Belong in Christ at Uganda Christian University

Belong in Christ at Uganda Christian University

Above: SAMS Missionary Jessica Hughes and her theological student Lovincer Katana at GAFCON 2018 in Jerusalem. Jessica teaches at Uganda Christian University (UCU), and Lovincer serves in the UCU Chaplaincy while continuing her education to serve Christ’s kingdom. Lovincer shares below the impact that UCU has had on her. – Kate Ulrich, SAMS Communications Coordinator

My name is Lovincer Katana, a first-born-child of six children. I was born and raised in Kalerwe, one of the slums on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. My parents loved God and served in the church as wardens, and I came to faith while in Sunday School because our parents faithfully raised us in church.

I grew up and started serving in the youth ministry. Having graduated from university by God’s grace, I was placed as a teacher in one of the best girls’ schools in the country, Gayaza High School. The Lord used me to minister to the girls as I taught and engaged with them through various activities.

I received a call from the Lord to join full-time ministry, which I must confess I wrestled with for two years. I was inspired to study for my Masters of Divinity at Uganda Christian University (UCU) by my priest at St. Nicholas Church, the retired Rev. Kisitu Frederick. He used to talk fondly about Bishop Tucker Theological College, the College from which UCU was launched. I was particularly inspired by the way he taught and engaged the Scripture, and I was certain that I wanted to study where he had.

Having said yes to the Lord’s call, I joined the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology at UCU in 2015. I found the University’s atmosphere calm and enabling in that both students and staff were able, on a daily basis, to know Christ, to grow in faith, and to make Christ known in their different fields of specialty. I don’t remember a single day that any of my lecturers came to class to teach and we did not say an opening prayer, closing prayer, or share in the grace (2 Corinthians 13:14) at the end of class. Of course, even during the lectures themselves one would vividly see faith integrated in whatever we were learning, something which blessed my heart since I got my undergraduate degree from a government university.

There were two days in the week I always looked forward to: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-1pm. On these days, all students and faculty members pause whatever they are doing (including classes) and come together at Nkoyoyo Hall for Community Worship, where we are fed on God’s Word. I felt a unique sense of belonging in Christ during this time that transcended class, age, expertise, and our distinct backgrounds. This is the community’s way of paying attention to what God is doing in our lives, and it is an opportunity to study His Word.

The University setting itself makes anyone grow closer to God if only they pay attention to their surroundings. Apart from the time set aside for community worship on Tuesdays and Thursdays, UCU has a beautiful compound which is always green and clean. If you are walking around, you notice Scriptures mounted on almost every building. I remember a time I was feeling so low and discouraged, and as I walked through the compound, I stumbled on this Scripture on a building, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25). I had always passed this spot, and I had probably seen the passage many times, but this time I read the Scripture and it came afresh to me and I was encouraged.

I graduated in 2018 with my Masters of Divinity, and in 2019 my bishop placed me in the UCU Chaplaincy to serve. This was a beautiful homecoming for me. The Lord placed on my heart a passion for biblical languages, especially Hebrew, and a desire to help other students through sharing knowledge with them. I enrolled to study at Bishop Tucker again in 2020, this time in the Master of Arts in Theology (Biblical Track). The Bishop Tucker faculty has great men and women (my favourite being a SAMS Missionary, the Rev. Jessica Hughes) who pass on their knowledge of God’s Word, helping us grow in immense ways. I am enjoying my work and my studies tremendously, and I am always looking for ways on how to pour myself out into the lives of students so that we journey and grow together. I am grateful for each day that passes in this community.

God the Alpha and Omega, to Him alone be the Glory!
Rev. Lovincer Katana Kanyike

Empowering Students with Gospel Abundance

Empowering Students with Gospel Abundance

Above: Mary Chowenhill and Kalo Jusef, a former UCU student from Sudan who equips refugees with entrepreneurship skills.

The economics of God’s abundance fuels SAMS Missionary Mary Chowenhill’s mission work, and also informs the way she counsels entrepreneurship students at Uganda Christian University (UCU). She may not have a car to drive into the city of Kampala, but she sees God’s abundance in neighbors who bring fresh garden produce to her door. A broken hot water heater opens her eyes to God’s provision in a kettle to heat water for her shower. No hot water heater means a lower electric bill, which translates into cash she spends on other things—such as crafts created by a local artisan. Mary does not see the world through the typical economics of scarcity. She sees opportunities to lean on God’s sufficiency. With this experience and mindset, she helps her students start businesses with limited capital.

Mary advises students at UCU’s business incubation center. Edina Kia, a young woman who wanted to start a honey business, only had one hive to start. Now with six hives, Kia is about to sell the fruits of a successful harvest. Another student, Douglas Wegulo, markets char-briquettes made from by-products of sugar and coffee. The briquettes are an alternative fuel to wood—a valuable resource in Uganda. Mary has encouraged Douglas to see that, although he can’t afford two acres of land, the abundancy is in finding like-minded business partners to come alongside him—even if they become competitors someday.

