Well-trained pastors grow Uganda church
By Tim Allan | Uganda in East Africa
The newly-qualified pastors and leaders gather with some of their tutors for the traditional graduation ceremony photo.
Refugee camp and village churches are growing quickly across northern Uganda, helped by a thriving training programme for leaders.
The ministry, led by SIM worker Eli Fader, offers a solid theological education for pastors and others in a two-year programme, accredited by a Ugandan university. At the end of April, another 23 men and six women graduated from the programme and then celebrated their success with a wonderful party.
The communities they serve are among the poorest in Uganda, including many people who have fled the years of conflict in neighbouring South Sudan. Indeed, Eli and his wife Bethany, who have five sons, began their ministry in South Sudan before making the difficult decision to move to Uganda in 2018 because of the conflict. They live close to 18 separate refugee camps, which are home to around 220,000 people. Another 750,000 refugees live in settlements slightly further away.
To compound the difficulties, significant parts of northern Uganda were once under the control of an insurgent militia group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and have suffered years of turmoil and little or no investment.
Despite those problems, the gospel is spreading in these places, often through the work of gifted but untrained evangelists. Eli, who is part of the theological education network led by Ministry Point Person Ruth Guinness, said: “Sometimes churches can start just by having a few people come together under a tree and begin singing. From there, someone will give a testimony and others will preach.”
“As they do that, more come to join the throng and before you know it a church has started. The challenge then is to equip the pastor and leaders so they can teach the gospel faithfully and disciple their congregations.”
Prayers for the newly-qualified pastors and leaders.
The programme used by Eli and his team offers qualifications at two levels – a certificate level, which is aimed at anyone in a church who wants to know the Bible better; and a diploma level, which is aimed at pastors and other leaders in the church. It follows a model called Theological Training by Extension. The idea is that Eli and his team train the teachers, who then go out and teach pastors and church members. They organised the courses during their time in Sudan, where those same courses are still being run by local pastors.
Eli explained: “SIM supports the ministry by covering the cost of the books and running training sessions and courses for the people who will be doing the teaching. The other costs of the training are covered by the students.”
“Those teachers almost always come from the same context as the people they are teaching, so they are able to apply the lessons in the right way. They very much meet people where they’re at.”
“The students go through the books during the week on their own, then come together at one of our centres on a Saturday for more teaching and application. They are incredibly motivated, hungry for the Bible and eager to learn more.”
The programme is open to anyone with good enough English to read the material, which is pitched at a level suitable for those who may only have had very limited formal education.
For more information email Eli (email@example.com).
• For Eli and his team to connect with more pastors and church leaders and so better equip them for ministry in their communities. They would like to have a TEE group established in each of 18 refugee settlements.
• For the TEE teachers and students to faithfully apply what they learn in their communities - pray that they will always be full of truth and grace.
• For more gospel workers to join the ministry so that more may come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.