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.
Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.
Yesterday was my last day of teaching! Today I give the final
exam for my Principles of Biblical Interpretation class. I think I am speaking
for all of us when I say we have thoroughly enjoyed our time together in the
pearl of Africa… and are also ready to go home to our families (and churches).
For someone who has never left the United States before, asking my wife if she
wants to talk “tonight” at 8 p.m. and actually thinking 5 a.m. my time still
feels really weird!
In the classroom, my theme verse for the course has been 2
Timothy 2:15 which reads, “Do your best to
present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be
ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” As someone who has been in formal
study of the Bible for almost 8 years, I have come to learn that this kind of
approach to scripture is more “caught” than “taught.” We humans are profoundly
shaped by what we watch. We don’t have to look much further than our own
children to see how our words and loves are picked up and imitated by them –
for good or for ill. The professors (and friends) who have influenced me the
most are those who have modelled joyful delight in God as they humbly opened
his word to me and proclaimed the excellencies of him who called them out of
darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).
What this means for the
classroom is profoundly humbling for me as a teacher (and preacher) of the
word. My task each day is not simply to conduct an exercise in information
transfer, but to lead students to worship over the text to the glory of God the
Father, through the work of Christ the Son, by the power of God the Holy
Spirit. For this weighty task, 1 Peter 4:10-11 has been a very encouraging
passage to me! It reads, “10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards
of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one
who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God
may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever
and ever. Amen.” As one gifted to be a teacher of the word, I am not called to serve
in my own strength. I am called to serve by the strength that God supplies so
that God, not me, gets the glory through Jesus. If my students grow in their
knowledge of and love for God at all as a result of this class, the praise will
all go to Him!
It is my hope and prayer
that the students who have sat under my teaching the past two weeks would have
a greater hunger for God and a desire to accurately proclaim His excellencies
from the Bible as a result of our time together. Would you join me in this
Tewali Akwenkana Yesu – There's
No One, There's No One Like Jesus!
Here are several memories
from my time in Uganda that I don't want to forget. I want to remember
because it's memories like these that remind me that there truly is no one like
Jesus, and these memories help spur me on to strive to live more for His glory
– to take Him alone as my all in all:
1. We take cold
showers here. I don't want to forget.
I've seen a woman bending down to sweep the ground with a
bundle of sticks.
People here use bathrooms that consist of a hole in
People take showers by soaping up and pouring cups of
water over themselves.
They wash their clothes here by hand – washing machines are
I saw a man cutting the grass on campus by swinging a
machete back and forth.
I don't want to forget.
I want to remember that cold showers are a luxury compared
to cleaning yourself like the Ugandan college students who use multiple cups of
water to wet and rinse themselves. I
want to remember all the luxuries I have and be more thankful and not complain.
Thessalonians 5:18: give
thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for
Philippians 2:14: Do all things without complaining and
disputing . . .
2. Our team leader
saw a child with a swollen belly. I don't want to forget.
I want to remember every time I eat or buy food or spend
money that every 12 minutes a child starves to death in this world and many
more perish without the Gospel. Are my
purchases needed? Am I being a good
steward of God's money? Am I
Gospel-focused with the use of the money God has given me?
Jeremiah 22:16: “He defended the cause of the poor and
needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the
Galatians 2:10: Only, they
asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
3. I've seen
beautiful little children in worn out, dirty clothes, playing in the dirt
barefooted. They seem happy and
content. I don't want to forget.
I want to remember that having stuff is not my joy; Jesus is
my joy, even if I lose everything.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of
Timothy 6:17-19: As
for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set
their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us
with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be
generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good
foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly
seen followers of Jesus here in Uganda delight in Jesus, sing about Jesus, pray
to Jesus, memorize Jesus Words, and worship Jesus. They know that there truly is no one like
Jesus. I don't want to forget.
I want to remember that God is saving sinners from
every tribe, tongue, people, and nation for His own glory, and His desire is
that we all be one, even as He and His Son are one, as we delight in Jesus as
our all in all by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one,
even as we are one.
they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open
its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a
kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Don't forget. And you can
remember because He did not forget you on that cross. Praise Him!
