Harris Family December Update

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now…. And this I pray, that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.” Phil 1:3-4,9-10

As 2018 fades away we would like to take a moment to thank you for your partnership with our family in the Gospel, as that is the core of our relationship with you as part of the body of Christ. No matter where you’re at on the map, you find the same things at the heart of mankind’s problems; selfishness and pride, which lead to all sorts of destruction whether it be extreme poverty, murder, immorality… and today, just as it was since the first man sinned, the solution for mankind is reconciliation with our Creator. No matter how noble a cause may be, if void of the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, it will fail to touch man’s true need. So we praise God that you have endeavored to join us as we seek to spread the truth of God through Northern Uganda, and we pray that our relationship with you would continue encouraging you to do things of eternal consequence in your neck of the woods, as there is no one in the world who does not need further Gospel transformation.

Serving our customers at BAM
The harvisting of one of our tilapia ponds

December was a busy month for our family. Although the pastoral school was on break for the month, our work was certainly not. The holiday rush created an increase of work at our Business As Mission. It is rice harvesting season here, and have been milling up to 2 metric tons of rice most every day for the surrounding community. Our second batch of chickens, numbering 990 hens, have started producing eggs. We harvested one of our tilapia ponds. Planted a crop of green peppers. And we’ve continued producing fine Maize flour and pure sunflower oil throughout the week. Most of Matt’s time throughout the month was taken by overseeing the remodel of our dilapidated medical facility which we hope to complete sometime this month. Despite seemingly mundane work, God is ever at work, and even two of the contractors got saved. Noelle also has had an exciting opportunity to begin discipling a young woman in the community. As a family we had a restful Christmas Day, and even Boxing Day, which is very celebrated here.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone considering the fact that the climate here is still the same as when we arrived in April, and we praise God for what He has done in that time:
-Praise God that he brought us here to Northern Uganda safely!
-Praise God that our son Noah was born healthy!
-Praise God that in 2018 our first group of 17 pastors have studied through and tested out of Mark, Psalms, 1 & 2 Timothy/Titus, Ezekiel, Daniel, The 12 Minor Prophets, Matthew, Luke, Acts, Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians!
-Praise God that in 2018 our second group of 32 pastors have almost finished the Pentateuch with only Deuteronomy remaining having studied Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers!
-Praise God that our medical clinic saw close to 4000 patients in 2018 including delivering more than 200 babies!
– Praise God that things are going well at the Business As a Mission and that we are on track to have our ministry operations self sustaining as of 2021!

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” 2 Cor 5:18

We look Forward to a fruitful 2019 with you!

In Christ
Matt, Noelle, Emma, Madeline and Noah

Harris Family November Update

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

This is Hope and Grace Church where the conference was held

Our month of November started on a high note as we taught at a marriage conference in the village of Pabbo at one of our students churches. It was truly a blessing to teach on marriage from a biblical perspective. Satan has been redefining the union of a man and a woman, what it is, what it’s for and how you actually go about it, since the beginning. Every culture sees the effects of those lies and the Acholi are no exception. They are plagued with polygamy, abuse, alcoholism, child neglect and on and on. But by God’s grace family’s are finding light as the Gospel continues penetrating the dark. Noelle and I were blessed to teach about God’s design of men and women as individuals and as a unit, we got to explain how marriage is a picture of the Gospel and that you can have peace in your family by living a lifestyle of repentance before Jesus Christ.

 

Emma watching a sunrise over Lake Victoria

Towards the end of the month we had the awesome opportunity to take a breather for a few days at Musana Camps! Located on the shores of lake Victoria, Musana is a beautiful place, designed to give rest to missionaries and to facilitate groups of young people as they learn about biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Because of the physical workload coming up in December we decided to take our Christmas break a month early. Our time there really helped us refocus and recuperate as a family, and we certainly look forward to visiting there again in the future.

The girls going out on the lake!

 

We love you guys, God bless,

Matt, Noelle, Emma, Madeline and Noah

 

Pastor Otim Jacob

 

As a family, we have decided to visit the churches of our students and friends once a month to see how they are doing and to bring them some encouragement from Gods Word. With the permission of each pastor, we have also decided to allow you to join us on that journey so that you will be more informed as you think about and pray for the churches of Uganda. We pray that these short Pastoral Bios would encourage you in your walk with God and that you would grow in your love for Jesus as you see how he is moving in the hearts of so many people!

