We have just completed our Changemakers series at Connection Pointe, where we heard so many stories of God’s work around the world. There is much to be thankful for as the Lord brings people into His Kingdom. 

In this post and the previous post we hear two more stories of God’s work around the world being done through two of our church members, Shane Christopher and Chuck Rapp. They both serve with OMS and they travel regularly to other continents to provide teaching and leadership to pastors and church planters. Next time you see them, take the opportunity to thank them for their faithful and effective ministry.

Thriving in the Midst of Challenge by Chuck Rapp

The highlight of my March trip to Uganda and Kenya most certainly had to be witnessing 105 baptisms in the Nile River! Talk about a celebration! This included at least one impromptu baptism of one of the many bystanders; he was heckled by his friends on the shore, but that didn’t seem to matter to him. Logistics for this joint baptism of believers from many churches were an immense logistical challenge. These churches do not have baptismal tanks (many do not even have walls!), so transportation had to be arranged to pick up people from several collection points and take them to the Nile River which was probably 5 or 6 miles away (but felt like 20!). 

As Supervisor Peter, our northern Uganda Coordinator, Justin, and I were preparing to leave, three of the church planters approached us to say goodbye. They expressed great thanks for Village Church Planting and One Mission Society. We discussed some of their challenges, and there were no complaints about being in a refugee settlement (they see it as a missionary opportunity). There were no requests for plots of land or buildings for churches (something we hear frequently). Rather, they requested Bibles and additional training materials. What a fantastic example of Jesus’ charge to believers. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33b, NIV). 

Highlight #2 was the opportunity to inspect and document generational church planting among refugees in Rhino Settlement Camp. This refugee camp in far northwestern Uganda was opened approximately 50 years ago.  Current population is roughly 80,000 and is comprised of mainly South Sudanese refugees along with those from Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Travel on the “roads” can best be described as slow and teeth-rattling.

Above all else, what impressed me is how the church is thriving in the midst of very challenging living conditions.  This is not unique, however, as history has borne this out for two millennia. 

The Village Church Planting program began with the Eden training center in March, 2017.  Since then:

  • Ocea C church begat Simbili church which begat Ofua church which then begat Siripi church

  • Ocea church (a different village from Ocea C) begat Katiku which begat Ariwa 3 which in turn begat Wayange church

That’s two threads of four generations each of churches in just a little over two years! Altogether, upwards of 25 churches have been planted from the Eden training center and its “offspring”.  One of these was cross-cultural in a village of Congolese refugees.