Watching each pastor walk onto the stage as their name was called was pretty exciting. Actually I should use the word dance or shuffle, because the Ugandans can get pretty expressive during these types of events. In the back of the room the ladies helped each graduate quickly remove their cap and gown while helping the next slip into a cap and gown and hurry off toward the stage. I might add that after pooling their money the 76 graduates could only afford to rent a few cap and gowns for this special event so that had to share. Nevertheless they were happy, and excited, and proud, and many walked with members of their family which was a most touching scene. Later we had a party and what I remember the most was the roar that was emitted from conversations that were happening as the pastors and their families enjoyed a meal that included meat and soda. It was truly a great day.
You may ask what this graduation day in Uganda has to do with “4 Him in Africa”, so let me explain. These graduates were part of a 6 week school that we conducted in Uganda which was a huge undertaking for us. The school was held in response to the answer to a question asked to a group of Ugandan bush pastors many years ago. These bush pastors (bush is the title of the remote underdeveloped areas of Africa) were asked about what they most needed help with, to which they quickly and in unison replied, education.
Our school required a little more effort than most which was why we were so happy on graduation day. Some of the obstacles included providing transportation for our pastors from throughout an area that encompassed about one third of the country of Uganda. Then we had to provide meals and lodging for them when they arrived. There was also school supplies and translation costs for any provided material. All these were expenses for the Ugandan side, but on the U.S. side we had to find teachers who were willing to go and find funding for everything on both sides. I might add that we did two week long sessions a year with one week taking place every six months for three years. At the completion of the school any pastor who attended all the sessions would receive a certificate for a six week course of study in 4 subjects.
During that three year period we taught over 350 pastors attending from 5 districts and speaking three different languages. In order for the pastors to be provided transportation they could not miss any classes, and although 76 completed all six we still had approximately 200 pastors in each school. A much larger number of pastors completed five of the six weeks. Many of the pastors had never attended any school or at least not one that required punctuality or their full attention. This made it difficult to complete our lessons, but it did provide an additional teaching opportunity for all of us.
On each of the trips we not only completed a week long segment of the school we also provided some type of Christian education for the children in the village where we were located. Because the pastor’s school usually changed location each time, it provided opportunities to reach many children. Part of our ministry was not only to feed the pastors while we were there, but for a week we would feed most of the people in that village.