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Uganda Winter 2015

African Renewal University, Uganda January 9-24, 2015

The Holiday Term at Africa Renewal Christian College is a part of a 2-year Certificate Program for pastors, church leaders and lay-members of the church that desire to be equipped for ministry. The training attracts mature adults that are already serving in ministry and are unable to attend bible college full-time to due family, ministry and work commitments. This mature group of students provides a tremendous atmosphere for dialogue and debate as students learn how to apply God's word to their lives.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Uganda Winter 2015

Jan  25th,  2015The Challenge Left Behind


Team Reflections on Lessons Taught 

We are a team of 4 US teachers having assisted the theological training of pastors and church leaders at African Renewal University in Buloba, Uganda. Our courses included: Old Testament Narratives, Christian World View, Bible Study Methods, and The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ. The students were, as usual, enthusiastically engaged evidencing heartfelt understanding. Yet, as we taught in the classroom for such a short two weeks, and preached in churches on two Sundays, we wondered in our limited experience about a seeming divide between the classroom experience and visible church life. Certainly our wonders are best considered and met among the indigenous church leaders of Uganda, still we could not help but consider our role in challenging our students to consider and bridge such divide.

It is not a divide unique to any one culture but one all face in every place, both as individual believers and community church members. It is the divide between theology personally embraced in the classroom, and theology practically applied in life. 

Each of our four teachers experienced the elation of hungry students wanting to know the deeper things of God. Yet, the students grasp of biblical truth shown in practical ministry expression among the worshiping community is not as readily visible. We wondered if this seeming divide may indicate a blind spot in our charge to our students; and is the divide real or merely perceived? 

Bridging the gap between biblical understanding and ministry practice is not easy; it is not easy to move away from long standing patterns of uninformed faith expressions—neither abroad nor at home. It is also hard in a culture—having been taught under a long tradition of a Western/Greek educational structures rather than Middle-Eastern/Hebrew educational structures—to think naturally on the practical bridge; what’s the difference in educational structures? The “Greek” way of education leans toward knowledge known; the Hebrew way of education leans toward knowledge displayed. As James wrote, “Who among you is wise and understanding, let him show it by his good behavior; his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13). 

But there is more contributing to this divide. There is a distorted spiritual tendency in the hearts of men; it is the tendency towards a false man-centered religion. This false religion looks to God to do something to us, and demand nothing from us. This man-centered tendency is, like the above said divide between knowledge and practice, not purely a cultural matter but one rooted deep in the heart of fallen mankind. 

If this divide is not bridged, then the understanding from a theological education becomes no more than a toothless tiger in the churches; our theological training becomes a small trickle in the river’s flow of global gospel mission. Pray, watch, and expect strategic and Spirit dependent theological training to prosper as God's work is done in God's way through Training Leaders International.  

As we teach and as we encourage our teachers, pray that we will skillfully reach our students, not merely in the grasp of a biblical theology understood, but in a wartime charge to bridge the divide unto churches that will visibally mirror God's spiritual design in the Christian life and in the likeness of the sacrificial selfless love of Jesus. 

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Jan  22nd,  2015A Day in the Life of Africa Renewal University

By Dick Albright

It’s been such a joy to teach the Christian Worldview course to 17 students at Africa Renewal University this past week and a half. We have built community by sharing our own stories and then talking about how our stories fit into God’s story revealed to us in the Bible. For many, it is a new perspective to see the entire Bible as one story written by one author (the Holy Spirit) about one person (Jesus Christ) for one purpose (our redemption). Throughout the course, we’ve been comparing God’s story to the World’s Story, God’s truth to Satan’s lies, and reality as revealed in Scripture to the illusions Satan has embedded in our cultures.

We asked, “What is truth?” and discovered that all truth, whether found in the Bible or in the created order around us, comes from the mouth of God, from out of his own character and nature. Thus, any attack on truth is an attack on God himself.

As we have worked our way through the story from Genesis to Revelation, we have taken time to review basic principles of interpretation and have practiced applying them to the portions of Scripture that we have been studying. We have seen how all Scripture flows together into a single storyline, enhanced and adorned by the poetic books, the prophets, and the epistles; how each part contributes to the story; and how we can’t understand the specifics until we have understood the whole.

The students are currently working in groups to think through how the things they have learned can change their lives, their churches, and their communities. Each group has identified a strongly-held cultural tradition (the World’s Story) that conflicts with Scripture (God’s Story). They are identifying specific Scriptures that speak to that tradition and proposing how the tradition might be modified or replaced to bring it into conformity with God’s truth, thus moving the tradition out of the World’s Story and into God’s Story. Then they are developing an action plan to help make it happen. How exciting to see Africans influencing African culture for God! I am eagerly anticipating the presentations of their work on Friday.

Our team has been thanked multiple times for our service to the students at Africa Renewal University. It would not happen without the help of those who are praying and supporting this work. Our team is much bigger than four teachers. Our team includes all those who are praying, all those who have given financial support, and all those at TLI’s home office who have handled logistics. It is a blessing to experience the family of God working together to powerfully change students’ lives. Thank you!

