One of the most gratifying aspects of our ministry is the opportunity to return to a place where we have taught before, where we see the fruit of the seeds we have planted, and have the opportunity to cultivate even more.
Empower had conducted the basic New Man, New Woman, New Life seminar in Kisoro (Anglican Diocese of Muhabura) in 2015. They were ready and waiting for the advanced training of the master class—which teaches leaders how to teach the class. This train-the-trainer model enables us to multiply our impact and reach more people with the good news of equality and unity that is God’s design for relationships.
We were delighted to once again work with Bishop Cranmer Mugisha and with Mother’s Union worker for the diocese, Zeridah Sendegeya.
We began our visit in Kisoro on Sunday. I was invited to speak in the cathedral. There were a great many students in attendance, and I focused my sermon on them and on the future.
Afterward, we mingled with the attendees. We found Sister Zeridah, who we knew very well from our previous visit and who organized the upcoming Master Class. As I walked along, thinking I was holding hands with Zeridah (a common gesture of friendship in Africa), I looked down, and discovered that I was walking alongside Zeridah, but holding hands with a little boy who had interposed himself between the two of us!
We were joined on Monday by Rev. Canon Gideon.
We began our program on Monday by asking the participants how they had been using the teachings and what the impact had been. We learned that every archdeacon in the diocese had made a program after the 2015 training. This was quite gratifying, especially when we heard that so many people had not only received the training but changed their attitudes and actions as a result. Here are some of their uses of the program:
- Archdeacon Godfrey reported that the seminar helped him personally and with his family. He has been preaching using the teachings with the Mother’s Union, at couples’ gatherings, and at marriage ceremonies. One of the most significant new understandings for him was that man and woman were created at the same time in Creation (Genesis 1.) Subsequently, man is not above the woman. Also, he found important the observations that the man was with the woman during the temptation (Gen: 3:6), which lead him to realize that man was just as responsible as the woman for the introduction of sin.
- The administrator of Hope School began her use of NMNW with the teacher/student community. She taught them to “Love God, respect God, and respect each other.” She and her students find that some key take-aways include: The responsibility for children belongs to both the man and the woman; that women are not cursed; that Luke’s gospel teaches the freedom that is given to women; that children are to respect their parents; that man and woman are meant to be one flesh – and what that means in practice..
- A woman named Anna spoke about the importance of studying scripture properly. She used to teach people that they were cursed. Learning that they were not was very important for her. Rather, she learned (and now shares with others) that both men and women were given dominion over the earth and were blessed. As a result, she realized that she can do things in the church and community. She has taught children, youth and adults that they were not cursed.
- When legal signatures are necessary (for property transfers and other legal situations), the wife as well as the husband will be included in the signing. This, Frank points out, is major cultural change. Before, the wife was considered irrelevant. Including women in these transactions changes the dynamics of the relationship.
A number of participants shared specific ways the teaching has impacted their relationships:
- Couples no longer point fingers at each other and blame each other, but work together to solve problems when they have difficulties.
- Men confessed that they had not helped with their children, leaving all of that parenting responsibility to their wives. However, that has changed and they are now more responsible.
- Both mothers and fathers are convicted, convinced and determined to work together to help children grow well.
- They did not know that the man was with Eve in the garden and was responsible as well as she was. This helped men to realize that sin is a human problem for which both genders bear equal responsibility.
About a third of the participants had not taken the original seminar. Fortunately, we had plenty of facilitators and a nice facility. Donell and Canon Gideon took the first timers to work through the Creation and Paul studies; they later rejoined the master class to work through the advanced studies on 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2. A good and productive time was had by all.
Kisoro is a beautiful town, enjoying a view of some big volcanoes, one of them still active (and it buried much of Goma, DRC, in 2006. Not showing in this photo, but off to the right). It is also the jumping-off point for tours to see the gorillas (although this is the rainy season and there were not a lot of tourists around).
Frank Tweheyo had to make a quick trip to Kampala, so at the end of the Master Class, Rev. Canon Gideon drove Donell and me back to Kabale. This is a beautiful, windy mountain drive, with views of the far end of Lake Bunyonyi and the volcanoes. It also has another remarkable sight: baboons. There is one particular stretch of road where baboons come out morning and evening to warm themselves by the pavement (the forest gets cold.) We had seen them when we drove out.
On the way back, we were prepared with bananas. Sure enough, one baboon sat on a road post as we made our way back. We threw him (her?) a banana, and another baboon came running. This was our trip for wildlife. We usually don’t see any animals except birds.
Canon Gideon took us to see Bishop George, who had asked us to stop on our way back. He was unable to attend our seminar as had to leave us to go see the archbishop. When we arrived, he was having a long meeting with the archdeacons. As they came out, we enjoyed greeting most of the people who had attended the class a few days before.
Our old friend Cowboy (Elard Arinaitwe) came to meet us in Kabale to take us to Mbarara, where Frank would rejoin us. Cowboy was driving a 29-passenger school bus belonging to World Shine Ministries’ school in Rwentobo. It was actually one of the more comfortable trips we have had. We stopped to visit the school in Rwentobo. Donell had brought balloons with her, making her popular with the children.
Frank met us in Mbarara as planned and we went on to Kampala, making the obligatory stop at the equator. Your life is not complete until you have a photo taken at the equator.
In Kampala, we stayed with the Honorable Jovah Kamateka. Honorable Jovah was Carrie’s hostess during Carrie’s first trip in 2005. Since then, Jovah has become a respected and well-known member of Parliament—while remaining a gracious hostess and good friend.
Friday evening, we paid a visit to the family of our late and much-missed Empower/Uganda President, Margaret Kiswiriri. The new Empower committee for Kampala joined us there. It was a bittersweet time. We miss Margaret. Empower’s 2017 program is dedicated to her memory.
Read more about Margaret’s ministry with us here.
We have great confidence Joyce Ouko will do a great job as the new president of Empower/Uganda. For details on the transition, read our recent post.
Saturday (March 11) we met with a group assembled at World Shine Ministries’ office. Rev. Medad Birungi, who first invited Carrie to Africa, is the founder and president of World Shine Ministries.
Thirty to forty participants assembled to hear (1) Carrie’s presentation on world-wide family change, which (2) Frank took to segue into an overview of New Man, New Woman, followed by (3) Donell’s talk on human sexuality.
About one quarter of the participants have attended the NMNW seminar, but even for them, 1 and 3 above were new. There was a lot of interest. We handed over the reins to the new Empower committee, and look forward to hearing about the trainings that follow.
Part 3 of our report will be posted later this week. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss it!