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Uganda Spring 2014

African Renewal University, Uganda May 9-24, 2014

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 and teach it to others.

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

Field Notes   Uganda Spring 2014

May  29th,  2014Final Thoughts From Uganda

Well, it is hard to believe that our two weeks in the Pearl of Africa, Uganda, are finished.  Our team of seven learned so much, and I believe we were able to be used in the work of training leaders in a part of the world that is often in such need of training.  Our experiences were many...foods, relationships, cultural differences, seeing the Hand of God at work...and now, each of us is returning to our routines, schedules, and families in the United States. 

God was gracious to provide for our needs, our health and our travel safety.  As we sat in the cafeteria hall of Africa Renewal University on the night before we were to fly back home, we listened as students talked about how thankful they were that we had come.  They spoke of how much they had learned, and they blessed us with such strong words of encouragement.  Occasionally, a tear would come to my eye as I thought about how glorious the partnership had been...we shared training, they shared desire and zeal for the Lord.  Having been four times to Uganda to partner with this institution, I saw again the need, and the benefits of continued travel in order to teach.

What a blessing to go, to lead a great team, to work with great folks at ARU, and to serve an awesome God.  


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May  20th,  2014Topics For Writing and Research

“Excuse, Sir…” This is how one student addresses me when he has a question. And questions have been many as we work in the class “Writing and Research Skills”. The first three days we focused on the art of composition—writing well. Starting with the basic structure of a sentence, we moved to a paragraph and then to a five-paragraph essay. The African students were skeptical at first, but excitement grew as they saw the pieces come together and their writing improve.

The assignment on day two was a three-paragraph essay on a topic of their choosing. One essay was titled, “Why I like Keeping Cows”. The thesis statement was “I like keeping cows for milk, meat and helping my neighbors”. Not the topic you would read about from an American college student. But one that is important for the Ugandans.

Other essays included: “Why I was excited to finally get a car for my family” and “The Special Day I Was Married”. While the topics are different for Ugandan than American students, the writing challenges are similar. Many students write with run-on sentences, they switch between present and past tense in one paragraph, and many had never written a research paper before.

We began the research work on the fourth day after a discussion about why research is important. They chose a topic, narrowed it, and then began looking for information in books. I learned quickly that an African library is quite limited in resources. The ARU library has grown mainly from donations from visiting Americans so some topics are rich in resources and some are sparse. Several students had to switch topics when no books could be found for what they wanted to research. One topic with no books was “Challenges and Solutions to Unemployment in Uganda”.

We settled on topics for research and I taught them how to take notes using 3×5 note cards I carried over in my suitcase. It has been fun seeing their enthusiasm grow as they found ideas and quotes to support their research. Paper topics include: “How to stop child abuse in Christian homes”, “Why political war is not the solution for Northern Uganda”, and “How pastors can prevent their marriages from breaking”. These are relevant topics for the church and community of Uganda.

Every morning we begin with a short Bible study together on themes including Wisdom and Study. The students are becoming more comfortable with me and with each other. Some life stories are coming out and prayers are being shared. This morning we studied James 1:2-12 and discussed perseverance. The previous night I had to ask the students to leave the library at11:00 to go to bed. They have been so diligent in their work that they sit in class all day and study all night. Last night they were showing bloodshot eyes and tired faces. They asked me to pray a blessing on them before they headed to bed. After a good rest, they arrived this morning ready to begin again. The Bible study on perseverance, planned weeks ago in South Carolina, was the perfect fit for a day of research and writing!

Greg Smith +
+ St. Alban's Chapel; Chaplain to The Citadel (Anglican/Episcopal)
+ Church of the Holy Cross; Director of Faith Formation


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May  19th,  2014High Points

Wow! What a week this has been! We've finished our first official school week here at ARU! Time really does fly...

I wanted to share with you a few high points that I've experienced so far. Thank you for all of your prayers and I'm so excited for you to be a part of this!

Let me start off by saying how much I have fallen in love with Uganda. I've never felt more comfortable, welcomed, loved, and appreciated than I do in this culture. The people have an undeniable love for Jesus and for His people and it's such a refreshing feeling. I think Americans, myself included, can learn so much from their willingness to serve others, their generosity, and their genuine hospitality towards anyone that comes their way. (Not to mention how BEAUTIFUL it is here. The green rolling hills, the contrast of the bright red dirt, and the beautiful clear sky... It's stunning.)

