MOBILIZING MISSIONARIES FOR PIONEER CHURCH PLANTING
Two weeks ago we gathered with nearly 300 leaders of Jesus’ Church from across the islands of Lake Victoria. As it has been for the previous four years while holding this annual conference, our time together was marked by the sweet presence of Jesus, a unity in the Spirit, and a great momentum toward our goal of building a powerful Church that will transform the islands.
While great strides were made towards these ends, the final day of our conference was marked with a triple tragedy: we received word that two of our island pastors died in their villages and an 8 month old baby who had been brought to the conference passed away from a medical emergency. While the “coincidental” timing of these three deaths could be explained away, it does seem to be a counter-attack to the great forward movement of our little fellowship that now comprises 60% of the church leaders present in this remote region of the world.
Because of our journey to America I was unable to attend the burial of one of these preious leaders, a great mother in The Lord who was working on my main leadership team, so I put together the following letter of condolence. I reproduce it here in honor and tribute to a life well lived in faithful sacrifice to the One who called her.
To all who are gathered to celebrate the life of our beloved friend, Pastor Agaba Jessica, I bring greetings in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.
I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear the sad news of our sisters’ sudden passing, and while I know she is now free from the pains and sorrows of this earthly life and safe in the arms of her savior, it is still so painful for us left behind to bear the loss of our mother, our sister, our pastor, and our friend.
I came to know Pastor Agaba during the Bible School I led in Ssenyondo, Bunjako Island, during the latter part of 2008. Though she and her late husband had gone to many trainings before and had been in ministry for many years, she was very eager to grow even closer to Jesus and learn more from His Word and so traveled the many miles each week to attend classes. Her husband attended her graduation ceremony just weeks before he himself graduated from this life to the next, and she immediately found herself in a crisis – a personal crisis in the loss of her mate, and a crisis in the life of Revival Church who was now without a leader. Assuming the position of senior pastor, she steadily led the congregation through the difficult season that followed, defeating every critic who attempted to tear down the church with their words and inability to encourage this great mother in the faith.
I watched as Pastor Agaba put into practice everything she had learned in our Bible school, and building on the principles of Scripture her church grew strong and healthy while she maintained her place in the community as a mother to her own children & grandchildren and many others in the school she oversaw. Each time I would visit her home I would sense a different spirit about her and the leadership team she was building, and it was clear that there was great impact in the community surrounding her home.
When it came time to appoint regional leaders to our Island Leadership Network, Pastor Agaba was the right woman for the task – she was well respected, gracious in her words, and successful in her ministry. We began moving all over Lake Victoria together with the other members of our team and from the very beginning she brought her spiritual children to train in ministry and give opportunity for service. Each month when we would meet together to push the Gospel further into the lake, her joy and faithfulness would emerge as she would teach and encourage the believers in every village.
Now that she is gone from us, we mourn for the loss of one of God’s great servants but rejoice in a life well lived. Now she can say together with the Apostle Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6–8).
Goodbye dear friend. We will meet again when our race is also won.