He is taller than most, about six feet tall. He weighs about 115 pounds. When he speaks, his voice sounds perpetually hoarse. With his voice, the wide gap between his front teeth, and his ears that protrude a bit, he comes off like a fawn—he looks very young. Behind this cherub exterior, lies a leader with a compelling approach to ministry.
His family was nominally Christian in the Presbyterian stream. His family spent his thirteenth and fourteenth year in Kenya, where he attended school. Augustine’s clan made their way back to South Sudan, only to flee a few months later, as war broke out and they ended up in a refugee camp in Adjumani, along the northern border of Uganda.
This 16-year-old was immediately trained by a local Baptist pastor. His mentorship included how to lead, preach and many other practical steps. He went to another area refugee camp (Bidi Bidi—I love that name!) to attend one year at the Uganda Baptist Seminary. Apparently, you can go to this seminary at a very young age without much formal education.
Augustine became a practitioner at the Boroli Refugee Camp, receiving more mentoring in theology and pastoral work. He would go door to door sharing the gospel and at age 20 assisted in planting a church. The church was soon handed over to his care and he led there until he was 22, at which time he handed over leadership to someone he had discipled.
Last year he planted a church at the Ower Refugee Camp and handed it off to yet another disciple before moving to a site on the northern edge of South Sudan, where he planted a church in May of this year. He has been a Christian for seven years, assisted in planting one church and is now on the second church he has planted. For each training, he scrounges the money to take a plane to Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, to get transport to the Adjumani camp in northern Uganda, where he catches a ride with the others heading to our training, two and a half hours away. He is hungry!
In the future, Augustine would like my job. Not the one in Hudson (winters are just a bit different here!), but in my role as a trainer of leaders using TLI materials. The vision the St. Croix Valley LEAD Team has with Four Corners Ministry is to see an abiding movement led by Africans. I want men like Augustine to take my job. I want to help proven and developing leaders in their knowledge of Scripture so that they can give others a rich theological backdrop for their lives and the ministry that flows from those lives.
I am humbled, challenged and honored to serve the likes of Augustine. I want to be more like him.