Called to Serve at Uganda Christian University

Called to Serve at Uganda Christian University

We’re beginning our SAMS blog with these photos from our October trip to Uganda to show the place to which we have been called to serve and that we look forward to as our next home: Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda. 

While in Uganda in October, Catherine and I each accepted invitations from the Faculty of Law at Uganda Christian University to join them in their mission to educate Uganda’s next generation of leaders – me to participate in growing the natural resources and environmental component of the Law School’s curriculum, and Catherine to serve as an administrator with the John Sentamu Institute for Human Rights Law. We will live on campus, and participate in the academic, social, and spiritual life of an institution committed to serving as a “centre of excellence in the heart of Africa”, and to equipping “students for productive, holistic lives of Christian faith and service”. You will learn more about UCU at www.ucu.ac.ug.

We’re very, very excited about this opportunity. It was not something we ever planned. It came about through an invitation to consider the idea over a year ago that we kept exploring. It came about because we opened our home to some talented, inspiring young students from Uganda and have maintained our friendships with them, and those relationships came to the attention of the university.  It came about because we received the encouragement and support of certain friends as we gave thought and prayer toward taking this step. It came about because the God that we believe in is capable of of offering surprises bigger than we can ask or imagine. With UCU’s invitation, we are being given an opportunity to put our two lifetimes to work, to serve the mission of “equipping students for productive, holistic lives of Christian faith and service”. Why would we respond with any other answer but ‘yes’?

So, while in the words of the Jimmy Cliff song, we have “many rivers to cross” to return to Uganda, returning there is now our journey. We will be deeply grateful for your support, whether in contribution, pledge or prayer.

 
 
The Bishop Tucker Building at UCU
Back to School! SAMS’ Calling in Educational Ministry

Back to School! SAMS’ Calling in Educational Ministry

In building the Body of Christ, Christians have historically established institutions of higher learning, which have had a great impact on the course of civilization. With Western educational institutions moving away from their Christian foundations, and other schools with no historic ties to Christianity coming to prominence, the opportunities for the gospel to impact governments and cultures are greatly diminished. As you send your children back to school in the upcoming weeks or perhaps start school yourself, are you thinking about the great need for Christian education to help shape the minds and hearts of tomorrow’s global leaders? Many SAMS Missionaries are rising to the challenge to bring others to Christ through educational ministry, and you can help, too.

The Society’s commitment to education is unwavering. God is at work through our missionaries to build the body of Christ through education. This comes in many forms, ranging from teaching in a children’s Christian school in Chile to training community health promoters in the Dominican Republic. We encourage you to visit to get acquainted with all of our missionaries and discover the ways they are involved with education.

Since the early days of the church, the Body of Christ has reached out to children and youth without families, taking on the responsibility of raising them and providing for their education. Christian missionaries continued that tradition by establishing orphanages and children’s homes throughout the world, and the need to care for children without families—or with families who cannot afford to support them—is larger than ever. Teaching young children has always been part of the Church’s mission. Providing a solid education grounded in the Gospel gives many young disciples a solid start.

As a missionary society, SAMS is interested in building up the whole Body of Christ. But as an Anglican missionary society, SAMS is committed to the building and strengthening of Anglican churches and dioceses around the globe. With the increasing importance of the Global South in Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular, SAMS wants to help Anglican leaders throughout the world have the educational tools they need for effective ministry. While social outreach never replaces the proclamation of the Gospel in building up the Body of Christ, the two go hand in hand. James 2:14-17 speaks of the “works” needed to put “faith,” into action, including giving “things needed for the body.” Addressing social needs is a part of the Gospel that SAMS does not forget. Equipping local people to reach out to others in difficult or even horrific circumstances is considered a high calling by SAMS.

How can you help?

The first thing you can do is PRAY, especially for SAMS missionaries who helping to form the Godly character of young people through the education of the whole person. People who have been called to educate young people in the ways of the Lord certainly need prayer and other support, too. SAMS will help you connect to a missionary who is involved in educating young people.

Your praying, giving, and practical support will help those who are already ministering or it will help raise up new SAMS missionaries enabling the church to SEND many more laborers for the ripe harvest.

GIVE financially to help missionary teachers and their schools.

GO! There are many opportunities to teach young people and to use Teaching English as a Second Language in reaching people for Christ. If the Lord is calling you to missionary service, we have a place for you. Consider serving as a career missionary or as a Bridger from a month up to one year. If you are interested in putting together a short-term mission team [create a hyperlink] to come alongside missionaries who are teaching, SAMS can connect you in a variety of ways to fulfill God’s calling of you and your church.

StartHub Africa

StartHub Africa

One of the projects that the Entrepreneurship Faculty at UCU has been facilitating for interested students in all courses of study is StartHub Africa (fb.com/starthubafricaa).

The StartHub course involved approximately 11 lecture sessions presenting material to help student entrepreneurs develop business plans and create businesses using tools like the “Business Model Canvas” shown below. The UCU students have been meeting Saturday nights from 7 pm – 10 pm. Now, that’s dedication!

The StartHub course ends with a final competition for $5,000,000 UGshillings (about $1,400 USD) called the StartHub Africa Pitch Event. It will be held this Friday May 18th at International University of East Africa (IUEA) in Kampala. Guests will include students from all universities around Kampala, entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and the general public, and will come to see groups presenting new businesses from seven universities including International University of East Africa, Kampala International University, Kyambogo University, Ugandan Christian University, Ugandan Martyr’s University, Ndejje University, and Bugema University.

The event will begin with a business fair where the public and the judges can visit the booths of each team to learn about their business and ask questions. After lunch, the judges will select 9 teams, plus 1 selected by the public as a favorite, to present on stage a 3-minute pitch on their business to compete for the award money.

