A Foundation for Transformation: Rural Education & Empowerment Program

Posted by on Aug 19, 2015 in Featured, Field Updates, REEP | 2 comments

A Foundation for Transformation: Rural Education & Empowerment Program
On the road to Alero Camp Trauma Counseling

On the road to Alero Camp Trauma Counseling

The Macedonian call in Acts 16:9… “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Amos 8:11… “A famine in the land for hearing the Words of the Lord”

Matthew 28:19… “Go… and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

We begin by heading into village after village, hidden deep in the African “bush” where teaching never reaches and missionaries don’t travel for they are “remote” and isolated by impassable roads.  But precious lives live there – waiting to hear the Gospel, waiting for truth, waiting for life.  “Can we hear more of those stories,” they plead, when they hear even a few Bibles in their own languages on our audio players.

Who will go? “Here I am send me.” These are the answers from our faithful African leadership team, who are willing to go, to live simply, to take risks, to deliver the captives, and to feed the spiritually hungry.

A Macedonian Call

Sometimes the Macedonian call pulls in prayer in one direction or another, and at other times we look at our large maps on the wall of our “war room,” where we meet to pray and to plan Kingdom strategies.

“These areas have not yet been reached,” one of our leaders may say, “And the need is great. There are few believers, no churches, and spiritual darkness is worsening. We must go.”

So we pray. We see which villages around that point could be brought together for discipleship, in order to best maximize the team’s effort in covering that rural spot.

Two team leaders finally set out by motorbike. Muddy, remote roads, little bush pathways, goat trails, rugged mountainsides, jungle terrain, may not be the best way for the vehicles to go, but our motorbikes can travel roads that Land Cruisers can’t reach.

Upon arrival in the area, our leaders locate the “person of peace” who made the “Macedonian call” in prayer or who heard about the Bibles, the revival, the prayer, and the training and begged for us to come. We gather together with any believers in the area and begin to pray. Late nights find the team around the little village campfire sitting with families and a chief or tribal leader, listening to their stories, their burden for their community, their challenges, and their struggle with darkness and often with occult and witchcraft practices that continue to debilitate forward progress. They beg for the truth to come and for Bibles to be brought, for they have heard that we have the Word that will change lives and set people free.

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We conclude these meetings by agreeing with the believers and leaders on the place and time to begin the training, and we make our plans to return again soon with “forerunners” who will stay on the ground, praying and gathering the people together to benefit from the equipping.

Abuzz with Excitement!

As our leaders return home, the village is abuzz with excitement! The community begins humming with the news –“The teachers are coming! They’re coming to us! And they’re bringing information that will change us and help us grow.” Places are prepared for our team to stay, a location is identified for the school to take place, and the villagers begin spreading the word excitedly.

Cosmas talks with Pastor Bobson explaining the portable Bible school program.

Cosmas talks with Pastor Bobson explaining the portable Bible school program.

Back in Gulu our team leaders, having already identified community needs and completed spiritual mapping of the area, begin to make further preparations, covering the mission in prayer.

A week or two later, they send the “forerunners” to return to the community, arriving a week ahead of official outreach “start date.” These workers go door to door cover the area in prayer, win the lost the Lord, find the ladies who will help cook the meals, locate where the team leaders will sleep during the two-month outreach, and encourage the local believers to bring others to the training.

Preparing for the Harvest

As the ground and the hearts are prepared in prayer, encouragement, evangelism, and vision sharing (Hosea 10:12), the team also begins to mobilize children for the kids camp, youth for the youth discipleship and weekend sports outreaches, women for the women’s empowerment program, and those needing trauma counseling for the morning classes. The community is also made aware of the medical health training that will be provided twice a week and its location.

Alero Camp Trauma Counseling

Alero Camp Trauma Counseling

Everyone is told, and word of mouth is the fastest way for the news to spread. You would be amazed at how rapidly one village gets the word to another, and one lady at the well spreads the word to all the ladies carrying water, or one child runs and tells another 20 or 50 while playing with them, all in just one day!

