As Mother’s Day approached this year it obviously felt very different. Mallory nor I would have the opportunity to be with our mother. Separated by an ocean and 8,000 miles feels different than even being… More
Uganda! I got a call a few weeks ago inviting me to help lead a team from Mississippi over to Abaana’s Hope. I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass on. I knew that it would be a great help in our preparations but I didn’t realize just how helpful it would be. Of course I was excited to get back over there for even a short time to see some of our Acholi friends we’ve loved and longed for over the last year and a half, to meet our teammates that we will be serving with, and to go on the safari that the team would be going on. God had better things lined up than I could think of.
I reconnected with many of our Acholi friends. We’ve been praying for these folks and loving them from afar for a while. I was able to shake hands, hug necks, and catch up on their lives. I didn’t even realize just how much I had missed them until I was there. I was constantly reminded of their love for relationships and people. I was again amazed by their community and was again blown away by how much of the gospel they are learning. I lead the Bible study time for our elders meeting and couldn’t get enough of the questions they were asking and listening to the answers they offered each other. These men are immersed in the study of God’s word and what a joy it is to see. We evangelized in a couple of village centers and I watched with joy as our Acholi friends shared the gospel with their neighbors. It was such a great reminder that our purpose there is not to do all of this work on our own but to disciple Acholi believers so that the Gospel goes all over the world through them.
I was finally able to meet the other American missionaries that we will be serving and living with! Sure, we’ve FaceTimed a few times and emailed back and forth but there is always some uneasiness when you’re going to be doing life with folks you’ve never met in person. Through this opportunity we were able to have some real conversations that quelled any fears that we were having. I really think God has put together a team that will be able to build into one another and work together as a body with different strengths that mesh with all our weaknesses. They were able to show me things and have conversations to help us be better prepared that could only happen in person.
I was able to spend a day in town with Jamie and get my phone registered, visit the pharmacy to see what medications we can get over there, visit the grocery store to see what supplies we need and need not take with us, see which stores sell what, meet some shop owners that we will frequent, attempt to have a Gospel conversation with a stubborn man named David and eat an awesome lunch at Alulululu Pork Joint. (I’ll be glad to go to town around noon anytime people need something) I was able to take 5 totes and 1 suitcase of our stuff and leave it over there so we could take other things in September when we move.
We’re 34 days away from boarding the plane! We are filled with a lot of emotions as we draw closer. We appreciate all of your prayers. We still have logistical things to take care of such as selling vehicles, doctor appointments, making final decisions on what stays and goes, and getting everything packed. We have so many people that we want to hang out with that I’m not sure how to get it all in. Overall, we are super excited about the move! There’s a pretty consistent weird feeling in my gut that just kinda stays there because of the unknown. When we’re having fun with family and friends there’s the constant thought about missing those people. Thankfully we serve the one true God that gives us peace that is unexplainable. In the most anxious times He continues to give us reminders of who He is and His faithfulness to us and to His mission.
Thank you all for being a part of our team. With all of us working together to share the glory of God among the Acholi people we are confident that God is going to bless that work for His name’s sake. As of my last report we are still about $1500 short of our monthly budgeted needs. All of our upfront costs and obligations have been met! We are confident that God will handle the shortfall in His perfect timing. God owns the cattle of 1000 hills and will do what is necessary to further His mission.
Also, I have a new phone number. If you want it please send me an email and I’ll be glad to send it to you.
For His Glory,
Our one-way tickets to Uganda have been booked for September 5th! We are beyond excited to have reached this milestone but, also comes a flood of other thoughts and feelings. There is a lot to get done in the next few months. My heart and mind are so full right now that I could babble on forever. So, I’m gonna keep this short and to the point.
We are so thankful for all of you who have been praying for us. Please continue to do so. There are so many who have given and sacrificed time, talent, and treasures. Thank you for your investment in God’s Kingdom. If you were investing in me I would quickly tell you “that would be a mistake,” however, your investments into God’s kingdom and His work pay dividends beyond anything we can measure and last for eternity. As long as the Lord tarries generations will be impacted through you.
