Teaching in Uganda

Bryan Johnson, associate pastor at Pursuit NW, returned recently from ministry in Uganda where he taught two 3-credit Bible courses at Yesu Akwagala Bible College in addition to speaking several times elsewhere and meeting with church leaders. YABC in Kampala is a work of Uganda Christian Outreach Ministries, which is connected with World Outreach Ministry Foundation in Seattle, an FCA-affiliated parachurch organization.

Johnson and a few others were invited by the Ugandan leadership to be guest lecturers during the school year, serving as partners in developing “World Changers.” The school draws a significant percentage of international students, so a broader geographical impact is being made through the school, primarily in East Africa.

The school’s 17th graduation ceremony is planned for June 29. Yesu Akwagala Bible College’s mission is to support and develop “emerging servant leaders through the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ to be agents of change in the community.”

Johnson is scheduled to leave July 11 for two weeks in Liberia, West Africa. “I will be teaching in the Bible school in Greenville, Sinoe County (Osborn Arnes Christian College),” he says. He will also assist his son, Russell, who will be preaching at two Youth Conferences sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies (Liberia), one in the capital city of Monrovia, the other “down country” in the city of Greenville. That is where Bryan and his wife, Anna, lived more than 35 years ago.

Bryan Johnson with his Pastoral Epistle students at the Yesu Akwagala Bible College in Kampala, Uganda.

Additional students who participated in the Book of Revelation class.

 

Water in His Name

Steven Mayanja, Foreign Mission Director of the World Outreach Ministry Foundation, reports on multiple projects currently underway in seven East African countries.

This photo essay gives a glimpse of just one project in Burundi, providing clean water for remote villages. In some cases before WOMF provided wells, people—even young children—were required to walk distances of several miles to fill canisters with water.

The efforts of WOMF not only bring the community together in a cooperative project to improve conditions in the village, they also provide a tangible expression of the love of God reaching to a people in need. The water projects (and other WOMF projects) are part of their overall mission to bring Jesus to meet the deeper, spiritual needs of people.

Mixing concrete for mortar to support the sides of the well being dug.

 

Woman carrying rocks for the walls of the well—just some of the many members of the community who get involved with the water project.

 

Organizing the volunteers is key to helping community members who are working to improve the conditions of their own village.

 

Shoring up the sides of the well with rocks from the area so people may safely access the water.

 

Clean water is finally piped to the community. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” (Mark 9:41)

 

A New Class of Ministers

Long-time missionary, Nathan Rasmussen, recently spoke in Uvira, Congo, just over the border from Bujumbura, Burundi, at the graduation ceremony for one of their 20 diploma-level Bible schools in East Africa. Pictured here are just 30 of the graduates. Nearly 25 percent of the graduates were sick and unable to attend, with three students dying of their illnesses before graduation.

“Life in Eastern Congo is rough,” says Rasmussen. “People live day to day with war, sickness—and now Ebola.” The Congo, however, now has a new president and people are hopeful that things will improve. Noting that physical conditions have changed little since he first visited the Congo 36 years ago, Rasmussen also pointed out that the Gospel has continued to spread and churches have continued to grow despite all the turmoil.

Rasmussen reports that the work of training East African ministers has expanded, especially in the area of missions mobilization and training—as has the need for additional resources and finances. “Somehow we need to increase the net as the work continues to grow,” he said.

On his way to visit Uvira, Rasmussen conducted a 2-day seminar for 13 prospective missions school students from Burundi. So far he has seen 97 graduate from their missionary training schools, 28 of whom are now working among unreached people groups and 4 others working in the African churches, stirring them to do their part in answering the Great Commission.

African Technology Leader from FCA Church

Several years ago, while still in high school, Henry Damulira was on a ministry outreach from his home church, Seguku Worship Centre, about 10 miles south of central Kampala, Uganda. At the time Damulira was preaching the gospel and teaching English and math at the school in the Mukono district.

Henry Damulira


But then he noticed something unusual—fishermen in the village, having no access to banking services, hiding their meager daily earnings under large stones scattered all over their island. His observation, he says, “spurred me to develop a digital mobile saving platform which allows ordinary Ugandans to save money in banks through mobile money on their phones.”

Connecting fishermen to the banks was important, says Damulira, because their stone system not only left their money vulnerable to theft, but also made their cash too convenient to retrieve. They could access their money on a whim, and they often did, squandering it on frivolous purchases. “This left them in a cycle of poverty,” notes Damulira.

From his own experience, Damulira knew how easily savings goals could be hijacked by undisciplined habits. “As a teenager,” he says, “I had bought a piggy bank in which I saved my earnings from fetching water. At the time, my goal had been to save and buy a bicycle to ease my work and triple my daily income.” Instead of saving his money, however, he spent it on baseball caps.

