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Trips

Uganda (Kampala) January 2017

African Renewal University, Uganda, Uganda January 13-29, 2017

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. 6 Courses to be taught: Christian Worldview, Computer 1 and Essay Writing, Basics of Biblical Interpretation, Christian Ethics, Introduction to Systematic Theology, Worship and Prayer

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

Jan  26th,  2017Becoming Prayerful Worshippers

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Giving is always rewarding! The reward is magnified when there is a real need. Here in Uganda appreciation may be expressed with a nod, a smile or a warm handshake. It also is “felt”—it is a ‘silent’ thank you that flows from the hearts of believers who have a spiritual hunger to know more of the living God as He has makes himself know in the Bible. This is what I have experienced here in Uganda teaching mostly pastoral students. They are preparing themselves at Africa Renewal University to be faithful teachers of God’s Word in local churches.

 

I have had the awesome privelege of teaching the most important subject in the Bible (my opinion). It is that God graciously saves lost, hopeless sinners to be “Prayerful Worshippers.” Our class has been a continual worship service with an acute sense that God Most High has been right there with us. David had one quest in life. He passionately wanted to be in the presence of his God. He was envious of the sparrow that had made a nest in the rafters of the temple. His joy was found in gazing upon the beauty of the face of the LORD. 

 

I am not expressing something that is only for a select few. This is a real experiential truth that is for people here in the middle of the African continent as well as the Americas. The Lord has His children in all corners of the globe. The reward God promises in Colosians is “our eternal inheritance” in Christ Jesus. There is an immediate reward however, in participating in the biblical training of indigeneous people to be a part of God’s kingdom work. It is seeing that the church of Christ is so much bigger than we think. I thank the Lord for the opportunity to grow to love my God and King just a little bit more. It has come by giving from a glad heart!

 

Rod Wilton

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Jan  25th,  2017Reflections of Joy

I completed seven days of classes asa of last Tuesday for my course on Introduction to Systematic Theology which deals with the topics of The Bible, God, Man, Salvation and the Church.  It has been a joy to teach these students who are so eager to learn God's word.   So far we have covered the topics of The Bible (It's inspiration and infallibility), God (His existence and His essence) and man his call and fall.  The students are working hard to study and learn all the information they are receiving.

I was blessed to hear from a previous student who told me, somewhat apologetically, that he had taken the notes from my previous class, last May, entitled Old Testament Message and Theology, and shared them with 200 students while he was in Kenya this past summer.  How wonderful that God's word is being spread beyond the borders of the ARU university and even the nation of Uganda.

I am also amazed that, once again, the students are willing to pay their hard-to-come-by money in order to have a hard copy of my Master notes.  They want them not only for themselves but to share them with those back in their local churches.   Still, another student told me he had shared his class notes from a previous course in 2015.  He is a Bishop who serves over 100 churches.  How exciting it is to see God's word, work, and kingdom being spread throughout Uganda and beyond.  All of this is possible because of the faithful support of those who believe in the work or Training Leaders International.

Thank you for your prayers.  Please don't stop now.  We all are looking forward to finishing up our classes this week with our students and carrying home with us many wonderful memories and experiences from Uganda.

Warmly in Christ,

Tom Kehn

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Jan  24th,  2017For the Wisdom of Bible Study Methods

Screen_Shot_2017-01-24_at_1.20.47_PMTheological Debate on ARU's campus

 

I have 11 students learning how to study and interpret the Bible.  As in America, the challenge is that Ugandan students are used to a way of learning where the teacher gives information, and the student merely reproduces the information--without analysis or thoughtfulness, or aim to enable the student to become a skillful handler of the Word of God. 

Studying and Interpreting the Bible demands such a skillful aim. My aim is to help the students do more than merely know the rules and principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) but to develop the skill of self-discovery through diligent study and wise reproduction.

As with all skills, competence is developed in careful knowledge over sustained time in repetative practice. My hope, in the short two weeks I have is to ignite a taste, delight, and power for discovering the precious truth from the Bible, and then for each student to continue to work on their study skills as a lifelong discipline; as they go back to their homes and ministries.

Today, God provided a rich blessing for all the students. One of them, with the help of our librarian, was able to provide a Bible app for the rest of the students which will give them access to numerous Bible study tools--translations, lexicons, and concordances--at their fingertips. This is significant since none of the students have ready access to a library or books.

