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Trips

Uganda (Gulu) March 2017

Gulu, Uganda March 16-26, 2017

In partnership with a group of churches in the St. Croix Valley of Wisconsin, TLI is training pastors from northern Uganda and surrounding countries. Tutapona Trauma Counseling works with individuals severely traumatized by the horror of war and is now training local pastors to carry on this effort within their own culture by strengthening existing churches and planting new churches in areas of need. Curriculum to be taught: Gospel of Mark

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

Field Notes   Uganda (Gulu) March 2017

Mar  31st,  2017Reflections on the TLI Training in Northern Uganda

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This is my fourth trip to Uganda to teach the TLI curriculum.  I have had the privilege of teaching The Attributes of God, Genesis, Ruth & Jonah, and Mark.  This is the first time that I filmed pastors giving testimonies about the training.  Pastors were lining up to tell their stories.  

Here are some of the themes that were repeated in the testimonies:  ‘This training has changed my life.’  ‘This training has changed my ministry and my church.’  ‘I used to preach my own ideas, but now I understand how to preach the meaning of the texts of the Bible.’  ‘Before this training I had no idea how to preach from the Bible, but now I know how to study the Bible using the four interpretive questions and how to lay down a sermon.’  And from everyone who gave a testimony, ‘I am so thankful to God for this training.’

One of the most significant conversations we had during this training occurred in connection to our look at Mark 14 and the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  Most of the pastors in my study group of ten have not ever celebrated communion with their churches.  Some have talked about it, but there was much confusion about if they should, how they should, why they should and when they should.  These pastors now know how to teach from the Bible about the practice of communion and will be able to lead their churches in the worship of Jesus at The Table.

Because of the trauma and chaos the people of Northern Uganda have experienced through the years of terrorism committed by the LRA there has been no ongoing theological education or training in this region of Uganda.  Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world so pastors are not able to travel six or seven hours from their remote villages to Kampala for Bible training.  The TLI training is indeed God sent.  Praise God for this curriculum!   

Dr. Stu Dix

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Mar  26th,  2017An Great End to a Wonderful Week in Gulu

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Three of the students leading a village church on Sunday
(Joe, Anthony and Samson - left to right)

Friday we traveled the road back to Kampala from Gulu in the north through villages and different centers of commerce.  We stopped about halfway for a little rest and some beef samosas for lunch. The trip usually takes about 5 hours but our driver could probably do it in 4, easy. Ron had the privilege of riding shotgun for the hair raising show.

 

This morning's closing ceremony was a beautiful thing. We gave each student a new Acholi Bibles to pass along to new believers or those they are discipling. As they came forward, we shook each one's hand and thanked them attending this week. Then Stu exhorted them to begin preaching through the Gospel of Mark before the next training in July. Ron taught on the Lord's Supper when we found out that they rarely if ever practice this means of grace. We then partook together.  I led the final benediction and the week was over. 

 

Two ladies and one man in my class were maimed either in the legs or arms.  I'm not sure if this is the result of the war-torn history in the north due to the activities of the LRA (Koney's the Lord's Resistance Army) or simply a sign of the difficult daily life in the villages there.  While they walked with a limp, their joy seemed gloriously unaffected.  One woman in my class, Raquetta, lost her 4 sons to the LRA by kidnapping.  They have never returned and likely died years ago.  But she testified about how the Lord, through her daughter, has now given her 6 grandchildren to replace the ones she lost.  Her trust in him was so encouraging.

 

The students asked many interesting questions throughout the week.  We spent extra time talking about the sovereignty of God as it relates to suffering and healing using the Joseph narrative as our guide (Gen. 50:19-20).  We also discussed the nature of saving faith.  Both one who has weak and strong faith in Jesus is saved.  The power to save (or to heal) is not in the strength of faith but in the power of the Savior who is the object of our faith.  Throughout the class we emphasized the 4 interpretation questions again and again.  They are starting to get it.  Though putting them into practice is still an issue.

 

Everyone preached a short message and received helpful feedback on their teaching and interpretation of Mark. About half the sermons in my class were faithful to the author's intent.  But they are improving.  Our translators said that the sermons this time showed marked improvement. It's encouraging to hear that they continue to grow in their understanding and teaching. That makes coming here worth the cost. And they were so honored that we would leave our families and homes to travel so far to spend time with them and teach them.  We were honored to meet new brothers and sisters for whom Christ died.  Their joyful expressions in worship often brought tears to my eyes.  They taught me an Acholi worship song that I look forward to singing each time I think of my new friends.  The translation is:  "Thank you God, thank you Jesus, for all the good things that you have done in my life."

 

Ugandans are warm and hospitable people who are eager to learn more about Jesus.  I hope to see them again one day soon.

 

Joshua Chambers

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Mar  20th,  2017A Movement in Northern Uganda

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On Thursday night the team (Stu, Ron and Joshua) landed in Kampala, the capital.  After a good night's sleep and breakfast, we began the 5-6 hour journey north to Gulu.  Though on the equator, Kampala has a pretty temperate climate and we were greeted by cool evening breezes.  It gets warmer as you go north and the afternoons can be fairly hot.  But the humidity is low and the mornings and evenings are cool.  It's a lot like late Spring in South Georgia except you can actually cool off in the shade.

On Sunday we visited 2 new churches that had been planted since the last team was here in November.  Fifteen pastors came to the church planting training that Stu and Ron led and we learned that 4 more churches had been planted in that time.  Some of these pastors will become regional leaders in a movement to spread many more churches throughout north Uganda.

The churches we visited in the village were an hour and a half from Gulu with 45 min of that on back roads.  Ron and I sat under a giant mango tree enjoying the cool breezes, singing praises and hearing from the word of God.  Joe, an evangelist, preached on repentance.  Samson, the church's pastor, led the worship and exhorted the believers.  Anthony, the pastor who discipled and sent out Samson, led the service and played the drums.  All 3 of these men are in our Gospel of Mark course this week.  

Worshipping and praying with the African church is really like nothing else.  We sang about God's character and the blessing of forgiveness in Christ.  Afterward, a church member honored us by inviting us to her home for a meal of rice, beans and chicken.  Their hospitality, heart-felt worship, simple joy and brotherly kindness toward us are a testimony of the work of God in this place.  The Western church has a lot to learn from them   

Pray for the training this week.  We want to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as we study Mark together.

Joshua Chambers

 

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