One of the many ways that COVID affected life was our commitment to train forty-two pastors from eight different people groups meeting in Uganda. We were one third of the way done with the nine sessions we had planned when the pandemic struck. January of 2020 is the last trip our group has taken, and I am excited to be back at it. I am traveling with longtime friends and companions in ministry, Mike Evans (founding pastor of FCC New Richmond and now with Training Leaders International-TLI) and Stu Dix (founding pastor of The Village in Baldwin and currently on staff part time with FCC New Richmond).
In some ways our trip started the day before we left (Monday), as the three of us were at the doctor together to get tested for COVID. A few hours later we received the news that our test was negative and that we were good to go. Tuesday afternoon found MSP rather quiet, and we quickly made our way through security and to our gate. The eight-hour flight to Amsterdam was relatively empty and we were able to secure aisle seating in the row right behind first class. We had lots of leg room and empty seats next to us, so we are starting out spoiled. Our next leg to Uganda is nearly full, so our luxuries will be more limited. I’ve also set a personal record in having a mask on for a little over twelve hours that will likely double before we are clear of the airport in Entebbe, Uganda.
This endeavor is all about partnerships. Let me highlight a few of. A few years ago, we had a joint gathering at Lakefront Park in Hudson called Vision for the Valley, focusing on our network of churches (Somerset, New Richmond, Baldwin, River Falls and Hudson) for cross cultural discipleship. Through giving during that season, we generated enough funds to finance the nine trips that will occur, God willing. Thank you for your generosity and vision!
We are also partnering with TLI who provides us the materials and leadership support to help us serve the church in Uganda well. A TLI representative takes part in each trip, and we send two others from our network of churches. Another partnership with Four Corners Ministries in Uganda serves as the base where the pastors will come for the training. They provide on the field logistical support as well as the structures for the ongoing development of the pastors in between our trips to Uganda. Each of these partnerships is a crucial part of the chain through which we believe will result in strengthening and starting churches in the eight people groups represented by our trainees.
I’ll keep updating you on the trip as time allows. One of the upsides of jet lag is I can crank one of these out to keep you informed. Please pray for sensitivity to the Spirit as we prepare, that we may serve these incredible pastors in a way that is most helpful to them.