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Uganda August 2015

African Renewal University, Uganda August 14-29, 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 August 2015

Aug  27th,  2015A Final Reflection

by Tom Brown 

The thought of an entire culture being changed through theological education is a paralyzing prospect. Years of false teaching and social unrest often creates such chaos that national gospel transformation appears hopeless. In my work in Africa for Training Leaders International, I sometimes think it would be easier to turn the Sahara Desert into a fertile farmland then to attempt turning the eyes of a nation towards gospel transformation. 

This discouraging prospect is reasonable; it is reasonable if the great task before us is dependent upon human effort. But it is not.

In less than 300 years, the first Christians managed to turn the Roman world upside down. They did it without clever schemes, great armies, or powerful politics. They did it by boldly believing and unashamedly telling the gospel of God among peoples in far away lands. By their faithful gospel witness, God extended His sovereign hand of grace unto the conversion of many thousands of souls among the Roman Empire; and 'The Parable of the Mustard Seed' was at work.

Antioch tells of such soverign grace in Acts 11:19-26. The scattered believers of every nation went about gossiping the gospel and the hand of God was with them doing His great work of changing a people. 

When the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness overwhelms Jesus' commision, we need to remind ourselves that the impossible task is the work of a sovereign and all powerful God. The miracle of ‘The Feeding of the 5000’ teaches us the lesson: when God ordains the task, Jesus takes to Himself the small things we have, returns them to us to distribute, making them fit for the task He ordained. The disciples subsequently observed the multiplication of God’s great grace through their stewardship of small things. 

 Our Ugandan team experienced such tokens of grace through their ministry. Here are a few:

As I sat in class listening to one of our teachers, a note was passed across the room to me. The note read: “Hello Tom Brown. I request next holiday programe [SIC] you bring back these teachers (professors) Mr Zuber, Jacob, and others, not forgetting professor Norm.” 

A student next to me, taking copious notes and engaged in the lecture as if he were at a music concert responsively singing with the band, was listening to the questions asked by the teacher, and responding back the right answers before the teacher told — the guy was having a blast!    

On one occasion, a pastor approached the teacher after class and in all seriousness said, “I see now that I must change the entire way of my preaching.” 

These simple responses may seem of minor significance but in each, the hunger for righteousness and seeming gospel presence appears in each; and like the few at the close of Jesus’ ministry who saw the expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire, so may it be among these few. May we too see it, that our faith may be enlarged. 


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Aug  26th,  2015Good News

by Jake Porter

“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25).

My class on Old Testament Wisdom Literature is in the middle of our unit covering Proverbs. We have gone through Job and Psalms, and before the week’s end we will have also considered Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. The journey through this portion of the Scripture has been richly rewarding; the walk through God’s word with 47 brothers and sisters from various cultures has taught me a lot about the differences and similarities that exist among us.

The similarities are what have made the deepest and what I suspect will be the most lasting impression on me. Ugandan believers have a deep love for the Lord Jesus, hunger for his word, and enjoy a sweet fellowship with one another. They are also a welcoming, hospitable people, eager to embrace others who share their faith.

If I had to summarize what I have received from my time in Uganda this last week and a half, I would say I have a renewed conviction that the word of God is, in fact, true. As our teaching team has exchanged reports from our classrooms, I have seen once again that the pure teaching pure of his word enlivens those who belong to Christ. Indeed, for God’s people his word is “sweeter than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

In the casual conversations with students on breaks and outside of class, I hear a sincere desire to serve God in response to Christ’s work for us. Truly, for those purchased by Christ, “the love of Christ compels us” to “no longer live for [ourselves], but for the One who died for [us] and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15).

In sharing meals with students, faculty, and staff, I have felt that our joy has been made more complete as we have experienced fellowship with one another. “And indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Yes, the word of God is true.

In worshipping with several village churches on the outskirts of Kampala, I have lifted up my voice in a new song, singing with people from every tribe and language and people and nation ransomed for God by Christ’s blood (Revelation 5:9).

Proverbs 25:25 says, “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” This Scripture has been experienced in two ways during this trip. Seeing and hearing the good news of Christ and its fruit here at Africa Renewal University has been refreshment to my soul, and this good news has touched the congregation that sent me as they’ve received updates. Likewise, as our team has sought to steward well the theological education we’ve received in the United States by passing it on here, the students have drunk deeply from God’s word in our classes. Souls have been refreshed.

Please pray for our final days on campus, for the students, staff, and administration of Africa Renewal University, for the churches of Uganda and their pastors, that increasingly Christ will be lifted up and that God would draw men and women from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation to himself.

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Aug  21st,  2015The Teacher is The Student

by Kevin Zuber

We (the August 2015 TLI Uganda team) have been at Africa Renewal University for over a week now and a few of us are feeling the combined effects of jet-lag, hot afternoons, short nights (in short beds!)  But we are also feeling the excitement and challenge of teaching pastors and students in a different culture. The other team members have larger classes than mine, they have to teach at more difficult times than I do and they have more challenging subject matter. (How Jake manages to teach Wisdom Lit. in this heat every afternoon is beyond me—kudos Jake!) The other classes have upwards to thirty(-plus) students and every night I see them diligently at work in preparing handouts, quizzes and other materials as well as conscientiously and painstakingly grading quizzes and monitoring class attendance. I have just seven students (or eight, depending on the day). I can take attendance with a glance. Since the class is composed of pastors the subject matter, Ecclesiology, is of more than passing interest to them and we have had some lively discussions! It has been a joy teaching them.

