As I (Josh) was typing, the clock turned to 5 AM and in the distance I could hear the imam calling the faithful to prayer. Gulu, Uganda is the “capital” of northern Uganda. The city swelled in population during recent wars as rural farmers and villagers sought refuge in the supposed safety of a city. Just a few hours drive from South Sudan, Gulu serves as the epicenter of refugee camps in northern Uganda.
TLI started training pastors here in August of 2015 and as our MAF flight landed on the small airstrip outside of Gulu, I wondered how many would return. You can gather pastors for one conference, but when they find out that you’re not giving away a lot of free stuff, whether it’s tee shirts, books, or money, will they return?
As we joined Mike and Sean at the church, we found out that there were more students in this class than in the previous class. Students had returned … and brought their friends!
Monday morning, Mike and Sean started the training by asking the question, “What Is the Bible?” They worked hard to get students to find confidence in the authority of the text. As we prepare to teach students to teach and preach the Bible over the course of our curriculum, we first must get them to trust the Bible. When Joe and Josh arrived at tea time, the students were gaining confidence and learning to look into the Bible to find out what it has to say.
The vast majority of students from August’s training had returned. Mike and Josh had been to Gulu before and it was wonderful to greet old friends again. After lunch, we divided into three groups so we could get into the nuts and bolts of Hermeneutics. I have rarely seen students so eager to learn. My class engaged quickly and when we looked at such hermeneutical techniques as authorial intent and original context, they wrestled with what for them was a new approach to reading Scripture.
It will be a long, difficult week. Language barriers make teaching hermeneutics a laborious process. I’m also already worn out after teaching last week in the Philippines. Please pray for patience and endurance on the part of the students and instructors as we continue in this wonderful process of studying God’s Word together.