Why Uganda made me cry
It was Neville Wran who said in the 1980's that Balmain boys don't cry. Though I grew up in Balmain, I was holding back the tears as NextGen Uganda finished its first day.
At the conclusion of Day One last year, it is not too much to say that most of us were wondering why we had come. The language and cultural barriers just seemed insurmountable. God was very kind through the week as these barriers were gradually overcome and the training produced astonishing results.
While we were told from the Uganda church leaders that the fruits of last year's conference were manifold, it was today that we fully appreciated the value of what happened last year. Whether it be in Uganda or Katoomba, the heart of NextGen are the strand groups. It is in these small groups that delegates learn to understand and teach the Bible utilising a simple model.
This year we are a 16 strong team from Sydney and Armidale, and we have 8 strand groups. Most of my particular strand group here in Uganda had come last year. One by one they told us of how they had implemented in their churches what they had learnt last year.
One young woman said she had started taking the 'youth' after church and began a discussion group using the 4 stage model she learnt at NextGen Uganda.
Another young man told how he has begun a teaching job, and started a lunchtime group for over 80 people basing his content on the same model. Someone else said that while they were not here last year, they were shown the 4 stage model, and used it to start a youth Bible study group at his church. The stories go on. Remember: Bible study or small group discussion is a new concept here.
Last year we were pleasantly surprised with how easily they got it. Today we are blown away the concept is being implemented in churches across the region. It was overwhelming.
There are two lessons I have been pondering. First, when you start something new, you need to give it time to get it right. So often we are tempted to conclude something didn't work after trying it just once. If you can pray and reflect on how you can do it better, you may be surprised by the results.
Second, Sydney evangelicalism has an enormous contribution to make to the Evangelical world. Can you help?
Please pray for us as the week-long conference progresses.