This article was originally published in the March 2015 edition of ITMI Monthly.
What does ITMI’s Muhindo Kawede (“Kawede” as he is called by most) do with his “time off” between terms at the International School of Missions?
As the Director of the International School of Missions, his job of equipping pastors from all over Africa to lead God’s people Biblically is demanding.
He teaches classes. He takes the students to the streets of Kampala to share what they’ve learned about God in their studies. He manages finances and logistics. He oversees construction of school facilities.
He even makes bricks for the ISM facilities - something that’s unheard of for a “leader” in African culture.
ITMI's Muhindo Kawede
Muhindo Kawede making bricks.
If anyone deserves some rest and relaxation, it’s Kawede. (And no one is knocking rest. We all can - and should - rest when needed.)
But Kawede has a burning passion to train leaders to reach people for Christ. So Kawede uses the time between terms, 3 times per year, to head to rural villages where he addresses a great need by offering a “Portable Bible School.”
In Africa, if you have any kind of training that could be remotely valuable to someone, you leave your rural community and head for the nearest city to make money with your credentials.
This means rural areas are a complete vacuum for information, knowledge and experience of any kind. - medical, business, economic as well as spiritual.
This is true in the churches, too. Often the local leadership will be some combination of grinding a personal axe instead of truly leading people, jumping up and down with hype and emotion but no substance, or just putting Jesus’ name on practices that mirror the beliefs of the culture around them.
For example, in the rural area of Mabata, one of the big city “preachers” came to town and told the people they weren’t flourishing because “you don’t have anybody to pray for you and ask God to bless you. I’m here to fix that...for a price. Give me 6 cows and 10 goats and I will pray a prayer of blessing and this village will be blessed.”
So the people gave him the livestock, he prayed for his marks, then headed back to the city with his bounty. The village people don’t know any different.
So Kawede sleeps on a blanket-clad concrete floor for 4-5 weeks away from his family to bring Biblical truth to marginalized villagers.
ITMI Director, Steve Evers, called Kawede’s sacrifice an “impressive demonstration of Kawede’s self-less commitment to building the Kingdom of God."
During the Portable Bible Schools, Kawede teaches for 8 hours a day, in whatever conditions are available, to whoever from the village is interested. They come for varying reasons. Some to “go to school,” some to get a certificate of any kind, and others out of curiosity.
Sarah takes notes at a chapel service at a recent Portable Bible School in a village outside Entebbe, Uganda.
Children whose lives will be better, thanks to the truths people from their village were given at Portable Bible School.
But the result is that afterward, there are at least some people in the area who can help weed out heresy and superstition. There are some who know the basics of how to lead a church and are equipped to guide God’s people.
ISM’s mission is to equip leaders that can guide God’s people through the minefield of heresy and superstition that Africa’s people consistently encounter.
To produced leaders that know God’s Word and how to share it clearly. To equip pastors to lead from humility rather than the wielded strength of mystique and title. To produce shepherds that correctly interpret the Bible and its implications for God’s people.
ISM owns some land outside of Kampala, Uganda, where instruction takes place. Kawede is working to make ISM as self-sufficient as possible. Many ISM students have the opportunity to work the land and earn money for their studies in work-study programs planting plantains, corn or avocados on the ISM land.
Kawede wants them to learn to make a living, too, so they can pastor and make a living at the same time. He is continually setting the example of hard work for his students.
Land owned by the International School of Missions outside Kampala, Uganda.
Maize to be ground by ISM students for sale.
To enrich the resources of the school, Kawede shared his need and an ITMI supporter gave the funds to help him build a barn where the pigs would live.
So the workmen assembled the materials and began to build the structure. Kawede left for a Portable Bible School. When he returned 4-5 weeks later, the ISM students deeply felt they needed to provide a place for the new believers their street sharing had yielded - to grow, learn and be discipled.
ISM students lead the church in worship.
Kawede knows ITMI is always committed to using funds for the actual thing ITMI supporters believe they are giving to. He agonized over this decision, but in the end, he felt God leading him to convert the pig barn to a place where a church could meet.
Kawede has faithfully been working and guiding this ministry. He’s been hard at work, doing what God called him to. And the evidence shows that people are hungry for Jesus. You can’t stop it - and you wouldn’t want to try. When God decides to grow a thing - it grows, matures and bears fruit.
Last month, Steve preached in that dirt-floored woodshed they call a church. And if you peered through a wide gap between the rough beams, you would see that the space was almost filled with new believers, hungrily waiting to learn more about their Savior.
It won’t be long before this church outgrows the rough structure. Praise God!
Steve Evers preaching to the newly formed church that meets in the converted piggery.
These students are doing what they can - scrounging, working, scraping by - so they can be faithful to what God is calling them to do.
If just a few of you feel led to help Kawede with the tuition for even a couple students ($700ea./year) he could concentrate the school's resources on becoming more self-sustainable and equipping more pastors who can reach Africa for Him.
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.