All of our upfront costs have essentially been met! However, we are still short about $2,000 per month on our monthly costs. We are confident that God will provide what we need before we go. There are many ways to partner financially if God is leading you to do so. You can do so monthly, quarterly, yearly, or even still make special gift donations as God leads. All of these ways will be used to close that gap. You can go ahead and start your support now if you would like or if you are planning to begin partnering at a later date you can let us know your pledge. Knowing this allows us to get our budgets lined up and straight. As always I’d love to sit down with you and discuss our work or any specific questions that you have. If you’d like that please email me or give me a call and we’ll get it set up. Click here to give or set up giving online or checks may be mailed to Four Corners Ministries, 202 South 8th Street, Opelika, AL 36801. (Just make sure to designate “Corbin Family” in the memo line)
We have loved so much making friends in new places as we’ve been traveling to share our story. I can’t thank you all enough for your hospitality, sharing pulpits and classrooms, sharing our story with others yourselves, putting together parties and events, and more. We’ve shed tears of humility for all that you have done.
We love you all and thank God for you every day.
With 6 months left before we depart for Uganda I am quickly realizing more and more just how far in over our heads we are. There is so much to be done in the next 6 months that I get completely overwhelmed at times. God always finds a way to remind me that he is the one in control and that none of this has anything to do with what I can do. We need your prayers as we continue to travel and share. We are still living in Atlanta, working full-time, and traveling almost every weekend. There are days that we are completely exhausted but, God continues to give us the energy we need to continue.
September is rapidly approaching and the past few months have flown by. We have had several opportunities to share our story and what God is doing in Uganda and we are incredibly grateful for those who have invited us into their homes and churches. We’ve shared in Tifton, GA; Marianna, FL; Chipley, FL; Atlanta, GA; and Houma, LA. We have plans to speak in Bonifay, FL; Panama City Beach, FL; Bristol, GA; Birmingham, AL; and again, in Atlanta. So many have committed to pray for our family and the Acholi people and many have been led to support our family and ministry financially. The love that has been shown our family will forever be a part of who we are.
I’m writing this to give you all an update on our financial status. I was raised to never discuss money. Well I think that’s good advice, until God sends you out on the mission field and your only means of financial support comes from what He does through His people. I know that everything belongs to God but, there have been times when getting a regular paycheck that I could almost believe that it was my money. As I’ve gone through this process I’ve quickly realized and been very humbled by the realization that nothing of what God has given me financially belongs to me. In a very real way every dollar that we have raised and ever will raise belongs to God and will be used to bring the Gospel to the Acholi people. I am very aware of the sacrifice that many have made to support our family in this work and we are very grateful.
We are currently at 21% of our up-front costs ($43,000) and at 10% of our monthly pledges needed ($4,500). We would like to be fully funded within the next couple of months. Not just to remove the burden (although it would be a weight lifted) but, because there are things that need to take place before we get over there. A major part of the upfront cost will go to purchase a vehicle in Uganda. Things don’t happen in Uganda like they do in the US. Finding the right “very loved” vehicle at the right price ($25,000) and getting everything done necessary takes a considerable amount of time. The other major component of the upfront costs are our plane tickets. It costs our family of 6 about $12,000 for flights and everything that goes with that.
We are praying some big prayers right now. Don’t underestimate what $10 per month could do. Just 400 people with $10 per month would take us where we need to be. We know that some will not be able to offer their financial support. However, your prayer support right now would be awesome! I am a firm believer in the power of the prayers of God’s people. I’ve seen that power at work in my own life and in the lives of others. The goals we have are big and the time in which has been set to reach them is growing short. However, I know this God I we serve and I know who owns the cattle of 1000 hills. Please join us in calling out to God to accomplish this portion of our work.
Another very significant way to be involved is to be an ambassador for us. Please share our information with anyone and everyone. If you are already supporting us please tell others about what you’re doing and why. If you have contacts that you believe would be interested in what we will be doing please pass along our info to them or their info to us. Through your prayers, financial support, and ambassadorship you are being the very real hands and feet of Christ. We would not be able to accomplish the work that God is calling us to without you. If The Lord tarries generations will be impacted for the Kingdom through this work that God has called us to together. We love you and thank God for you every day.
To make a contribution online please use the following instructions.
Then click on Missionaries
Fill out the form (make sure to put the amount in the Corbin Family box)
You can use a card or an electronic check
To donate by mail you can send a check Made payable to “Four Corners Ministries” to the following address: (please write “Corbin Family” on the memo line of your check)
Four Corners Ministries
202 South 8th Street
Opelika, Alabama 36801
If you would like to speak with me personally about contributing or if you would like to set up a meeting please contact me.
