I am Royce Watkins, the new President of Four Corners Ministries.  My wife, Sandra, and I spent about 16 months over the last two years serving at Abaana’s Hope in Northern Uganda.  I have not had the privilege of meeting most of the people receiving this E-blast.  We had a small number of family and friends who received our monthly updates while we were in Uganda.  These monthly updates are posted on Four Corners Ministries’ website and will tell you something about us as we served the wonderful Acholi people and ministered to our missionaries while there.  I had to return home in early March to have back surgery.  It is a long healing process with an uncertain conclusion.  Sandra returned home in April and the Board of Directors asked us to pray about filling the role of President/CEO of Four Corners Ministries since our return to Uganda was uncertain.  Tripp Skipper was serving as President, but because his personal consultant business was growing, his time to devote to Four Corners had greatly diminished, and there was a need for full-time help in this position.  Tripp resigned on Friday, May 16, 2014, and I began on Monday, May 19, 2014.  I am humbled to fill this position with such a wonderful ministry that we truly believe in, and we ask for your prayers for wisdom and direction as we go forward in His plan for us.  Only God can do that!

I would like to take a few moments of your time to share some of the things God has taught us over the past two years.  We read in Mark 12:41-44 about an incident that parallels an experience we had in Uganda last year. “And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.  Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  Wow!  Have you ever given out of your poverty?  I have not, but I have seen it done in Uganda, and this is the story I want to share with you that affirms that only God can do that.

When Sandra and I left Uganda last November to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we had been there for 10 straight months.  For over six of those months, Sandra had been part of a ministry at Abaana’s Hope that enables women of the community to make jewelry that provides an income for them and eventually a profit source to Abaana’s Hope.  I say ministry because the primary goal is not profit to Abaana’s Hope, but it is to minister to these ladies.  Now, after over a year of making jewelry, the ladies are producing beautiful jewelry that is being sold at jewelry shows and shops in the U.S.  Above everything else we do at Abaana’s Hope, this is the ministry that most grips Sandra’s heart.  She loves these precious women and they love her.  They call her “Mama Sandra” out of respect or age or both.  The last three baby girls birthed by these ladies before we left were named Sandra.  When they learned that we would be leaving for a period of time, they wanted to bring her gifts.  She received several gifts that were definitely a sacrifice for the these ladies, such as chickens, beans, jackfruit, g-nuts (peanuts), two clay pottery jars, a gourd water jug, a hand made stool and an envelope from a lady named Anna (not her real name) who became a Christ-follower a few months earlier.

Anna and her youngest child (4-year old girl) were run off from their home by her husband when he took another wife.  She had no place to go and was given temporary refuge by one of our jewelry ladies, which brought her to becoming a part of the jewelry program.  Anna eventually was provided a place to stay near a family member in Kitgum, a five-hour walk from Abaana’s Hope.  Every week, she walked five hours with her little girl to make jewelry for income and five hours back to Kitgum.  The jewelry ministry was from 10:00-4:00 four days a week, but there are two groups; so two days a week, Anna left home with her little girl at 5:00 AM and returned home at 9:00 PM in order to make a little money to feed her daughter and herself.  When Sandra opened the envelope Anna gave her (she was with our translator), she saw it contained a simple but heartfelt note from Anna that someone, who had learned to write English, completed for Sandra.  It also contained 5,000 shillings (about $2)!  Sandra immediately told the translator that she could not take this money that Anna needed so badly for food.  Our translator replied, “But Mama, you must!  She is learning to give out of her poverty.”  Only God can do that!  He did it for the widow in Mark 12 and He did it for Anna.  God is teaching us so much through the Ugandan people about Himself and His Word.  That’s right, only God can do that!

As Americans, it is almost impossible to give out of our “poverty” so let’s, at least, give out of our“abundance” as God directs us.  Let’s “not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:19-20)  Four Corners Ministries is currently engaged in a capital campaign to raise money for Abaana’s Hope.  I want to unapologetically appeal to you to consider and pray about giving a 3-year pledge to the ministry at Abaana’s Hope.  Some of you are able to give $500 a year or $1,500 total over the three years.  Others are able to give $50,000 a year for 3 years.  After spending 16 months in Northern Uganda, I can assure you any gift you give will go for ministering to an unreached people group devastated by war, most with little hope and a great need for our loving, redeeming Savior.  For 24 years, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led initially by Alice Lakwena and later by Joseph Kony, waged a war against the Government of Uganda (GoU) that left nearly two million innocent civilians caught in the middle.  An African proverb says it well: “When two elephants fight, the grass beneath is crushed.”  The GoU’s attempt to protect its citizens from this rebel militia resulted in the placement of scores in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps.  Many were born and lived over 10 years in these camps.  Many died in these camps due to a lack of adequate food, water and healthcare.

