GAT Team Presses On through Drought and Earthquake
Clark and Carol Smith led a team through SOMA to Masindi, Uganda upon the invitation of Bishop Stanley Ntagali, who requested Global Alpha Training.
by Clark Smith
Bishop Stanley Ntagali chose clergy and lay leaders who had a real heart for evangelism and would be enthused about Alpha. It was the Bishop’s hope that the intial success of Alpha in two parishes would spread throughout the diocese as a good tool for evangelism, discipleship and church growth. Bishop Stanley wisely invited Catherin Piwang, Director of Alpha Uganda and Berna Amodoi, Alpha Administrator, to join our GAT team. Catherine and Berna were good team members and provided a link for further training and support as Alpha develops in Masindi-Kitara.
In GAT, participants have the opportunity to experience the Alpha course and have practical sessions that teach the philosophy of Alpha and how to run a course. In small groups, participants were challenged to put themselves in the role of a non-believer, Muslim or Hindu. Removing Christian “speak” and heavy theological discussions was a difficult but educational experience for these devout Christians. Alpha seeks to develop a heart for non-believers and to provide the tools to reach out, without condemnation. GAT trains people to run Alpha in their vernacular in a village setting.
Sometimes natural happenings override our plans. There had been a severe drought since December and the first rains came early that week. People were desperate to get planting done while there was a bit of rain, so attendance grew day by day as the planting was completed. In our second day of training we had an early morning earthquake of 5.5. We were surprised and thankful that there was no apparent damage.
Participants were able to give and receive ministry in the sessions on pray and the Holy Spirit. Several people were healed of physical problems, while inner healings took place as well. With thousands of communicants and limited physical resources, ministry in Uganda is very demanding for priests, lay readers and their families. Even though this was a time of training, these servants received a time of restoration so that they could continue to give.
Alpha always contains a time for testimonies and endorsements. The Rev. Lydia Kwesiga, Vicar of All Saint’s, told how Alpha created members who were eager to be sent out in evangelism, prayer ministry, calling on the sick and that Alpha members were among those who planted a new church the previous Sunday. Elijah, a lay reader, testified that he realized on the Alpha course that hew as living in sin. He asked the mother of his eight children to marry him in a Christian service. Later he was called to become a lay reader. He was assigned to the prisons as a chaplain and plans to offer Alpha in the prisons.
After a session focusing on running Alpha in the local context and the obstacles they faced, people met in their archdeaconry groups to make detailed plans. They planned to pray for Alpha, involve parish leaders, select Alpha leaders, publicize Alpha and run the course with a celebration at the end. Some hoped to be able to attend a national or international Alpha event.
A service of worship and commissioning of the Global Alpha Training participants was held in the cathedral with joyous worship and a charge to “go out” with references from Matthew 28:19-20 and Isaiah 6:8.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Isaiah 6:8