For His Glory,
Allen & Mallory
Bo, Laurabeth, Lucas, & Annamarie
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 ESV
For the second part in this series I want to share with you about the ministry around the Women’s Refuge Center at Abaana’s Hope. I’m personally fond of this ministry simply because scripture teaches us over and again the importance of caring for widows and orphans. While this ministry focuses on the former, I’ve had the opportunity to see God use it to take care of both, and more. I hope you’ll see how God has used this to change lives here on earth and more importantly for eternity.
When the LifeBeads program was started in 2013 it became apparent that another ministry was needed to care for the widows and women with children that had been displaced by the war. These women and their families were left vulnerable with no family to assist them and no means of supporting themselves. It is a place where Biblical truth is taught, vocational training and money management skills are provided, and the love of Jesus Christ is demonstrated. Our goal is to empower these women to be able to purchase land, build a home, provide for themselves, and mentor others with all that they’ve learned in their time here.
The refuge center is overseen by FCM missionaries Jamie and Sheri Payton and sits on 12 acres just a few hundred yards down the road from Abaana’s Hope. There are five traditional homes (otlums) that have been built, a garden area, and a piggery. Most of these women work at Abaana’s Hope in different areas. The homes not only provide a shelter for these families, they provide a place that feels like their own, a place to feel some level of security, a place to invite others in to show hospitality, and so much more. I can’t imagine the physical feeling of homelessness much less the psychological and emotional strain that goes along with it here in the US. All of that would be intensified out in the bush of Uganda while trying to raise a family after experiencing so much pain and rejection throughout their lives. The garden area and the piggery serve these women as they learn agriculture and animal husbandry. These and other skills are used as the women graduate from the program to provide for themselves.
Most of the time women in Uganda if left alone never have the opportunity to make a life for themselves. Women purchasing land is rare. Most end up having to find someone to marry them no matter the cost to themselves just to stay alive. So far two women have completely finished the program and are living on their own; Grace and Carolyn. One who has purchased land and moved away (Joyce) and 2 who have purchased their land and are working on building their homes (Rose and Jennifer). There is one (Santa) who has recently moved in. There are currently 15 children living there. I don’t have an accurate count of the number of children that have been involved but it’s over 30. The lives of these women and children have been forever changed.
During our time at Abaana’s Hope last year, we were able to just spend a few hours there visiting with the women and children. One of the ladies welcomed me (Mallory) and the other ladies into her home. Another made sure she walked me over to her home. To show me the new scriptures she had displayed in her home and her children’s artwork hung around inside, just like my wall at home. The women are so grateful for their homes, and more hospitable than you can imagine. Such pride in what they have was clear. All the ladies and young girls gathered there in the home. We chatted about life and school for the children. How the younger ones were doing in their brand new school at AH and how the older ones were doing in the school they were now able to afford and travel to. Two of them shared their stories with me. Their stories were stories of hardship, and pain, and abuse, and suffering. Full of so much darkness. But, they ended with HOPE. Hope that only Christ can bring. Hope that comes from God’s people being the hands and feet of Jesus carrying the gospel to them. In tangible, physical ways, but also in words. Words of the life changing good news of Jesus.
The personal stories are too many to tell on this post. However, they are powerful and full of God’s grace. I’d love to be able to share some of them or even better invite you to come see and hear them for yourselves. God has provided us with so much and we are excited to be afforded the opportunity to use it for His glory.
I hope that you have a little better picture of this ministry that is providing Hope to so many. God has shown up in this in some big ways and we are looking forward to so much more. Please join us in praying for and supporting these women who have graduated and are looking to graduate. These women are now missionaries in their community, able to provide an example of what the Gospel looks like. Maintenance is currently being done on some of the otlums and the process is beginning to invite some new women into the center. Please pray for the women that will come in the future and for our missionaries as they discern who God will have them serving next.
I’d like to begin posting a blog about each of the ministries that we will be working with at Abaana’s Hope. My goal is to highlight one ministry each week in hopes to give you all a better understanding of what God is calling our family to do and be a part of. As well as try to better explain how we are working towards our mission of “communicating and demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ among hard-to-reach people groups.” This first week I want to introduce you to Living Stones Community Church.
The church is central to everything that is done around Abaana’s Hope. All ministry flows out from what is accomplished here and everything flows back in to accomplish the goal of hearts and lives being changed through the power of the Gospel. I do not believe that any ministry at Abaana’s Hope is more important than this one.
