Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mission Africa 2010

My most recent opportunity to serve in East Africa was filled with challenges and blessings. The first conference with Equipping Pastors International (EPI) was in Murang'a, north of Nairobi. There over 100 pastors with the Christian Foundation Fellowship gathered to hear sessions on family and marriage. My contribution was on the subject of the Cultural Mandate and its relationship to the Great Commission. Anytime I have had the opportunity to express what Scripture says on this important issue the result is generally the same. In the words of one pastor, "Our minds are being opened to see things in the Bible we've never seen before."

There is already some early discussion about my return to this area of Kenya to speak further on these key issues, in that the pastors are eager to hear more of what the Bible says about the scope of the gospel for the "whole of life."

First Class of Uzima Reformed College

Uzima students taking their final exam
That Sunday I was invited to preach at Covenant Presbyterian Church, which also served as the location for the first sessions of the new Uzima Reformed College. I feel quite privileged to have been asked to come to Kenya to teach the very first class of this new theological college under the auspices of the African Evangelical Presbyterian Church (AEPC). The class was in hermeneutics (the science of Bible interpretation). There were 21 students, mostly pastors with little formal theological education. Excitement was so high for the opening of the new school that almost 10 applicants were turned away. Uzima is the first Reformed Presbyterian theological college/seminary of its kind in the nation of Kenya.

The only real problem during the week of classes came with my intense illness, so much so that I had to be taken to the Nairobi Hospital for evaluation. The medication I was given did not help, so finishing the week was, as one might guess, quite a major challenge. But God saw me and the students through!

The following week saw me in the nation of Uganda with Rev. Martin Odi, who serves full-time with EPI. Together, we held two important conferences: one with many of the Bishops of the PAG; the other with the "Missioners", a group of Christian students from four different local Universities who gathered together at Makerere University to hear me speak for the better part of three days. In both cases I again spoke on the Cultural Mandate, this time spending more time on the basics of a Christian world and life view, challenging these leaders of tomorrow to take every thought captive in Ugandan culture.

Myself and the Bishops of the PAG
A great blessing came at the end of the conference with the Missioners, when a representative from each of the four schools created an impromptu ceremony in which I was given a Makerere University tee-shirt, was made a life-long member of the Missioners, and given the African title "Papa Otim" (mercy).

Speaking before the "Missioners" at Makerere University
Again, the responses to my teaching on the Cultural Mandate and biblical worldview were ones of surprise that such things are in the Bible. But I must say regarding both conferences in Uganda that the Bishops and the students were openly thankful for the new things they learned from God's Word. I pray that they will not forget what God showed them during the conferences but that they will move forward to help transform their culture for Christ. Especially that the Bishops, as they represent and lead many thousands of churches throughout Uganda, will mobilize and think constructively about effective ways to apply the claims of the gospel to every area of public life for the glory of God.

Please remain in prayer for these two important nations. And that the seeds that have been planted will continue to bear good fruit for the spreading and establishing of the Kingdom of God.

Before "Bujagali" Falls, Nile River