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Trips

Uganda - August 2011

Gaba Bible Institute, Uganda August 5-20, 2011

The team will travel to Kampala, Uganda to the summer session classes at Gaba Bible Institute. Gaba is one of three accredited Christian schools in the country.

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

Field Notes   Uganda - August 2011

Aug  18th,  2011Some Things Transcend Culture

By Spencer MacCuish

This is a cross post with the Eternity Bible College Faculty Blog.

Over the years (the past two weeks included) I have had the opportunity to interact with many different cultures in many places around the world.   In early 2006 I started keeping a list of all of the things that transcend culture I thought I might share parts of that list:

  1. It does not matter what culture you are in, the absence of deodorant alongside a warm environment results in a wretched body odor.
  2. It does not matter what culture you are in, students who do not have their work done always have an excuse for why they are delinquent.
  3. It does not matter what culture you are in, traffic congestion causes tensions to flare.
  4. It does not matter what culture you are in, poverty is oppressive.
  5. It does not matter what culture you are in, the vehicle with the largest size has the right of way (although this is occasionally trumped by the car that is in worst condition).
  6. It does not matter what culture you are in, governments are corrupt.
  7. It does not matter what culture you are in, little boys (sometimes older) are often seen with their hands down their pants.
  8. It does not matter what culture you are in, Coca-Cola has been there and is still there.
  9. It does not matter what culture you are in, everyone is complaining about cell phone service.
  10. It does not matter what culture you are in, ministry is difficult/painful/challenging  (I am not sure why this one surprised me, but last night I was speaking with a friend of mine who was dealing with a difficult circumstance in the church where he pastors.  People are vying for power, being divisive and slandering other members of the church body.  This sort of thing unfortunately is something that transcends culture.).
  11. It does not matter what culture you are in, sin in all of its forms is common (This week a friend of mine was counseling an African Bible college student.  This student had confessed to struggling with pornography/masturbation, in his despair the student stated he thought he was the only one who struggled with this sin. This unfortunately is a lie that transcends culture. Sexual sin is also a sin that obviously transcends culture.).

So what is the take away?  Crossing cultural bounds is always interesting for the noted differences and often the similarities that are noted between very diverse cultures are superficial at best.  But a similarity that should be noted is that sin does indeed transcend culture.

 

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Aug  17th,  2011Reflections from Teaching Paul

By Jordan Crews

I have had the privilege of spending time with 17 pastors and church leaders over the past 10 days, as we have walked through the Pauline epistles. I have developed a sincere love for each one of these
students as I have had the opportunity to hear their personal stories and to hear their dreams and ambitions for the advancement of the gospel. They have each had a profound impact on my life and challenged me in countless ways...all the while I am the one who is supposedly "the teacher." But that is the beauty of being a member of the body of Christ. We have been walking through the Pauline epistles, and have seen Paul continually address the foundational need for unity within the church. Paul was writing these letters over 1,950 years ago, yet they are as relevant today as when he inked his pen in his jail cell.

It has been amazing to see Paul's letters come to life in our classes and see the student's (myself included) take a personal stake in the issues and themes that Paul was addressing to the various churches he wrote to. One of the class requirements I laid out on the first day of class was that each student would lead a short devotion over one of the passages we covered in class. This has turned into much more than a little class exercise for credit. I have sat in class and heard my brothers and sisters in Christ preach the Word with power and authority. Through song, prayer and teaching, each student has challenged the class to stand firm and to proclaim this gospel, just as Paul did. It has been a wonderful time so far and it is my prayer that each student will walk away from this class with as much as I will be leaving with.

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Aug  14th,  2011One Week Mark

By Travis Southern

The first week in Uganda has  gone very well. I have 8 pastors and church leaders in my class, all of  which are very hungry for the Word of God. Many have left family,  friends, and fields so that they can come for two weeks for Bible  training. They are making tremendous sacrifices to be here because they

love the Word of God. I have spent a lot of time listening to and

praying with these brothers. They have a heart for their people, and a heart for the  nations. One young man is studying Chinese, because he senses God's call to go to China as a missionary to unreached peoples there. Another feels called to go to Vietnam.

 

Others desire to strengthen churches here in Uganda, and to bring

Biblical teaching and preaching to a land that has suffered through so much unbiblical preaching and error. One of the biggest impacts we can have here in Africa is to train leaders to faithfully preach the Word. These leaders  already understand the language and culture, they just need to be taught the Scriptures to faithfully communicate the unchanging Gospel in their lands.

 

As far as my subject matter is concerned, I have been teaching wisdom literature in the morning. We have made it through Proverbs and through half of

Job in the first week. My main task is to show these students how Christ is our wisdom  from God. Every story and every verse in the Old Testament whispers his name. Jesus is the wisdom that Job and his friends were longing for. Jesus was the true righteous sufferer. Next week, we will  finish Job and cover Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. From these books, we find that the only way we can find meaning in the "vanity of life under the sun" is to find it in Christ. I am praying for another week of great discussions and ministry.

 

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Aug  12th,  2011Syncretism in Various Forms (and a very nice solution)

So, I just had an amazing lunch discussing the dangers of syncretism (the blending of two opposing belief systems) with a few pastors and teachers in Uganda. I was marveling at how these African men were lamenting that people think every illness or affliction has a spiritual or demonic problem. They went on to tell me that this form of syncretism is a significant problem in Uganda, because the region has such a deep rooted sense of Animism (the belief that spirits are in everything). The result is people are too quick to blame things upon the spiritual world and refusing to acknowledge any personal responsibility. These men suggested the best remedy is to teach a more complete teaching of biblical truth, namely that there are consequences to sin that man must bear and there are some things that are just a result of living in a fallen world.

The irony of this is how often I have taught (in a North American context) that we need to be cautious of syncretism in that we blend biblical truth with naturalism (a belief in only material things). The result is in the West such syncretism often does not acknowledge the reality of spiritual beings or spiritual causes for the events/problems in life. The events and problems of life always have a natural or physical explanation. The problem here is obvious, the Bible certainly seems to teach that there are many problems and issues in life that are a direct result of spiritual realities that Westerners just ignore or explain away. So I have been encouraging people in the West to consider the spiritual realities so clearly evidenced in Scripture, and to be open to the possibility of spiritual causation for many events in life.

Upon voicing the condition of the Western world, these African pastors chuckled at the unmistakable irony. After a few moments one of these men said, well this is just evidence that we need each other…perhaps we should hold some sort of global symposium where we can all learn from each other.

That does sound nice, doesn’t it?

 

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