GOD AT WORK IN RURAL AFRICA

Judy Luhombo

I was born and brought up in a Christian home. I grew up going to church and I was introduced to reading the Bible at an early age during family devotions. But it was not until I went to high school that I became a Christian. I went along to worship services and occasionally attended the Christian Union (CU) but those committed to the CU seemed to have something I did not have. I once went along to special outreach meetings and for once I understood that I was a sinner in need of salvation. I always thought I was a Christian because I was ‘good’ and that by going to church, reading the Bible and praying I did all that a Christian was supposed to do.

I thank God for opening my eyes to see that the problem was before God I was a sinner and good works would not earn me salvation. He had provided a way of forgiveness and salvation. I understood that being saved is not based on what I did but on what Christ had done on the cross at Calvary. I came to repentance as I realised that Jesus Christ died bearing my sin and the punishment for my sin and that believing in this finished work was God’s way of salvation.

Prayer and reading the Bible took a new meaning since becoming a Christian and indeed still is in my walk with the Lord. During my school days I got involved with the leadership of the CU and in university I was involved in outreach missions mainly in schools.

I worked with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) in Nairobi upon graduation and it was the missionaries I worked with who challenged me to consider going to Bible College. That’s how I ended up at the then Evangelical Theological College of Wales (ETCW) – now called Union. From the beginning I thought of studying for just one year and then go back to Kenya to get involved in full-time Christian work possibly students work but the Lord had other plans. I’m involved in ministry in a way I would have never anticipated. The Lord has led me a different path, different from what I was planning to do and in this I rejoice.

After completing a Masters in Theology (M.Th.) I was invited to join the staff at the college. After one year of helping out with the development of the distance learning students’ work, I worked as the Distance Learning Coordinator for nine years.

I left the then WEST (Wales Evangelical School of Theology) to concentrate on completing post-grad studies and was involved in the Heath Church with the outreach among international students.

I had just completed my post-grad studies when I was invited to join Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) – this was based in Cyprus. In hindsight, this work was a good exposure to the challenges of and the need for training pastors as I was involved with their training centre in Lokichoggio, in Kenya. Though this came to an end after one year I had the privilege of working with Refugees on the Island (as I waited upon the Lord) a work supported by the local churches in Larnaca (called the OASIS Project). I also enjoyed the fellowship of a local church – Trinity Christian Fellowship.

I was in the UK in the summer of 2015 when a friend contacted me about a person she had met at a conference who is involved in work in Kenya. That is how I got to meet Jan and Jeremy Peckham who pioneered the work of Africa Rural Trainers (ART) in Kenya.

The vision of ART is to build up and strengthen the rural church in Africa. In order to accomplish this, they recognize that the ministers of God’s word play a central role in the building up of the body of Christ. As such, their mission is to train and equip rural pastors to be effective in their ministry (most of who have little or no previous Bible training).

The bulk of my work with ART over two years (2016-17) was to write manuals for the 36 modules that the volunteer trainers and teachers use for teaching. Each manual was specifically designed for the purpose of providing basic Bible teaching for the rural pastors. It was aimed to help the trainers in particular to be able to adequately teach and effectively equip the pastors with necessary knowledge and the practical skills in order for them to handle the Word of God correctly as they serve their local churches.

This came to an end at the end of 2017 and while in a period of transition, the Lord graciously provided for me to continue writing. The need is great and there is a growing interest in the work from other sources. Pray that these too will be used for the strengthening of the church in Africa.

In July 2019, another door opened for me to serve with Friends International as the Operations Manager. This is based at their offices at the Support Centre in All Nations Christian College in Hertfordshire.

Friends International is an organisation that supports international students and it operates in almost 40 university towns and cities across the UK. It is estimated that over 500,000 international students study at UK universities and some 400,000 come to study English in language schools. Through the various activities and events which involve welcoming international students when they arrive at the airport where volunteers and staff meet and help them whether it be to find their way around the airport, obtain currency, purchase travel tickets, find a British SIM card, it is the beginning of the journey of establishing friendships and giving them a chance to experience real British culture and to get to hear about the Christian faith. So, as they are welcomed, they are also given an opportunity to contact Christians that are local to where they will be studying.

As the work continues to grow, one of the ways of seeking to strengthen the core of the organisation, and to ensure a smooth running of operations has been the appointment of an Operations Manager. It has been said that, “many charities have seen the need to respond to increasing regulations with the appointment of an operations manager” and that is largely my involvement with the work. It will help staff workers reaching out to international students to keep data safe and to plan events securely. The organising of the various events give students an opportunity to reflect away from their studies and it is one of the areas where relationships with students is deepened.

Pray that this work will continue to bear fruit.

October 2019