In addition to those living in IDP camps, some were captured and remained in the LRA for many, many years.  Young boys only seven or eight years old were forced to kill family and friends.  Young girls were raped and used as sex slaves.  Both boys and girls were taught and forced to fight and kill or be killed.  There was not a single family in Northern Uganda that was not affected by this war.  At Abaana’s Hope, these are the people we serve and minister to on a daily basis.  Only God can bring people like our missionaries to give their lives so others can know Him in a place like the remote bush where Abaana’s Hope is located.

This is the backdrop of FCM’s work in Uganda.  Many of our Acholi friends in Northern Uganda have no concept of what love means or how it is demonstrated.  Consequently, FCM’s Board of Directors recognized a need to build a Village of Hope to reach out to the vulnerable children and adults in a remote area about 20 miles from Gulu, the nearest town.  God’s Word tells us in James 1:27 that religion that is pure and pleasing to God is religion that does the Word by taking care of and looking after orphans and widows in distress.  That is the foundation of the vision for Abaana’s Hope.  The ultimate goal of Abaana’s Hope is to help empower the current and future Acholi leaders, to lift them up and fill them with love and hope found in the true gospel of Jesus Christ so that they might do the same for their families and neighbors.  Only God can provide this love and hope!

Would you pray about becoming a partner with us in this ministry?  We would love for you to participate in a mission trip to Abaana’s Hope and see for yourself what God is doing.  His hand is on this ministry.  We’ve seen things that could only happen because of God.  We’ve seen a 78-year old man, who was a known drunk in the area for decades, become a Christ-follower and quit drinking. He now regularly attends weekly worship and a discipleship class.  Then shortly after that, the store owner where the drunk bought his waragi (a cheap, plastic zip-lock type of bag of alcohol) became a Christ-follower along with his wife (a jewelry ministry lady).  They felt God leading them to stop selling waragi and He has continued to provide for their needs in spite of the loss of alcohol sales.  We now have 42 ladies in the jewelry ministry and 40 have become Christ-followers who are passionate about worship with many in discipleship classes.  Oh, one more.  Anna, who gave Sandra the envelop with the 5,000 Shillings was restored to her husband, and through counsel of Abaana’s Hope Pastor, he became a Christ-follower.  They now worship at Abaana’s Hope and are in a discipleship class.  Only God can do these things!

God has blessed Abaana’s Hope with a 100 acre plot as our main facility and a 12 acre plot to house widows and vulnerable women.  He has also blessed us with some amazing missionaries who are passionate for spreading the gospel of Christ.  He has blessed us with missionaries who have gifts and skills to build buildings at Abaana’s Hope to reach the people of our area.  In early 2015, our Medical Clinic will be seeing patients who need physical help while we also provide spiritual help.  Within the next two months, our Chapel will be complete to house the 200+ Sunday worshipers as we also open the Chapel to community meetings and have men, women and children’s Bible conferences.   Buildings that are completed are a Maize Mill, Staff Housing, the Women’s Refuge Center with five ot lums (round, traditional homes with grass roofs), a Caretaker Facility providing a place for our Farm Manager to live, and a Kitchen to feed our 120+ workers.  We also have two bore holes (wells) to provide clean, fresh, safe drinking water for the community.  We have a production well to provide clean, safe water to our buildings and toilet facilities.  We have a Family Group Home to house vulnerable children with Biblically trained house parents.  God has also blessed us with a wonderful, Biblically trained Pastor to lead our church and disciple those who have become Christ-followers.  Only God can do this!

If you feel God leading you to support Four Corners Ministries with a one-time gift or a commitment to give a certain amount over the next three years, please contact Hilary Bassett at 334-737-6338 orhilary@fourcorners.org.  You may also visit our website and complete your giving information online at www.fourcorners.org.  We are pleased to have accreditation from Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.  This organization scrutinizes a ministry for demonstrations of a commitment to integrity.  Please check them out at www.ECFA.org and notice the ministries with whom we are associated who are well known in the U.S. and around the world.

If I may be of assistance to you or you would like to meet with me to answer your questions, please call me on the office number listed above or my mobile number, 205-999-9919 or email me at royce@fourcorners.org.

© 2015 Four Corners Ministries
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