By Emilie Brown
If I have
learned anything at all about the Ugandan life and culture, it is that the
first and foremost priority and consideration is the family. To clarify, I do
not simply mean the immediate mother, father, brothers and sisters that might
make up a typical American family. The Ugandan family extends far beyond, to
grandparents, to aunts, uncles, pastors, teachers, father-like figures, friends
new and old, the church, and so on.
To better your
comprehension of this reality, I would like to tell you a few stories.
In America, it
is becoming more and more common for couples to elope. This is usually no more
than a disappointment to their family members and the reason is simple: the
marriage is about the husband and the wife, not about the family. In Uganda, a
marriage has less to do with the couple and more to do with the union of two
families. When a man desires to marry, he along with the help of his family,
friends, church, and even teachers, must pay a dowry to the family that is
acceptable in light of their future loss of a daughter. The dowry would include
livestock, money, clothing for the mother, aunts, uncles, children, father and
grandparents, and food for the family’s kitchen as well as for the wedding
ceremony. The justification comes from the worth of the daughter. If a daughter
has degrees, has taken care of the young children, has carried water for years,
has cooked meals, surely she cannot be given without a large payment. I asked
my friend Joy, a Ugandan, how she would feel if her sister eloped. She is a
believer and comes from a strong, believing family. And with all seriousness
Joy responded, “I would disown her and my entire family would disown her!” It
is a stark contrast to our highly independent culture.
You might have a
look of shock on your face right now as you read this and wonder how a family
could not forgive a daughter for an elopement, but take a look into what can be
deduced from this situation. The sister did not just follow her heart. She
selfishly rejected the love, security, hopes, and the dreams that her
God-fearing family had for her and for their whole family. She made the affair
about herself and did not consider her family and friends who helped raise
During the past
couple of weeks, I have made some house visits around Buloba alongside some
female church members from Buloba Community church. One day, we split up into
groups to make our visits. I went with Sarah and when my group made it to one
house, we received a phone call from another group and they said, “We need
Emilie right now!” So Sarah walked me to where they said they would meet us and
Justine escorted me from there. She told me that there is a professor from ARU
whom they are visiting and that she would like the American Emilie to meet her
new daughter, the Ugandan Emilie. When we arrived, they immediately had me
greet the mother and then sit down to hold baby Emilie. Everyone was thrilled
and I could not help but feel like I was apart of something, perhaps even apart
of a family.
Peace, whom I
mentioned in my last blog post, has had a less than ideal upbringing, one
without a strong familial bond, without a loving father, and with scars to
prove it. However, she is not exempt from this Ugandan trait. My dad has known
Peace for a few years now and she shares things with him as she would with a
father. She calls him Jaja, as do all the others here at ARU. It means,
grandfather, but it also implies great honor and respect. When I arrived, she
could not wait to meet me because to her, I was already her sister. She has
been quite an older sister too. One morning she came up to me before breakfast
and said, “I have something for you Emilie,” and she placed a bracelet around
my wrist that represented the Ugandan flag. This gift was second to a rolling
pin that she gave to me when she taught me how to make chapatti, rolex and
samosas. While we were cooking one night, she told me in her honey and
chamomile voice that she really desired now to meet my mother. I told her it
was her mother too. She smiled and said, yes, she is.
Growing up in my
immediate family, I was teased, laughed at, encouraged, and loved (in a unique
kind of way) and this is what it is like here in Uganda. My family has
multiplied and it has been no different than my immediate family. Even after I
taught Sunday school on the last two Sundays, the little kids referred to me as
Aunt. As I walked the village roads with Sarah, she would hold my hand as she
told me about her country. And of course, Joy and I tease each other mercilessly.
It is lovely being a part of such a large fun-loving and tender family.
By Brian Verrett
It’s no mystery that staying in contact with your family
when you are in Africa can be challenging. Right now back in the States my wife
(Angela) and two daughters (Lydia and Abigail) are missing me. Here in Africa
I’m missing them. Thus, I try my best to stay in contact with them.
