Coming to Uganda for the fourth year is both exciting and a bit scary. I’m coming with a new, smaller, team (all my normal friends had other important duties this year) and it’s always interesting to join a new team. Additionally, many of my key students from previous years, have graduated. Such is the nature of higher education. The inmates leave the nest!
On top of all those changes, the class schedule has changed. Instead of starting classes at 8:30… we’re starting at 7:00. That means a wake up at 5AM and cold shower by 5:15.
New team, new times, new students… it’s overwhelming. Just the kind of thing to put you in the need of God’s Grace.
And that’s exactly what He’s provided. My class showed up on time and were excited. My partner teacher is a great theologian who is highly practical. And the cold shower was not so bad… refreshing even.
After the initial intro, I asked the class what some of their favorite books or stories (beside’s the Bible) were. One said “Gulliver’s Travels,” another “The Lost Baby” (a unique Ugandan picture book of a baby lost in the laundry), and a third said, “Cinderella.”
As I heard all the stories, I noticed that there is a common theme: We need someone who can rescue us.
Teaching “Intro to the Bible: An Overview” is a course needing (desperately) a common theme… and they know the theme already. It’s the theme we all know — we’re in trouble… and we need someone to rescue us.
But who can rescue us? Obviously it’s Jesus… but is that what we preach? Is that what we teach? Really? Consider Luke 24. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus meets two lost disciples who wonder why Jesus had died. The Scriptures says, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he spoke to them the word concerning himself.” In other words, the Old Testaments are God’s promises of a rescuer… and the New Testament is God fulfilling those promises in the person of Jesus Christ.
How does that work? I asked them to tell me the story of David and Goliath. Big problem… little boy… scared men. David takes on the giant, with faith, and five smooth stones… and the Giant is killed. Now, how do you preach that?
In my best preacher voice, I jumped in. We all have problems in our lives and we need to search out the five smooth stones… We need to not be afraid… We need to walk up to that Giant in our lives and we need to launch those stones! Kill the Giants in Jesus Name!
Amen! Alleluia! Amen!! The class all nodded, clapped, stomped and agreed. Yes!
No. Here’s the problem: There are Giants in my life that no matter what I try to do, I can’t kill them. I don’t have the faith… and when I try I just fail. I don’t need to be the champion. Cinderella didn’t need to rescue herself… indeed she couldn’t. The Lost Baby couldn’t find itself. Even Gulliver couldn’t get back home without someone else’s ship picking him up! We need a champion… We need a true king who can fight on behalf of us. We need someone who has experience taking down Giants. Who else but Jesus could truly save us? No one.
When I got done with that sermon… not only did they say, “Amen!” but they said, “Wow! What a Savior.”
-Father Greg Smith