What global mission needs to feel like?

Chris Howles, who is on staff at the Uganda Martyrs Seminary Namugongo and an Old Oak, outlines the partnership of the two colleges, including the recent visit there by students.

The partnership between Oak Hill College and Uganda Martyrs Seminary Namugongo (UMSN) goes back to the 1980’s when the principal of UMSN was killed in 1984 by government soldiers during a time of unrest. Students were also tortured and taken away, and the college, which back then was just a small training centre, was wrecked. Some Oak Hill staff heard about the dreadful incident (the murdered principal had previously been a student there) and started to pray and support the college, and the relationship grew rapidly from there.

 

It is a long-running and extensive relationship. Both colleges regularly pray for each other in times of corporate worship. About 30 students, often from some of the poorest dioceses in the world, are studying here at UMSN because of bursaries we can offer because of money generously raised by Oak Hill students. Our principal and his wife have been to visit and stay at Oak Hill twice in the last 8 years to fellowship with, and learn from, folk there, and we’ve had so far 4 faculty members from Oak Hill come to visit UMSN over recent years.

 

However perhaps the richest and most beneficial component of the relationship between the two colleges is the regular ‘partnership weeks’ we enjoy. These are visits from teams of Oak Hill staff and students who come and work with our UMSN students on thinking how to preach though a book of the Bible. We’ve now had 21 of these after our most recent one, involving a total of 172 different Oak Hill students going back to 2009.

 

Let me tell you a bit about what happened during the most recent partnership week....

A team of 10 students and faculty member Dr Matthew Bingham arrived rather tired and we took them about 2 hours’ drive to Namugongo. When they arrived, we plied them with caffeine and gave them a briefing about some basic aspects of culture and life here – greetings, dress, public prayer, health, security etc.  

6.30 am the next morning they all left with different UMSN students to go and visit some churches.  They were all back by 4 pm,having got to know their host students well and learnt lots about church in Uganda.

The bulk of the week was a conference, based on Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. This involved some sessions from the front by Oak Hill visitors, some personal study time for Oak Hill and UMSN students, and afternoons in small group discussions working together under God’s word and the Spirit’s guidance.

There were lots of other activities which included....

Each visitor sat with UMSN students individually for about 20 minutes, hearing their testimonies, learning about their lives, families, joys and challenges, and asking how they can pray for them. Those prayer points are taken back to London and prayed through each week during chapel. Contact details were exchanged and many students will continue friendships.

We had time with the team discussing everything from prosperity theology to the demonic forces in Uganda to listening to theological voices from outside the Western world to partnership between UK churches and mission partners.

Oak Hill played UMSN at both football and volleyball. Our British visitors valiantly lost at both this time.

Oneevening we sent our team out into Namugongo to get street food – specificallythe wonderful Uganda .They have to navigate this alone which is a great cross-cultural experience andeating it is a wonderful reward for their successful venture!

One Oak Hill student, on returning to the U.K. last week, said:

There was a tangible sense that as colleges we lean in on one another in prayer and in common vision to serve the Lord Jesus. We shared about our different challenges and so were renewed in prayer for one another.”

Do pray for this UMSN - Oak Hill partnership. Give thanks to the Lord - it is rare for something like this to span so many years, across so many different leaders on both sides and to be such a mutual blessing to everyone involved. Pray that both colleges would continue to be enriched, encouraged and strengthened through this partnership in the gospel.

 

I wonder also whether there may be some hints in this story of what global mission needs to feel like from a UK perspective as millennials increasingly emerge as leaders in our context: friendship,mutuality, equality, meaning, participation…and how can these ideas be adapted to, for example, a church-to-church partnership? Let’s keep thinking and praying about these questions.

Full article appears at https://www.kouya.net/?p=10765