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Uganda May 2012

Gaba Bible Institute, Uganda May 11-26, 2012

Teaching two-week class at Gaba Bible Institute. We need teachers for Biblical Interpretation, Biblical Counseling, Life of Christ (Gospels), Christian Ethics and Daniel/Revelation.

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

Field Notes   Uganda May 2012

May  25th,  2012Ending...

All of the teachers gave exams of some sort this morning.  Many students were up late last night studying and preparing.  What a joy to see them accurately recalling information from the last two weeks on their exams and papers.  During lunch today, they threw us a celebration and we all ate and sang together as ARCC faculty, staff, TLI team members, and ARCC students.  The verses from Revelation 5 came to mind as we considered a people from every nation, tribe and tongue around the throne.  God has truly worked on our behalf as a team, and has used the TLI team in the training of leaders here in Uganda, and the surrounding areas of East Africa.  The team is beginning the process of packing, shedding tears and will be heading to the airport in the next 24 hours.  Thank you readers for your prayers. 

In one class, students were asked to write on the bottom of their exams where they will be student wrote that he sensed a call to work among the Muslim people of Sudan.  Training humbling...and what a joy...

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May  24th,  2012Lessons on an ATV...

"Sunday we went to Revival Fire Church and it was good.  The church was small but joyful.  They did about an hour of singing and then welcome/testimonies/announcements and time for the sermon.  I enjoyed what I prepared to teach, BUT I did not feel that I communicated well.  It was tough with a translator and a tribal people.  I'm sure the people were blessed...but this enforced the reason that we are educating the pastors.  They need to be equipped to serve their people!

One interesting thing that happened was when a young man stood up to chide Francis, a professor and our guide from the school.  He was upset about the school fees.  The young man said he wanted to go to ARCC but lacked the money.  Francis responded by telling the story of how he got a job to go through seminary and God opened lots of doors for him.  He asked the young man if he had applied...the answer was no....and Francis essentially said, "You can't move a parked car."

ARCC's goal is development, not handouts.  Joseline, our Ugandan staff member, made that clear on our ATV ride.  We went through some really rough looking places with lots of mud huts and partially clothed, extremely poor children.  At lunch I asked the team what their thoughts/feelings were about what they saw.  Then I asked Joseline what she thought.  She asked us, "Do you think they don't have what they need?  Or do they not use the resources that they have?"  She explained that Uganda has two growing seasons with plenty of resources.  The villages we rode through were full of polygamy where the men have many wives with many children but do not take care of them.  She encouraged us that people need to see what they have and use it rather than asking for hand outs.  A hand up, truly.

What a great encouragement and a good way to help anyone who is in a rough place.

I see more deeply the need to train local leaders/national pastors so they can do the work among their people.  Rather than people constantly waiting on the US or GB to provide solutions for them. May I be faithful to the task!"-Greg Smith

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May  22nd,  2012God's Big Plans in Uganda

Greg is part of a teaching team of 4 seminary trained pastors who are teaching national pastors from all areas around Uganda, the Sudan and Rwanda. Some of these students are in the Diploma program here at Africa Renewal Christian College, and some have come in for these two weeks of "Holiday Term" for extra training. The course Greg was asked to teach is called "Daniel and Revelation" and it is an expository study of those two books.

In preparation to teach Greg did expository study of the contents of both books. Other texts he has been using include: According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy, The Gospel in Revelation by Grame Goldsworthy, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary. The objective of the class is: To gain an understanding of God's final hope for a restored humanity through the understanding of the Biblical story and focusing on the culmination of His Story in the books of Daniel and Revelation....

Because of persecution, especially in Rwanda and Sudan, the students are very interested in these books and there have been some lively discussions of the end times. In class Greg is having the students share African views about the end of the world, their local worship songs, and their perspectives on the Scripture. One of my favorite illustrations they have created of the end of the world is comparing it to a pot of beans--the water is the world, the church is the beans, and the fire is persecution. As the fire heats up, the beans boil and the steam rises until it will explode and the beans will be done. Neither the water, the beans nor the fire knows when they are done, only the cook. Many of the students want Greg to pin down an exact time when the end of the world will come....he is stretching their minds to help them see that the focus needs to be on God and His plan rather than their timetable.

Along with teaching and the required daily preparation, there are times to interact with students. Greg is often found surrounded by a group of Africans discussing various theological positions or their practical implications. He has enjoyed talking with the staff of the school as well--they are all African trained nationals who have a passion for raising up local leaders to bring a foundation of solid Bible teaching to the local churches.

And what am I doing? Definitely more than I had planned! When Greg said he wanted to go to Africa, I knew I had to go too, but I didn't know why or what I would be doing. I thought maybe I would be part of the construction team, maybe I would help cook or garden, maybe play with children..... Even though I had no plans, God had big plans! I overheard on my first day that they were working on accreditation of the school so they could begin offering bachelor's degrees. One of the degrees being considered is Child Development. After a little nosing about, I met with the Community Development Head who shared that they had oversight and editing help for all the degrees but Child Development--for that one they had been dead in the water for about a month. Little did any of us know, but God had brought me 5,000 miles to use my latent training in Child Development and editing skills just when they were facing that need!

