History of TCWM
“TCWM: We’ve Only Just Begun”
By Pastor Pete Anderson
The church of Jesus Christ is valuable, so valuable that Jesus came to earth to die for her. Christ has promised that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. That promise gives me courage and direction.
For the past sixteen years, Trinity Church in Hawaii has been involved in church planting in Eastern and Northern Uganda. Now this ministry is coming under the oversight of Trinity Center for World Mission and its Board of Directors.
During these sixteen years, God has cared for us, humbled us, opened many doors for us and taught us many things. Before we go forward, it is helpful to look back and share some of the history.
For me, I was raised in a church planting family. My mother actually helped plant a church when I was growing up. That group started as a ministry to poor children and then adults started to attend. Later I helped my dad plant Westminster Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, Tennessee. In graduate school, seminary and mission work in Mexico, I was involved in church planting. In 1977 Martha and I came to Hawaii to help plant Trinity Church Windward and in 1995 we moved to Mililani to help plant Trinity Church Central Oahu. Three years later I first went to Uganda, and since that time Trinity Church has been sending teams to Uganda at least once a year.
In the initial years, I worked under Dr. Henry Krabbendam, a friend and professor of Bible at Covenant College. That first year got me hooked. Dr. K dropped me in a village and told me I was the conference speaker for the week. The conference was all day each day, and with another pastor, we preached and we preached and preached. During crusades in the evening, we preached again. In one week, I think I preached most of my sermons from the previous year. In the following three years, we were part of Dr. K’s teams in places like Hoima, Fort Portal, Masaka, and in several suburbs of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. We worked in various parts of the country, and often I would never see the new church again.
In 2001 I asked Dr. K and the Presbyterian Church in Uganda to allow me to work in one part of the country. They agreed, and so year after year we would return to Eastern Uganda, to the District of Kapchorwa and help plant churches on Mount Elgon. After six years we helped form a presbytery, and made plans for additional churches on the mountain.
Around 2006 someone brought me an article about Gulu, the largest city in Northern Uganda; it was about how 25,000 children had been kidnapped there. I began to pray about helping those children and planting churches there. That summer I took our team to Gulu to pray and eventually a plan was made to plant a second presbytery in the North. God blessed this work and now there are two churches there and one new preaching point. It has been a joy to help plant the first two Presbyterian churches in Northern Uganda.
Meanwhile, we continued to work in Kapchorwa, and today there are nine churches we helped plant and two new church plants started by our church plants.
As our relationships grew in Uganda, I was asked to be on the board of a mission organization led by various pastors in the PCA, the African Christian Training Institute. For about ten years I have met with them in Atlanta in January and we have coordinated much of the mission work in Uganda. One of the men, Pastor John Pickett, liked our model of planting churches and committed to help start a network of churches in Western Uganda. A seminary friend and the founder of the PCU, Kefa Sempangi, agreed to help plant ten more churches on the outskirts of Kampala. Kefa now works with another friend, Rashid Luswa.
Now there are four growing networks of churches or presbyteries and we are hoping to see the development of a fifth in Southern Sudan. For a number of years, we have had our hearts set on expanding the network to Southern Sudan, where many churches have been burned, Christians have been persecuted, and many continue to suffer. (We are only about 50 miles from there when we minister in Gulu.) A friend and fellow PCA pastor, Dr. Jim Sutherland, has been working there for several years, and my desire has been to partner with him, in what we hope would be the fifth network of churches.
Over the years, we have helped with many other ministries, but at present our primary mission as it has developed over the years is the establishment of networks of Biblical, grace-filled, Christ-centered, gospel-preaching, self-supporting and reproducing churches. We primarily exist to plant and strengthen these churches.
After working with about twenty church plants, we have developed a Presbyterian and Biblical model for planting a church. It involves a three step process that we continue to refine and adapt to each situation:
Step one, preparing for the birth of a new church, often takes several years. This involves carrying out a long-range strategy to plant churches among a specific people group, who, in turn, will eventually grow their own spiritual leaders and plant more churches. This stage of church planting includes coordinating with the PCU and other missionaries, selecting and training local pastors, sending them to seminary, mentoring them, and assisting them in learning to share the Gospel.
Eventually it involves selecting a church site and purchasing property. Ideally during the first year of this process, interns are involved in hut to hut evangelism, holding crusades, and gathering a core group. Two signs of progress are the gathering of at least 50 believers and the identification of a mature, trained pastor, preferably a graduate of Westminster College and Seminary in Uganda.
