/SoM.html),  founded by Jesse Rich.

“The purpose was to train up those who would be the least of all men to be used for God's Kingdom,” the web site reads. “So who are the least?” the web site asks.

“A very large part of the work here is ministering in the prisons,” the web site continues. “Out of those confines God hones and prepares many to serve in His kingdom. The school serves to take them and train them so they can return to their villages, and begin a church if the Lord wills ... Each year those from our village churches and those who we are preparing for service attend this school. The school (has had) an average of two to three students each year going and planting churches. The curriculum of the school is based on Calvary Albuquerque's School of Ministry.”

HOW THE RICH’S BECAME MISSIONARIES TO UGANDA

In 2000 this writer stayed with the Rich’s for about a week, and they told me how they ended up working in Uganda.

It was during an “Experiencing God” workshop that the Lord called the Rich’s to mission work. They initially believed that they were called to work with a Hispanic culture and so Jesse started studying Spanish. Then the Rich’s wrote to a number of missions organizations saying, “Here we are. Take us. But everybody kept turning us down, and we were so ready and nobody would accept us. We didn’t know why, we just waited on God’s timing and Jesse continued with the Spanish.”

While waiting on the Lord , Jesse and Beverly took a short term missions trip to Ecuador. “We just wanted to see how we’d do in a third world country and if that’s what we wanted to do. We loved it so much we didn’t want to come back,” Beverly Rich said.

The Rich’s said that it was only because they had two children back home in Colorado that they didn’t sell their house and stay in Ecuador. So they came back and continued to wait on the Lord – Who opened the doors for Jesse to attend the year-long SOM in Alb. N.M.

During his year-long attendance at the SOM, Jesse’s life became even more “focused” upon the Lord.

He explained. “From the moment I was saved it was like God said, ‘You’re going to work for Me.’ I knew it. I just assumed that everyone had that feeling when they got saved. But as I started talking to people they said, ‘No, I don’t feel that at all. What are you talking about? ... I started to understand that not everybody was called to do what God was telling me to do.”

The Rich’s initial thought was that a call to “missions” could be worked out in a practical sense by Jesse going to fix cars for missionaries on the mission field and Beverly being a school teacher. But the Lord had different plans for them, and it was at the SOM that Jesse found out what those plans were.

God made it very clear to Jesse that He wanted him to be directly preaching the gospel.

Jesse said that God told him, “‘I want you sharing My Word telling people about Me.’ So our whole focus was changed from being support personnel to being (front line). All these things that we had been thinking of doing, that was what WE wanted to do. Now God was saying, ‘Here’s what I want you to do. Now start looking where you can work.’ That’s how we ended up coming to Uganda.”
A prerequisite to graduation from the SOM was the successful completion of a short term missions trip – just like the one now being experienced by current SOM students. Students were allowed to select where they would like to go from a small assortment of possible options. Praying about it separately, Jesse and Beverly both arrived at the same conclusion – that they were supposed to go to Uganda.

Beverly said that Uganda hadn’t been one of the places where she or Jesse had wanted to go. “Neither one of us had ever wanted to go to Africa, ever, for any reason. But that’s where He was really saying to go,” she said.

When after a grueling 48-hour journey the Rich’s arrived at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, their first reaction was that they couldn’t wait to get back home. Beverly said, “It was hot and the smells just overpowered you. Uganda has odors that you just never smell in America.” The smell notwithstanding, the Rich’s were still open to the Lord speaking to them.

Substitute Bible teaching in a prison one day during the trip for Jay McCaughlin, the now retired founder of Calvary’s missions work in Uganda, Jesse felt that something very spiritually significant was happening to him. Although he had never even been on the inside of an American prison (let alone a Ugandan one), Jesse said, “I’d never been some place where I felt so comfortable. Walking into such an intimidating place and I felt right at home. I didn’t have any worries about it at all.”

While Beverly, who along with some of the other women members of the team had been visiting the women’s prison had a different initial reaction, it amounted to the same ultimate response. Both she and Jesse “left their hearts” with those inmates of the Uganda Prison System..

She said, “All I could do was cry about the conditions of the women in that prison; one meal a day, one set of clothing to wear, their babies there in the prison with them. They were sick, they were tired and it just broke my heart. I didn’t know at the time that was where God was calling me. I just knew that I just loved those women to death, and that someone needed to do something for them.”

Although during that initial trip to Uganda Jesse and Beverly participated in a number of other outreaches that included slums, schools and orphanages, it was the prisoners who really stole their hearts. They said that when they finally stepped on the plane to return to America, they both knew that they would be returning to Uganda.

During the SOM missions trip, Jay McCaughlin and his wife Sunny had invited the Rich’s to come back and help them in their ministry. While the Rich’s were excited about the opportunity, they didn’t want to make an immediate response. “We didn’t want to make it in the field where there was obviously so much need. We wanted to go back and pray about it and see what God decided, and actually lay a little fleece before Him,” Beverly said.

With the SOM now officially over, the Rich’s returned to Colorado and Jesse obtained his old job back. They told the Lord that if He wanted them to return to Uganda that He would have to supply the needed resources as they didn’t know how to raise funds.

First day back on the job for Jesse, the Lord began to make clear the answer to their fleece. Jesse received an offer of support from a non-believer for their potential future ministry in Uganda.

Jesse said, “It was like God saying, ‘You wanted me to tell you that I was going to support you, I can support you from people who don’t even believe in Me.’ That was in July of 1997 and by the following January they moved to Uganda.

“God opened up all kind of doors and took care of (everything) we needed to take care of with no hassle. It was so smooth. God opened the doors and gently pushed us through. We couldn’t go any other way. It was really awesome,” Jesse said.

Arriving in Uganda for the second time, the Rich’s moved in with the McCaughlin’s. “They were so excited. They had our room set up for us. We just jumped into ministry right away,” Beverly Rich said.

The ministry has never stopped and the wheel has turned full circle. From being hosted for a SOM trip that was to change their lives, the Rich’s are now hosting an SOM mission trip and leading the dynamic ministry of Calvary Chapel of Jinja.

You may reach the Rich’s at calchrjja@source.co.ug  or go to www.calvarychapeljinja.org

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org or http://www.christianity.com/joyjunction. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at jgreynalds@aol.com. Tel: (505) 877-6967 or (505) 400-7145. Note: A black and white JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at danjuma1@aol.com.

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