Pastor Otim Jacob and his wife Dorish

Pastor Otim Jacob came to Jesus Christ during a Gospel crusade in September 1990. At that time Jesus radically transformed him from an alcoholic, an adulterer and a brawler into a man of peace who loves his family and community. He told me that his neighbors and friends were bewildered by the drastic change in his actions. Jacob is married to Dorish and together they have 4 children, the oldest of which is 17. We are also proud to have Jacob as one of our students in the Terebinth School of Discipleship.

In 1993 Pastor Jacob started leading home fellowships and Bible discussions as a church assistant. 10 years later, in 2003 God told him to plant a church in the town of Pabbo which was a center for internally displaced people during Joseph Kony’s reign of terror. Hope and Grace Church now consists of around 150 people who’s vision is to follow the Great Commission of our Master which he gave to us at the end of Matthew 28, that is to make disciples of Jesus. God has moved in awesome ways in the past 15 years of this church’s existence, including the births of 4 off shooting churches!

 

 

 

 

Pray for Hope and Grace Church:

  • Pray – That God would give Jacob wisdom to lead God’s people
  • Pray – That God would send them the funds for a church building
  • Pray – That God would ground them in the truth of His Word as they learn the great depth of Love He has for them

 

Hope and Grace Church

October 2018

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.” 1 John 3:1a

Over and over, day after day, conversation after conversation, again and again and again we are reminded that every part of our ministry, and moreover, our personal lives, should point to Jesus. The entire Bible, front to back, points to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every story has a picture, every law is a shadow, every prophecy a foretelling of what Jesus would do. And what has He done? To the praise of the glory of His grace, He has made us His children.

Being the children of God, acting as ambassadors, being “Jesus with skin on” as we have heard it said, is both an exciting and humbling position. There are many stirring events that have taken place over the last month, from personal discipleship opportunities to opportunities to practice Holy Spirit patience; instances always compelling us to put out our hands and say “Father, help me point to Jesus.” The pastoral classes have continued, the first group studying through Romans, and the second making their way through Leviticus. Watching the two groups progress in their understanding of the Scriptures is a unique experience. On the one hand you run into a lot of controversy and ungrounded beliefs, which can at times be discouraging. But on the other hand, to see them taking to heart and act on things which they had not understood, done, or sometimes did not believe previously is immensely rewarding.

One thing which has been particularly exciting for us is the opportunity for Matt to personally disciple a young man by the name of Daniel. After many weeks of trying to get men to come to our Tuesday Night Bible Study, and only young boys coming who just could not understand; we decided to end the study and teach only Daniel until older men are more willing to come, or until the boys are a little older. Those boys need the gospel too, but it seems best to us that we train up the ones who are eager and able to understand in order to reach those less able, and even somewhat unwilling. Along with replacing the Tuesday night group study, Daniel has been commissioned by his father, our pastor, to travel with us to the different churches and act as our guide and translator. Most often Matt will end up preaching, and Daniel will be translating, thus receiving even more than a once or twice a week study. It is a special and exciting open door that we do not cease to thank God for. Please pray for Daniel as he meets with Matt, that God would reveal Himself through His word, and that Daniel would hear and take to heart all that the Father says.

Daniel and Matt Studying through Mark

A few of the many. Each one has a name and a place in the Father’s heart!

One situation, which I’m sure will be ongoing, is with the community children. Beautiful. Lively. Fun-loving. Creative. Love-starved. Undisciplined. Bored. These children are in serious need of fatherly love and discipline. Whether they have a father in the home, he’s a drunkard, or he’s passed away, these children do not have a particularly positive influence from their fathers, and it shows dreadfully. While each child has his or her own endearing attribute, each one also has the tendency to outweigh that attribute with one much less agreeable, and often times destructive or downright rebellious. This is indeed a humbling experience, and something I would sincerely ask you to pray for. These children need fathers, and their fathers need the true Father. Pray for us as well, that we would be patient in Christ, showing love and teaching in an understandable manner. Even though we have ended Tuesday night Bible study with the boys, we have not given up on general friendship and involvement. Pray with us that we would point always to Jesus.

As for the family, we are doing well. Emma and Maddie have started preschool at home, and Noah, now 6 months old, continues to progress physically. We have much to be thankful for in every area of our lives, and our home life especially. However, please pray for that also as the family is a favorite battleground of the enemy, ours included.