Serving together...

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Jan  19th,  2015Teaching to Fish Observing Fish

By Tom Kehn

 It is hard to believe we are already more than halfway through our time here.  The first week went very well.  The students seem excited to learn.  For my class, they are learning to understand and use basic skills on how to more effectively study and interpret the Bible.  We have worked through several Bible study and interpretive scenarios in class using the inductive method of observation, interpretation and application.  One student told me he was excited that he would be able to go back to his church and share what he is learning with others there.  praise God, that our message can be multiplied.

 On Monday the students in my class will be making an oral presentation on interpreting a controversial passage assigned to them.  It should be interesting to see how they do in applying the interpretive principles and practical skills they are developing.  They have already read and been quizzed on the short book, How to Study the Bible by Robert West.  I had enough copies for almost all of them to have a personal copy to read (turns out I have only 14 students in my class rather than 50).  I told them that if they make a commitment to share what they have learned from the book with at least two people, they may keep the book.  Most seem interested to do so.

This coming week will be more of a challenge for me and the students since I will be presenting material I have not taught before and it is a unit which provides more of the specifics on Bible interpretation with different types of literature including parables. poetry, and prophecy.  Please pray that God will continue to guide me and inspire me as I share these important truths with my students.

On Saturday, we went to the “source” of the Nile.  It was a good time but it was not what I expected.  We went to a state-run park area where we took a boat out to where the Nile river meets Lake Victoria.  It was a small Island with a craft shop on it where the two bodies of water join.  The boat also took us around the inlet to look at wildlife (various types of birds, storks, and pelicans, plus one monitor lizard we spotted on the water’s edge.  The vegetation and wildlife were vibrant to see.  We then went a bit out into Lake Victoria itself to see floating fish farms where Talapia minnows are allowed to grow and then sent to market.

Sunday we each had the opportunity to preach at a local church.  In my church there were about 20 adults and 20 children gathered together in a small, rather narrow, make-shift “church” with dirt floors and a corrugated aluminum roof.  But God’s Spirit was there and we had a great time of worship. I felt blessed to be able to share Psalm 37 with these people about our call to trust, delight, commit and wait upon the Lord.  It was so wonderful to see how responsive they were to God’s word.  

Thank you so much for your support and continued prayers, which we so greatly covet.  We will look forward to sharing with you in more detail in the coming days and upon our return.

Warmly in Christ,

Tom Kehn 

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Jan  14th,  2015Serving Uganda With Our Supporters

by Tom Brown

As our teachers in Uganda fight for good communication, effective mentorship, and personal sensitivity among a people so culturally different from themselves; as our team members skillfully do the work of Training Leaders International, I wonder how this present fight and work includes their supporters. I mean, in the fight to be skillful teachers in Uganda, how do our supporters at home meaningfully share in this fight in more than financial supply?

In one sense, our supporters have a larger ministry than do we, at least a more foundational one. They do what we do in the task of Training Leaders International by contributing towards the training of one teacher. Our supporters are providing for, not only the advance of theological education abroad, but for the continual growth of a teacher in his professional calling. By their financial support, our supporters participate in the work of training one teacher in becoming a more skillful professional in the task he is doing as a teacher in both cross-cultural community abroad and pastoral ministry at home. And in response, as Paul reminded Timothy of his debt to his mother and grandmother for their spiritual investment (2 Timothy 2:6-7), so we too are debtors to our supporters. The teacher owes his supporters a life of faithfulness to the Word of God and the ministry to which God has called him. So, our supporters have a large ministry as they invest in one home disciple of a similar culture, who will invest in several disciples of a different culture, who will continue to invest in disciples of their home culture, unto the strengthening of the church worldwide; it has the ring of 2 Timothy 2:2.

As I thought about putting the above into a challenging vision to our current and future supporters, I thought of the ministry leader who may go with us for two weeks each year to teach in a cross-cultural setting. What kind of a challenge could I give to such a leader to pass on to his supporters? I would challenge such a leader to tell his people at home of their far reaching partnership in the ministry of Training Leaders International. I would challenge such a leader to tell his people at home that they have a far reaching ministry by building into their minister a greater capacity to teach effectively beyond his own isolated culture, thus contributing to his professional development on the field and at home; I would challenge the leader to tell his people that his continual development will return to them, and not only to them but to all that leader will touch in his life calling; I would challenge the leader to tell his people, that by God’s grace, supporters will receive back a better leader, a leader growing as he learns to see the world from the eyes of our missionary God as the Gospel of Luke, the Book of Acts, and the entire redemptive work of God tell in the scriptures.

May God give vision and calling to future supporters at home, to invest in our pastors and church leaders; pastors and church leaders with Training Leaders International. And we hold in confident  hope the promise of Jesus Christ to build His church among our global world through these earthen vessels. Watch for that work in the the subsequent posts from our Ugandan team of teachers.

Serving God with You ...




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