From Kasese to Kigali by Charlie King
We have wrapped up in Kasese and made the trip to Kigali, Rwanda in one piece. It’s Saturday night, and I am in the guest house in the ALARM campus in Kigali.
Lazarus dropped James and me off at the border crossing and we “footed it,” as they say here, through the friendly public servants of Uganda and Rwanda, linking up with the leader of the team here in Rwanda on the other side – Nehemie Kwizera. He is a wonderful evangelist and teacher… but more later. We hired a car from there and made our way to Kigali.
Lazarus and Rich continued on to Kampala, where, if all is well, Rich should be getting ready to board a flight home. Lazarus will be picking up Pastor Pete in a few days, and James and I will bus it back to Kampala after TBI here, in order to see Pete and attend a board meeting before I too, will head home.
Some final photos of Kasese are below. We had a very successful class, I think. Our test results were mixed, which isn’t surprising considering that our class was so mixed educationally. But we did require that every single student recite the Ten Commandments in order, and almost every one of the 160 students did so successfully (more than a lot of our churches can say, more’s the pity.) However, the written exam required some higher order reasoning, not just recitation, so, as I say, we had very mixed results with that.
The Bukonzo are a tight group and slow to warm up. But I think we did get through – there is a clip of one of the warm up hymn singing sessions below and a photo of some singers using a very old Swahili hymnal. We have been successful in planting bible study groups to cover the intersession time, (photos below) and we have partnered with a local NGO in doing so. The NGO, which is dedicated to vocational training and development, has capitalized on the integrity of the small groups and provided them with pigs, ducks, and instruction on the same, as well as help in setting up small savings and loans accounts. In turn these activities cement the small group and further their study. This seems to be a promising framework.
We also took the opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, which many appreciated but some were simply puzzled. There is as much misunderstanding about this sacrament as there is about anything else, so we look for every opportunity to share the meal and discuss what we are doing. The prosperity gospel crowd has done serious damage to the sacraments (along with most everything else…)
Another area that has been damaged by that pernicious heresy is the question of the integration of polygamous marriages into the church. I am not referring to polygamy within Christianity – there is no question that such is not Christian marriage. What I am referring to is the question of how to handle a husband and his wives if they are already in a polygamous marriage at the time they come into the church. This is not uncommon, and a serious matter. Most of the class had been influenced by prosperity gospel teachings, such as they are, which says that polygamy is a sin and as such, demands repentance. What that means in practice is that the man is accepted into the church with only one of his wives, the others often being (literally) tossed aside, along with any children. Well, that can’t be right. Kunhiyop, whom I’ve mentioned earlier, is adamant that while polygamy is not in accord with God’s design for marriage, and should not ever be supported in a Christian context, it is not adultery, and must be treated as a cultural phenomenon to be overcome in time and in love. But what our students had been hearing as the “Christian” solution was that the man must immediately terminate the multiple relationships, thus making the price for one man in a church that of several women abandoned. Following Kunhiyop’s thoughts on this, as we unpacked the 7th commandment, we taught that polygamy is not adultery, but something to be terminated over time. It was tough going. But I could tell from the head nods that the women were clearly on our side. The men relented a bit when I pointed out we were discussing the narrow circumstances of a polygamist husband coming into the church, and that scripture requires that any leader in the church be a “one woman man” (1Tim 3:2). In any event, I let Paul have the final word: “let each remain in the condition in which he was called” (1Cor7:20). We presented a very different understanding of this problem than they had heard, and I hope we respected the Great Commandments in doing so. Loving God and loving neighbors, particularly the latter, is sorely needed here (and at home!). God’s law is perfect and does not require that we compromise.
A few last photos to round it out. You’ll see the wood fired kitchen that feed us all week, and their crockery… how several hundred coffee cups from Hawaii ended up in a Catholic social hall in Kasese is just one more mystery of Uganda.
A few shots of Kigali, with more to follow. We will be attending church tomorrow with a congregation that has lost its church building due to the ongoing bureaucratic assault. They are doubling up with a congregation in a building that is still open. It should be interesting. And Nehemie tells me that we have had to turn away pastors from our training (as we have maxed out in room and funds), as the interest in becoming better trained and qualified has increased under government pressure. The need is great.
I close with a picture of James waiting in the bus park. Americans would find nothing out of the ordinary in the park. But the very idea that a bus would be assigned a specific route, which it would follow dependably, and depart at set times was very peculiar to him. After all, he grew up in the chaos of Kampala (a photo of that bus park is attached just for comparison!). I told him that I understood this transit system immediately; it was the one in Kampala that was, and remains, a mystery to me. We are all products of our environment I guess.
Cheers and blessings. Please keep the church in Africa in your prayers. The ravenous wolves are alive and well.