Institute EA Begins 2016 Semester

This past weekend officially began our fourth semester of the Institute for G.O.D Int’l in Uganda.[1] Their orientation began with a bible study on the call of being a student (disciple) of Jesus. It then moved on to the practical elements of what it means to be a good student. Peter Kimbugwe, the Institute’s Head Teacher, reminded students of his expectation for student preparedness, punctuality and earnestness in their studies. Lawrence Ssemakula, Institute Housing Manager and Instructor, reviewed the Student Housing and Community Life expectations--accountability measures that ensure that the content of their biblical education is being properly lived out in community.  Finally, Francis Lubega, Maintenance Manager and Instructor, discussed the students' responsibility to be good workers. These three men, our cooperatives in Uganda, are making sure that our students are getting the training they need to follow Jesus--training that goes far beyond the classroom, but literally every aspect of their lives.

The students at the Institute for G.O.D. East Africa are receiving a quality biblical and theological education that is accompanied by an explicit expected implementation through communal living and occupational development. What does that mean? That the Institute for G.O.D. EA isn't a succession of classes, it affects every area of the students' lives. All students receive a scholarship, allowing us to expect their full participation not just in studies, but in everything we do as an organization in East Africa. Their work-study program helps them develop capacities in the realms of Primary Education, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Building and Health Care. It is both an amazing opportunity for these students to take advantage of, and a tremendous privilege for us to offer.

Similar to last semester, we are offering two new courses to the students. The first is an Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, where the students will be taught the Inductive Bible Study Method and put them to use on the books of Hosea and Amos. The second course is an Introduction to 3rd World Development, a course where students are equipped with some of the vocabulary and practical tools for identifying, understanding and developing programs that enable groups to meet to local needs in sustainable ways. We pray that offering these two classes side-by-side will help students see that if they want to develop solutions that benefit their people, they first have to become people who know and worship the Lord--the one who is able to help us do what seems impossible. 

Lawrence Ssemakula, who is co-teaching Biblical Interpretation this semester, discusses his hope for his students:

My hope is that they would apply their biblical knowledge and understanding of God's word in their daily interactions both here and out of the community so as to attain holiness in every area of their life. Also I hope to see them become independent interpreters of God's Word--to experience its challenges and benefits as disciples yearning to serve and follow the way of Christ.

Just like our Institute in Tennessee, we don’t intend our students to take what theology they need, graduate, and move on with their lives. We intend that their lives will be challenged by the teachings of Jesus and they will find an adequate framework for implementing those teachings within our organization. We intend to make not just college graduates, but disciples of Christ. The future is bright, but it begins now, with this current semester, with each lecture, and with each word and deed inside and outside the classroom. Please join us in prayer for the students and teachers at the Institute EA. They have quite the challenge ahead, but for those of us who have already received a wonderful, life-changing biblical education--we testify that it is all very worth it.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
— Ephesians 3:18

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[1] Note: This is the number of semesters that our Institute has functioned with our East African cooperatives as the instructors. Prior to these four semesters, the Institute for G.O.D. EA operated as an online, distance-learning opportunity made possible by the Institute for G.O.D. International, in addition to periodic bible seminars by visiting development workers. The previous system made possible our current Institute, which is now run almost entirely by our cooperatives themselves.