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Mission trip kicks off East Africa partnership
June 07, 2004
By David Roach
Four faculty members from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently took the inaugural mission trip in Southern’s three-year partnership with the Eastern Africa region of the International Mission Board.
The group traveled to Kampala, Uganda March 31-April 8 where they led conferences for pastors and their wives, conducted door-to-door evangelism, preached in local Baptist churches and spoke to a group of more than 3,000 university students.
The team from Southern, which worked in conjunction with IMB missionaries in Eastern Africa, included Thom Rainer, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth; Chuck Lawless, senior associate dean of the Graham School; John Ewart, associate vice president for distance education and innovative learning; and Twyla Fagan, director of Great Commission Ministries.
“This initial trip demonstrated to me the great receptivity to the Gospel in the world, even in some of the heavily-populated Muslim areas,” Rainer said. “I look forward to continuing this partnership, and particularly to returning to Uganda. There is so much more work that remains to be done.”
One of the most significant parts of the trip was seeing the Ugandan people respond to the Gospel, Lawless said. People in several villages committed their lives to Christ in response to the team’s evangelism, he said.
The spouses of Rainer, Lawless and Ewart made the trip and participated in the work.
“My wife and I began sharing the Gospel in a village, and the Ugandans quickly gathered their friends to listen,” Lawless said. “An 85-year-old Muslim invited us into his home and graciously listened to the story of Christ. A man walking through the streets heard the story and chose to follow Christ.
“... The missionaries are now following up and planning to start a Bible study in that village,” he said.
For Fagan, the trip demonstrated the hunger people in Uganda have for God’s Word.
“The pastors and pastors wives conferences were a wonderful experience,” Fagan said. “It was obvious that there is a great hunger for biblically-based evangelism, spiritual warfare and church growth in the greater evangelical community of Kampala. Church leaders came from many different denominations, and their desire to know how God’s Word impacts the day-to-day processes of their local ministries was significant.”
Rainer, Lawless and Fagan said that working with IMB missionaries was an inspiring reminder of the impact that fully committed Christians can have for the kingdom of God. Missionaries with whom the team worked included John and Rebecca Barnett; Frank and Jerry Anne Pevey; and David and Sandy Holt.
“One of the most impressive aspects of this trip was our IMB missionaries who serve in Uganda,” Rainer said. “Their commitment to sound biblical missions among the Ugandans no matter what the cost was an inspiration to me.”
A recent medical emergency illustrated the Barnett’s commitment to missions, Lawless said.
“Recently, John and Rebecca’s two-year old daughter became ill on the field and had to be transported back to the States for medical care,” Lawless said. “I asked John if he ever thought about just staying in the States after his daughter recovered. Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, ‘No. In fact my biggest fear was that God would not let me come back to Uganda. I begged God to let me come back.’
“That kind of commitment to missions will change anybody,” Lawless said.
Southern continued its East Africa partnership this summer by sending three teams of faculty and students to Africa. All three teams traveled May 17-31. One traveled to Kenya, another to Tanzania and the third to Southern Sudan.