The people arrive in excitement on the first day of training! Morning sessions have already taken place under another mango tree, teaching community health and disease prevention, mother and child health, and how to do simple first aide in case of emergencies. This class is taught on Mondays and Fridays. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings Trauma Counseling sessions are held for youth, men, and women from all walks of life. We have shared, “If anyone has anger, unforgiveness, nightmares, bitterness, or depression – please come, this is for you.” And they come! Dozens attend the small groups under the trees those three mornings a week and play games, laugh, listen, learn, and begin to forgive. Restoration comes and hearts are healed, and they don’t even realize it’s happening!

After villagers finish their lunches around their own home fires, they come in the afternoons for the Bible training classes. This is real school, they are told, and in fact it is the only school many of them will ever go to. Seated under the mango tree on mats or squeezed onto little wooden benches, they listening intently and eagerly. They absorb the Word as dry sponges soak up water, filling up with the truth about evangelism, discipleship, holy living, baptism, church leadership, raising Godly families, the power of prayer, forgiveness, character, and knowing God as Father, Jesus as Savior and the Holy Spirit as teacher and so much more!

Though most of them can’t read, they cherish their workbook, holding onto it as if you had just given them a precious treasure. They know they can find someone in the village to read, and that person will read aloud and tell them what’s in the book.

Renewal on Every Level

Alero Camp Trauma Counseling

Alero Camp Trauma Counseling

Day after day for two months this continues, and the classes grow as others hear of the truths being shared. As each day ends with lessons of fresh and uncompromised truth taught from the Word of God, it is water and food to their thirsty and hungry hearts. The students break into pairs and are sent two-by-two to spend an hour or more doing door-to-door witnessing, as they learn how to boldly share their faith with others and pray for people at their point of need. It’s a powerful time, and the testimonies pour in of life changes and transformation.

Door to door evangelism.

Door to door evangelism.

Weekends are filled with sports for the youth: football games followed by the stories of Jesus’ love for them, giving them an opportunity to find a Savior and find a Father, who loves them dearly.

The Favor football team prepars to for a sports outreach game.

The Favor football team prepars to for a sports outreach game.

Women gather on Saturday mornings and, after learning about prayer, having a devotional, and sharing with one another, they begin forming their co-op. This will be their own group to choose the project they want to do to generate more family income, learn to save and reinvest, learn about the power of giving and tithing, and learn another skill to teach their children.

A women's empowerment group meets to choose leaders for a piggery project.

A women’s empowerment group meets to choose leaders for a piggery project.

The men that are eager to plant churches, knowing God has called them to lead and shepherd others, also need to find an income and trade that will help them support their families. They, too, gather together and form a co-op to begin a project that can increase and multiply their own family income. Co-ops allow teamwork and the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas, resources, efforts, and talents until the groups’ income begins to grow. Then each member earns a percentage that they in turn can use to facilitate their own personal project.

After school every day children walk several kilometers from the nearest village school – if they have one – to attend Vacation Bible Club. During these times, they learn a Bible lesson from the printed stories for children, have a memory verse to learn, pictures to color, and something to take back home and share with their parents. Most of the children attending our afternoon children’s clubs receive Jesus as their Savior, and so many of them bring their parents to “come and find what they have found,” and they too meet Jesus!

Children's mailbox club.

Children’s mailbox club.

On Friday nights, we hang a bed sheet from the mango tree and pull out our little movie projector for the Jesus film, or a children’s Bible story in their own language. It’s movie night out under the stars and – better than popcorn and soda, plush seats and entertainment – hearts are hearing the powerful message of the undying, selfless love of our Redeemer that was demonstrated for each one of them in everything He did! They realize the value of their own lives- precious treasures in the hands of a Living God, and they come, back to the Father who formed them, to find in Him a healer, a Savior, a Deliverer, a Comforter, a Friend, a Father, a Teacher, their all in all.

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Miracles in Action

This is why we’re here. This is the power of the Gospel in action and this is living and heavenly food to the hungry and life to the dying. This is the most fulfilling thing we could ever see, the most rewarding to ever be a part of… There are no words that can ever explain the power of a transformed heart and just how that transformation takes place. It’s a miracle in action, every single time. What a sight we miss witnessing, when we miss the true witness of His Word to contain it all – every answer to every need, for every person, at any time, and in every place of the world. There is no color, race, education, belief, class, culture, or tongue that is not just as valuable as the next, when we all meet one another at the foot of the cross of Jesus.

