In an earlier update, Brother Bill told of visiting Fort Portal in western Uganda, where he was asked to begin a training program for pastors. A church in Bridgeport, CA and HeartCry partnered together to fund Bill’s travel and the conference expenses. Here is Bill’s delightful description of his time in Fort Portal. I particularly love how he wisely avoided starting with controversial topics, but rather taught reverence for God’s Word, and then let their curiosity bring the Word to bear on those topics.
"On Day 1, we woke up in the morning and drove 20km to a village where the organizers wanted us to have the seminar, although we badly wanted it in town for many reasons. But we decided to wait and see how the first one would go. The organizers in Fort Portal were expecting 25 to 30 pastors. The first day turn up was not good as only a few pastors came, and among these were some women pastors. We had asked the organizers to invite pastors from all Christian denominations just the way they are, trusting that the truth will set them free.
We taught three subjects: 1) The Doctrine of God: Knowing the Living God; 2) Basic Principles of Bible Interpretation; and 3) Leading According to Jesus’ Pattern. On the second day, more pastors came and we had around 34 pastors. The day ended very well, and surprisingly, many pastors were more encouraged. On the last day we had a few new pastors join us. The teachings went well and the day ended with more questions and answers. We had many village pastors who could neither read nor write. Reasoning with them through Scripture was not easy.
A Wise Approach Pays Off
Overall, the seminar was very successful. We had in total 40 pastors and church leaders, although they didn’t all come at the same time and some missed some days. We had decided not to begin with doctrines that bring divisions among denominations like speaking in tongues, women pastors, etc. But during our hermeneutics lessons the pastors themselves started asking us how some scriptures could be correctly interpreted according to the principles we had taught. The examples they chose were scriptures about speaking in tongues and women pastors! We had no option but to apply the principles of biblical interpretation to some of those scriptures and help them understand what the Bible really teaches on those topics.
Surprisingly, people were encouraged with the teachings beyond our expectation. After
reasoning with them through the Scriptures concerning speaking in tongues and women pastors, we feared that they could be discouraged and stop coming. Instead, they continued coming, and to our amazement this is what some of them said:
- “Brothers and sisters in Christ, I don’t know what to say about this seminar. It is the first of its own kind in my life. I’m a pastor, I’ve attended many seminars and conferences, but we spend all the time singing and dancing and leave very little time for learning, and the little they teach us is nonsense. But these people, to me, are unique. They’ve spent all the time teaching us and whatever they teach they open the Bible to prove that it’s not their own mind. Indeed, God has remembered us in Fort Portal.”
- “I am amazed with these teachings. I’m a woman and I’ve been a pastor for many years now; but no one had explained the Bible very clearly to me like these people have done! I understand very well that, according to Scripture, women can’t be pastors. What I should do next is what I don’t know; I need God’s grace to guide me.”
- “Friends, I’m also in the same dilemma. I am a male pastor but my senior pastor is a woman. Today I understand clearly the meaning of these Scriptures - women should not be pastors. What I can give as advice is that we should not rush things. After understanding the truth, let us pray to God on what we should do and how we should do it. We need a lot of prayer and wisdom. But I thank God for having brought us these servants of His from Kampala.”
Pleas for More Training
We had two pastors from Tororo (Eastern Uganda, 501km from Fort Portal) and one pastor from Kapchorwa (Northern Uganda, 557km from Fort Portal). These pastors traveled from that far in order to be part of the seminar. After the seminar, these pastors requested us to bring the same teachings to their regions (Eastern and Northern Uganda)." (This would stretch Bill too thin in his care for his own church, so they are considering a larger annual national conference in Kampala. S.R.)