Connecting the dots from EMI projects to meeting the physical needs of the poor in the developing world is a fairly easy line to draw. Clean water, reliable power systems and safe buildings that our projects create are all desperate needs of the poor in Africa, India and other places around the world. But understanding how the work of EMI promotes the spreading of the gospel sometimes takes a bit more effort.
A recent update I received from one of my former projects provides a great illustration how EMI’s work enhances the spread of the gospel around the world – in this case, Uganda. A few years ago, I led a team of 11 design professionals to master plan a university campus for Africa Renewal University (ARU). Since that time, ARU has taken the plans our EMI team provided and moved forward at a speed that’s uncommon amongst development organizations.
ARU started out as Gaba Bible Institute (GBI) 6 years ago with 35 students. Within two years it had over 100 students from 7 different East African countries. Not only was their leased facility quickly outgrown, but a roof collapse forced the students into temporary tent classrooms. Thanks to some generous donors, they were able to purchase a partially complete 23-acre campus with an immediate capacity of 350 students. After EMI’s design help, the campus is planned for 1,000 students, with a long range goal of eventually purchasing enough land to serve 4,000 students.
One of the adult students able to attend ARU thanks to the expansion was Joseph. ARU’s recent update tells Joseph’s story:
Joseph started his career as a politician and a preacher. He juggled both positions, but found that he approached church and leadership more as a political dictatorship rather than out of a heart to serve.
When he joined ARU, he was already a senior pastor, but since he lacked training, he found himself simply imitating others, without any real grasp on how to study, teach or interpret the word of God. He did not see himself as God's servant, but rather saw himself as the owner of the church.
Through ARU, his perspective has drastically changed! Joseph has learned that to be a good leader, he should be serving others wholeheartedly and that only God is the true owner of the church.
In Sept 2012, he took what he learned & started a new church in a Muslim community in rural Uganda. The church has grown to over 200 members, with people from many different tribes and nations. With the help of a leadership team, they have seen the transformation of families and the community around them. Glory be to God!
(Story taken from ARU. Names and certain details were altered to protect ARU and its students. www.arccuganda.org )
I love hearing stories like Joseph’s, because it underscores the importance of the work we do at EMI. Clearly, myself and other EMI project leaders are not regularly involved in preaching the bible or evangelizing the masses during EMI trips. The work of EMI is more strategic, using the talents and knowledge of design professionals to multiply the impact of ‘in the trench’ ministries like ARU.
I am thankful that God saw fit to create ministries like EMI, and also that He sees fit to use people like me and others in EMI to help ministries like ARU so that people like Joseph can be reached and trained to then go out and expand the mission even further. What a creative God we serve!
A look back to EMI project #5535 with Africa Renewal University:
|Walking the ARU site at the beginning of the trip with ARU|
missionary Jeff Atherstone (front).
|The ARU campus, partially constructed as a primary school|
before ARU purchased the land.
|Former EMI interns Alex and Phil helping volunteer Ben Dukes|
work on the site wastewater system design.
|Volunteers Tom Williams, Rhett McGregor and Jonathan Collard|
work on the civil and electrical designs.
|Engineers - good at designing, bad at acting!|
|Interns Alex and Phil, taking some free time to teach a couple|
of local kids the game 'Ninja'. EMI trips aren't 100% work - we
do find time to have a little fun.
|The final EMI master plan for ARU, perspective view. Several|
buildings have been renovated, the water and wastewater systems
partially completed, and all of the mobility ramps on the campus