The building where the church meets is a couple of years old. It’s made of brick and is completely open air. It certainly doesn’t compare with most of our churches in America. Yet these people are incredibly grateful for it, as they met for 2 years under a shea tree. It is extremely nice by their standards and most comfortable, as a room full of people dancing in praise without open walls would get rather warm on the equator. It is filled weekly by believers, people who want to know more, people who are just curious, and even some who were dragged there by a spouse or family member. The church is led by Pastor Sunday and a board of elders. Pastor Sunday is a Ugandan gentleman who has been trained and educated well. He is constantly going through other trainings to help him be a more effective shepherd of the people that God has placed under his care. The board of elders is comprised of men from the community around Abaana’s Hope whose lives have been radically changed by the Gospel and currently the 2 missionary men from the US. These men meet weekly for a time of focused discipleship. The leadership at LSCC continues to mature and grow in their understanding of scripture and the mission of The Church and are committed to carrying out their God-given roles in that mission.
LSCC is where physical needs in the community are met as well as spiritual needs. Pastor Sunday and the elders are regularly making house visits to church members as well as other members of the community. Here is where needs are identified and vetted to be brought back to be discussed and acted upon. I was afforded the opportunity to see this in action when we were visiting over there last year. It was a beautiful picture of what The Church should look like. I sat in on the elder meeting as they discussed the needs of a woman whose home had been burned to the ground by her step-sons. The church was able to purchase some milled grain from the maze mill at Abaana’s Hope and deliver it to this woman and her family. I saw Pastor Sunday work with a teenager who was trying to get a better grasp of scripture. This young man reminded me of myself when I was his age, as he wrestled through passages and brought them to his pastor for interpretation. Also, much like me he was proud of himself when a truth was unlocked to him and came alive in his heart. I prayed that God would bring him to a place of humility about himself as God had to do with me. (and still does) I saw a woman come tearfully asking for help with her husband (who are both believers and church members) who had begun slipping back into a drinking habit that had nearly wrecked their lives before they submitted to Christ. Pastor Sunday along with an elder paid him a visit where they discussed the spiritual truths involved and began the intentional process of helping him through discipleship and accountability. These are only a few stories of what I saw God do through His church at Abaana’s Hope during the 5 days that I spent there. The stories are endless as are the needs. This is the gathering of God’s people in this community. Where the Gospel is preached, needs are met and lives begin being transformed. I am incredibly grateful for what God has done and is doing through this church.
The vision for LSCC is to become a place from which missionaries are raised up and sent out, to begin planting churches in Uganda, Africa, and to the ends of the earth. I can’t help but be excited by the prospect of this taking place. While we were there we met a man, who had become a leader in the youth and children’s ministries. His wife had decided that she wanted to go home to where her family lived and he was going to be following her shortly. He had been invested in greatly and was going to be sorely missed. I am friends with him on Facebook (yes they have FB there) and I see now that he is working on planting a church in the village that they moved to! Praise God who takes a situation that makes us sad and shows us that he had a greater plan all along! We are praying that God would raise up other missionaries among LSCC to be sent out with the Gospel and plant it in the hearts of those that God sends them to.
There is always something going on at the church building. Whether it’s choir practice (such a beautiful sound to hear), ladies or gentlemen meeting in discipleship groups, or children gathering there to play; the building, the people, and the Savior worshiped there are central to all of life around Abaana’s Hope. The other ministries are exciting, different, engaging, and vital to the work being done. However, I hope you see that the church is the starting point for all of them and that you will join us in praying for everyone involved at Living Stones.
Since our last update God has done some great things in our lives and in the lives around Abaana’s Hope. We have been encouraged by many people who speak with us about our plans, offer their prayers, and partnered with us financially. Our house in Florida has sold! We had our house on the market for over 3 years. We knew that God would sell it when it was time. A couple of weeks after announcing our intentions to move to Uganda God sent a family our way to purchase our house. Please join us in praying for LifeBeads as conversations are being had about a potential partnership. We attended Four Corners’ annual banquet at the end of October and were greatly encouraged by many of the supporters of the ministry. It was a nice time with our families and some friends there. They were able to see more of the heart behind Four Corners and learn more about the work being done. Work on the new school building at Abaana’s Hope is nearing completion! It will be ready for students at the start of the new school year in February. The missionaries on the ground have been able to break into some new areas around Abaana’s Hope to share the gospel and deliver bibles to soldiers stationed nearby. We are growing more excited everyday about what God is doing at Abaana’s Hope and being able to fill our roles to be a small part of it all.
