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5/17/21

Meet Sunday and Julius - Trip #4

It is Sunday night here in Gulu and I just finished watching the live stream of FCC’s service. I am grateful that you prayed for me and the week that is ahead. It’s also cool to be this far from home and worship with you all. Tomorrow is when we get down to the most observable business: the actual training of the leaders that we are trying help become more effective pastors and planters. But let me take you back to yesterday (Saturday) and our first meeting of the trip.

 Our vision is to see an abiding network of gospel centered, Bible saturated, African lead churches. Our mission is to equip and entrust leaders to strengthen and establish churches. When we finish our short-term engagement in Uganda, we are hoping to leave behind six key local leaders who will continue the work we have begun. We started our first two (of nine) trips with three St. Croix Valley (SCV) based leaders being shadowed by two of what we refer to as Lead Trainers (LTS). They observed us and were partners to extra meetings with us for the development of their skills and our relationships. For courses three and four the LTS are each delivering 20% of the content, meaning 40% of the content will be delivered by my Lead Trainers, Sunday and Julius.They have had their material for months and we met yesterday to review the materials and equip them for success. I’ll talk more about how it is going with their teaching, but I wanted to share something I found impressive as we caught up on life since COVID hit (the last group from the SCV was here in January of 2020).

 Turns out Ugandan pastors had other matters to deal with besides COVID. Uganda was invaded by locusts and they had in far northern Uganda (the Adjumani region, where ½ our group comes from) the worst flooding since 1962, when it took three years to recover!

 Julius, one of my LTS (from Adjumani) said that “last year was a year of blessing”. Notice the quote: I was so stunned when I heard it, I wrote it down. He said he found “comfort in God’s sovereignty” (note quotes again!) during this time. The very lessons we underscored in our first course- that God is sovereign, wise, and good- were believed and provided emotional and spiritual comfort in a year that made ours look simple by comparison.

 He said that the country was locked down, but God’s work was not! During this COVID period they planted three churches (I’ll tell you more about one in a later post-make sure you keep looking!) since we saw them last.They appealed to the government and received permission to meet in groups of six, so they broke down to this size and continued growing together and caring for one another. Because of their limitations, they also met with neighbors in a new way, offering prayer and other support. Julius told us that “Corona gave us time to pray we never had before,” and he is thankful.

 I’ll let you know how things are going as the week unfolds, but I wanted to let you know about these six amazing men who will be joining us (Mike Evans, Stu Dix and myself) as instructors. It’s an honor to serve with them and set the stage for what we believe will be a movement affecting eight different people groups.

 Please pray for us all, especially these six men. Humanly speaking a lot rides on them. We believe they are worth the investment. Thanks for praying and the giving that makes this all possible!

The 6 Lead Trainers working with Larry, Mike, and Stu including Julius (front left) and Sunday (back center)

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life

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