This life-giving flow goes like a stream through the village, running its course daily. As the school continues with training under the trees, transformation in the hearts, and eyes open to see hidden riches of a new Kingdom that all be a part of, people are daily saved, daily healed, daily delivered from witchcraft and darkness, and daily growing in heart transformation and healing.

On Sundays, the gathering of believers grows. Water baptism takes place. If a river is there, it’s used. If not, our team makes a makeshift trough, and one after the other men, women, and children, following Jesus in baptism, as they testify of their new-found love.

Baptism ceremony for new believers. Nebbi Church Opening.

Baptism ceremony for new believers. Nebbi Church Opening.

Graduation Day

At the end of two full months, with more miracles to witness than can be documented, it’s time for the celebration. Goats are killed and families are all invited, for this is the first chance most men and women have ever had to be a “graduate.”

The morning of the big day, there is a Jesus march with loud singing and praising all through the village as they play loud drums and traditional harps. They are dressed in their best, as the students, youth, children, and teachers, all arrive at the spot in the village chosen for the day’s celebration.

Jesus march to the portable Bible school graduation site. PBS Pader Graduation.

Jesus march to the portable Bible school graduation site. PBS Pader Graduation.

There is time for powerful sharing of testimonies, salvations, and physical and emotional healing – all answers to prayer for the transformation of lives and hearts that have happened over these last 2 months.

A Precious WORD

As the Word is shared once again and the graduation celebration continues, many others who came to witness such a joyous occasion for a family member but have never heard the Gospel message, give their lives to Jesus.

Certificates are given as the graduates’ names are called one by one. They come to the front of the seated crowd, dancing, clapping, and hollering with joy at their achievement. Friends and family clap and shout with them. Along with their certificate, they are given a brand new Bible in their own language. Every graduate receives a Bible in his or her own language. Most of the students have picked up literacy just by going through the discipleship. Others have taken the literacy class offered in the morning – learning to read with phonics and then using the Bible as their first reader.

Portable Bible school graduates holding certificates.

Portable Bible school graduates holding certificates.

For almost all of them, this is the first time in their lives they have owned a Bible of their own. They scream, some weep, some dance and jump up and down, and the crowd goes wild with them. Some of them fall to their knees as they take God’s Word in their hands – and opening up the pages, they run their fingers over the Bible, weeping for joy. They hold it up in the air, absolutely overjoyed at this Book of Life, healing and hope that actually belongs to them! What a celebration!

Ecstatic to receive her very own Bible!

Ecstatic to receive her very own Bible!

There are no human words that can describe this open and abandoned joy with childlike and uninhibited expressions of emotion of absolute gratitude. They hug you till you almost fall down, throw their arms around one another, and laugh as they dance! I can only imagine the angel’s joy must be even more, and what a scene that must be!! I would live a thousand lives just to witness this – what a harvest and with them, the Father dances!! (Luke 15:10)

A Multiplying WORD!

These are the most radical, excited, equipped and empowered laborers who will now go win others with the same message. They will run with the truth.

Those that are eager for more training will come to our Bible school campus. Others will begin to lead home groups and Bible studies under the trees or in the village market places. Others will take the Bible to the closest little school and begin to teach the children. Some will plant a church and start a growing fellowship of new believers. But all will now take action, not just equipped with truth that is new and life changing to them, but challenged to now act on the very truth they’ve heard.

For they have heard, what profit is this information, if it doesn’t bring transformation? Real change in my life and in theirs? In yours and in your children? The Word mixed with faith and action is the greatest agent of transformation in the world and all from the inside out.

Church plant in Palabek.

Church plant in Palabek.

These churches are the ones multiplying every few months. II Timothy 2:2 catches fire on it’s own. “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And thus, the story goes on, and on, and on… and will, until His glory covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Concerning the photo in the “Touching Every Area of Community Life” email – Really?!! The men are all sitting on chairs, while the women are sitting on the ground?! The men should be taught to value women and to give them the more comfortable seats.

  2. am (Evangelist Ayiiko Nathaniel Chuol Ador, in South Sudan juba) has the feeling on the statues of the same situation which was facing by the fellow er christian in Uganda is as now now in my country south Sudan and cry to your mission to reach.

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