Since 2001, ‘Equipping The Saints’ (ETS) workshops have equipped many men and women, including Board Members for both the Lutheran Media Ministry Uganda (LMMU) the local LHM office and the Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda (LCMU).  Over the last 7 years, more than 350 men and women have been equipped and are out their in the field proclaiming the Gospel in their communities and serving as LMMU’s ambassadors.  ETS is a worldwide initiative of the Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) that aims at Equipping, empowering and getting Lutheran laymen engaged in serving the church. Each fiscal year, LMMU holds four ETS workshops regionally on a quarterly basis, to empower Lutherans in Uganda with the skills and Knowledge to enable them to extend LHM ministry allover the country starting with their congregations and communities. During the Equipping The saints workshops, seven module reflecting three LHM’s major initiatives of; “Equip, Engage and Proclaim” are shared.  

In the last quarter, LMMU’s Equipping the Saints workshop took us to Amudat, Nakapiripirit District – Northeastern Uganda boarder with Kenya close to 500 km from Kampala.   The trip started at 8:00 am and after 8 hours of driving, we arrived at Amudat Lutheran Parish to a welcome songs and ‘up-and-down jump dance’ by a group of twelve comprising of five men and what a group of ‘what seemed like young girls carrying their mothers’ children’.  Learning how to greet in Pokot language since most of the people could not speak English. A while later we learnt that the ‘girls’ were ‘real’ mothers carrying their own children. 

As we went through the program for the trip, we leant from Rev. Moses Lokong that the non resident participants would arrive for the ETS workshop the next morning at 10:00 am. When the Director LMMU, Charles Bameka inquired why participants would arrive later than the usual 8:00 am for the workshop, our team was told by Boaz Kapyen that;  “the Pokot as well as Karimajong women act as role models to their households. They are required by culture to perform all the household work, including grazing and tethering goats, tilling the land, cooking the day’s meal before they can move out of their homes. Failure to perform these duties, their husbands who spend most of their day at the drinking places will bit them up.” The following day all participant did not gather not until 11:30 am when the workshop started.

According to Kapyen, the participants had to foot at least 4 kilometers to reach the workshop venue. In Amudat, Nakapiripirit District, the road network is not yet developed, there are no buses or taxis for quick travel most of the travel is by foot through the many winding bush paths. Nevertheless, the facilitators utilized the five hours, which were left to teach, since the participants had to retire by 5:00pm to be able to walk the long distances back to their huts home.
 
When it came to lunch time, the facilitators expected the meal to be ready, however, they were reliably informed that due to food scarcity, the Pokot people normally eat one meal between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm.  At 3:00 pm, meal time, men sat in a group separately on wooden benches and stools while the women, youths and children sat under the trees on the grass.  Some of the women were singing before they could join their friends.  Meals were served at 3:30 pm serving men first and when it came to the distribution of sodas only men received a bottle. The Director LMMU realized that women and children were not taking drinks and when he inquired, he was told that it was normal a normal practice that only men take sodas as it was expensive to buy sodas for all family members. The Director requested the LMMU facilitators to work with him to distribute the remaining soft drinks in the store to all the women including kids who had followed their mothers, some of the men were surprised by this action.

Women emancipation is not yet in practice in this region. The female sex is greatly marginalized. In Amudat region and Karamoja as a whole, it is normal for the women to go hungry as long as the men have had their share. Girls in this region marry when they are as young as 13 years and are kept in subordination to men.  The women of Amudat are very energetic and active both in their homes and in the church.  They have embraced the gospel, are active in evangelism, and only need a platform to give them a voice to speak and be heard by their male counterparts.

There is a high level of illiteracy and out of the 58 participants only 7 could speak English, while only a few could write the Pokot local language. Thanks to Rev. Lokong Moses and Mr. Kiralem Elijah, a teacher by profession and a member of the Pokot language translation team at the Ministry of Education and a member of the Lutheran Church in Amudat, who were the interpreters throughout the entire workshop.

Faced with such other hindrances as traditional beliefs as divination, in their homes or neighborhood, yet they must carry on the gospel of Christ. Mr. Joel Lowoyan of Alapat Lutheran church reported that several times he was chased away from peoples homes while on visitation in his village.  He was later accused before the elders of Alapat villager for bringing into the community a foreign God who apposed their traditional faith and practices and he was flogged.  The people of Northeastern Uganda, especially Amudat parish, need God’s intervention.  We need to be zealous when reaching these people though with hardship and challenge.

The workshops focused at helping the participants understand and interpret the LHM’s Mission and outreach programs and activities in Uganda, working in partnership with the Lutheran church Mission in Uganda.  More training is badly needed to equip more volunteers to carry out the works of evangelism in Amudat region among the 8 Lutheran Churches in the region.  However, it is hard to find educated people to implement the ministry programs such as BCC and make evaluative reports. Fortunately, the Pokot live in clustered settlements, which will simplify the visitation exercise.

Over the last two quarters, 106 participated in our ETS workshops and 79 graduated.  These are expected to be joining hands with our District facilitators to distribute BCC, carry out visitations, follow-up and connecting respondents to the local churches.   Over the last two quarters, ETS graduates have witnessed to 575 individuals.  We thank God for their volunteer service to LMMU.