My master's degree (almost finished) is in Educational Ministries focusing on Child Development and Christian Education. It has been so much fun to be able to help in a unique way. I have been working with Rachel Arianye, the Child Development teacher, and other adjunct professors, to develop syllabi for the 3 year degree and edit all the syllabi so they can be standardized across the school. They are in a bit of a rush to finish this as they are preparing to send all the syllabi in a binder to the National Education Council by the second week in June. If it is passed, this will be only the second degree in Child Development in the nation. And it is so necessary....

I spent Sunday morning working with children in the local Revival Fire church. Rachel has shared with me that by the age of three months the children are given to housemaids or a local village "auntie" to raise so the mothers can find work. Along with being undernourished, the children I interacted with were also underdeveloped. Many 18 month - 2 year old children are not talking or walking very well and are the size of 9-12 month old US children. Their smiles and spirits are beautiful, but they could be developed so much farther along! What an exciting opportunity to change the future of a nation by developing the body and soul of the children!

As you can see, I'm excited about what I am doing and it has been a privilege to watch Greg enjoy teaching. We are aware that the conditions and feelings are somewhat akin to "summer camp" and this is not the true reality of living in Uganda. But we feel blessed to be here at this time doing this work for these people.-Anna Smith

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May  22nd,  2012Sunday in Churches...

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The team spent Sunday in four different churches, preaching, praying, and being invited into the homes of Ugandan pastors for fellowship.  What a blessing to not only minister through teaching in a formal college setting, but also through the preaching of the Word of God.  Staff from Africa Renewal Christian College accompanied the team to the various churches and many of the students who have traveled from various areas were in the services as well.  The hunger for solid theology is apparent in these churches, and many of them, if they have committed pastors, do not have pastors that have theological or ministerial training.  The work of Africa Renewal Christian College and TLI is a needed one.  Here is part of a blog post reflection I wrote about that day:

“Today was a busy day for our team in different churches. I preached in a particular church for three services...yes that means three different sermons (Rev. 5, Walk through Ephesians and 2 Cor. 5:21). I hope and pray the gospel was clearly proclaimed. For two of the three services, there was an interpreter. It was tiring, but wonderful.  In the last service they also asked me to lead in a time of praying for babies/children...their version of a baby dedication...there were over 20+ children on the stage... I was asked to hold the babies one by one as we prayed. There was praying for the sick, personal testimony and several offerings. The music was vibrant, including dancing and shouting. The church was nestled in between houses in a village surrounded by mud, trees and some trash. It was up the street from the school. A typical Ugandan Sunday church experience can be from 8:15am to 1:00pm-ish where many persons sit through all three events (service 1, Bible Study, service 2). Children were walking all about, and the sanctuary was a brick framed building with a metal roof, and many holes...only windows, no Central AC. I enjoyed worshiping there today and it was another reminder of the need for Bible centered preaching. Many preachers in these areas are simply listening to a prosperity gospel leader or a cult leader on the radio and re-preaching the same sermons to their congregations on Sundays. Pray for this congregation- Buloba Community Church. Hearing voices raised in praise in the local dialect (Lugandan) is a wonderful experience...”-Ryan

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May  17th,  2012My Greatest Weakness, Their Greatest Strength

The past three weeks and two days have been head spinning to say the least.  I say this because I literally ran on board to go on this trip.  On the one hand I shouldn’t be amazed that God could take something that was so unplanned three weeks and three days ago and suddenly bring me to Uganda.  He is the sovereign creator of the universe, the ruler of all things that exist or will ever exist.  But on the other hand my faithfulness is weak, and I find that I have much to learn in this department as well as many others. 

I am learning my time in Uganda has been far less about teaching Christian Ethics.  God has been faithful please don’t miss understand me.  His grace has been sufficient in teaching Ugandans how to process and determine what is right and wrong.  His Word has been sufficient in answering the question: what to feel, what to think, how to obey, with respect to what He has said.  But as I hear these men talk about what God is doing in Uganda I stand in awe.  Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert in there book, “When Helping Hurts”, state, “By 2050, Uganda alone is expected to have more Christians than the largest four or five European nations combined.”  Having read this I initially thought to myself that surely this was an exaggeration.  But, after landing in this land, seeing there love and their hunger for the Word of God, and hearing them talk about what is happening in their churches I can’t help but see that Uganda could be the future epicenter of Christianity. 

Not only that, but my greatest weakness is their greatest strength.  The people of Uganda are faithful and for that I am thankful.  Thankful that I can teach and be a part of what God is doing here in this land.  But most importantly, I am thankful that my faithfulness is being made stronger through the men of my class and the administrators of the school.  May God continue to bless Africa Renewal Christian College for the glory and supremacy of Christ.    

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