While I'm here in Uganda, part of my time is spent serving and working on the grounds of the university, and part of the time I attend the classes that our team is providing for the ARU students.

The first "high point" I want to share with you is how much I've enjoyed being around such intelligent people. I've learned more in the last five days about theology and the nature of the church than I have in my entire life. Sitting in on the classes have been a blast as well! It thrills me to be in an environment where the students take learning so seriously. That's something I feel is somewhat lacking back home! (Someone please remind me of this post when I go back to school in the fall!)

The second "high point" I want to share with you is an experience I had last Sunday, our first official day here. In the morning, I got up early and went to St. Stephens Anglican Church with Greg and Anna because Greg was preaching as a guest visitor in their church. (Shout out to my Anglican friends back home!) The experience itself was spectacular, but the coolest part was that I was familiar with the liturgy. I'm over 8,500 miles from Colorado, but I felt like I was right at home.

The third "high point” was the second church I went to with Ryan. It was about as different as you could possibly get from an Anglican service! (Not to mention we crammed 17 people into a mini-van size vehicle to get there... That's when you know it's going to be a good time!) It was more of what I would think of as a traditional African church service. (...Like I know anything about a "traditional African" service...HA!) There was clapping and dancing and singing and yelling and it was SO much fun! There was a translator on stage because most of the people in this church only spoke Ugandan, whereas at St. Stephens, most of them could understand and speak English. Both churches were wonderful and it was a blast getting to experience their culture right off the bat!

All in all, my first week has been out of this world. We've tried all sorts of new food, learned parts of a new language, been eaten alive by bugs, taken cold showers, slept under mosquito nets, experienced the craziest rainstorms I've EVER seen, interacted with beautiful Ugandan people whom Jesus deeply adores, created relationships that will last a lifetime, and we've been able to serve for the sake of the Kingdom in ways that I didn't know existed.

I miss everyone back home SO much, and I am so excited to catch up with all of you when I get back.

Mukama Yebazibwe - (Praise The Lord)

Lindsay Rae


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May  15th,  2014The Benefits of Going Back...

We are more than half-way through the first week of classes.  Despite lost luggage and a few travel challenges, the team is all together and has hit the ground running.  The transition from the States to Uganda has been much easier this year. Most of the team has been here before, so the mental preparation has lessened the shock from the jet lag and the culture differences.

Such a smooth integration has caused me to consider some of the benefits of recurring short-term training trips.  Three are significant:

 1. Renewed Relationships:  Having recurring relationships increases productivity.  As any teacher knows, having a relationship with a student allows a teacher to better tailor the material.

 2. Culture Integration:  When we got off the plane, many of my teammates' accents naturally slid into the dominant Uganda style, a skill which increases students' comprehension.  Understanding the way of life in Uganda helps immensely in teaching, too. 

 3. Sharper Focus:  Going to a new country, especially a third-world country, can be disorienting for first-timers.  I have found the differences to be less distracting than last year, allowing me to focus on the task at hand. 

 So to those  who desire to serve God abroad,  while serving in many different countries and continents is undoubtedly tempting, remember that frequently returning to the same locale has real benefit too.


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May  13th,  2014Journey to the Pearl

After much travel, lost baggage, lost sleep and wonderful team discussions, we have arrived in Uganda which has been called the Pearl of Africa.  What a beautiful land, and what a wonderful people.  I have been privileged to travel here four times with TLI, and seeing both new and familiar faces has been a blessing.  What a blessing when our luggage arrived a day later--it certainly was a reminder if how dependent dependent I can be on my own comforts.  However, the Lord brought to my mind verses of Scripture which allowed me to be baggage-less, a miniscule challenge compared to true suffering, and yet to realize the Lord provides daily bread.  

As I sat at lunch today, I heard one of the Ugandan faculty members here at Africa Renewal University say as we discussed the teaching of preaching that "99 percent of the preaching he hears on the radio is unbiblical" here in Uganda.  What a continued reminder of why we journey...of why TLI is such a needed ministry--the world is need to training, and we have a small piece to offer.  

Early this morning as I lay down trying to fall asleep, the rain was falling (it is currently rainy season here in Uganda) and it was a beautiful sound--may the rain of God's Word fall in abundance here in the Pearl of Africa...

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