Last Friday, the faculty members helping with StartHub gathered with the students for an “Internal Pitch” to help them prepare for the final Pitch Event this Friday. Teams brought prototypes of their products and powerpoint presentations to explain their business and entice investors or the Pitch Event judges. Our students have come up with a variety of products including mixed fruit trays, a bakery business, a backpack manufacturing company (which has already made sales to some schools!), a mobile app for small business owners in all industries, and affordable home décor. I look forward to seeing how the students refine their businesses and presentations as we help them to prepare for the event on Friday. We will hope for a great outcome!

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week

Picture a classroom. What do you envision? Are there desks arranged in neat rows? Is there a chalkboard or smart board on the front wall? Maybe you picture the students rushing down the hallways lined with lockers as they make their way from class to class. When we visualize a teacher we may think of these typical elements. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and although they may not be in a common classroom, many of your SAMS Missionaries are teachers! Take a look at some of your SAMS Missionaries using their teaching skills in the mission field:

April Sylvester is a mentor for students who are in a gap year program in Zambia. April teaches a variety of subjects including swimming, yoga, photography, and computer skills.

Veronica Flowers is the headmistress of Holy Trinity bilingual school in La Ceiba, Honduras. She is engaged in bringing a wholistic Christian education to the children in the area.

Johann and Louise Vanderbijl serve in the province of Southern Africa where they are teaching disciples to make disciples through a series of trainings. Thus far they have trained over 400 people!

Janine LeGrand teaches people in the Diocese of Masindi-Kitara in Uganda and the surrounding rural area about health and nutrition. Here she teaches a group how to make a nutritious dish that includes the moringa plant.

For the last five years Drs. Brain and Judith Taylor taught health education to those in the rural areas of Myanmar. Because of their teaching, one student was able to properly diagnose his neighbor with early symptoms of leprosy, and in result was able to get him the proper care.

These are just a few SAMS Missionaries that teach in the mission field. You can meet more here! Whether it is through swimming, spelling, discipleship making, or nutrition, your SAMS Missionaries seek to bring the transforming love of Jesus Christ to all the students they educate. Maybe take the time to tell your SAMS Missionary that you appreciate what they do as educators. Leave a comment, or email them: firstnamelastname@sams-usa.org (e.g.  johnsmith@sams-usa.org).

Are you a teacher? If so, know you are appreciated and the Lord has given you an important gift so that you may be an influence in someone’s life. How are you bringing the love of Christ to others you teach? Maybe you have not considered using your teaching skills in the mission field. Ask the Lord how you can use your gift whether it is at home or abroad.

Discover more about becoming a SAMS missionary here.

Featured image: Louise Vanderbijl teaching the Mother’s Union sewing skills in Gambella, Ethiopia.

Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands

Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands

Greetings from Trinity School for Theology and Ministry at Airahu Training Center!  I have been in the Solomon Islands about four weeks now—though so much has happened that it feels as if I have been here much longer! This is a beautiful land, with beautiful people, and I hope in my newsletters and blog posts that I will be able to convey just a glimpse of these beauties.

I have begun to settle in at Airahu, an Anglican center that hosts a monastic order, a rural training center, and a theological school.  This institution is quite unlike anything I have experienced in the United States.  Each component—the Melanesian Brotherhood, Trinity School for Theology and Ministry, and the Rural Training Center—function independently of one another. Yet, they share the land together, regularly come together for times of religious activity, social events, and occasionally meals.  There is no sense of competition among the groups, and each seems to be working toward the same goal—to tangibly apply the teachings of Jesus to life in the Solomon Islands.

Continue reading below to learn a little more about each of the three programs at Airahu

Rural Training Center

Education is a real social challenge in the Solomon Islands.  Most of the Islands have no secondary schools, so teenagers travel to the capital city of Honiara for high-school education.   There are increasingly limited and highly competitive opportunities for students the further they go in their education.  Nor does education does necessarily lead to employment—many good jobs are given to “friends and family.”

The Rural Training Center provides vocational training to students throughout the island of Malaita.  There are several different tracks available—agriculture, carpentry, homemaking, etc.

The students and staff at the Rural Training Center are eager to learn different styles of agriculture.  In the image below I am explaining a permaculture design to a few of them.  The Banana Circle (pictured below) will be a feature in a future newsletter or blog.

Melanesian Brotherhood

The Melanesian Brotherhood is a religious order that was started by Anglican Melanesians in the 1920s.  Brothers take a vow to chastity, submission, and evangelism.  They are a missionary order, regularly traveling two-by-two across the countryside providing pastoral care.  They are an asset and an aid to the parish priests who serve throughout the villages.  At Airahu, several brothers live and help teach at the Rural Training Center.  Some are students at the school for Theology.  The Brothers also host morning and Evening prayers daily, and a Eucharist service on Sundays.

In the image below, one of the Elder Brothers expresses his gratitude for those who prepared lunch for us.

Trinity School for Ministry and Theology

Not to be confused with Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA (where I just graduated from!), TSTM offers a diploma program in Theology and Ministry also located at Airahu Training Center.  Students attend for three years before graduating.  After graduation, most students are ordained to the diaconate before becoming parish priests.  Students at TSTM come from all over the Solomon Islands.  Many are from Malaita, but some students come from as far away as the Western Province, Guadalcanal and San Isabel.  In this picture, I am teaching some of the TSTM students at the Chapel of Melanesia at Airahu.  Jon and were the speakers at a campus retreat a few weeks ago, facilitating discussions about the Lord’s Prayer.