Uganda (MNN) ― At the height of the conflict in northern Uganda, about one and a half million people were living in camps to avoid attack, mainly from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.
A year of peace talks have somewhat improved the lives of northern Ugandans, but in spite of the encouraging news, there is still fear of renewed conflict.
The doors are open now, but they could close overnight. That's why they have to work fast, says World Gospel Mission's field director, Jon Mayo. "We really feel like this is the harvest time in Uganda. We're seeing peace, and there is a freedom to move about the country like we've never had before. The government has been very supportive of Christian organizations and spreading the Gospel."
With the prospect of peace comes hope., but people are still reluctant to head back home. Their movement largely depends on their perceived proximity to the LRA and its activity. At the same time, over the past 10 years, the Africa Gospel Church Uganda has grown from 2 congregations to 130 congregations (@the rate of 20 new churches/year).
WGM teams train in English because it has to be translated anyway. At a typical Ugandan session, there are people present speaking 13 different heart languages. Congo has over 300 languages, and Tanzania 150 or more. WGM trains for three days, then they go back to their towns and villages and practice. Participants come for another 3 days and then go back.
It's an approach that has seen encouraging response. World Gospel now has eight training centers and have identified six more strategic locations for new ones. But, Mayo says, the demand is far outpacing their ability to supply new teachers. "This year, intentionally, we decided to scale our program back a little bit to only having about 12 pastors in each training so that we could really develop relationships better with them and do a better job of discipling and mentoring them through this program." Mayo says some believers have been waiting for five years. The demand is expected only to increase. They're now seeing the need to train youth workers--51% of the country is under age 15. They also need to train women's workers--75% of the country is under 30 years old.