Mary’s mindset is rooted in the Gospel: God’s abundant grace and holiness meets us in our spiritual state of scarcity. This biblical truth touches the lives of students at UCU, which attracts people from across Africa. One of Mary’s students in 2016 was Kalo Jusef, from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. “Born a Muslim, he converted to Christianity, as did his father and his entire family, as a result of his time here at UCU,” Mary shares. “He came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and started a ministry in Uganda to refugees from Sudan and South Sudan. He provides them with the practical skills they need to develop their own businesses.” Kalo and his wife, Leah, seek to go back to the Nuba Mountains to minister there. We pray that God may continue to send students like Kalo out from UCU to share Gospel hope through their vocations, as His abundance brought Mary to Uganda through senders who partner in her ministry.

Click through the gallery below to see pictures of Edina Kia’s log-beehives, and Douglas Wegulo’s char-briquettes business!

 

The Morning of a New Day

The Morning of a New Day

SAMS is happy to report that Richard and Catherine arrived to serve at Uganda Christian University last week, after a year of delays. Praise be to God! – Communications Coordinator Kate Ulrich

Dear friends –

At last we are in Uganda, all three of us. 

Your prayers have carried us over a couple of substantial hiccups and bumps in the road. We have so many people to whom to extend special thanks, starting with our friends Dan and Ann who bailed us out ‘above and beyond’ when we missed our first flight. Dan drove us to and from Dulles twice, and they put us up in their guest room and provided us with two delicious meals and the loan of their car for the last minute tasks of our last morning before departure. Our travel agent who worked the miracle of reticketing us for only a modest change fee. Our friends Phil and Linda, who purchased our car. Our friends Arnold in Montreal and Franklin in Uganda who assisted us in so many ways with rescheduling our Ugandan arrangements. The many people whose services we relied upon to store, ship, and receive donations who were consistently helpful. Our leasing agent Janice who gave us a day’s grace on our move-out. Vanessa at UCU housing who was unfailingly gracious and helpful. Our SAMS missionary colleagues here at UCU, who also went above and beyond. In the several chaotic moments of this relocation, we were blessed by the kindness, grace – and in Dan’s case, strong shoulders – of others. We could not have done this by ourselves – and, in fact, we humbly confess that we didn’t.

Sunday, around 2:00 pm East Africa Time, our KLM flight crossed above the Egyptian coastline above El Alamain, and we entered African air space. Our route ran west of the Nile, over desert, over scrub, and over savannah, and continued over forest as darkness fell. Upon arrival at Entebbe we cleared immigration without issues, and having been both vaccinated and possessing four day old negative PCR tests, we were not quarantined. Instead we headed off to a lovely Entebbe hotel that generous Ugandan friends had arranged for us, and fell into dreamless sleep.

 Uganda is in a second round of COVID lockdown, with a 6 am to 7 pm curfew. Personal travel is sharply restricted, and there are police checkpoints everywhere. Tourists must hire a tour operator driver for travel to their destinations. Fortunately – again with the invaluable help of our Uganda friends – we knew one of the best from our 2018 trip, so we had a joyous reunion with our safari driver Robert who took us through a much quieter Kampala than we could have imagined to get to our final destination – the Uganda Christian University campus in Mukono.

Our dog, Trooper, who had a separate flight schedule, was met by the animal expediter’s Ugandan handler and kenneled overnight and, as is his practice, he made friends with the handler’s staff, wagged his tail at everyone, and when let out of his cage, he instantly began to stalk and follow his nose like few dogs they have seen. They delivered him here before we could get here, so our SAMS colleague Jessica Hughes took him. He was delightful company for her and barked at the monkeys from her screened porch. He was overwhelmed by the time Jessica brought him to meet us. 

Here at the corner of the UCU campus called Tech Park, Jessica’s warm welcome was echoed by SAMS colleague, next door neighbor, and trove of information Mary, along with our Ugandan neighbors here in little duplex units. One of those neighbors – Immaculate (Ugandan Christian names are wondrous) – made a dinner of simply outstanding matooke (I did not know it could be so), greens, and beef heart. The little children were intimidated by Trooper, who gaily wagged his tail at them. But one, Ebenezer, who will soon be four, told his mother, while hiding behind her legs, that Trooper is his friend. We were also welcomed by a couple of power outages (and it gets cavernously dark if they occur at night) and the shutdown of campus wifi. We are hard by the campus fence, so we hear the voices of the neighborhood across the road (and will hear the noises from a nearby bar when the COVID lockdown comes to an end). 

Our UCU hosts set us up with essential furniture and kitchen supplies in our small apartment and delivered the missing bag when it arrived from Amsterdam. We are just beginning to learn our way around the shops of Mukono to purchase such random necessities as Uganda cell phones, a shower curtain, plastic chairs for our patio dining area, and a tea kettle. We have rediscovered that Uganda has simply the most delicious pineapple in the world. We learned how the water heater operates, and the location of the potable water tap about a hundred metres away where we carry our jerry cans. We have been awakened on our first morning by a crackling African thunderstorm (which prompted Trooper to leap onto the bed between us, and on our second morning by the calling of a bird so loud it must have been right under our window. Then come the roosters and the stirring of the people who live across the road outside the campus fence.