But I must confess I did not come to Uganda to teach—I came to learn. Oh, yes, I know my subject matter pretty well, I have plenty of outlines, I have many pages of exposition on passages related to the doctrine of the church. My lectures and expositions have been well received by the students / pastors. But I came to Uganda to learn from them. And by their patience and God’s grace I have learned.

 I came to find out about how men in ministry deal with certain issues I have never and will never face. How do they deal with a man in ministry with two wives? How do they deal with church members who go to church on Sunday and then to the “traditional spiritual healer” (aka “witchdoctor”) during the week? How do they deal with the conditions of ministry in a country so poor the church floors are sometimes merely compacted dirt and the walls mere boards of rough wood? How do they stand for the True Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ when so many in Africa have fallen to the errors of the prosperity gospel?

I have learned that they apply the Word of God without hesitation but with compassion. 

I have learned that they focus on the actions of worship not on the building they are worshiping in—if they even have a building. One of my students minsters to a church that meets under a tree on two acres of ground they own. The fact that they own so much ground means that this church is thriving! 

I have learned that they preach the True Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ —boldly, faithfully—to see men and women saved from sin. And they preach the Word of God in Truth to see their church members delivered from error and false doctrine. 

I have learned much about their fortitude and faithfulness.

I have learned that the heart of a pastor is pretty much the same whether serving in a place of prosperity or in poverty—true pastors yearn to obey the Master—“feed My sheep” and to “Shepherd the flock of God” (cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2)

 At the end of the course I will have to give the students their grades (and they are doing well!) My prayer is that they might be gracious when it comes to grading this student—it might sound like a cliché but is nevertheless quite true—I have learned much more from them than they from me. 


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Aug  20th,  2015The Outpouring of Students


by Gil Zinke

A terrific cloudburst is dumping outside! I paused writing this to videograph its fury. The walkway in front of our dorm became a river. Deafening drumming made the tin roof overhead roar. When I returned from shooting video, I found a roof leak dripping just inches from my computer! At next look outside, the impromptu stream flowing past the dorm had turned rust-red with clay from the construction site just uphill. I am grateful for shelter, even if it leaks, and for electricity that is still on; it goes off about once a day. We are well cared for: there are mosquito nets over our beds and we are well fed.

Sunday proved to be more crucial to this trip than I expected! The six of us from TLI, plus 3 or 4 college students, who would be our interpreters, packed into a van and rode on rutted roads, far off the highway, to five rural churches. The pastor at Miracle Center Church announced that I was the first Mazungu (white person) to visit the church in its two-and-a-half-year history. The service had already been going on for three hours when I arrived at 11 am. Many squads of children, teen girls and grown women crossed the stage as dance number followed dance number. Then I preached from Exodus 17 and 1Timothy 2. At the close of the service people made their way forward to deposit offerings in two buckets. My honorarium was a treat I relish—a bag of ripe bananas!

On the return trip, the five pastors of the five churches rode back to the ARU campus to share lunch with us and hear a speech from the Dean. They were told what a privilege it was for their churches to have the Americans from TLI partner with their churches in this way and also be available to train their church people in the Africa Renewal University courses that would begin the next morning. This is what I meant above by “crucial.”  We realized that the Dean was appealing to them to send at least two persons from each of their churches to attend the courses we would be teaching! No wonder we had not received rosters of the students (nor have we to this day)! At the end of the speech we prayed in pairs with our host pastors.

I team-teach with Tom Brown and Scott Faucher. When our course began at 7 AM on Monday, three students were present. Students trickled in so that by 10:00 AM, when we dismissed there were 23. On Tuesday there were 32; on Wednesday 36 and today 37. Most are responsive to the message of Ephesians and have done well on the first quiz. I have done most of the teaching this week for this course; Scott and I will split it almost evenly next week. It is a privilege to be here and I thank each of our partners around the world who have a part in making it possible. You will share in our reward. May God be blessing you as we await that day!


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Aug  18th,  2015Day Two and Making Progress in the Classroom

by Phillip Pike
The TLI Uganda team completed our first two days of teaching at Africa Renewal University. The team is instructing classes for the university's Holiday Program; courses include Ecclesiology, Introduction to Church Ministry, Wisdom Literature, and Survey of Biblical Doctrines.
TLI teachers are making adjustments on the fly to better communicate curriculum and build relationships with the students.  The focus of all the classes is to help students develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ though a better understanding of Scripture, and to be better prepared to effectively handle the Bible in discipleship, teaching, preaching, and evangelism ministries.
We are all enjoying the beauty of Uganda and the ARU campus, which also functions as farm... goats, chickens, and also roosters that wakes us up at sunrise.    There is also a children's program on campus.  We enjoy our new title of "mzungu"  (white man) as we share smiles with the beautiful Ugandan children.


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