A Testimony about the Institute for G.O.D. EA
“Remember all that God has done for you. We fail to worship because we fail to remember. Worship requires us to think. Otherwise it just becomes routine. We have to learn to love God with our minds.”
As Peter Kimbugwe, a Bible teacher at the Institute for G.O.D. East Africa, spoke these words, I could feel the Lord’s presence with us in the classroom. Peter was speaking from experience. He knows how far the Lord has brought him. When members of our ministry first met Peter they saw that he was a brilliant man with untapped potential, spending his days as a brickmaker and farmer, loving God but not having a practical way to serve him since he wasn't a pastor (the primary mode of ministerial service in their society). He remembers what life was like before learning God’s word--adhering to the cultural routines of being “Christian,” believing that God wanted to use him for more, but lacking the confidence or structure to know how he could be used. Now his students sit before him, also with untapped potential. He longs for his students to be transformed by God’s Word, but he knows that in order to get them there, he has to push them.
Accompanied by three others – Mitchell Buchanan, Geoff Hartnell, and Aaron Montgomery – I had the incredible privilege of visiting our brothers and sisters in Uganda last month. For the past two years I have worked with a team of others here in the States assisting Peter with organizing course syllabi, developing lecture content, and giving feedback and advice for grading. This trip was my first opportunity to sit and observe him in the classroom.
Peter’s students are concluding a 10-week term titled “Examination of Worship Practices,” in which they are developing a Scriptural understanding of worship, evaluating common Ugandan practices and applying the truths to their own worship practice. They’ve already taken courses on the Book of Genesis, Introduction to the Torah, Readings in the Synoptic Gospels, just to name a few, and they’ll soon begin a course on “Introduction to the Prophets.” The Institute for G.O.D. East Africa is still in its early stages, but a biblical foundation is being laid. For many of these students, they’re being challenged to think critically about the Bible for the first time. God is moving in their midst. And they have a teacher who deeply cares about them.
During our visit, we facilitated four educational training seminars: How to take notes, how to use biblical reference books, how to make observations on a biblical passage, and effective reading tips. The students were attentive and afterward expressed gratitude for the seminars, but it was Peter’s enthusiasm that encouraged me the most. Peter understands the importance of biblical literacy in the development of his students. He is passionate about teaching the Word of God and seeing his students mature into followers of Jesus. I’m confident that he will ensure the students take these lessons and implement them in their studies - to love God with their minds as they diligently dig into his word.
We believe firmly that human beings are our greatest resource. Peter gives himself to his students. He invests his time and energy into their development. Listening to him teach, I remembered Paul’s words to the Colossians, “It is Christ whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For to this end I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me” (Col 1.28). Gathered under our thatched roof Institute, listening to Peter deliver his lecture, I felt like I was observing the kind of character we hear in Paul’s communication. These students are learning what it means to worship God in Spirit and truth from a man proclaiming Christ. It’s powerful to witness a man who grew up just like his students before him, knowing the painful realities of a life in poverty, yet speaking the truth of God’s Word in no “second-rate” form. He is powerfully inspired by the Word of God. Pray alongside him that the students will soon be too.