It is the morning of a new day.
In faith,
Richard and Catherine

 

 

 

Stolen Heirlooms and Abundant Life

Stolen Heirlooms and Abundant Life

 Dear Praying Friends,

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

The first week of June began as a normal week but quickly became quite the “un-normal” week. Kerry’s family shared with us that Mom B was diagnosed with Stage 4 Mesothelial cancer. At 91 years old, there are not many options at this advanced stage. The next day, I had a bad bicycle accident – the bike went left and I was catapulted right. We thank God that nothing was broken but there was much soreness and bruising. Then, the next day, we heard someone in our bedroom upstairs. (We were in my office, which is just below our bedroom on the next level of the building.) We went into our apartment to find an intruder who had come through a usually-locked chapel door and found his way to our home. We confronted him but somehow he ran past and escaped. He had – in less than 3 minutes – stolen my bank card, family heirloom rings, iPad/keyboard and a few other small items. It became very apparent that our enemy was not happy with how the Father is healing and growing this chaplaincy of three congregations. “For we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) However…the young man who left the inside door unlocked, which gave the thief access, came to apologise for his carelessness. I told him that I forgave him and all was fine and that he was more important than the items stolen. Shocked, he replied that he wouldn’t have forgiven me. Wow! An open door to speak of God! I then shared of God’s love for us and that we must allow God’s love to flow through us. It was a time of rejoicing for me as those paltry, earthly things became a down-payment on this man’s eternal destiny.

Serving, and serving with, these congregations, we have had many sadnesses and many joys. We had the privilege to come to the bedside of a dying friend, pray with her, say our farewells and walk with her daughter in the days since her mother’s Homegoing. There have been ongoing Morning and Evening Prayer, another 24 Hours of Prayer Vigil, The Alpha Course followed by The Prayer Course, and Intercessory Prayer Workshops via Zoom by a dear friend in the USA. We are thrilled to hear so many say their desire is that we are a chaplaincy saturated by prayer.

As Covid restrictions are loosening, we are now meeting physically in three locations with limited numbers and precautions. Once a month there is a joint service. Our tech team has made it possible to have those who cannot come participate on Zoom so they feel a part of the congregations gathered. Open Wednesdays are bringing neighbours and visitors as well as congregants who wish to fellowship. This autumn will be the 250th year since worship began in our Groenburgwal building so we are working toward an event that will celebrate God’s faithfulness. During the past 12 months financial support has decreased. This is not surprising with the uncertainty of these Covid times and job losses. Prayers are much appreciated and, if so led, please invest in this multi-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry. 

Highlighted below are a few of the wonderful blessings of God we have recently experienced in the chaplaincy of Christ Church. Thank you for your prayers, words of encouragement and faithful giving.

With love, Cynthia (for both)

Praises! and Prayer Needs

• Several new members for Council and Leadership Teams! (We are still in need of a Safeguarding officer for Centre and Zuidoost (Southeast) and the building up of Kids’ Church)
• Healing of hearts and relationships in the Chaplaincy
• Wisdom for the Council, Mission Leadership Teams, and the Search Committee for a new chaplain
• Provision to continue ministry here in the Netherlands
• A desire of many in the chaplaincy who long for a broader and deeper prayer ministry

Healing Dreams During A Pandemic

Healing Dreams During A Pandemic

By Denise Cox, SAMS Associate Director

Early in the pandemic I awoke startled by my vivid dream – a dream in which I was once again talking and laughing with a dear friend who has been dead for several years. It seemed so real and so wonderful that I immediately wondered what was the meaning of this night reverie.  I turned to God in contemplation and prayer. At once I knew. I was missing very important people in my life. I was longing for close relationships, for church family and work family. This “covid-dream” revealed my deep longings.

Soon I found out that I wasn’t the only person having dreams that God was using during COVID-19 isolation. A missionary in Africa told me he dreamed that he and his wife were in a road race. They felt excitement to be at the head of the race until they ran low on gas and pulled over to a gas station. The pumps were closed and they watched in dismay as the other racers sped by. Then they looked up to see that there had been an explosion ahead on the road, and they had been spared driving right into it. The missionary awoke feeling God’s protection and providence. He rested in the knowledge that God provided guidance and that God was aware of his frustrations in the midst of a pandemic.

Yet another missionary related a reassuring dream that she had during the pandemic. She had formerly served as a missionary teacher in Latin America. Currently in the U.S., she longed to return but wondered if she was even wanted. She received an invitation to judge an international spelling bee on a virtual platform. The school at which she had taught was the host of this competition. In the midst of the preparations for the event, she dreamed she had returned to the school. The students were waiting for her and welcoming her. She awoke, feeling that God sent her a message. She had a renewed sense that her time of missionary service wasn’t over.

What about you? Has God spoken to your spirit during the pandemic with a meaningful dream? Let me know.  I will share these encouragements with others.