Cultivating Good Soil in East Africa

By Rylan Aaseby

Over the years we have had the opportunity to offer institute courses for our Ugandan and Kenyan cooperatives via DVD recordings of live classes. The summers have then provided an opportunity to review and respond to the more complex questions (those that are not easy or beneficial to respond to over email or other technological mediums). This summer is no different in these regards.

Currently Derek and Skylar are facilitating class reviews for Old Testament Survey, a class which covers some of the more neglected books of the Old Testament, such as Leviticus, Numbers, Ruth, Esther and Lamentations. As of now, they have gone over five classes, covering Leviticus 1-16, which focuses on sacrificial ritual and the value of life (blood). One lesson focused on the humane slaughtering of animals, which prevents a distorted or undervalued view of life at large. This particular biblical lesson was understood well, as Peter Kimbugwe made the comment, “The butchers here are not to be messed with…if a butcher says get out of the way you need to, or you risk getting cut by their machete.”

The review lessons will continue throughout the summer and will no doubt give way to course classes being offered there in the near future. But the teachings do not stop with the review sessions. So eager are our East African partners to receive biblical education that they have asked to be taught every Sunday as well.

These Sunday gatherings are more dialogical in nature than a typical class lecture. These times give opportunity for practicing observational skills on a particular biblical story or passage, as well as the opportunity to share some meaning that they have gathered from their observations. After these crucial interpretive steps are taken, someone from the team who is educated on the passage will spend time going over it in greater detail with the group.

Recently, Derek and Skylar went over Luke 7:36-48 (on the woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears). Having taken a course on the Gospels that was taught by Mike Garner, Derek and Skylar shared what they have learned about this passage. Derek focused on the need for correct sight in order to have correct judgment. The story presents Simon the Pharisee as misjudging Jesus and the woman. Jesus, who sees clearly, corrects these misjudgments and offers words of forgiveness that allow everyone present to walk away from that moment with better sight and thus better equipped to face the world.

All in all, the educational activity currently taking place in East Africa is progressively producing a maturation in our Kenyan and Ugandan friends. They are like that “good” cultivated soil that Jesus talked about in Matthew 13, refusing to allow one nutrient from the Word to be wasted. We thank God that we are their partners in this momentous movement toward a new East Africa.