What can an American pastor do for pastors who are serving faithfully in conditions that most of us cannot begin to imagine? That was the question that plagued my heart in the weeks leading up to my trip to Uganda.
What I didn’t know (but should have) was that I probably got more out of my time with them than they did.
Our headquarters (while we trained and ministered in Northwest Uganda) was a beautiful ministry “compound” called Reaching Africa’s Unreached – operated by Jacob and Carol Lee. The Lees have a thriving ministry to people of all backgrounds, and God has given them incredible opportunities. They are able to broadcast religious and agricultural shows on a powerful station that crosses borders and reaches many isolated people. They also help people understand sound agricultural principles (at their location) to enable people to live and make a living. And all the while, they are able to spread the good news of Jesus – literally changing lives in all ways possible.
Our plan was three-pronged while there. Some would train pastors (who traveled long, hard distances) at the compound; some would travel into remote areas to minister; some would work in the refugee camps. I was able to go into the remote areas one day (I’ll share more about that in the next post), but I spent most of my time with the pastors.
We were tasked with using a new strategy that many of our Southern Baptist missionaries have begun implementing. It is spelled out in a great book called T4T (you may want to pick up your own copy using the link – just click on the picture of the book – it’s worth it).
The process is simply a focus on discipling people like the Bible tells us to (radical, huh?). We train others – so that they can train others – so that those can then train others – and so forth. Unfortunately, the process isn’t as glitzy as many westernized Christians like – which may be why the vast majority of Christians never share their faith with or disciple anyone. Oh, what must God think of that?
We had a great group of ministers show up – eager to learn. My teaching partner was Nick Walters (who happened to have been at Mississippi College when I was). While he taught, a wonderful pastor named Francis translated – and when I taught, another great pastor named Justin translated.
Much of our time dealt with doctrine – theology – the basic truths that we believe. Nick would talk about what the doctrines were, and I would talk about how to share (or preach) those doctrines to people who did not understand them yet. We also spent some time on other subjects – like leadership, crafting a message, and being a pastor.
I was so impressed by the spirit of the group – and BOY I wish you could hear them worship God. Voices and drums – and that was more than enough.
These were very smart servants of God. Though they had not had the opportunity to have the kind of theological training that I have had, they were eager to learn – which made things so much sweeter.
I loved some of the wise things these servants said…
- Like while talking about the Exodus at one point, one pastor said, “If you are going into the land of milk and honey, some bees are going to sting you on the way in.”
- And when a question was raised about God giving new directions, one pastor said, “If God gives you a private, special revelation, keep it to yourself.”
Many of these pastors are handling multiple churches (some at great distances from each other). And they are powerfully reaching into all segments – including some whose religion would normally be hostile toward them.
I will admit something to you. I am SO grateful that God called me to pastor. But now I am SO grateful that He has allowed me the opportunity to invest in the ministry of so many others who will reach countless others. I was “pierced.”
May I ask one thing of you? If you cannot go to a place where Jesus is not known – and though you may give some money to help others go – would you please pray for our brothers and sisters serving in conditions that you cannot begin to imagine?
I brought back a list of prayer requests from these servants. The three main requests were that (1) God would use them to reach and disciple a multitude, (2) God would protect and heal their families, and (3) God would provide the financial means to ensure that their children were educated. Would you pray that with me?