The Power of Partnership – Part 1 – Gulu Trip – Post #5

Many of you may not know this, but this is our second round of training leaders in Uganda. There was a lot of joy in the first cohort. Leaders strengthened, churches planted , relationships developed. We also saw a number of factors that were working against us being more fruitful. We were requested to come back for a second round and we were inclined to do so. We had to a number of conclusions about what needed to take place in order to commit to a second cohort (nine trips over three years). They were: 1) We need the right people participating. This meant current and aspiring pastors and potential planters. They had to be recommended by their church leadership to participate. 2) A key point person who would not only help with logistics, but could hold the group together with support and challenge between trips. 3) An authentic accountability structure that would make sure all that what was agreed to and what took place lined up. We had decided if all three were not in place, we would not proceed. But if it did, we wanted to go for it.

Near the end of the first cohort we met a man named Kris Mobbs, and American who served about forty minutes north of Gulu, the town we worked in with the first group. The ministry he lead was looking to develop a pastoral training center and he found the TLI (Training Leaders International) curriculum appealing for developing pastors and planters. In fact, he was transitioning out of leading the ministry (Four Corners Ministries) to focus on developing pastors and planters. We began speaking via Skype, and arranged a time to meet when he was going to be in the states. When we met, we were really encouraged at the possibility. It seemed he had facilities and a group of hungry leaders, but he lacked the ability to start a meaningful training process any time soon. We had curriculum and teachers with some experience-it seemed like a match.

I’m waiting to board the plane from Entebbe to Amsterdam on the way back home. We have now finished five of the nine courses and things are going really, really well. Not only have we clicked with Kris and Four Corners missionally, we genuinely like and respect each other. Our goal of seeing an Abiding network of Gospel-centered, Bible-saturated, African led churches seems likely (knowing ultimately God has to do the work). We have six Ugandan leaders with whom Mike, Stu and I are sharing the teaching load. When we finish course nine they will take over teaching without us, with the next cohort planned for fall of 22. If this all materializes, we will see the African led leadership moving churches to greater health and planting throughout northern Uganda and South Sudan-the trainees represent eight different people groups.

Kris is key in all of this. When seeking to do ministry oversees, healthy partnerships are vital. We are helping each other become more effective as we seek to see worshippers increase in these people groups.

The picture is our friend Kris in front of the Abaana’s Hope sign, a 100 acre tract that is a hub of activity, including an elementary school. I am so grateful for Kris, his skill and heart and that God gave us just the partner we needed.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life