“From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshippers, the daughter
of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering.” Zephaniah 3:10 (ESV)
Our God indeed is doing a great work beyond the rivers of Cush (Nile), as the church in Uganda and East Africa continues to grow. As the church grows, so does the opportunity to see the fatherless brought into healthy families and to see families not creating orphans. And healthy families need healthy churches which need healthy and thoroughly equipped pastoral leadership!
Sadly, the majority of village pastors have been thrust into ministry with little experience, little Biblical knowledge, and lots of bad theology! Most do not have the equivalent of a high school education and all have very little opportunity to receive ministry training of any kind. The need is great…but God is greater.
Each month, pastors from around Nakaseke District and beyond converge at our Pastoral Training Institute, a hidden gem of New Hope Uganda. Our current 14 students began their first session in May as strangers, but over the coming months and years they will become a tight-knit family.
The pastors gather during the first week of every month for an intense week of classroom and practical study. The facilitators (Paul Kusuubira and Keith McFarland) selected this schedule so that the pastors would not be away from their families and churches for a large chunk of time. It also helps provide the pastors with time to reflect on, process, and apply what they have learned.
The Pastoral Training Institute (PTI) provides a holistic approach to pastoral and ministry training, addressing both the spiritual and physical needs of the pastors, their families, churches, and communities. The course runs for three years, the first laying foundations in worldview/culture, the Gospel, manhood, womanhood, marriage, and family. The second year is Biblical studies and preaching/discipleship, and the third year focuses on the church, community, and church multiplication.
Throughout the course, there is also an emphasis on and training in “family-based agriculture & animal husbandry.” The 15-acre PTI farm also serves as a macro-farm for what pastors and families are taught to do on a smaller level using local materials and the man-power of the members of a family.
From poultry and pigs to coffee, fruit and wood trees, from bananas to agriculture and agri-business, PTI is helping pastors to not only provide for their families, but also to impact their communities.
One of the pastors in the current class is Patrick, along with his wife Stella who grew up as a daughter of New Hope. Patrick has served as an associate pastor at a church in the nearby town for the past three years. He said that the only training he has received so far has been from activities at his church. Patrick said he saw a difference in Paul and Keith, and he expected to be different as a result of his time at PTI as well.
Another student heard about PTI just two weeks before the first session started. He came from a district over two hours away and has already said that PTI is an answer to his prayers. Another pastor just showed up on the first day of class to take part, and the next month he brought a friend with him!
Paul first envisioned beginning a training program for pastors when he attended the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family in 2006 led by Keith. Paul had already planted a church in Kiruuli, a town about eight miles from the Kasana Children’s Centre. In his networking with pastors, he witnessed firsthand how much they needed good Biblical training. The first class began in March 2010, and the second class graduated in November 2015.
Over the years they have learned that one key expectation is that the pastors build strong and intentional personal and discipleship relationships with people in their congregations. Everything they learn must be immediately passed on, beginning right with the sharing of their own personal stories.
This was modelled for the pastors by Paul and Keith at the beginning of the course, and that set the stage for a lot of deep sharing, tears, and much rejoicing at God’s abundant grace poured out in all their lives. From seeing the pain and brokenness in many of the pastor’s stories, Paul said he couldn’t wait to see how Jesus would work to redeem their hearts over the coming months!
Laying a foundation of openness and safety helps the class become a united family early on. Paul related a story of how at the second session last month, one of the pastors expressed concern that another had not arrived for the training. If the issue had been financial, he wanted to help!
Biblical pastoring is like caring for sheep, Paul said. It’s not glamorous work, it’s often dirty and smelly. But it’s worth it, because it follows the pattern of the Good Shepherd. That is the goal which PTI endeavors to envision and equip its pastor students to carry out!
Please be praying for this new class, as they continue bonding together and exploring God’s Word over the coming months.
Please also pray for God’s continued provision for PTI. The biggest challenge faced currently is water. Thankfully there is a well on site where water can be hand pumped into containers, but there is no running water.
Text by Keith McFarland and Esther Carey
Photos by Esther Carey,