On July 3, 2007, a joint international missions endeavor sponsored by Truett-McConnell College and Cleveland First Baptist Church will embark for the country of Uganda in Eastern Africa. The team is coordinated by Dr. Larry S. McDonald, Associate Professor of Christian Studies at TMC; Dr. Bob Massey, Senior Pastor of Cleveland First Baptist Church; and Pastor Michael Okwakol, Senior Pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Kampala, Uganda, and President of the Baptist Union of Uganda. The team is also working with the missions efforts of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

(L-R)  Dr. Larry McDonald, Rev. Michael Okwakol, Dr. Bob Massey

For two weeks, the team will engage primarily in teaching and training efforts for church leaders in the city of Kampala, and in the out-lying, north-central area of Apac. Additionally, the trip will be a fact-finding mission for the members of Cleveland First Baptist Church.

“Our church desires to discern God’s will for the possibility of an on-going ministry commitment between our church and a church in the country of Uganda,” states Dr. Bob Massey. “Such an alliance will allow members of each church to grow and learn from the strengths of the other. And it will allow us to see the progress and fruit of our labors more readily.”
The team will also be delivering money raised by the student body of TMC for the care of orphans in northern Uganda resulting from the AIDS epidemic and from a decades-old civil war that is at present in a state of peace talks. Currently the sum of the relief money for the orphans stands at about $2,000.
Specifically TMC’s college-aged students will conduct at Agape Baptist Church in Kampala a “Disciple Now” weekend emphasis focusing upon Eight Essentials for a Life of Significance. Teaching content will be taken from the book of that same title authored by Jay Strack and Ron Luce. Their outreach ministry will consist of teaching, singing, drama, and personal testimonies, encouraging as many as over 100 Ugandan teenagers.
Moreover, TMC students will be speaking and giving testimonies in area churches and public schools in Kampala and Apac. Jamie Shannon, a freshman Christian Studies major at TMC, says that her prayer for the trip is for people’s lives to be touched, and that she will personally learn and grow from her time there. “Since I was young, I have felt that God was calling me to serve in missions in either Africa or India. This mission trip is a step of obedience for me toward that calling.”
Levi Ferguson, also a freshman Christian Studies major at TMC, states that he feels God has called him to Africa this summer “to serve Him, to glorify His name, and to reach currently unreached people with the Gospel message of how they can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Amy Mauney, member of CFBC says,My goal and hope for Uganda is to bring the Word of God and the name of Jesus Christ to the people in a loving and understanding manner.  I also hope to gain an understanding of a culture and place different from my own.  Through prayer and study, I believe an impact will be made on my life and hopefully on theirs.”
Training sessions for area church leaders, led by the older adult members of the Mission Team, will include topics such as “Spiritual Formation,”, “How to Study the Bible,” “The Biblical Roles of Men and Women,” and “How to Teach Children.”  In many churches in Uganda, church training for children is nonexistent. Director of CFBC’s Sunday School Bill Buckalew believes that training designed for the specific learning needs of these younger age groups will make a big difference in the children’s lives and in the overall health and vitality of the churches in years to come.
Team members are Dr. Larry  McDonald (TMC Associate Professor of Christian Studies, member of CFBC), Dr. Bob Massey

Front row:  Jessica McDonald, Levi Ferguson.
Second row:  Amy Mauney, ReBecca McDonald.
Third row:  Bob Massey, Liz Criscione.
Fourth row:  Larry McDonald, Tina McDonald, Steven Criscione.
Bach row:  Rev. Michael Okwakol, Bill Buckalew.

(Senior Pastor, CFBC), Mr. Bill Buckalew (Sunday School Director, CFBC), Tina McDonald (Student Life Staff at TMC, member of CFBC), Amy Mauney (member of CFBC), Levi Ferguson (TMC freshman Christian Studies major), ReBecca McDonald (TMC freshman English major, member of CFBC),  Jamie Shannon (TMC freshman Christian Studies major),  and Jessica McDonald (member at CFBC, freshman at White County High School). Joining the team from Olde Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, are Steven and Liz Criscione, bringing many years of ministry experience in Uganda to the team.

Having led four previous mission trips to Uganda, Dr. Larry McDonald sums up the team’s focus: “So many times when we think of Africa, we are overwhelmed by the immense humanitarian need that exists there. And we are rightfully moved to act so that these needs may be addressed.”
McDonald continues, “In the face of such need, sound theological teaching can seem meaningless. Yet in reality, the love and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ is the only power strong enough to deliver Africa from self-defeating immoral behavior and from centuries of tribal hate, rivalry, and bloody retaliation and revenge. As we work to alleviate human suffering, we must also address these spiritual needs that exist, or else our work is in vain …both in Africa, and here at home in the United States.”
Dr. Bob Massey voices the team’s belief in and need of the power of prayer. “People at First Baptist, Cleveland, and Truett-McConnell College, along with folks from many other area churches are already lifting up the efforts of our Uganda Mission Team in prayer. We believe that the efficacy of our ministry and the safety of our team members rely to a large degree on these prayers. It is our hope that many others who learn of our work will join with us in supporting us through their prayers as well.”
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