At the invitation of Bishop Tim Wambunya, Bishop of Butere in Western Kenya, Jim, Brian and I travelled to Butere via Nairobi and Kisumu in September to train 50 lay pastors in the Diocese to use the Christianity Explored course. Bishop Tim’s aspiration is for all his lay pastors to receive the training.
Butere is a relatively new Diocese, founded in 1992. It has 42 parishes, 33 clergy, 160 congregations and 33,000 members, which is nearly a third of the entire population. With on average six congregations per clergy rely on the lay pastors to take services and preach. This is why the training of lay pastors is so strategic.
From Butere in Kenya, Jim and I travelled with Sam to Arua in Northern Uganda for a second week of training..
The Bishop of Madi and West Nile Diocese, Bishop Charles Andaku, invited us to train his diocesan youth leaders to use the Christianity Explored course. West Nile is the largest diocese in Uganda with over 700 churches. It is a strategic location, bordering the Congo and South Sudan in the far north west of Uganda. The conference was hosted by Scripture Union who work in close partnership with the Anglican church.
Arua is also the former home of Idi Amin Dada whose reign of terror led to the death of many Ugandan Christians including Archbishop Luwum in 1987. Islam is prevalent in the region. Scripture Union is making use of Barnabas Fund resources to help African Christians understand Islam, befriend and witness to Muslim neighbours.
Christianity Explored is based on the Gospel of Mark and contains a series of expositions, group Bible studies and training resources. In an African context it is proving not only an excellent evangelistic resource but also a helpful tool for discipleship within the churches as well as for training new leaders.
On our last day in Arua, we visited the Rhino Refugee Camp which houses over 50,000 Congolese and Sudanese refugees. The camp is spread over a sprawling area of remote scrubland, 24 km in length. The Anglican Church and Scripture Union, along with many Western aid agencies provide resources and programmes to help the refugees while they shelter in Uganda.
One of the students, iinah, wrote a ‘thank you’ note following the training.
“I would love to thank God for you and just appreciate the way you brought out God’s truth this week and I must say I loved the simplicity you used to bring out God’s word with love. And I pray God teaches me more to bring out the truth of his love in simplicity and love like you.”