Perhaps you've heard by now that I'm heading back to East Africa so here is the story. A couple of months back I walked into the student lounge at Bethel Seminary and noticed a flyer about a trip to Uganda. Having visited and fallen in love with Uganda and the surrounding region several years ago, I was immediately intrigued. As I read more it seemed like the trip was actually designed specifically for me to be involved. So why am I going back to East Africa? I'm glad you asked. Here are the two primary reasons: To Assist Ugandan Pastors Two of my esteemed professors, Dr. Mark Strauss and Dr. Arnell Motz, responded to the requests of several Ugandan pastors to lead two pastors' conferences in the cities Gulu and Kampala. The flyer mentioned that they were looking for a few students to come along to help lead breakout sessions and also to help strategize towards ongoing collaboration between Bethel Seminary and these pastoral training initiatives in Uganda.
The trip seemed to be designed for me because it combines so many of the things that I most highly value. I went to seminary in the first place, largely because I wanted to be prepared to help train Christian leaders. I have long been interested in helping Africa but many Africans have told me that what they need most is training for their Christian leaders. The church in Uganda and most of Sub-Saharan Africa is growing quite rapidly but the the support and training needed to equip pastors to lead churches is often lacking or unavailable.
The great need of our missions in our time is to empower nationals to do the work that they are already doing in their own country. This is a cause that has inspired me for eight years now and one to which I hope to devote my life. Bethel's choice to go not only for a one time trip but to establish an ongoing relationship with those who are training pastors in Uganda, presents an opportunity to envision strategic cooperation towards this common cause.
To Revisit Organizations Dedicated to Preserving Life Another reason why this trip was so perfect for me is because I love East Africa. I spent five weeks in East Africa in the Spring of 2007 and felt very much at home there. I was working with Mission Focus at the time, a non-profit that utilizes multimedia, and filmmaking in particular to tell the stories of causes around the world. We entitled our East Africa project, Yadumu, which is the Swahili word for long life. We set out to find the people and oranizations in East Africa who creatively worked to address the AIDS crisis in their region.
This project involved meeting many people and encountering various causes and approaches in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Tanzania. Every place that I went I felt most welcomed. I will never forget the needs that I saw there. Ever since leaving East Africa I have wondered how to even begin to help the causes that I encountered in East Africa. This trip is affording me the opportunity to return and visit several of these causes after the pastor's conferences over. My goal is to meet with some of the same organizations that I worked with before and to discover ways to move forward with projects that might bring assistance to their vital causes. These are to the two reasons that I am going back to East Africa.