"God requires animal sacrifices to atone for sin."
"The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are two different Gods."
"God’s main mission is for His people to prosper, and you can purchase this benefit through financial contributions to organizations bearing “Christian” in the name, particularly mine."
These are the heresies that African pastors claiming to represent Jesus often proclaim.
To make things worse, often these confused, but sincere, immature believers have no idea that following Jesus means they can abandon the self-promoting, dog-eat-dog, status-grabbing, social-ladder-climbing influences of their culture.
In a culture where jobs and education aren’t readily available, the vast majority live as impoverished “nobodies.”
As a result, being known as a pastor is a desirable thing. Many pastors have power with no accountability; people believe and do what they say as if it was straight from God.
A pastor has a title; he’s somebody and he has a whole church of people who follow him - and pay him regularly - to prove it. He has a white collar career. He is credited with having a skill set that did not require the hurdles, of the cost and availability, of a formal education.
99.9% of pastors in Africa can't afford a formal education.
Tragically, many use their titles to garner power, manipulate and get wealthy. An African pastor feels pressure to maintain his power, his title, his mystique, and often uses prosperity preaching to do so.
Without Biblical guidance - or sometimes, without even a Bible of their own - there’s no reason to doubt the beliefs you’ve held all your life and the behaviors of those around you.
So cultural beliefs go unchallenged, and lives are unchanged. Jesus comes alongside “the ancestors” as a viable source of power, but practices stay the same. When kids get sick, parents still turn to witch doctors.
When asking Jesus doesn’t result in met needs and desires, many will ask the ancestors, too.
We see similar situations throughout churches all over Africa. This heretical teaching, leading to unchanged lives, is the reason that countries like Uganda - where 80% of the population believes they are “Christian”- continue to be overrun by the sad social issues that are the consequences of godless living.
ITMI partner, Muhindo Kawede with his wife Lillian and 4 of their 5 daughters.
ITMI’s Muhindo Kawede, who often goes by just “Kawede”, is passionate about helping African pastors by providing them with Biblical leadership training.
He founded the International School of Missions (ISM) in outside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to meet this great need.
The new-but-still-under-construction facility of ISM.
The challenge he constantly runs into, though, is that 99.9% of African church leaders and pastors can’t afford to pay tuition for any type of training. So given the choice to deny them the training or provide it in any way possible, Kawede choses to provide it in any way possible.
That often means the school can’t afford to pay him, and certainly not what he could be bringing home. And he has five children to support.
When students come to the International School of Missions, they often do so hand-to-mouth, not sure how they’ll cover living expenses. Many don’t have a place to stay or surety that they will have the next meal. Sometimes, they sleep in the ISM classrooms.
Because the conditions are tough, so is graduating.
But even when they don’t graduate, what they learn during their time at ISM is enough to radically impact the way they understand the Bible.
Steve Evers and Muhindo Kawede at an ISM graduation.
For example, ITMI partner, Jahim Buli, who God is currently using to accomplish great things in South Sudan, was a student at ISM for a year.
While a student at ISM, he lived in a storeroom. After about a year, Jahim was unable to continue school, but took what he’d learned back to South Sudan, where he is leading like a servant and training other pastors using the well-proven S.A.L.T. material.
ITMI partner, Jahim, equips pastors in South Sudan with the S.A.L.T. material.
Taking it to the Bush
More recently though, when ISM had a break between semesters, Kawede demonstrated his passion for equipping pastors Biblically. He could have used the month off to work a side job. He could have spent time with his family. He could have rested like he should.
Kawede teaches "Portable Bible School" under a blue tarp in the middle of a field.
Instead, Kawede set up a “Portable Bible School” in a remote area of Mbarara, around 200 miles southwest of Kampala. He raised the money to fund the travel himself.
No nearby hotels. No electricity. Toilets that were, well, challenging. This 30 day project was wrought with roadblocks that would have turned back anyone other than those compelled by a calling from on high.
At the start, the pastors in the area seemed more intent on boosting their own value through social climbing and boasting the completion of any kind of training than knowing the Bible.
They started by bickering over whose land the school should be held on, each hoping to be considered more important than the others.
But after a month of patient and repetitious teaching from Kawede defining, re-defining, explaining, contextualizing and re-explaining real salvation, his forbearing labor of love bore real fruit.
Students arrive at the rural location of the "Portable Bible School."
5 Unexpected Results of the Portable Bible School
1. As they realized their identity in Christ had already been secured, they no longer needed to boost their own status.
2. Many repented of believing in their works to earn and maintain God’s favor.
3. Some of the pastors made a decision to attend ISM.
4. Seventeen of the pastors were saved, and 2 additional people received Christ at the graduation ceremony.
5. The people of Mbarara were touched by the fact that Kawede and ISM cared enough about their knowledge of Christ to bring it to them.
They expressed their gratitude through gifts. Chickens, millet and rice might not seem like much to some, but to these subsistence village dwellers, it may have been their next meal. Kawede even left with $9 toward ISM’s building fund.
Two of the many locals who came to see the students graduate became believers!
Portable Bible School graduates await to hear from Muhindo Kawede one more time at the graduation ceremony.
Muhindo Kawede confers a graduation certificate.
Proud and grateful graduates of the Portable Bible School.
ISM would greatly benefit if even just 10 of us would help sponsor one pastor for the fall 2015 semester. Anyone interested can change a church and the people in Uganda for just $226 per term (3 terms/yr).
Want to be an agent of change in Uganda?
Want to partner with Kawede and ISM to end heretical preaching and practices in Ugandan and African churches, one by one?
Want to help African pastors preach good news instead of oppressive cultural practices and heresy?
Kawede and ISM are being faithful with what little they have. Let’s help them multiply the good work they are doing by helping some pastors receive the equipping they need.
Summer Kelley is a writer who lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband and three kids. Thanks to the honor and privilege of telling ITMI's stories since 2006, she's an accidental "mission report specialist." When she’s not writing or homeschooling, you can find her honing her skills as what some might call a "suburban survivalist" as she learns to thrive in the suburbs with 3 kids. As a productivity and organizing enthusiast, she may or may not spend hours attempting to use technology to "save time.” Summer loves reading, the outdoors and Coca-Cola Classic from the fountain.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.