School time!

Noah, 6 months old!

Thank you for your ongoing prayers, they are so needed, and also for the support, either financial or relational. We are so grateful for all that you do to keep us out here on this portion of the mission field! We love you and remember you in our prayers.

In Christ, Matt, Noelle, Emma, Maddie, and Noah

“let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22

A Pastoral Bio

As a family, we have decided to visit the churches of our students and friends once a month to see how they are doing and to bring them some encouragement from Gods Word. With the permission of each pastor, we have also decided to allow you to join us on that journey so that you will be more informed as you think about and pray for the churches of Uganda. We pray that these short Pastoral Bios would encourage you in your walk with God and that you would grow in your love for Jesus as you see how he is moving in the hearts of so many people!

 

Pastor Kinyera Charles and his wife Grace

Pastor Kinyera Charles is our neighbor in the small town of Adak and is one of our students at the Terebinth School of Discipleship. It has really been a pleasure to watch him grow in his knowledge and understanding of God’s word. He was born into a poor pagan family in which his father had many wives. After his mother committed suicide he turned to Alcohol. But when he gave his life to the LORD he was freed from his addiction and felt the calling on his life to start a church. Charles planted Adak Bible Community Church in 2012 with a desire to bring physical and spiritual transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his community!

 

 

 

 

 

Pray for Adak Bible Community Church:

  • Pray – That the Father would help Charles as he seeks to teach his children and the young people of the church to serve God.
  • Pray – That God would bring wisdom and understanding to the elders and leaders of the church.
  • Pray – That the Gospel would be understood in the Community of Adak and that hearts would be transformed as they learn of God’s great love for them.
Adak Bible Community Church

The Harris Family Update September 2018

“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God,”
2 Pet 3:11-12a

Thank you for your love, for your concerns, for all of your encouragement in the LORD and for all of your prayers. It is such a blessing to be partnered with you for the sake of the Gospel. Know that your prayers make a difference here in my family’s life and in our ministry. Know that God is using you. As we are here in Uganda we are often blessed to catch glimpses of what God is doing back home through people like you. God’s heart is for the whole world to know Him intimately, and you also play a direct role in that. As members of one body let us continue working together to bring the transforming hope of the Gospel into hearts and minds, not growing tired of doing good, let us obediently carry out the good works which God created each of us for.

 

Our small-scale Tabernacle model

On the ministry end of things, this past month of September has been very eventful, full of high highs and low lows. On the high end, we had a great time in the School Of Discipleship this past month as one class studied through the book of Exodus and the other went through Acts. We had the awesome opportunity to replicate the Tabernacle for the pastors who were in the book of Exodus, this people group really tends to get a lot out of object lessons and props. We experienced some highs at BAM this month as well since it is harvest season here and our public milling services have been running seemingly non-stop, and a local school used us as their supplier for over 2 metric tons of food!

 

 

 

People bringing their newly harvested crops for milling at 2.5 Cents a pound

BAM delivering food to a school

 

Our level 3 clinic

However, on the low end, we had serious struggles this past month, most of which have centered around our clinic. It wouldn’t be right to go into many details but the change of staff and enforcement of certain policies has not endeared us to the surrounding community and has put us in a few rough positions. Also on the low end, please be praying for my managing partner at BAM, who’s wife just underwent surgery, and who’s brother is currently in serious condition in the hospital. Pray that God brings them peace and rest. The other bad news is that there has been a serious lack of rain during this planting season, so pray for our community as we anticipate famine next year.

 

Today as we were in church our pastor told us a story concerning one of our congregants that really reminds me of why we are here, and how Uganda is in desperate need of discipleship. Many people this week have gathered together in Gulu for a gospel crusade featuring a renown so-and-so, “bishop of Christ.” Halfway through the conference, the “holy man of God” approached a member of our church and explained to him that a special anointing of the Holy Spirit was available for him and that he needed to meet with him the following morning at his hotel. When our church congregant showed up the next day, the bishop explained that the “anointing” (including a vial of “blessed oil” and a “holy handkerchief”) could be his for 1.5 million UGX (just over $400.00). Thankfully, knowing better than that, our church member left in a hurry without further entanglement. Without having received real, biblical discipleship, he would have been taken advantage of, just as so many others who are being deceived here every day. Please continue to pray that the church of Uganda would experience true discipleship.

