It has been sometime since my last newsletter and am so excited to share vision in this newsletter. Apart from the inconvenience that covid19 has caused, it has helped us a lot to evaluate our ministry, strategize and see how everything we have been doing connects together. So brace yourself for a slightly longer newsletter than the usual, I hope to share what we do, how we are doing it and ultimately why we do it. I hope sharing this will bring you closer to the in-workings of our work in Kaabong among the Dodoth and Ik people.
Our end in mind has always been to make disciples but overtime we realised in a least reached people with no churches, it was paramount that disciples be gathered into church communities to grow together, serve and celebrate Christ together as they seek to be a light to their communities. It is out of this realisation that we set out to catalyse for a church planting movement in Kaabong as we pray, preach, teach, equip, and name it.
For starters we have broken down Kaabong (which is 7224 square kilometres) into four areas; Lotim, Loleliya, Loyolo and Timu. Each area will have a team of a minimum of two team members which means we need eight missionaries to make this happen. Each of these teams has a house, a motorcycle and upkeep. A house and a motorcycle are provided by the organisation (FMT) through its support raising efforts, however the upkeep and ministry expenses for each individual missionary is raised by each individual missionary.
Each team is tasked to make disciples and plant churches in their area of designation. Our prayer and hope is these will be multiplying churches rather than single in-looking churches. And these are the means of grace we use to fulfill this objective.
For starters each team maps out and scouts their area to be conversant with the different small village towns especially since our strategy is focused on village towns. After a few months the team practically knows all or most of the towns in his area which can be potential towns for church plants.
Secondly we continually visit these towns seeking for friendships or persons of peace. It is at this point that we do prayer walks around the towns asking God for the town and its surrounding community and for a person of peace. We also show a Jesus film at this point in their local language. As we frequent this town, we also start seeking possible access ministry opportunities.
Thirdly; our hope and prayer from our continued visits is always for God to raise up one or two people who show interest in us and therefore welcome us into their community. It’s with these people that we start doing the Discovery bible study (DBS). We encourage them to invite their network of friends and relatives for the study. We do the DBS for as long as we start seeing obedience to Christ and his commands growing out of these people. DBS is aimed at obedience and not mere-ly acquiring biblical knowledge but how to actually obey what you are learning. The DBS model is made in such a way that it is supposed to multiply as the members grow in obedience. Usually some come up to actually learn how to lead the DBS groups and there it becomes a fire that cannot be stopped. The Timu team will also be attempting to do some bible translation since the Ik people don't have a bible in their own language.
Fourthly; it’s out of these obedient believers that have grown out of the discovery bible studies that a community church is planted. It’s out of this church plant that you now start addressing issues of the practise and doctrine of the church, the leadership of the church or the shelter of the church. Each of these are addressed in our other writings but they do raise tremendous challenges. For example how do you reconcile the Anglican Church practice with the biblical early church practice? Why is it important for the Karamajong to have actual physical church shelters especially against the back drop of the popular notion in mission today that is against church structures and often with good reason? What of issues of church discipline? I now can feel the stress and anxiety that Paul talked of having concerning the churches.
And finally on the Lotim team site, we are developing a site capable to do two more functions other than the accommodation of our team there. The first is to serve a function of being a pastor training centre/theological college to address the need for additional training and equipping for pastors/lay readers for the church plants. We are currently pursuing a theology education by extension (TEE) format which actually is a certificate program to address this need of additional pastor training. But we are also doing other extracurricular trainings and equipping to TEE. We prefer TEE because it trains the pastors on the job and therefore they are able to apply what they are learning as they study. It also doesn’t keep them away from their communities for long years of study since it happens where they are. And it’s affordable.
The second function we hope the site will serve is being the primary host of our mission exposure trips/programs and our missionary internship program which are both means that our mobilization arm of the organisation is using to raise awareness about missions as well as raise missionaries for the unreached peoples. While the Theological education by extension (TEE) is aimed at addressing the local pastor training and equipping, the mission exposure trips/program is aimed at raising mission awareness and missionary support teams for the work yet unfinished while on the other hand the missionary internship program (which was formerly called DTP) is a six month on the job missionary training aimed at equipping a prospective missionary candidate for his/her work before he/she is assigned to a team/area.
So where are we in this process; we are currently engaged in two of the four areas we have subdivided Kaabong into that is Lotim and Timu. We are so grateful that we were gifted with two sites by Africa Inland Mission (AIM) at Lotim and Timu. With your ever generous giving we have gone on to develop the Lotim site to include a new structure that serves as the living quarters. The Timu site on the other hand will house our Timu team. The Lotim team again with your generous giving was able to acquire a motorcycle and we are praying that by mid next year the Timu team can also have a motorcycle. Without a motorcycle, it is almost impossible to do our work here since the places/towns are so far apart.
We are now three missionaries engaging these two areas of Lotim and Timu. We are primarily stationed at Lotim as of present and occasionally will be at Ti-mu until the close of next year when the Timu team will be fully established God willing.
We also continue to make mapping and scouting trips as we continue to grow conversant with the different towns and with Kaabong district as a whole.
There are also three discovery bible study (DBS) groups going on currently in three towns of Narogos, Lotim and Kathile. We hope to start three more before the year end in three towns of Kalapata, Mulokule and Nalegapark. One of these; Kathile was already a church with a shelter (one of the three Anglican churches in the whole district of 7224 square kilometres, we always thought there were more two but as we have done our scouting we have realised the others were in name only).
We are in the process of establishing two church plants in Narogos and Lotim. We are in the process of acquiring a piece of land for the Lotim church with a half a million remaining. On the other hand we are still in the early discussions for the piece of land for Narogos church plant but it seems there is a possibility of a free piece of land given by the community to house the church shelter. For Kalapata and Naregapark, there are already pieces of land at the disposal of the church to use.
In summary of where we are at; two areas engaged, two sites, one bike, three missionaries, three DBS groups, two church plants.
As you can see there is still so much to do to see churches raise up among the Dodoth and Ik people that comprise Kaabong district. But at the same time there is so much to thank God for the progress of this work.
We really thank God for the people he has surrounded us with, people who have prayed for us, encouraged us, walked with us and generously gave to this work in one way or the other. Many of whom are reading this right now, you are as part of this work as us on the frontline in every way.