PROJECT TIMOTHY UGANDA 2013
Project Timothy is a ministry established by the Proclamation Trust (UK) to facilitate the linking together of pastors in Britain with training needs in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe where the church has been growing rapidly but where resources and training opportunities have been limited. Each year, Ralph Cunnington (assistant pastor at Aigburth Community Church) heads out to Uganda with three other UK-based pastors to facilitate preaching conferences.
In January 2013, Ralph visited Uganda facilitating conferences (with Gerald Tanner of Lee’s Chapel, Lapworth) for pastors in Kasese and Kampala.
We returned this year for our second conference in Kasese. Once again it was facilitated by Emmanuel Magambo with the able assistance of Moses Okumu, a local pastor. Virinia Gardens hosted but due to the venue being quadruple booked (!), we ended up holding our meetings in the restaurant area (pictured). It was cramped for 37 pastors – 7 more than our usual number – but it made for better discussions in the sermon workshops during the afternoons.
The conference focussed upon preaching the epistles with a focus on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. We spent time considering the importance of mirror reading (a way of understanding the original context of the letter) and also looked at how to break down an epistle for a sermon series. The pastors particularly enjoyed studying connectives (‘and’, ‘but’, ‘now’, ‘therefore’) and thinking through what connectives teach us about the relationship between clauses and sentences. Galatians is a challenging letter in many ways but the gospel shines through and we all felt challenged about the need to keep the gospel central. There is to be no “gospel +”
Emmanuel Magambo (pictured left) taught the Bible Overview again this year with clarity and confidence. He was engaging and used his understanding of the local context to penetratingly apply the material. Emmanuel also delivered the Tuesday afternoon sermon on mission from Romans 10. It was the highlight of the conference and exactly what I needed to hear as I contemplate moving to Manchester this summer to plant a church.
A noteworthy aspect of the conference was the good number of pastors we drew from different denominations. We were delighted to be joined by pastors from the Church of Uganda as well as a number of Baptist pastors. It was a great sign of gospel unity that pastors would gather together from across denominations to study expository preaching.
On the second morning of the conference, one of the pastors told us that he had just received a phone call from his wife who had told him that four children from his village (including one of his neighbours) had been kidnapped the night before. Child sacrifice is disturbingly prevalent in Uganda and it is not uncommon for children to be kidnapped for sacrifice. We prayed as a group for the children but feared that they were already dead. Later that afternoon, the pastor’s wife called again to give us the wonderful news that all four children had been found alive and that the kidnapper had been placed in police custody. What a brilliant answer to prayer!
One of the pastors at the conference, Christopher (pictured right) is a bishop with the Pentecostal church and has been involved in rural church planting for a couple of decades. It was really encouraging to hear about the work he is involved with and to read the church planting manual that he has prepared for those setting out on church planting.
At the end of the conference we distributed copies of Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (kindly donated by Desiring God Ministries) and Let’s Study Galatians. The pastors have very few resources and were delighted with the books they were given
Yesu Akwagala Bible College, Kampala
The usual focus of Project Timothy is upon training pastors who have little or no formal training. This year, however, we were invited by a Kampala-based Bible college, Yesu Akwagala Bible College (pictured) to deliver Project Timothy materials to a group of their students. The entire student body (64 students) attended and were very attentive throughout – motivated in part by the fact that they had to sit a college assessment at the end of the week on the materials covered! This changed the dynamic a little bit but we very much enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet some of the next generation of Ugandan pastors. We will be excited to watch their progress and to see what the Lord does through them in Uganda and beyond.
As in Kasese, we led sessions on teaching the Epistles and Galatians. In addition, we delivered four sessions on 1 Thessalonians, thinking about the signs of an authentic church and what a faithful gospel ministry looks like. Paul’s passion, concern and action for the church in Thessalonica was both a challenge and an inspiration. In the afternoons we ran sermon workshops and it was a real encouragement to see how the students grew in confidence and in their ability to construct sermons over the course of the week. At the end of the conference we distributed copies of Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching.
Our stay at YABC also enabled us to meet some of the other missionaries working with Yesu Akwagala. Our fellow guests included a missionary from Seattle working in prison ministries and a couple from Minnesota who were working in a rural area north of Soroti. It was very encouraging to hear what God was doing throughout Uganda.
At the heart of Project Timothy is gospel partnership. It was a privilege to be able to share some of our resources and training with our Ugandan brothers and sisters and it was a joy to be encouraged, inspired and challenged by them. The conferences would not have been possible without the generosity of Aigburth Community Church, Lee’s Chapel, Lapworth and the FIEC and we are very grateful to them all.
Ralph Cunnington, March 2013