Jesus said, "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples." John 15:8
As Team Uganda prepares to leave for the US, the students also prepare to go home. Gaba Bible Institute, with the partnership of TLI professors, is sending them to villages to preach one person,one book with one ambition.
The person is Christ - "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." I Cor 2:2
The book is the Bible - "I solemnly charge you...preach the word." II Tim 4:2
The ambition is the glory of God - "...to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." Eph 3:21
As they go in the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ, one can only wonder... How much spiritual fruit will come through their ministry individually and collectively? How many will they lead to Christ? How many new churches will they establish? How will the church of Jesus Christ be strengthened by their commitment to expository preaching? How will God use them to protect the church from error? How much pleasure will God find in their sacrificial service?
May God grant each of you, supporters and professors, much fruit in these students!
Glory to the Lamb,
Joseph is one of the older students in my class who serves
as the head of the deacon board at his church. He has a winsome personality and has great insight into
serving people. This week he had a
question about giving offerings at church. He explained that in the rural areas, some of the people
will bring a chicken or some farm produce for their offering, and the church
will hold an auction and sell the item to the “highest bidder” so that the
money can go to the church for the purposes of ministry. “What do you think about that?” he
said. On the one hand, the people
who give these offerings don’t have cash and they are bringing what they
have. However, Joseph voiced
significant reservations about auctions in “the House of God” (a common
designation for church buildings in Uganda). There were a lot of factors to weigh in as the class
wrestled with all the issues. At the
end of the discussion, however, Angela (another student with ministry
experience) seemed to have the best resolution: give the gift directly to the pastor. In that way, it will meet his needs and
free him up to give more time to ministry and preaching and avoid the problems
that come up with auctions at church.
This was yet another reminder of how much I can learn from
the students. Part of my job is to
ask the right kinds of questions and give them space and time to think and sort
things through. And the most
important thing is bringing them back to the question, “What does the Bible
Ugandans get water by collecting rain water, pumping it directly to their homes or going to the local well and carrying it back to their homes.
Yesterday, we walked to the well closest to the GBI campus --about a 15 minute walk. We wanted to help pump water and share the gospel with the women and children who were coming to collect water.
On the way, we met some students walking home from school and we were able to share the gospel with them. They asked us many questions--why do the scientists say that the world will end in 2012? What if I want to believe in Jesus, but when someone says they will cut off my hand I want to save my hand instead of saying I believe? Did God make aliens?
After talking and answering their questions, we invited them to put their trust in Jesus as their Savior. Some were unsure, some left, but about 5 said they would like to put their trust in Jesus--not in their religion, not in themselves, and not in their good works. Amazing. It is so unlike America where most would laugh or walk away before we were even finished. After we prayed with these students, one of the staff members from GBI invited them to come to his home once a week to study the Bible.
We eventually arrived at the well. Not many were there at first, (it has been rainy, muddy and wet this week--in fact, we're pretty sure it's hotter in MN than it is here!!!!) but soon children began to gather and bring their jugs. We established the "Well Community Choir" and began singing, dancing and sharing songs with the children while some of our guys pumped water.
A woman who had heard Mark share the gospel a few days ago at the well appeared with a friend. She wanted her friend to hear the good news of Jesus, too. Mark and Jocelyn (our good friend at GBI) shared the gospel with her and the Lord opened her heart to believe!
On Sunday, our group split up and preached in a few churches across the Kampala area. I had the honor of preaching in a small church plant. Vicki and I walked into the church during the singing and we tried to sing and clap with an unfamiliar song. Then I heard it! My favorite words! The worship leader said "Jesus is my treasure." This is such a refreshing thing to hear in a country that has been led astray by the Prosperity Gospel. If Jesus is our greatest treasure, then we do not need all the trappings that this world has to offer. I was able to preach on Acts 26: 19-23. This passage speaks about Paul's faithfulness through persecution and imprisonment. Paul is testifying before Herod saying the he has been faithful to God, even though the cost was high. But how did Paul stay faithful to God? Because God remained faithful to Paul! Paul says "to this day, I have had the help that comes from God." God did not leave Paul to suffer alone. God did not give him a difficult message and expect him to proclaim it in his own strength. Our God is the God who calls and enables his messengers. After the service, I was able to spend some time with the Pastor. We had a time of great fellowship. And I was encouraged to hear his desire to see the people of his community come see Christ as their greatest treasure. For the last week I have been teaching students at Gaba Bible Institute. It was very good to spend time with a former student (the pastor of the church I preached at). It helped me to see the change that solid theological education can make in a church. It is my prayer that my students will be going throughout this country (and beyond) and plant theologically rooted churches that will point people the the fact that Jesus is our greatest treasure!
We have basically reached the halfway point of our trip and
our time here has gone very well so far. The last few days I have asked the
students about the three steps of Bible study and the five essentials of
preaching, and they are now naming them off very quickly and have a thorough
understanding of these ideas. But it is not just about them quoting content,
these students are either currently pastors, or will be planting churches upon
their graduation (one of my students even has a desire to minister to the
Chinese people and is currently learning Mandarin). The students at this school
will literally be impacting thousands of people in this country, and, by God’s
grace, what is being taught here will shape their ministries in the years to
come for the glory of God and the good of their people. Sunday is coming and
most of the guys are preaching at churches, so we are praying that God works
through His Word in big ways as we minister in various churches. God has been
so gracious to us and to the ministry of GBI, praise God for His goodness.