Hunger for the Word

It was once again a privilege for me to be involved in the NextGen Uganda conference.

As regularly readers of this column will know, this year’s conference is only the second to be held in Uganda. Its program followed the NextGen conference held at Katoomba in January. There were 16 in the Australian team that went to run the conference, including a number from the Armidale Diocese, and newly arrived CMS missionary Paul Sampson who will be based in Kenya.

It was an overwhelming week, as God graciously helped us overcome language and other cultural barriers as we sought to serve (and be served) by the 125 Ugandan delegates who came to the conference. The conference was preceded by a minister's conference, where we had the opportunity to brief them on the model we would be teaching and encouraging the ageing pastors about the importance of the next generation for God's work in this world.

Moved by the Word to sing

Whether we are talking about the ministers or the youth leader delegates, one observation remained constant: their hunger for the Word of God. During one Bible talk, the ministers spontaneously broke out into singing praises to God, so moved were they by his Word. The delegates could not get enough of the teaching from Titus and 2 Timothy.

Our planned Question Times took an unexpected twist. As the delegates realised the person at the front would not get through all of the questions, they wrote their questions and handed it to the team scattered among them. The whole team ended up answering the questions of those around them. It was an unbelievable sight. Almost all were seeking to understand the Word of God more deeply.

The cultural barriers meant we were not entirely sure how effectively we were communicating. But by the end of the week, how much they had learnt became all too clear. The quality of some of their Bible studies simply blew us away as we realised so many delegates had understood the unique and simple model.

And at the same time, the delegates were not the only ones learning. Seeing their zeal to know God by understanding his Word was also a challenge to us.

There is a difference between a deep hunger for God's Word and simply going through the motions, isn't there?

The Rev Raj Gupta is the senior minister of Toongabbie Anglican Church, member of Standing Committee, and Mission Area Leader of the Parramatta Mission Area. He is also a partner with the 'Exploring Effective Ministry under God' team, and currently undertaking a Doctor of Ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDs).

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