Sunday, February 10, 2013

Catching Fire!

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Yesterday afternoon and evening we watched as a bushfire, which was started somewhere up the valley/wetland beyond the Timothy Centre property, steadily made its way towards us…consuming the scrub trees and grasses along the way.  In this hot, dry season, the wetland is not very ‘wet’ and the vegetation burns like tinder once one of these fires gets out of control.  By nightfall it was burning quite furiously within 6 feet of our guesthouse complex fence line below our housing.  We were praying it would not damage the crops and houses of the villagers living across the valley from us, nor come any closer to our housing or damage our apiary in the wetland bush area.  Thankfully, by 10:00 p.m. it quite suddenly died down and burned itself out.

As we were watching how quickly and steadily fire can move, I was reminded of several other things that are ‘catching fire’ here in our ministry in Uganda.  We had just returned from 3 days in Kampala where Carina, Margo and a small team from Timothy Girls’ High School were promoting the school with hopes of recruiting new students for the Senior 5 class that will begin later this month.  It has been a slow process building a student body in the initial years of the school, as parents/guardians are hesitant to register their girls in a new school without a ‘proven track record’.  However, as Carina and her team set up an information table in one of the shopping malls in the city on Thursday, they found that many people showed a strong interest in a Christian school like TGHS that catered specifically to girls.  Hundreds of brochures were taken and lots of questions were asked and answered….and our headmistress, Evacy, told me last evening that she was fielding many calls from interested parents.  Some have already registered and we expect many more this week as a result of the promotions. 

The Christian Schools Association (Uganda), of which our schools are founding members, has also experienced a new fire of enthusiasm and support recently, as several new members have joined the leadership committee, people with a burning desire to see Christian education really take off in Uganda and be a leading force in transforming society.  These are people with sharp minds, solid experience, a deep love for the Lord, and energy and vision to move things forward.  One such man, Adonia, is a teacher and pastor who came to visit me in my office on Tuesday.  He told me his story of growing up in a poor family that could not afford to send him to secondary school once he completed his primary studies.  With the Lord’s help, he decided to teach himself the secondary school curriculum using borrowed notes from friends who attended school.  After four years of self-study, he challenged the government secondary school final exams and passed.  He went on to complete a certificate in primary teacher training, upgraded to a diploma and has since completed a university degree.  He pastors a church, teaches in a government school, started a Christian school that his wife now heads, and some years ago established a Christian teachers association in the Masaka area.  He heard about our teacher training course at Timothy Centre and asked to enrol.  I explained that the first module has already been completed in January, and that because it is the foundation for the subsequent modules, we don’t normally accept new enrolments part way through the course.  He asked if he could borrow a copy of the student notes and resource books from the January module, study on his own, and complete all the assignments and hand them in by the end of February.  He said if we were satisfied that he had completed the module well, he would like to enrol the second module with the rest of the class in May.  How could I say no to determination like that?  He then came to our Christian Schools Association committee meeting in Kampala on Friday and has already committed to mobilising schools in his area to host a national  conference workshop in Mbarara in May.  This man is on fire!

We have also been very encouraged by reports from teachers who attended our January training and have already started training other staff members.  One group of nine teachers and administrators from Bushfire Ministries (great name!) in a remote area east of Kampala joined our first year class and felt the training was so helpful that every teacher in their schools should receive it.  They asked permission to take materials back with them and devised a plan for teaching the module on weekends throughout the first term of school to their staff members who were not able to attend in January.  Another group of Christian schools with campuses in Kampala and Mbarara has fourteen teachers and administrators in our first and second year class and they have initiated a plan for each of these staff members to systematically pass on what they have been learning to the other staff members in the various schools.  They are in a 3 week time of prayer and fasting that this vision for biblically based teaching will take off in their schools.
In our own schools in Kibaale we now have teachers who are coaching others in the things they have learned as well. This has been our vision for teacher training at the Timothy Centre—the passing on of what we have been entrusted with to faithful Ugandan teachers who can then train others in Christian education to change the nation.  (2 Timothy 2:2) 

The fire has started!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Arleen, that is a great report...both TGHS and the teacher training...very exciting times!!