The pace picks up as the time comes near for the birth of the new church. There are times of prayer and the recruitment of local helpers, team members, and translators. Financial supporters are needed to help with Bibles, benches and a tarp. The core group is enlisted to help in every aspect of planning, as this must be an African church. Pastors and others serve as an advance party preparing the community. Leaders of the new community are visited and permission is asked to proceed. During this time our teams in the US are also trained. Our hope is that in the week prior to deployment to Uganda, we will meet together in Dahlonega, GA for prayer, additional training and strategizing. We have found that to minister effectively, we need to understand clearly our mission, the resources available, and the gifts of each person on the team. (My belief is that God has given us a unique place as a headquarters for this ministry; Martha and I look forward to hosting our meetings there and also training various groups in making disciples.)
Step two, the birth of the local church, is a special, supernatural time, when God changes hearts, calls men women and children to Himself, and the new congregation is formed. Days before the birth, more teams visit in the local community and share the Gospel. Crusades are usually held each evening and Christian films are shown to the surrounding community. In addition, we often provide bedding, clothing, seeds and medical care to the poor and needy families in the area. Our medical teams are now able to minister to three or four thousand people in a two week period; this is a powerful demonstration of the love of Christ.
This step can also be a time of great testing. Satan does not give up without a fight. Often rumors about the new church circulate; other churches may be threatened. The gospel transforms not only individuals, but communities. Change is exciting and difficult.
At last, the day of birth arrives. Often several hundred come; the congregation usually includes community leaders and pastors of neighboring churches. A new choir made up of new believers sings and visiting choirs from our other churches bring their praise teams. After the first service, the new pastor is ordained and installed. This initial service is often five or six hours long.
Step three, nurturing the newly born church, is vital to help her grow. The church planter and several pastors and evangelists stay after the opening Sunday. They follow up those who have attended and teach and train the new converts to be disciples of Jesus Christ, through their words and examples. Before leaving we give the new church Bibles, discipleship materials, Sunday School materials, a sound system and generator, and a small keyboard. Local pastors stay with the new pastor and together they pray, fast, and continue to follow-up new converts. Bible studies, choirs and prayer groups are formed. Regular visits are scheduled for the encouragement and care of new disciples. We generally make a commitment to support the new pastor and his family partially for the next two years, including helping him develop a microenterprise. This encourages the pastor to start a project that will help sustain his family financially and keeps him from becoming dependent on us in the long run. We also make sure that the new pastor is trained and experienced in discipleship.
Initially the church meets on the new property, out in the open or under a tarp. The goal is to build up the congregation spiritually and numerically without making them dependent upon us. If there are many orphans, we may help purchase a small plot of land near the church to grow crops for orphans, (but our main ministry is not the establishment of orphanages). Up to this point, we have largely funded most of the construction of church buildings, but we are in the midst of changing this. Now we want to see the local church strong enough to build its own facility. We will offer assistance, the loan of a block machine, and guidance. Using this approach, our most recent church construction costs were cut in half.
There are many opportunities for service in Uganda. TCWM chooses ministries that help in the church planting process. These include mobile medical teams, crusades, conferences, pastor and leadership training for men, women and youth, publication of discipleship materials, Bible distribution, film ministry, mercy ministries to widows and orphans, and microenterprises that help release the pastor for greater ministry. Each community where we serve has many needs. This has led us to help with water projects, orphanages, clinics, schools and various microenterprises. But we try to keep our focus on planting and strengthening churches.
As our skills develop, we hope to enlist other groups to serve in a similar fashion and train them for ministry. As our network of partners grows, we hope to solicit the help of those involved in water ministries, orphan ministries, church and school construction to come alongside us. In the rare cases we do start or assist in various other ministries, we will need a plan for the ministry to become self-supporting. We specifically do not want to be pulled away from our main mission of church planting and strengthening.
And there is more: God has provided another ministry on the other side of the world. Our church administrator, Pat Mamaclay, has helped in the development of the Hawaii Center for World Mission. He leads classes in training people about world missions, through a class called Kairos. Pat has now trained 262 people in these classes and they have gone to about ten different countries. Attached is a brochure that explains this ministry. As TCWM grows, we want to help Pat plant churches in the Philippines by sending church planting teams there. This year we helped start a church in one of the poorest areas of the Philippines.
Summary: Someone asked me recently how I would measure success in Uganda. This year for the first time we witnessed the Holy Spirit-driven growth of the indigenous church. It was so good to come and observe the Ugandan believers from our church plants go and plant churches on their own.
If you have any questions or desire additional information, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am very excited about this ministry and believe that we can build upon what was has already been accomplished. My motto at Trinity for the past ten years has been “Expect Great Things From God, Attempt Great Things For God.”