Some of the ways to stay in contact are fairly obvious. Of
course, one could write the old fashion letter, but this takes a while. There’s
the typical phone call, but phone rates can be (but not necessarily) expensive.
It can also be difficult talking with your spouse when you are eight hours
different. There are also more modern forms like Skyping or Google Hangout, but
this can be taxing on our internet’s bandwith. So, how do we stay in contact
with our families? For me, the most effective way has been email.
One way I try to stay in touch with my family here in Uganda
has been suggested to me by my mentor. He told me when he goes out of town, he
brings one of his children’s stuffed animals. Throughout his time away he
occasionally writes stories about what the stuffed animal is doing and how he
is enjoying the new culture. I thought this was a great way to foster a
connection with my three year old daughter. Thus, I’ve been giving it a try
these two weeks.
Lydia was excited to know that I wanted to bring one of her
stuffed animals with me. She gladly selected Elephant for me to take. Today I
had the opportunity to email my wife. At the email’s conclusion I relayed a
story to my wife to share with Lydia. The story was about Elephant’s attempts
to find and eat food. Throughout the story I tried to communicate Ugandan
Here’s one example. When Elephant saw the goats eating—for it
is not uncommon to see the goats in the middle of the university eating grass—he
realized that he was hungry. Being hungry he tried eating grass with the goats,
but Elephant learned that he doesn’t like eating grass. In search of food, he
stumbled across the Nganga bird (I don’t think this is the actual name for the
bird, but this is what the Ugandans call it). I told Lydia through the story
that this is an ugly bird that is fat and squatty with large wings and a unusually
long beak. Eventually Elephant found food in the kitchen, but it was seasoned
with Akabanga, which is an incredibly spicy Ugandan seasoning. So, Elephant’s
The story continued on for another hundred words or so. My
whole goal in doing this is simply to relate the culture to my family and build
a connection with my little girl who visibly misses her daddy with tears. This
is just a little picture of one person trying to stay connected with his loved
ones while he’s serving for God’s glory. Pray for our families as they are
beginning to miss us deeply in these final days of the trip.
By Brian Verrett
This morning was quite the adventure. It’s interesting how
being in a new culture can bring different things to one’s mind. They say that
there’s a first time for everything. Well, today I had two new experiences.
Today, I had the privilege of preaching at Prayer Tower
church. I think the church’s name is partly derived from its location. Like a
tower, it is very high. From the church building we could see the surrounding
cities and Lake Victoria. Since it was so elevated (at least for a boy whose
lived in Minnesota and Louisiana) we had to ascend and descend treacherous
hills in our large taxi van. The roads were dirt and provided little traction.
Because of this and other factors, we had to travel a long time.
Along the way to the church I saw about five or six naked children
who appeared to be playing in a mud hole. The children looked to be no younger
than two and no older than four. After watching them play in the water I
realized something. An adult was bringing a full bucket of water to them. Upon
his arrival he would begin pouring the water over the children. The children
were actually receiving a communal bath. The children enjoyed being washed in
the water with their friends. This scene reminded me of texts like “…[Jesus]
might sanctify [the church], having cleansed her by the washing of water with
the word,” and “[God] saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in
righteousness, but according to his mercy by the washing of regeneration and
renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Through this aspect of their culture I began
longing that God would wash those people I would be preaching to through his
Once we reached the church, I was preaching within twenty or
so minutes. The sermon was well received. Almost all of the congregants were
females so I figured their children would need to be fed. Sure enough, shortly
into the message the mothers were tenderly breast feeding their children. After
the message was over and I was reflecting upon it I was reminded of 1 Peter
2:1-2, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and
envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word,
so that you may grow in respect to salvation….”
Would you join me in praying for the peoples within Uganda.
Would you pray that God would wash them through the gospel so that they would
one day be a pure bride for Jesus, our bridegroom? Would you pray that the lost
would be regenerated through the washing of the Holy Spirit? Would you pray that
that the believers in the churches would long for the sustenance that God has
to give to them like children need their mother’s milk? Join me in prayer for
the remainder of out time.