As we look forward with anticipation we are also realizing during this holiday season that we are experiencing many things for the “last” time for a while. As long as things go according to the plans we’ve been making, we will not be stateside for the holidays until 2019. My (Allen) first realization of this was a week or so ago at Auburn’s last home game of the season. As Bo and I entered the stadium it hit me that this would most likely be our last ballgame until 2019. While I know Auburn football ranks pretty low on most people’s priority lists, it has always been a staple in my life. Realizing this “last” led to the realization that this Thanksgiving and Christmas would also be our last here for a while. For our families as with most, the holidays have always been an important and wonderful time spent together. We will focus a little more on all of it and being a little more thankful for the blessing of family that God has given us. At the same time we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity in front of us and excited as we prepare to move among the Acholi people. We also drove away from our house in Florida for the last time. As it’s the only piece of this earth I’ve ever owned, it was a good reminder that this earth is not my home.
As we celebrate these lasts and come near the end of the year we need your help. As you consider your end of the year gifts we ask that you would consider partnering with our family financially. Whether it’s a one time gift or a monthly commitment, your financial gifts are essential for us to be able to follow God’s call. I am confident in God’s faithfulness to us and confident in the faithfulness of God’s people that he calls to be senders and financial partners. For those that are already giving, we thank you for your faithfulness. Your gifts are already being used to help our family with a few expenses that we are already incurring.
If God is calling you to partner with us and you are wondering when the best time is to start sending your monthly support or your one time gift, the answer is, as soon as you are ready. Your monthly gifts now will help us with a few small expenses that we incur with fundraising costs and will go into our account to help with the large expenses involved with moving overseas. Once we begin to move your monthly gifts will pay for our daily needs. One time gifts will be used to help cover all of our expenses as well and are a vital part of the fundraising process.
Another vital part of the fundraising process is being able to share what God is doing with our family and Abaana’s Hope with you, your church, your small group, or civic organization. We are excited and have so much that we want to share with you in person. We desire the ability to extend the invitation for partnership in face to face. We want to share our hearts and our lives with those who God calls to come along side us in His work. We would love the opportunity to sit down with you over coffee or a meal and share or speak to any group of any size. Please don’t feel like your group is too small or too far away.
If you would like to meet with us to discuss opportunities to be involved or if you would like to have our family share with your church or small group, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 770-710-3301. If your would like to partner by making a monthly commitment or a one time donation you may do so by clicking here: http://fourcorners.org/corbin-family/ and then clicking on the donate button at the bottom. When you fill out the form select Corbin Family. If you would like to make a donation by mail you may send it directly to: Four Corners Ministries, 715 Avenue A, Suite 206, Opelika, AL 36801. Just be sure to designate “Corbin Family” on your check. All gifts to Four Corners are tax-deductible.
We love you all and thank God for you daily. Without you this mission the way God intended would not be possible. Please keep our family in your prayers and we will continue to pray for you as well. As we enter into the season of Advent we are reminded that there is a world out there that doesn’t know about the first coming of our Savior and what a privilege it is that God uses us all to bring that message to them and the message of another coming that will join us all with our King for eternity.
As we enjoy these “lasts” we are looking forward with anticipation to the many “firsts” that God has in store for our family. Each are filled with the incredible grace of God.
If we don’t have the privilege of speaking with you before, we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!
For His Glory,
Allen, Mallory, Bo, Laurabeth, Lucas, and Annamarie Corbin
I was at a convention a while back, where a comedian was the evening’s entertainment. The comedian was Michael Jr. The guy is pretty dang funny and he’s also a christian. At the end of his set he got fairly serious. He started talking about his CDs and stuff that he had for sale in the back. He made an offer to everyone, that they wanted something from the table and couldn’t pay for it just to let them know and they would let them have it, he also asked that some people give more than what they wanted to buy so that they could continue to give away material to the people who couldn’t afford it. I was thinking, “I could give a little extra to buy someone a CD, maybe it would go to someone who needs it.” Then, he “flipped the script.” He said he knew there were some who could afford to buy several CDs, but these people might not really know how to ask for and receive a gift. He then asked that if this applied to you to please come and ask for a CD for free. This punched me in the gut, HARD.
This was one of the ways that God has been working on me over the last year or so. He has been tearing down the pride that I have always been so full of. Somewhat like Paul, I have been through times that I have had way more than enough and there have been times that I honestly couldn’t see a way to make ends meet and times that the ends didn’t meet when they were supposed to. When I had plenty, barely enough, or even not enough I always wanted to be a giver but, I could never receive peacefully or joyfully. God has pretty much decimated that pride and I stand before God now asking Him to provide our livelihood through people who He has called to be partners with Him in His mission.
