9 years in East Africa
Craig Dyer, Training Director reflects on the past nine years of Christianity Explored in East Africa.
As we look back on 9 years in East Africa, I marvel at what the Lord has done and is doing, for the solid foundation upon which we may continue to build. We think it probable that around a million people so far in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan and now Congo have used Christianity Explored as a tool to look at Jesus in Mark's gospel.
If you are asking, how did that happen?
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Like all gospel growth it is the story of God at work in his people. Jim McAnlis was an executive in the agri-chemical industry when, out of the blue, Kiwoko Hospital identified him as someone with the skills to project manage the hospital's development in rural Uganda. This was not the plan. Neither Jim nor Margaret, his wife had the faintest inclination to do anything like that. But because they belonged to a church that took gospel mission seriously, and therefore encouraged them, and because they had an overwhelming sense of the Lord's hand on the matter, they retired early and moved from beautiful Bangor to rural Uganda.
If you were planning a means of introducing a million people to Christianity Explored in East Africa, you probably wouldn't be praying for openings in rural Luweero. It is far from everywhere. Kiwoko is set in an area that suffered some of the most appalling horrors of the guerrilla war between Yoweri Museveni and the government of Milton Obote. Kiwoko Hospital was established not long after the war, and that's where Jim came in 2003 and set about getting to know people in the local community.
Jim developed a strong relationship of mutual respect and appreciation with Shadrach Lukwago, the hospital pharmacist, and leader of the hospital mission team. At the end of a busy week's work, Shadrach would head off into the bush for a weekend of evangelism. In 2006, on return to Kiwoko from a trip home, Jim handed Shadrach a copy of the second edition of Christianity Explored. After 3 weeks, Shadrach responded enthusiastically that this was exactly what Uganda needed as a tool for evangelism and discipleship, something that would introduce people to the Jesus of the Bible.
At this point, CEM knew nothing of what was happening there.
But this is how God works, through His people, by His Word.
John McDowell, CEM board member, and fellow elder with Jim at Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor, was the person who first put the Christianity Explored course in Jim's hand. It was this copy that Jim took to Shadrach in 2006. In 2008, John brought Jim over to London to update us and think about how we could support the introduction of Christianity Explored to East Africa. The following January, I arrived in Kiwoko and we were there for the first ever Leadership Training Conference where we launched Christianity Explored. We gave about a thousand church leaders and members a general overview of Mark's gospel, and the course.
Through the years, Shadrach has translated the Christianity Explored and CY materials into Luganda, Swahili, Kirundi and several tribal languages. He also developed the Kiwoko Bible Institute, which he then embedded the course into the training of hundreds of gospel workers who have taken it wherever they have gone. An early graduate of Kiwoko Bible Institute was Sam Oyirwoth. Together these two brothers now lead the work in East Africa, with Jim as the regional coordinator.
I have just recently returned from the West Nile region of Uganda. We look back in amazement at how the Lord has brought us the key people and the necessary funding, all of which wanted to see the work of the gospel strengthened in East Africa. And we thank God for their passion, humility and consistency of life and ministry.
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115
Christianity Explored Ministries helps people love, live and tell the good news about Jesus Christ. To learn more about our resources visit ceministries.org.