Profile: Soapbox – Shaun and Kathy Murphy

I first met Shaun at our annual Gateway Conference (gatewayconference.org.uk), held in Portsmouth. My Pastor, Dan Harman (City Life Church), had been on a Soapbox mission trip to Nepal, in his younger days, so met Shaun and become good friends during that time. When I had my start date confirmed for my new job, I knew I had two months I could use to invest my skill set in the developing world. Shaun and Kathy stepping in and were able to organise me this trip with very little notice. Most other organisations could do something so last minute (some request you apply six months before, others up to a year!). I don’t disagree with the time they ask for (leaves plenty of time for organisation and training), but it wasn’t working in my favour this time around.
Soapbox is already well respected amongst the people I’m working with, so that gives a little credibility starting off as well, rather than being completely unknown.

I am very grateful for the hard work and speedy organisation that have enabled me to be hear serving with New Life, The Baptist Union of Uganda and PDN. If your interested in finding out more about SoapBox, short term mission trips, or the umbrella organisation Act4Africa (Act4Africa.org), check out the SoapBox website: soapboxtrips.org

Profile: Pastors Discipleship Network (PDN)

The Pastors Discipleship Network (PDN) is based about midway between Seta (where I live), and New Life Baptist Church (in Kireka). They have about seven members of staff who work here running the network, organising the conferences, putting together the training, and many other things. Patrick looks after the place, and lives next door (he’s one of my favourite* people).
There are also regional directors who look after the organisation side of things (transport, communication, venues) for the conferences and training events that happen in the region. This is essential, as the team from the base in in Kampala will travel many hours to host the regional conferences (I’m attending one in early October that is 7 hours away, in Soroti).

One of my favourite things here at PDN is the library – we have a wealth of resources that any Pastor/Teacher would be at home in! I can live without the internet for writing my sermons when I have a library of 500+ books at my disposal… So I made good use of that in preparation for my message on Sunday.

The space here at PDN is great, but its not suitable for hosting large groups, and they still have to rent out venues in order to host there local conferences. Part of the vision is for a training centre to be built on a plot of land near the office. This will reduce the costs of running their events here in Kampala, and also allow them to accommodate more pastors who are hungry to learn from Gods word.

For more information of PDN, check out: pdnafrica.org, PDNAfrica on facebook, or @PDNAfrica on twitter.

*Patrick is a trained gourmet chief, and he cooks lunch for everyone, everyday…

Profile: Moses Okudu

After Pastor Peter expressed an interest in Business Training I send a few emails and arranged a meeting with Moses. Moses is the Executive Director of the Business Development Center (see bdcuganda.com), here in Uganda.

Previously Moses worked for Feed the Hungry International, and was part of the Transforming Nations Alliance. Through that organisations like his we’re partnering to equip communities to be self sustaining after a natural disaster. Commonly they were finding that five years after the national disaster, countries were showing positive signs of recovery. At that point, the organisations assistance would start to withdraw, giving the country its independence. Unfortunately, with that, left a large proportion of the skills and talent that was facilitating the change. When revisiting projects years later they found that the country was in a worst state than when they first arrived.

The real need was in equipping the local church with the skills needed to rebuild a city. To leave the skills behind with the people to enable them to rebuild their lives.

A few years later, and this developed into The Business Development Center, whose focus is on training and equipping people with a Kingdom understanding of business, and the practical skills required to help them succeed in their venture.

The foundation of a city Is built on Business, and too long have we as the church focused our efforts on other areas, neglecting this sector. It’s believed that 90% of business here in Uganda is controlled by Muslims. Why? When the Christian missionaries first arrived they invested time and money in education, government and building church (all good things), but neglected business. When Islam arrived the only place they could grow in was by carrying on with the skill set they had, as traders.

The church historically has had a very negative theology of work and business (which I shall explore in a future post). Moses is working to change this view, as a partner of CMS Africa, and hopefully (only time will tell) as a partner of the Baptist Union of Uganda.

Profile: James – Church Administrator

I’ve been working closely with James this week, he works as the church administrator at New Life Baptist Church, and has been showing me how to get around, where everything is, and helping the church get the most out of me during my time here. Outside of church work he runs an organisation called H.O.M.I. (Hope for the Marginalised International – see homiuganda.org). Part of his work is connected with Samaritans Purse and he’s involved in delivery shoe boxes that so many people kindly package up every year. I’ve seen the large packing boxes they arrived in, and he took me on a visit to a school where they were delivered to the kids. Previously he has been involved with various NGOs including the Ugandan Red Cross.