 

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Noelle and I celebrated our 5th year anniversary this past weekend!

The Harris Family Update September 2018

As a family, we have decided to visit the churches of our students and friends once a month to see how they are doing and to bring them some encouragement from Gods Word. With the permission of each pastor, we have also decided to allow you to join us on that journey so that you will be more informed as you think about and pray for the churches of Uganda. We pray that these short Pastoral Bios would encourage you in your walk with God and that you would grow in your love for Jesus as you see how he is moving in the hearts of so many people!

Pastor Moses is one of the students in our newest class of pastors, he is also my neighbor here in the small town of Adak, and he is our head grounds manager at BAM. Not only that, but pastor Moses is my personal friend! I love him, and his family and I am so grateful to know him.

Moses is the leader of Adak Deliverance Church which has 150+ adults and around 100 kids; they also have 6 branches that meet in peoples houses, under trees and places like that. They desire to help the communities physical and spiritual needs as they share the love of Jesus. They have outgrown their current hut and are slowly working on building a larger church as money allows.

Pray for Adak Deliverance Church:

  • Pray – that God would bring bibles for the churchgoers so that they can grow in their personal walks with God.
  • Pray – That it rains here in Adak so that peoples crops would succeed this coming harvest (this has been an especially dry wet season)
  • Pray – That God would touch the marriages and the families of Adak, that God would give understanding in the roles of wives and husbands and that he would give parents wisdom in raising their children.
  • Pray – Pray that God sustains them as money is tight here in Northern Uganda.

The Harris Family Update August 2018

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:28-29

This past week our ministry chose to make this verse in Colossians our theme verse. I am so grateful that God has placed our family within a group of like-minded individuals whose desire is to make Christ known and understood through abiding in the Word of God. We have been sent by God through you, our brothers and sisters, that we might labor to reveal Christ here in Uganda. So, thank you for being partners with us in the Gospel! It is so exciting to see how God is working and moving all around us. Some days are more exciting than others, and we aren’t always on spiritual mountaintops, but we trust Gods promise that His Word won’t return to Him void.

 

In the last month, we had the opportunity as a family to visit one of our students’ churches for a Sunday morning service. We were so blessed to see 200 or so people crammed together to the point of no more standing room, in a grass hut structure, with hearts and minds focused on Jesus Christ. Sometimes it can be scary to visit churches outside of America because, as a visiting adult male, the chances that you will end up preaching the sermon without any warning are very high, and that visit was no exception to the rule. Luckily I had guessed it would happen and I came prepared:). Please pray for Adak Deliverance Church, that they would grow in their understanding and knowledge of our Savior through a love for His Word, that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that they would abide in Christ. Our future hope/plan is to visit one of our student’s churches on the third Sunday of every month.

 

 

This month had it’s highs, but it also had it’s difficulties. This past Sunday night was one of the most difficult things I’ve faced so far in life. After Noelle and I were asleep there was a knock on the door by our nursing staff from the clinic. A small child needed to be transported to a more equipped hospital due to his critical condition. He had far stages of malaria teamed with anemia. I drove him in the ambulance, along with his baby sister and his mother to the closest large hospital through extremely bad road conditions due to the rainy season. Upon arrival at the pediatric wing of the hospital, I learned that he died literally seconds before. Death is hard, but cross-culturally, handling a situation like that is even harder. I’ve had time to be candid with God and come to some closure, but please pray for the family of the boy.

 

Concerning our school, our first class of pastors just finished studying through the whole Old Testament, and our second class finished the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis. This coming week we will be teaching through the book of Exodus. Through my time studying through Exodus in preparation for teaching, God has really been showing me His faithfulness to His Word in the way that He remembered His covenant with Abraham and kept all of His previous promises. God is faithful. May He make us a faithful people who are content to honor Him day in and day out.

 

“I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to say the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.’” Exodus 6:4-8

 

 

 

Harris Update – July 2018

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  

Philipians 4:6-7

We started out this month with the first week of class for the new pastors. On the first Sunday of the month all the new pastors showed up at Calvary Chapel Gulu for their introduction into the class. Each pastor was introduced and given a study Bible for the course. They worshiped, went over ground rules, and ate together. For this first week, we only covered Genesis 1-12:3; from creation through Abraham’s calling from God. These first chapters of the Bible carry so many foundational themes for the rest of scripture, it was difficult to unpack them in only a weeks time.  By the end of the week, one student pastor whom we work with at the BAM was saying it was as if he had never read the Bible before and was now reading it for the first time, despite being a pastor for many years. Praise God for that work!

