It has been my privilege to be able to spend time getting to know six men that Bishop Gogo will been ordaining as deacons to help lead the church in his dioceses. Two of these men are already pastors of churches that will be coming into the ICCEC. They will remain deacons for around one year and then be ordained as priests. The four younger men will be serving in churches with the aim of starting new churches and going on to be ordained as priests who will have their own churches to pastor. That is one of the amazing things here in Africa. Men who have been touched by God want to serve Him and to become pastors. Being a pastor here is a lot different than in America. In the villages, people are very poor so a pastor here has to have some way to support his family, which usually means growing his own food and hoping to be able to sell some of his crops to make a little money. They know that they will never make much money and that they will always be called on to make great sacrifices for the gospel. Most of these men have very little formal education but their love for the gospel is over whelming. To be around them is to be humbled by what God is doing with them.
One of the things that Bishop Gogo wants to do is train all of his clergy in the liturgy with the goal of having Holy Eucharist each Sunday at all of the church in his diocese. Right now, due to lack of training and materials (the liturgy for Holy Eucharist, bread, wine, chalice, paten, well you get the idea), they only have Holy Eucharist when the Bishop is able to be at their church, which is not very often. We have worked with them to develop ways for them to have the things they need and we have begun training them on how to celebrate Holy Eucharist each Sunday.
Please remember to pray for these guys. They have a lot to learn and a lot to teach in their churches about liturgy and Holy Eucharist. All of this seems pretty simple for us but here nothing is ever simple. Just being able to afford the bread and wine is a big deal much less how and where to get it and keep it from week to week. Remember most of these guys live in mud huts with no electric or even fresh water. Like I said, I am humbled when I get to spend time with them.
We have spent a total of six full days, three days at a time, teaching and training them. They all have families and fields that they have to take care of so we split the training into two three-day sessions two weeks apart. The training was at Bishop Gogo’s home each time because it was centrally located. Some of these guys came a long way at a great cost to them to get here. While they were here, they slept on mattresses on the floor inside of our house. Some of them are so poor that they walked a lot of the way here and back home to save the little money they had. For example, they would walk from town to the Bishops house, which is about two to three miles depending where the taxi van lets them off, just to save 2,000 Ugandan shillings (ugsh) which is 80 cents. When it was time for them to head home after the first three days of training, I overheard them talking. Most of them did not have enough money to get home and were about to walk home with it fixing to rain that afternoon. It is the rainy season here and when it rains it REALLY rains. So I ask Bishop Gogo to give me an idea of how much it would cost to pay for their transportation home. The cost for the guy that had to go the farthest was about 20,000 ugsh ($8) so it all came out to around 50,000 ugsh ($20) to get everybody home without having to walk in the rain. They were traveling from 10 to 50 miles each. Like I said, these guys humble me.
I’m pretty sure that they were being used to teach me perhaps more than I was being used to teach them.
The teaching seemed to go well. They came back for the second three-day session, which was a good sign, and asked for more teaching in the future. We have talked about doing some more if Bishop Chuck sends me back to Mbale next year. The teaching is hard because of the language differences; we sometimes had to interpret into 3 different languages. But these guys are so hungry for teaching that they would help each other understand what we were trying to teach them. Since I’m not really a teacher, I thought a lot about all of you guys who are teachers. Which by the way, any of you guys that are teachers, how would you like to come to Africa one summer? Not only do these guys need biblical teaching but they also need teaching for reading as well. I may be picking some of your brains for how to teach reading to adults when I get back…so you may want to run when you see me coming or get used to telling me, “Give it a break!”
It’s hard for me to know if I’m getting thru and doing a good job. These guys are so happy to get anything that they would never tell you that you are doing a poor job. Remember, they have all had to walk miles to get water, really bad water, and are just glad to get it. I’m pretty sure that if they had a poor teacher they would still be glad to just get something. When you see such hunger to learn, it makes you want to be able to give them the best. When you know that you are in way over your head, it makes you a little sad that you have so little to give to them. I just try to stay focused on Jesus and remember about Jesus taking a boy’s small sack lunch and feeding 5,000. I just hope that He took the very little (not even enough for a snack) that I had to offer Him and feed all 6 of these hungry men of God.
It’s going to be exciting to watch and see what amazing things that God going to do with these men!!!!!!!!
(Sorry there are no pictures. The card they were on seems to have died.)