This is our summer mission team. They’ve come from many places in the US, but were organized and drawn mainly from the OPC Presbytery of Southern California (Dave Okken’s home presbytery). We have, Stephen (holding the spear), Scott (dressed as Goliath), Lydia (amateur footballer), Alexander (reading some unsavory literature), Eli (crushed by cabbages), Kaylin (looking skeptical), and Laura (in a storage locker). This motley crew is led by Pastor Peter Sim (occupying the visual and emotional center of the above photo). The genesis of their trip was the news that we were working on a translation of the Children’s Catechism into Ngakarimojong. The idea was that they come over and help us as we introduce it into many local contexts in which the mission has regular ministry.
Nakapiripirit District, where our mission is located, is consistently ranked last in Uganda in most development markers, including education. The sad reality is that getting posted to Nakapiripirit is, for a teacher, the equivalent of a Russian soldier being stationed in Siberia. As a result of this undesirable work situation, many teachers in our local schools lack motivation, and it is common to find that they simply don’t show up to work many days, or when they do, they simply copy passages from the textbook onto the board for the students then to copy into their workbooks.
The upshot from all of this is that when the mission goes to the local schools, the staff is happy to hand over the reins to our teachers to fill the block set aside for CRE (Continuing Religious Education). So when Dave approached several nearby primary schools about having our summer team come and teach our newly translated catechism, they were happy to welcome us.
The morning (or afternoon in some cases) program begins with some singing followed by a skit illustrating the lesson of the day. The teaching for these four weeks centers on the three offices of Christ—prophet, priest, and king. The teaching draws from Old Testament examples of these institutions, populated by familiar figures such as Elijah, Aaron, and David. The successes and failures of these Old Testament saints point to the great prophet, the great priest, and the great king who would come, Jesus Christ.
Following the skit, the children sort into their classes, and the team teaches their lesson through the catechism questions for that day. How is Christ your prophet? Why do you need Christ as your king? The program was well-received in Naturum last week. One of the students even wrote a note to our team—”So, you were so welcomed to this school, Napianganya to teach us the Word of God. We were also pleased to see you here. You are also blessed by God abundantly in all your life and in your work you are going to do.”
Of course, all of this seems downright tame compared to the wild party that was the pastors’ conference in Namalu last Thursday. Pastors Dave and Al along with Pastor Peter Sim, who is leading the team, taught on the three offices to an assembled group of pastors at Trinity Charismatic Episcopal Church (a local church with whom we have good relations and regular interaction). Over one hundred people attended the conference from eleven local churches (including the Brennamites—ironically meeting in a church named Trinity), many of them pastors or other leaders in their churches. The morning sessions were enthusiastically received. When lunch was ready, the attendees carried all the pews from the church down the road to the organizer’s house and the feast was served. Lunch was rice and posho and beans and stewed goat and sodas. There was more than enough food and people seemed to enjoy heartily.
As soon as all had eaten, the pews were duly marched back to the church building, and the attendees , reassembled, enjoyed the stylings of a youth choir, aided by the loudest and worst-quality PA system you’ve probably ever heard. In addition to the registered attendees, the afternoon session was heard by perhaps forty other people standing around the outside of the church to glimpse the spectacle.
All in all, over three hundred copies of Ekatekisimu ŋolo ke Ekiŋaren were distributed last week, we hope to much study and use in teaching both in the church and in the home. The team will be teaching in two additional schools during their time here as well as in the many regular ministry venues that the mission attends. We hope to give out many more catechisms during their time and after their departure. Pray that God’s Word would go forth from our church and ministry and in the many other churches throughout Karamoja.