The new class of pastors

We did a lot of work with the Business As Mission (BAM), as well. Gerald, the man who manages the BAM with Matt was at a class out of town for 3 weeks, and Matt was paired with another administrator to keep things running. Things are really developing at the BAM. The first batch of chickens are about to start laying eggs, the fish are growing, and the products we make from sunflower seeds and maize are selling very well. Matt has also worked hard to get the hydroponics system working so we can feed our chickens for cheaper. I think all-in-all it was a very productive 3 weeks despite Gerald being gone and us not being farmers and all.

This month we were also hit with malaria. Maddie contracted it first (now recovered), and now Matt and I both have it at the same time. Matt is almost recovered, and I am still taking the anti-malaria pills. Malaria is actually a parasite, passed through mosquitoes (this is apparently mosquito season). Thankfully, for those who can get tested right away, malaria is not as fatal as it sounds. You can die from it if you don’t treat it right away, but if you have a fever and you get tested for it sooner than later, it is a very treatable sickness.

The last few days have been difficult. One person with malaria is manageable, but both parents having it at once has made it hard to keep on top of things. Today we have been taking turns napping and caring for the kids, while our amazing helper, Gladys, has taken care of the house for us. Please pray for us over the next few days as we recover and as we try protect our children from the mosquitoes (thank God we have nets for our beds and plenty of bug spray).

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory, in the church and in Christ Jesus, to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

Harris Update – June 2018

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””                    John 8:31-32

 

Tuesday night guys study group

Last month we finished our update by telling you about the guys who would end up meeting at our house for discipleship. That picture above is who all was here last Tuesday as we worshiped God together and looked at His Word. John 8:31-32 is our theme verse and we read it and talk about it every time we meet, which is every Tuesday. The guys show up around 6 pm and we have tea and bread together, than we play some worship songs before studying Scripture. Right now we are going through 1 Peter, and I plan to continue from that point through Jude, which should take just a few years. Sometimes the meetings go smoother than other times, especially when we have a good translator and someone who can read Acholi:). When that is not the case we just play worship together and break bread!

Work wise things have been going along at a fast pace out here as I have been trying to balance between my roles and responsibilities as a manager at the BAM (Business As Mission) and as a teacher at the School of Discipleship for the pastors. That balance is not always easy to find since there are always so many pressing needs on both ends.
This month has been a doozy at the BAM since we are down multiple people; our receptionist at the clinic is on maternity leave and her replacement got malaria, our head manager is going to school for a few weeks and one of our main guys got in a boda boda (the little motorcycles they drive around Africa) accident…. So as you can imagine we have all been working over time to keep the ball from being dropped. Please pray for Stephen, who got in the accident, for Irene as she stays up at night with her new born son, and for Daniel as he recovers from Malaria. Daniel also has sickle cell, so this Malaria spell came very near to killing him.

An African sunrise over our tilapia ponds

Prep for the new class of pastors is almost over, they arrive at church tomorrow evening for their first of 36 weeks living together at Calvary Chapel Gulu. During that week they will study through Gen 1-11, the foundation of God’s Word and the origin of all things. If a person can get a firm grasp on these 11 chapters of the Bible they can understand nearly everything else in Scripture. Please pray for me as I teach next week, on Thursday I will be covering the cursing of Canaan, which is a very sensitive issue since most evangelicals throughout Africa believe that all of their misfortunes can be traced back to that event in Gen 9.

You should also know that Noelle, Noah and the girls are doing well. Emma has started joining the nursery school that our ministry runs for P.E. and she has really been enjoying that. Madeline is just as cute as ever, it has been a blast watching her interact with the world around her. Noelle is nearly done recovering from her surgery but could use your prayers for her strength as I am trying to hold the reigns on BAM and the school. Please pray for Noah because he has a small fever right now and a cough.  As for myself, I am very proud to announce that I am an official resident of Uganda and I have a 3 year work permit!

A guy we saw on our way down to Kampala a few weeks ago:)

In Christ
Matt, Noelle, Emma, Madeline and Noah