Profile: Pastor Peter Mugabi

Pastor Peter is very work know. He started as the pastor of New Life Baptist Church, and now works as the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Uganda, overseeing 2000 church’s across Uganda. We met and had a good discussion about our future relationship. He’s very keen that this isn’t a once off trip, and that we start small by focusing on New Life Church, and then in future widen the scope to the other church’s he over sees, which is really exciting. He’s also keen for me to bring a team with me at some point to minister in Uganda, and also to organise to Ugandans to come here on mission. A very exciting opportunity, which I’m sure we will explore further when I do some work with them later in my trip.
His vision for the Baptist Union has two strands, one is in the work they are currently doing, supporting the local ministers. The second a more business perspective, which would then fund the work they are doing. He wants to see the local church forming credit unions, and putting away small amounts of money so they have finances available to lend, and then teaching entrepreneurial skills and using the credit unions to support the starting of businesses. I think the aim is the church comes in like an investor, with the startup capital, that allows the business to grow and find its feet. Then the dividend paid enable it to help more people start them own enterprises, buying cars for taxi services, or animals for farmyards. Whatever the enterprise in the church becomes a central point that facilitates that changes and lifts people out of poverty and into independence. He saw his church’s becoming providers, and then he would be able to facilitate get the product to market, with 2k churches involved, you could create a pretty good supply, and start looking at some bigger distribution platforms.

Profile: Gerald – Elder

Gerald is one of the six elders here at New Life Baptist Church, he became a Christian in primary school. He used to board, and one of the teachers would take students to church on the Sunday. At first he went along as a good excuse to get out of school for the day, but after a while he found Jesus and couldn’t keep away! He completed a degree in Telecommunications Engineering and is now working for one of the biggest networks in Uganda MTN (I decided not to mention the slow service at the help centres!), as an engineer.

He has a big heart for culture change and sees the local church as the best facilitator to do that.

Profile: Mummy Richmond aka Mummy Andy aka Antonia

Mummy Richmond has six children, who are all over the place. Richmond is one of them, who of course leaders New Life Baptist, directs the Pastors Discipleship Network (PDN), and is a spokes person for Compassion. One of her other sons, Richard, is currently in the UK working as an Associate Pastor for a church in Gloucester, married to an Italian lady. Mummy says the chocolate ice cream in Italy is the best, here it’s not so good. Her sister is a high court judge in Uganda. Mummy runs a shop about 10 minutes walk from the house, which sells dresses. She’s has decided that she will be my new mummy, and because her name begins with the same two letters, she has more of a right than my actually mum (Linda). But she did offer Pastor Richmond as an exchange. . . So that’s why she’s also known as Mummy Andy, but I think that’s only to me.

Profile: Arthur – Youth Pastor

Arthur works part-time for New life Baptist Church as the Youth Pastor. He’s also in the process of developing his replacements in the worship team, where he has previously led worship for the church. The rest of his working time is taken up as a TV Presenter for the national broadcasters. Arthur does two shows, the first is a story time, the second is pretty awesome. Kathmandu is a big place, and children can often get separated from their families and unable to return. Arthur takes children who have become lost, and uses TV as a medium to help reconnect them with their families. The success rate is about 50%, which I thought was pretty impressive, and a great practical mission.

Arthurs parents died when he was in his early teens, and at a similar time he met Richmond (now Pastor Richmond), was invited along to church and shortly after gave his life to the Lord. Mummy Richmond (or Mummy Andy as she now likes to be called), took him in and he became part of their family. He continues to live with Mummy Richmond, where I am also staying for the first part of my trip, in Bajjo ku majani (Bajjo is the area, and ku majani means “near the tea”, because the land used to be a tea plantation).

Arthur has a big heart for the youth of Uganda (here youth refers to age 14-30ish), he’s 34 himself so just moved out of that category, but the population of Uganda is one of the youngest, with approximately 60% of the population being under 34.

He’s in love with a beautiful American girl from Ohio called Bekah, who’s been in Uganda for just over a year and is now working with a great ministry in the process of being a NGO (Non-Govermental Organisation) that works with young girls stuck in sex trade.

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