In rural Mbale, Uganda, a few miles down the road from Pentecostal Theological College (PTC), a humble 20-acre plot of land is home to 13 happy cows and a dedicated group of workers.
Since 2008, Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) and PTC have been striving to build well-rounded leaders by integrating community development into the seminary’s theological training. Their joint initiative is called “Farming in Faith.”
“We want to develop pastors [who] . . . are called not only to address the spiritual concerns, but also the social concerns in their communities,” says Patrick Ouke, PTC’s president.
Pastors in Uganda make little—if any—money from their pastoral roles and often double as crop farmers, taxi drivers, animal breeders, shop owners, and more. For the African pastor, life and ministry are one and the same.
PTC’s dairy farm has given pastors new skills for providing for their families. Now PTC is launching a new Community Transformation Department to help students apply their theological education to all aspects of life.
The Ebenezer Dairy Farm is at the center of the department. Students will learn about business ethics, stewardship of resources, innovative and sustainable farming, health and sanitation, and care for God’s creatures. They will also help with daily farm maintenance and production.
“Our beginning had many challenges,” said Mwaya Wa Kitavi, CRWM’s East Africa regional leader, at the farm’s dedication ceremony in November. “We asked, where would the resources come from? Who will lead the project? But we were faithful.”
Over the years, Africansand North Americans together laid the farm’s foundation, dug water lines, and prepared the farm for hands-on training. PTC students also contributed to make the dream a reality.
“As a student body, we are so proud of this project,” said Moses Kigumba, a PTC student. “It is our prayer that this farm will grow and benefit the entire community.”
Five years later the farm is complete and CRWM is ready to hand the project over to the PTC team and officially open the department to students.
“The training is going to give new pastors abilities to improve their economic status,” says Rev. Franco Onaga, general secretary of Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) Uganda.
“If the pastors can improve their economic status, that can be passed on to the congregation. And if the congregation can improve their economic status, that will improve the income of the church, enabling the church to meet the mission God has called it to do.”
Students will move all across Uganda after graduation. Inspired by the farm’s evolution and success and PTC’s well-rounded education, students will find innovative ways to build up their communities wherever they end up.
Already the farm is serving as a model for people living nearby. Attendees at the farm dedication were overheard saying, “I need a farm like this!” and “I never thought of that before!”
"This is just the start of the Community Transformation Department; it will be much larger than what you see here,” says Patrick Ouke, looking out at the farm. “We want to be a center where new things can be implemented to better society.”
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