The Internet is too expensive for them to use, but they all have phones and access to inexpensive phone service. This app may be more valuable to them than this course!

Pray that God give my students an insatiable appetite Peter calls for in longing if 1 Peter 2:2-3, unto each student being "a praise to the glory of God's grace." 

 

May God be praised!

Pat Curtis 

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Jan  23rd,  2017The Biblical Creation Account and Traditional African Stories: Was the Universe Vomited Up?

We have made it to the end of the first week of teaching here at African Renewal University. As we get to know the class and the students and the community we get a crash course in African culture. Sunday night for dinner our wonderful hosts took us to a riveting performance of African dances from all over Uganda. It was incredibly entertaining, but more than that, by reading between the lines one could begin to perceive some of the hallmarks of African culture and thinking. For me this week that is particularly important because I have been tasked with teaching Christian Worldview by teaching the story of the whole Bible. 

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In the West, Christian worldview is taught as a philosophy class—compare different philosophical systems and their views of God, existence, the purpose of life, etc… Now, you could certainly teach the class that way in Africa, many of the students are familiar with the history of ideas, however philosophical models are not how their cultures have traditionally made sense of the world. They have rather shaped their worldview through stories—last night we saw many of those stories acted out through dance. These stories were about courtship and marriage, the transition from youth to adulthood, the complexity and challenges of life, the vagaries of war, and the synergy of the community. 

Earlier this week, my class studied the biblical creation accounts. We talked about how this story shapes the way that we experience the world—this story shapes our worldview. According to Scripture, we are created in the image of God to participate with God in his work of ruling over the ordered universe that he has created. This special status and unique origin gives humanity its purpose. 

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That night I asked the students to write response papers in which they described a traditional African creation story and then contrast that story with the biblical account. In one traditional story there were two creator gods, one who created everything good and the other who ran around behind him creating everything that is weird of distorted or bad. On this view humanity is innocently caught in the middle of a spiritual world that they cannot control. There were many other fascinating responses but the one that stuck out to me the most explained creation this way: The creator god came down with a violent stomach ache so that he began to vomit. As he continued to be sick he vomited up the earth and the seas, the sun and moon, the plants and animals, but none of this made him feel better. Finally, he vomited up humans and began to have some relief. How does it change the way you look at the world to think that humans were vomited up because we made the creator god sick? 

Admittedly, as the Africans tell the story it is comedic, however I still think that it suggests an underlying chaotic outlook on the world. Praise God that he has shown us something different—a good, ordered universe that he upholds through his sovereign power. The biblical story challenges every other story about the world and in that way it gives all people hope. 

Alex Kirk

International Trainer

 

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Jan  19th,  2017UGANDA: AT THE GROUND LEVEL

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Wapiganapo tembo nyasi huumia.

When two bulls fight the grass gets hurt.

African Proverb

I have not yet traveled beyond Coca-cola’s market penetration, and so it has become an enjoyable tradition to partake in this classic American experience wherever I travel abroad. Today in Uganda I maintained my tradition. This time however was not quite the same. It may be a growing awareness of the perils of sweeteners or the recent exposé of nefarious marketing by the sugar industry, but the experience now feels a bit more complicated. Whatever the reason, it suggests that some additional perspective may unsettle our ideas and feelings.

For centuries the African continent has been the stage for some of our worst atrocities, from slavery and colonialism to modern genocide and civil war. It’s tempting to consider these foreign affairs only as a matter of history, but in Uganda the cultural war rages on.

Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is chaotic and exuberant, distinctly African while teaming with international cultures and corporations. As an outsider, new friends have already opened their country and shared the places and people that make their home familiar. While driving through the heart of Kampala my friend Joy graciously entertained my endless questions about Ugandan life, culture and the growing presence of China within her country. Joy shared the proverb to articulate the African attitude of resignation. East versus West, there is no right or wrong side, just two bulls who do not consider the life under their feet.

Over the course of two weeks, I will be spending time with university students, banking officials, local entrepreneurs and agricultural operations, exploring micro lending and meeting with government officials. With a better understanding of the challenges, motivations and opportunities within the local economies, I will be better suited to support entrepreneurship and education in partnership with local academic institutions. I am extremely fortunate to be such a welcomed guest. I do not know the definitive outcome of my time in Uganda, but I already know that I am at serious risk of an altering perspective, and perhaps I will reconsider my affinity for Coca-cola and reconsider what it represents.

Jonathan Brown

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