When he saw what was happening at Rwajje Island and recalled his own experiences, Damulira realized that poor saving practices was a main reason why so many in Uganda remained poor. A study of 1,500 poor Ugandans showed that 99 percent failed to reach their savings goals through informal methods, either because the money was stolen or lost, or because they were too tempted to spend the money stored as cash. Estimates suggest that 3 out of 4 adults in developing and middle income countries do not have bank accounts.1

Damulira’s passion to support wealth creation among rural Ugandans led him to provide a secure digital platform that links up mobile phones to Airsave Saving and Credit Cooperative (Digital SACCO), in partnership with ECOBANK Uganda.

Damulira’s innovation was unique because it did not require the smart phone platforms upon which so many apps rely. His start-up company, Airsave, enables registered members to save and borrow money using a simple cell phone in small communities that have no physical bank.

Out of Uganda’s 40 million population, 90 percent are “unbanked” while 60 percent own mobile phones. Because the digital mobile saving platform can be accessed by 24 million with mobile phones, they can open up a digital account without having to step in a bank. Since its founding, over 3,000 people have signed up and lives have been changed through Damulira’s digital saving platform.

Thanks to Henry Damulira, Uganda’s unbanked can now access banks from their phones. For his digital innovation, AirSave won second place at the 2016 Africa StartUp Cup and came fourth in the World contest.

Seguku Worship Centre, Henry Damulira’s home church, is also where Steve Mayanja, well-known FCA minister with the World Outreach Ministry Foundation, is from. Damulira is son-in-law to Steven Kaweesa, a key leader in WOMF Uganda who was killed in a tragic car accident in 2016, which also took the lives of Ed Pohlreich and Scot Voltz.


https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/savings-statistics-financial-services-for-the-poor

Much of the information in the story above was found here.

Reflections

by John D. Sprecher, U.S. Lead Elder

Last week I was given a January 1943 copy of “Herald of Faith” the publication of the Independent Assemblies of God which became the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies in 1973.

For me there was a bit of nostalgia as I read the pages with names of many that I had met or heard of—E.C. Erickson (from Duluth), A.F. Johnson (who taught me the Pastoral Epistles at Seattle Bible School), Kenneth Solberg, my wife’s uncle-in-law Olaf Bakken, A.W. Rasmussen, Martha Ramsay (an early missionary to Liberia), Lewi Pethrus (from Sweden), and many others. I think that everyone whose name was listed is now with the Lord, but they have left us a great legacy of faith and passion for the gospel.

Perhaps most striking was what was NOT recorded in the magazine’s 32 pages. There was almost no mention of the World War that was raging in Europe and the Pacific. While I am sure it could not have been far from anyone’s mind, their primary focus was on church planting and missions.

A six-week intensive Bible Course had been held in the fall of 1942 at the Philadelphia Church in Chicago with about 20 students, some who were already missionaries but who wanted to increase their knowledge. The purpose was described as follows: “For the past few years the Independent Assemblies of God have put forth a renewed effort to thrust laborers into the harvest, and thus fulfill the command of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many are called to preach the Gospel, but need the help of the local churches to encourage them to take the final step into the ministry of the Gospel.”

There was a report from part of the convention the fall before, when an apparent open forum discussion focused two questions “What are the means of God’s way of revival?” which was then wrapped into the question regarding “Home missionary work,” which we would define as church planting. This was of particular interest to me as the FCA USA had dedicated Pentecost Sunday this year as “Church Planting Sunday” in our fellowship, asking our churches to take an offering for this purpose.

In the discussion 75 years ago there was the pragmatic—“If we put money into our home missionary work, we will have more means for foreign missionary work” (H.A. Gross); the impatient from a veteran church planter—“Why cannot we have more home missionary work?” (A.F. Johnson); the practical—“Need the experience of those who are seasoned veterans in the Gospel work. Need someone to visit the various assemblies and encourage the small workers” (Jason Hall); the principles—“Home missionary work must center in the local church…. The church in any given locality is responsible for the evangelizing of the immediate territory surrounding it…. Suggest that the local church have someone who could travel and put his full time into the matter of home missionary efforts in the territory surrounding the local church.  Other churches in home territory could co-operate” (E.C. Erickson).

In 75 years, God’s plans for his kingdom have not changed. The church is still his Plan A—and we have the opportunity to continue to expand his kingdom as we work together.

(Reflections, 5-20-2018). John D. Sprecher, lead elder for the U.S. FCA, pastored churches for 45 years, most of them at Rock Church in Rockford, Illinois.