What an amazing grace it is, to not be needed by God, but rather invited by God, to partner with Him in His work! The sovereign creator of the universe, who gives breath to all living things, and who sets all rulers on thrones, asks us to join Him in His work. We are all given specific callings, talents, and tasks for the Kingdom work that is still being accomplished. We are all called to be givers and goers. Some are called to go further and/or longer periods of time and some are called to give more, but nonetheless all who are in Christ are called to both. Giving allows people the opportunity to be a necessary and integral part of the work that God is doing from where they are. None of us can go everywhere in person and be the least bit effective. Giving allows each of us to be where God has called us physically and join His mission around the world. God doesn’t need us to go to Uganda and he doesn’t need you to give. He does however allow us to do so, and in doing so there comes “fruit that increases to our credit.” Phil. 4:17b As Paul states here, in my asking, that fruit is what I am seeking for you.
Maybe, God is inviting you to partner with Him in what He is doing through His church at Abaana’s Hope in Northern Uganda. It may be as a prayer partner, facilitator or liaison, serve on a mission team, or financial supporter just to name a few of the ways. If, you are certain that you would like to partner with God in what he is doing by supporting our family, we welcome you. If not, I most certainly don’t want to cause anyone give support out of obligation. Our hearts and the hearts that become surrendered to Christ through any type of partnership in the gospel will be perpetually thankful.
We have needs in 2 different ways. The first, is one time gifts for one time expenses such as airfare (one way), travel expenses, moving expenses, getting visas / permits, a vehicle, furniture, etc. The second, is we need folks to come along side us monthly with support. This monthly support pays for our living expenses, health insurance, home school supplies, fuel, salary etc. Our one time expenses are budgeted at about $44,000 and our monthly need is about $4,500. I share this with you in an effort to be completely transparent. If you have any questions that have not been answered, We would love to answer them for you. We are an open book.
If you are considering this, you may be wondering when you should start giving. If so, the answer is, as soon as you are ready. Even if you want to support us monthly you can begin doing that now and any funds will be put into our account for one time expenses until we begin to need our monthly allotment. As soon as it looks like we will have enough support, we will then be able to start setting up dates and finalizing our plans. So, the sooner the better!
If you would like to sit down with me and discuss all of this in greater detail, we would love to do it! Please contact me! My phone number is 770-710-3301 and my email address is email@example.com. If you are ready to join Him in this work by supporting our family, you can do so by clicking here, then click the link to “Donate to missionaries,” and fill out the form. You may also mail checks to: Four Corners Ministries, 715 Avenue A Suite 206, Opelika, AL 36801. Just make sure you designate “Corbin Family” on the memo line.
We are extremely excited about everything God is doing and look forward to you joining us and Christ to bring glory to His name among the Acholi people and among all people who see His work being accomplished.
For His Glory,
Allen and Mallory
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
Nearly 12 years ago as we were discussing our upcoming marriage, my soon to be father-in-law said to Mallory and me “Don’t forget about the ends of the earth.” If memory serves me correctly, Mallory replied with “Why don’t you mind your own business?”
Over the last few years Mallory and I have discussed this conversation a few times. Over the last five years or so we have not been able to read this verse without the “you” in there pointing directly at our hearts. We didn’t know what it meant for us and honestly we still don’t know the full reality of it. However, we do know that God is leading us to the end of the earth (well depending on how you look at it the middle of the earth), to the bush of northern Uganda, more specifically to a ministry called Abaana’s Hope.
We were put in contact with Four Corners Ministries back at the end of last year. We discussed with them the direction that we felt God leading us and the direction that God was leading Four Corners and Abaana’s Hope. The more we talked the more incredible it was becoming. Mallory and I went to Uganda for a week in February. It was here that God began shoring up the calling and gave us some vision of what the next stage of our life would look like.
We came home changed, we spent the next several months praying big and hard to pray prayers, and being worked on by God like we never have been before. God has been breaking down parts of us we didn’t know we had and rebuilding them section by section. God has been teaching so much about grace, about sufficiency, about trust, about supremacy, sovereignty, love and so much more. God has worn me out over my belief in my own sufficiency. I could write a book of short stories that probably wouldn’t hold the number of times God has recently taught me lessons in this. (needless to say His patience astounds me) I have come to the realization that I have absolutely zero qualifications for missionary work, much less missionary work in a 3rd world country on the other side of the world. What I have also realized is that I need none. I need His grace alone. Jesus is our qualifier and He alone.
