How a LBC Partnership is Bringing Quality Higher Education to African Pastors
Last year, Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary and Graduate School began an important and transformative partnership with a growing ministry equipping African pastors: the Pastor’s Discipleship Network in Uganda. This ministry, headed up by current doctoral student and former Compassion child, Richmond Wandera, focuses on equipping African pastors to strengthen the African church. A true grassroots effort, the ministry has touched nearly 4,000 lives since its inception and continues to grow and expand its reach across the country and continent.
With a mission closely aligned to our own, LBC first decided to offer our Master’s of Arts in ministry degree to these eager-to-learn pastors – completely online – in March of 2015, largely due to the ongoing efforts of Wandera to bring quality training to leaders in the African church. Now, nearly two years later, the first group of African students is set to graduate in May 2017.
“We have dreamed as a ministry of a day when every district in the country has a trained teacher who is rooted in the Word to provide oversight and guidance to the Church issues in that area,” said Wandera. “[With the help of LBC], that day is not far away.”
Wandera’s enthusiasm is shared by others. “It’s such a joy to see the growth that these students are experiencing because of the high-quality education they’re receiving through LBC,” said Robert Blanks, the partnership liaison for Lancaster Bible College and the Pastor’s Discipleship Network and assistant professor. “This program is addressing a great need that many pastors in Africa face.” According to Blanks, who himself spent many years serving as a missionary in Mozambique, some of the educational models used in Africa only focus on rote memorization, missing out of some of the key elements of holistic learning. “That’s what’s so exciting about this partnership,” continued Blanks, “It’s providing these students with a life-transforming education that helps them to think critically about the content they’re learning and gives them the tools they need to understand and apply it in life and ministry.”
It’s important to note that this is all made possible by something we often take for granted: the internet. Most of our college’s sites are blanketed in high-speed Wi-Fi, but this isn’t always the case in remote areas of other countries. Access to the internet is limited in Uganda and getting online often requires payment. But students in Uganda find ways to get their work done offline, working on assignments during their commutes to work and ministry, working off of laptops on buses, cafes and in their homes.
However, the simple fact that the education we offer at LBC is now accessible to students halfway around the world who might otherwise have no other formal pastoral or ministry training is perfectly in line with the mission of the college – a fact not lost on the students that receive it.
“As a Christian, this program has challenged my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ – being a Christian from the core to the crust.” said Mark Wamala, a pastor and Ugandan student earning his master’s degree through LBC’s partnership with PDN. “As a student, my study skills have increased. I am able to read . . . books, analyze the flow of thoughts of writers and make personal conclusions in the light of God’s word. As a pastor, I have found the materials to [be] user-friendly. I refer to them in my preaching and teaching in the church, in schools and in conferences.” Wamala emphasized the importance of his online education, saying, “I can keep studying while I’m on missions.”
That’s always been a central goal of LBC’s graduate education: to empower students to earn their degree without uprooting their lives. And now, thanks to many years of hard work and a collaborative effort between two organizations, LBC is able to share that life-changing education halfway across the world with just the click of a mouse.
To learn more about LBC | Capital’s graduate and seminary programs, click here.