May 2019

We write this during the Easter break at the end of a long semester.

A few highlights which we hope will give you a sense of some of the joys and encouragements of life here at Uganda Martyrs Seminary (UMS) …

  1. Receiving 32 new students to come and train in theology, pretty much a Namugongo record and (I think) a real endorsement from the churches here of what they see recent UMS graduates doing in their ministries after leaving here.
  2. Having 32 new students round for dinner (over two nights) back in February and hearing some of their testimonies about God’s faithfulness in their lives in the midst of tremendous hardship for many. We were also most impressed by the student who’d been with his wife as she gave birth that afternoon and then still came to ours that evening after informing her he’d be back to visit her the next day. We always commend commitment to the cause.
  3. Teaching our new diploma class about the doctrine of God and seeing it dawn on many of them that the God of the Bible is so gloriously different than, and bigger and better than, the gods, spirits and ancestors of traditional religions (which is often the image of God that seeps into their Christian faith).
  4. Having Laura with us, our short-term Crosslinks visitor. She has been a treasured and beloved part of our family for the past four months. She leaves Saturday 11 May. We are really, really, really not looking forward to that!
  5. Praising King Jesus with a record 420 children at Sunday school on Palm Sunday, over 600 kids when both services are put together.
  6. Ros and Laura leading bible studies on Romans 1-5 to female students in the college, with as many as 17 squeezed into our lounge to study God’s word… many sitting on the floor with their bibles in hand.
  7. Overhearing one of our staff members giving the most superb lecture about preaching Christ to eager second-year students.
  8. Reading exam papers where many Pentateuch students were able to write clearly about how the Old Testament law points to, and is fulfilled by, Jesus Christ.
  9. Ros, and main builder Zaire, in front of the third new dormitory to enable more students to come and train here.
    Finishing the shell of the third new dormitory (we continue to pray for funds to buy furniture, connect sewage, plumbing, electricity etc. and try and get it open by September).
  10. Having two college lecturers who have been through UMS in recent years and are now giving back what they’ve learnt.
  11. Welcoming spouses of our finalist students to college for four nights and leading them and all finalists through a marriage conference. Particular highlights were Ros’ two-and-a-half-hour conversation/discussion/interview with a superb retired bishop and his wife about what they have learnt as a married couple through 40 years of ministry life together and then a 30 minute feedback session at the end of the week when couples gave resolutions going forward. So encouraging.  
  12. Having students come and pray for us when we were grimly sick at the very start of the semester. ‘You always love and pray for us when we are sick, we must do the same’. This sort of reciprocity, humanity and vulnerability is so wonderful in developing bonds here.
  13. Ros having a weekly one-to-one bible study with a female Sudanese student. Some of the utter horrors she and her family and people have experienced (she comes from a rebel-territory that is at war with Khartoum) leave us aghast and speechless. Do pray for Sudan – pray that last month’s absolutely incredible people-led toppling of the president there would be used by God to open up more religious freedom for Christians.
  14. 12 Oak Hill students leading a wonderful week’s conference preaching from Mark’s Gospel with our students here. They did a brilliant job and blessed us immensely, but perhaps the best part was when a former student came and shared stories about his ministry in a very deep, rural area of Uganda with us. Our visitors were inspired and humbled and we’ve been encouraged by their reflections after returning to the UK.
  15. Ros continuing to do an incredible job teaching Josh (9), Danny (7) and Chloe (5). A highlight this term was studying different worldviews and how they compare to the Christian understanding of life and reality. One lesson they looked at atheistic worldviews and cultures, with Hungary as a case study, and made a rather nice Hungarian-style castle using old containers etc (see picture).
Kids learning about Hungarian atheism!

There are of course lowlights too. But what an absolute joy to look at the above list and remember that God is faithful, kind, and blesses us with so, so much more than we deserve or should ever expect.

As a family, we’re in decent shape. My (Chris’) doctoral studies (DMiss at Fuller) are great but take up almost every spare moment, of which there are not enough. Ros continues to find teaching three kids across three year groups harder to juggle than two. However we look back at last semester and start preparing for the new one next week with great gratitude to God for the opportunity to live, work, learn and teach in this wonderful country.

So please pray for us as a family to hold tight and be encouraged by the good that God is doing here for His Kingdom. Pray we’d look after each other. Pray that we’d get some rest (it feels like there’s been precious little of that this term). Pray that Ros and I would teach the real gospel to our kids well, and model real Christian faith to them. As we say goodbye to our dear short-term visitor Laura next week pray for all six of us to be reassured and comforted through that sadness. Pray that, as ever, we would taste and see that the Lord is good, and that we’d seek refuge in him and be blessed (Psalm 34:8).

Love to all,

Chris, Ros, Josh, Dan and Chloe x 

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