We are humbled that we have been approved for this work by Four Corners. We are grateful for the care and leadership they have displayed throughout the process. I don’t think I could be any more excited about the group of people God has given us to serve alongside. We do not know how long we will live in Uganda. We are committed to being there indefinitely with the exception of furlough every 2 years. What I do know is that we are sojourners or refugees on this earth no matter where we live. Our home is in heaven and our longing is that God would use us to help make that a reality for the people he is calling us to serve.
Enough about me, let me tell you about where we are going.
Northern Uganda (Acholiland) is a place that has been ravaged by a long civil war between Joseph Kony’s LRA and the Ugandan government. The birthplace of the LRA is just a few miles from where Abaana’s Hope sits today. While the war is over, the Acholi people have physical scars that are at times hard to see and unseen emotional scars that run deeper than I can even imagine. They have been beaten, raped, tortured, killed, forced to kill, and more.
As a result of many social issues, including the war, poverty is everywhere. Unemployment may be as high as 80%. These people, prior to war were farmers and hunters mainly. The war tore families apart and nearly wiped out an entire generation. With the former generation gone, a new generation of people emerged that didn’t know the trades their father’s had known. They didn’t know how to provide for families because displacement camps had been their only homes. Multiple generations will be effected. But, as immense and real as these needs are it is NOT their greatest need.
Northern Uganda is a place plagued by spiritual darkness. Most anyone you ask will identify themselves to you as “christian.” Probe just a little deeper and you will find out quickly that there are obviously different definitions of “christian.” I certainly did not realize that the greatest problem with their “christianity” is a very false and ever changing prosperity gospel. Prosperity gospel in one of the poorest regions in the world? That was the first thought that entered my mind. Well, then it hit me that it’s the perfect place for it. These precious people are searching, searching for hope. The prosperity gospel offers them a hope, when their greatest need is Hope. We have a gospel that is rich beyond measure. It certainly doesn’t promise us financial wealth or even stability for that matter. It does however offer us an inexplicable richness of life and life after death. Between cultural religous practices, prosperity gospel, and encroaching Islam from all sides, there is much work to be done.
When we arrive in Uganda we will be joining 2 other families that are there now. Our daily duties will be varied but will generally include evangelism, discipleship, farming, construction, schooling, administration, etc.
Abaana’s Hope provides jobs for about 100 or so people around the local village. There are people everywhere all day long whether they are working there, getting water for their homes, or children there to play. On the property there is a church, school, women’s refuge center, orphan care ministry, farming ministry, construction ministry, a paper bead jewelry ministry, medical clinic, children’s sports ministry, and more.
I’ll save more info for later posts and for being able to tell you in person. There’s so much that God is doing at Abaana’s Hope and in front of us that I couldn’t begin to fit it in one post.
The timeframe that we have laid out to get to Abaana’s Hope is August / Sept. 2017. Before moving to the end of the earth, there’s a lot that will need to happen. We will begin selling practically everything we own. We need to get rid of our house in Florida and raise our own missionary support.
We will begin raising financial support within the next few days. We will make a post laying out ways to partner with God and support us financially.
Our greatest need is your prayers. We covet them more than you know. We have felt many of your prayers for years, we are always humbled and encouraged when someone reminds us that they are praying for us. Here are some specific ways to pray with us:
- Pray for us to trust Christ alone
- Fundraising efforts
- Our house to sell
- Our parents, grandparents, siblings, etc
- Our children’s hearts
- The Acholi People
- Four Corners as a whole
For His Glory,
Allen and Mallory
Change has happened. Although I’ve never been real fond of it, it’s not always a bad thing. Here is an update on where we are and what’s going on in our lives.
Kristopher and I are no longer working together on the same church plant. There were several factors involved with this decision but basically it came down to differing visions of the church and the process to achieve our goals. I believe Kristopher is currently keeping on where we left off. This made sense as he is the person that was working with NAMB and the person on all of the paperwork as the lead planter.
We were initially rocked back and confused a little by this. I’m not sure exactly what God had in mind by leading us to Atlanta. However, we are certain of the calling. The certainty of the calling and God’s sovereignty has been our rock to look back on when emotions are running high. We have continued to minister to our neighbors here in EAV and have developed some wonderful friendships on our journey of sharing the Good News.
