Jem Hovil interviews George Crowder, a vicar in the UK, about his recent visit to Kanungu, western Uganda, where he field-tested the BUILD materials.
Q: George, what sort of training gathering were you attending and why?
A: I was part of a small team who went out to Kanungu on an information gathering trip, with a view to building partnerships between schools and churches in Uganda and schools and churches in the UK. I suggested that while I was there I did some training workshops for local pastors, with a view to exploring training options for church leaders in that area. As it happened all of the pastors in the newly formed Free Methodist Church Uganda were in Kanungu for the consecration of Hamlet Mbabazi as Bishop. So he asked them to stay on for the training.
Q: Can you describe the mixture of people who came to the event in terms of educational levels and the contexts they are doing ministry within?
A: There were some pastors who had done some formal training, but most of them had not. Most of them were from rural towns in the South West, but there were a few from Kampala. Most of them spoke Rukiga, but there was a small number who only spoke Swahili or French. More than half spoke English, but I still needed an interpreter (Rukiga). These were a group of pastors working in a very challenging situation in Nakivale Refugee camp. Nakivale was established 20 years ago and has over 65,000 people living there. There was a massive range of educational levels.
Q: How did the BUILD approach and the Module One Trainers’ guide help you during your time with them?
A: It worked very well. Even the educated pastors needed to work on exegesis, so that totally levelled the playing field. Especially doing group tasks, and then going through the structure of the text on the whiteboard. I covered the first six units in Module One. Each unit took two hours to do, but I went at the pace they could cope with and I always knew they were with me because of the feedback and the questions. I found the material easy to use and very accessible.
Q: What were some of the responses to the material? Were there key issues that were debated or discussed or raised by it?
A: The main response was that this is exactly what they needed, particularly the step by step approach to exegesis. Because the material introduces itself conceptually it raised discussions about implementation of the whole BUILD programme. The pastors had never met together as one group before, so it was a real melting pot for ideas and discussion.
Q: Was there anything new or surprising that struck you, as a church leader, during those discussions?
A: The joyful response of the pastors. When they learned something new they stood up and praised God.
Q: What did you notice about the way in which they interacted and learnt, and the way the BUILD materials facilitated this?
A: I was looking out for possible ‘equippers’ and I did pick up on that as they worked in groups. When we did the evangelistic exercises, they really enjoyed sharing their stories with each other.
Q: Do you have any thoughts or plans for the future of this training or this sort of training?
A: I would like to help implement the whole BUILD programme for these pastors.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I wonder whether this would be useful for training pastors elsewhere in the world …