Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Observations from the Refugee Camps

Observations from the Camps

I have spent the last 5 months exploring and visiting many towns and refugee camps in our corner of Northern Uganda. As I'm nearing kicking off a new Theological Education by Extension program here, I've been pausing to reflect on what I've seen and learned during these months of gathering information.

11.  Nothing’s wasted in God’s economy
The fact that I speak Arabic vastly changes what I can do in the camps. This is encouraging because it shows how our years in South Sudan prepared us for this next step. There is an opportunity to teach and disciple in Arabic.

22.  I’m surprised at how untrained pastors and church leaders are. 
      They haven’t had an opportunity to go to school and they’re doing the best they can. They do have an eagerness to be trained.

33. A lot of people are ministering and trying to teach the Bible out of a pure love for their community and for Christ but they’re not equipped. They’re willing to stand up and lead even though they have no training.
For example, my friend, Mawa – no training and yet he and a group of Ugandan friends go into the refugee camps and have Bible studies and it’s all on their own dime. Out of love for the Sudanese and a love for God.
Wherever I go, pastors are saying that the government wants anyone who stands up in the pulpit to have some kind of Bible training. So the need and desire for training exists.
  4. Everybody has some pretty significant trauma that’s happened in their life. 
      Ex. A good friend spent 2 years as a child soldier in the Lord's Resistance Army. Many have lost  family members from the war. Everyone has lost their entire household and community.

  5. There is a wide open door for the gospel.
A few weeks ago I met a refugee from Sudan who is a Muslim background believer. He has the desire to reach out to Muslims around him because of the freedom here in Uganda. He’s the leader of his community and has a great platform for impacting others. He just doesn’t know how to. He wants to grow in his faith and learn how to share his faith.
      We could speak Arabic together but I didn’t know his mother tongue. However, I’ve run into an organization called Gospel Recordings who have recorded a basic telling from Creation to Christ in many different tribal languages. So I looked up the 5Fish app and within a minute downloaded the Creation to Christ story in his language. When he heard it for the first time, a huge smile burst across his face and he stood up and started dancing around, he was so excited! He then ran over to his wife who isn’t a believer and put the phone to her ear so she could hear it too.

Here is another opportunity: discipling Muslim background believers in order to evangelize the unreached.

6    Where does this leave me?
This month I’m traveling around to different Ugandan towns and refugee camps, speaking to the counties and sharing what the TEE program is about and what it has to offer, and passing out applications for students and teachers. I will then need to hire a few teachers and do a training for them. All in time to hopefully kick off the new TEE program on March 9! Thankfully God has provided partners in this ministry. My right hand man, Anthony, is South Sudanese and a trained teacher with a heart for fellow refugees.

TEE is just one of many discipleship and training ministries that is needed in our area. And that is where we’re at. Realizing these fields are so very ripe for harvest and I’m just me. There are so many opportunities for the gospel here: Discipleship in Arabic, Bible studies with believers, TEE, formal training for Pastors.  It is all needs to be done but we need more long-term people to invest their lives and faith here.

Do you know anyone that would get excited about these types of ministries? Share our blog post. And pray for others to join us.

The different camps I'm traveling to (particularly the ones in the east.)