This came about as Mallory was nearing the end of pregnancy and I thought it best to wait until life and hormones calmed down some to make any life altering decisions about our future. (In case you didn’t know, we welcomed kid number 4 on Oct. 12. Her name is Annamarie!) I have been slow to publicly share this news, frankly because I didn’t know what to share. We feel that we are now ready to begin the work and focus of figuring out what our next steps are. This week we have been in a time of focused prayer and seeking of God’s will. There is literally a world of options before us. I definitely have certain peoples and places in mind as we pray that have narrowed the world down some. However, we are continuing to be completely open about where we will go (or stay) and what we will be doing.
The options that are before us all come with their fair share of difficulties and concerns as well as many bright spots. The options before us broadly are:
1) Stay in EAV and plant a church here
2) Move somewhere else to begin ministry – this could be domestic or international
3) Move back to Chipley to begin ministry – We do still own a house there, and when we get tired, lonely, and afraid this starts looking real good. However, this option seems to be the least likely. God has been shoring up the call to “GO” in our hearts this week.
This post is a beckoning of those that will pray for us as we seek and discern “what’s next.” I want to thank all of you who have been praying for us. Your prayers have been felt and much appreciated. We couldn’t have lasted this long on the front without your support. Please pray specifically about the decisions before us:
-Wisdom, Discernment, and Clarity
-A strengthening of our family bond as we focus on one objective
-Selflessness; that we would consider each other and the world around us more than ourselves.
-Rest and Energy as we face sometimes sleepless nights in meditation and prayer, as well as the strain when making these kinds of decisions.
-Financial support for whatever ministry God leads us in. This will be vital to maintaining a life and meet ministry needs.
This list isn’t all encompassing. If you feel the spirit leading you to pray something please do it. Please email or call me if you have any questions or just to talk. I have intentionally not put this post on social media as there are sensitive situations around us here right now.
For His Glory,
“Give yourself and family plenty of time to adjust.”
I heard this or some variation of this multiple times from a lot of people who were missionaries, church planters, and the like. I knew that it was sound advice. However, since then I’ve been wondering. “How much time is plenty?”
I was at “home” this weekend for the first time since Christmas, for a total of 24 hours. As we rolled in to town I said “Man, I love this place.” I didn’t even realize how much I had been missing it. Between going to work every day, doing ministry, coaching Tball, and everything else that has been keeping me busy, I just didn’t give myself time to miss anything.
As we rolled out of town on Saturday night I realized that not only had I not given myself anytime to miss anything, but I hadn’t extended very much grace to my family throughout their adjustment and in how much they missed “home.” We miss a whole bunch of things about our life in Chipley.
I’m not going to sugar coat it all and make it seem like everything has been smooth and easy. In reality it has been pretty far from it. The adjustment to “city life” has been difficult for my family. For Mallory, it’s been tough to get to know people deeply, needing to home school our “strong-willed” first-born, dealing with people who disagree with our parenting, having to watch every child at every moment of the day, and several other things. For the kids, not being able to just run outside and play with out someone watching them, not having enough space to hit a golf ball, making friends with other kids when there is no real community that we’re heavily involved with, and other things. For myself, leading my family well through the adjustments, not having the securities of Chipley, not being able to “run” to the lake in the afternoon for some down time with a line in the water, making every decision based on traffic, etc.
God has been gracious to us and we know without any doubt that he has called us here. Being where God had called us has been freeing on many fronts but it certainly has come with its difficulties. We know that we love these people and this place that God has led us and we want to be able to say that we love living in the city.
There have been several exciting things that have happened since we’ve been here. You can check out our updates on the church Facebook page. There are exciting things happening all the time and “wins” that come often enough to keep us going. I fully believe that if God ever calls away from here that when we get to wherever, there will be things we miss about “home” in EAV.
I still don’t know the answer to the question of “how long.” But I Know that God is sovereign and responds to the prayers of His people.
I’m asking you guys to be in prayer for us.
-Pray that I would extend grace to my family and myself as we continue to adjust.
-Pray that I would remember to lead my family well, before leading in ministry or business.
-Pray that our hearts would remain soft and moldable.
-Pray that we would adjust quickly, but in God’s timing.
-Pray for our children’s hearts. That they would understand the mission and love it.
-Pray as we make decisions about school and living arrangements.
I could make this a really long list. So, let the Holy Spirit guide you as you pray for us.
Thank you all for your prayers in the past and in the future. It is a great encouragement to know that we have people lifting us up to the King.