by Summer Kelley
Would you visit a church that met in a piggery?
I'd certainly think twice about it.
Could that church feasibly expect to attract attendees from outside the faith? Other faiths?
The short answer is, yes. Keep reading to discover:
- Why a church would even meet where pigs used to live.
- 3 keys to the growth of the "piggery" church.
- The amazing growth rate of this unconventional church.
- What led to one woman's incredible change of heart.
Why Meet in a Piggery?
When ITMI's Muhindo Kawede went into the bush for 3 weeks during the International School of Missions' term break to provide a "Portable Bible School" for rural villages in Uganda, he returned to a surprise.
ISM students had been practicing what they learned about sharing Jesus and discipleship in the area around the school campus. But they felt the discipleship needs of the new believers included a church where they could grow.
The problem was, they didn't know of a church near enough that preached solid Biblical doctrine, as opposed to the prosperity gospel "movement" Kawede has been observing in his country.
So, they started a church in the only available structure on campus: the piggery.
They meet in a piggery because it's all they have.
How Does a Church That Meets in a Piggery Grow?
Well, first, move the pigs!
ISM's displaced pigs share space with the chickens.
Then, its a matter of 3 key things.
1.Go out into the neighborhood and share Jesus.
The ISM students continue to be in the neighborhood and share Jesus. It's what they're trained to do. But the school has also built a reputation as a contributor to the community through generosity and outreaches for neighborhood children.
In January 2016, the students were sharing the gospel door-to-door in the nearby community. They reached at the door of Mrs. Navawanuka .
In 2013, Mrs. Nabawanuka accused the school of being on her ancestors’ land. Muhindo attempted to talk to local leaders, showing them our original land titles, but no one was helpful, and she was successful in grabbing one acre of ISM's land.
Then, she turned around and sold the land to the son of a government authority! ISM again tried to make a legal case against the sale, but could not get anyone to listen, respond or help.
After doing everything he could, Kawede says, "Eventually, we put the matter in God’s hand."
In January, ISM students fearlessly shared Jesus with her. Kawede says, "She repented of her sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior."
Mrs. Nabawanuka ended up admitting in church that she grabbed one acre of ISM's land and bribed the government authority to do it. She repented and refunded money she took for the one acre, and returned our piece of land!
The neighbors, school and church heard her testimony, and their awe and devotion to Jesus grew!
2.Preach the Gospel. Preach the Bible.
It's simple, but it is different than the usual variety of prosperity gospel messages and theology influenced by the Animistic culture. It stands out, and makes people want to come back.
They aren't just teaching and discipling once a week.
Kawede writes, "We were very encouraged that members of the church like that I teach them basic of Christ faith apart from Sunday services."
3.Love your neighbors.
The leaders of the baby church began noticing Muslim women showing up at their services. Seven of them indicated a desire to begin following Jesus last spring!
ISM students continue to follow up with those women, and Kawede requests prayer for these women who are still married to Muslim men who "are opposing them."
In addition to loving and accepting those of other faiths, the little church is reaching out to others, too. They are watching for ways they can assist refugees who have fled the violence in neighboring South Sudan and ended up in their area.
Insects and Leaks Won't Stop this Church from Gathering
As of a few months ago, the church was continuing to grow. There wasn't enough space in the repurposed piggery church building to accommodate visitors.
The roof was leaking and insects had eaten away at the timber.
But the church kept meeting, even through less-than-ideal conditions. By April, there were around 70 in attendance each Sunday.
That month, the wooden structure was expanded and reinforced with some leftover iron from the construction of classrooms for ISM. The church now accommodates twice the seats that it did before.
Some supporters also provided the funding to get a working door, patch some windows and purchase more plastic chairs.
Kawede equips the new believers of Mission Bible Church with God's Word inside the reinforced building.
Muhindo Kawede in front of the meeting place of Mission Bible Church on ISM's property in Uganda.
This is what the building looked like when Steve visited at the beginning of 2016.
The progress of the construction of the ISM facility.
What's incredible to think about is how hungry for the truth these new believers are! They really desire quality teaching, and they are getting it because of the dedication and faithfulness of Muhindo Kawede and the ISM students.