Elephants near the road on the way back from Nebbi
Bishop and Mrs. Matovu and JMM at Kasaka
In my recently-completed trip to Uganda, Martin Odi, Moses Isabirye, and I completed 6 pastors conferences (we would have done 7, but one had to be cancelled at the last minute). Five of the conferences were with pastors of the Church of Uganda (COU).
Following the 3 conferences which were mentioned in Part 1 of my "Report from Uganda," we did 3 Biblical Stewardship conferences, at the Busoga, Nebbi, and Central Buganda dioceses. The Busoga diocese is the largest Anglican diocese in Africa (it includes about 2 million members). These conferences proved to be ground-breaking in that we did not simply make photocopies of our notes, as we had done in the past. Instead, we had 1000 copies of our Stewardship materials printed and bound into paperback book form (and size). The cost was about $1.10 per copy, and it appears to have been well worth it. The impression on the participants was very good. It is more professional-looking and will last much longer. This is important, since for most of the pastors, our materials probably will be the only written materials on these subjects that they will ever own.
Printing, of course, increases the cost of our mission. Your tax-deductible financial support is thus most appreciated. If you go to our website (http://www.equippingpastors.com/) there are ways you can give online, or checks may be made payable to EPI, and sent to me at 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914. At the Central Buganda diocese we decided to charge the participants a nominal fee (1000 Uganda shillings [about 50 cents]) per copy to recover some of the printing cost and to give the participants an "investment" in the book (and, hence, more of an incentive to read it). We explained those dual purposes to the participants, and they both understood and eagerly paid for the books (some participants bought more than one). After looking through the book, one of the pastors said, "There's enough for a sermon on each of the topics for years to come." That sentiment was echoed by the Bishop in his closing remarks to the conference.
Unlike many places we go, the bishops of both the Nebbi and Central Buganda dioceses were personally present throughout much of the conferences. At Nebbi, the bishop said that he had begun reading through the stewardship book, and was so excited by the content that he could hardly go to sleep. He added that he sees "a miracle in the offing" as a result of the conference. In Central Buganda, the Bishop said that he had been in ordained ministry for 30 years and, because of this conference, for the first time he understood the meaning of Jesus' parable of the unrighteous steward (Luke 16:1-9), which he had always wondered about.
This round of conferences has helped to crystalize our follow-up plans. I have recognized the importance formally following-up with conference participants. I am happy to report that Martin and Moses are completely on-board with that, and will be persoanlly leading follow-up at the different venues in approximately three months. That will help us guage the effectiveness of the conferences. Further, the participants are more likely to apply what they have learned when they know that they will be follow-ed up. Thus, the plan we have been formulating to effectively reach the churches of East Africa, so as to actually lead to transformation of lives, is on track.
Finally, although I think I know what I am doing in teaching this important biblical material to the leaders of the East African churches, I have often told the participants that, "you can be better teachers of this than I can--because you know the people, the language, and the culture, and know the examples that can relate these things in ways that your people can relate to" (whereas there will always be a language and cultural divide when I teach). That was confirmed at the end of the Nebbi conference. The woman who was giving a concluding address thanking us said that she "particularly thanked our speaker from Teso-land [i.e., Martin Odi]" because "your stories were down-to-earth, and true, and really spoke to our hearts." That warmed my heart, and demonstrated the great value of having good African teachers (like Martin and Moses). Your support this ministry makes this all possible.
I will be home for a little over a month. Then I am planning on leaving on October 17 for four TOT sessions in Rwanda, Uganda, and western Kenya. I will keep you advised, and hope to see some of you while I am at home.