By Oscar Lugusa
I thank God for the chance to serve in both pastoral and teaching ministries and I humbly acknowledge that it is through these ministries that Jesus continues to speak to the world. My work, in fact, my life is reflected in George Fox’s words, “Let your life speak.” My life speaks of the love of Christ, and I seriously believe in his commission to “make disciples of all nations.” I believe my dual ministry allows me to live the words of life which speak of making disciples. In this blessed life of service I have learned several lessons.
There is a Kiswahili saying, “ukiona viaelea ujue vimendw,” meaning, “As you watch vessels moving on water, know that it took time and preparation to happen.” Somewhere between 2000-2002 as I attended Friends College Vihiga at Vihiga Yearly Meeting of Friends in Kenya, I was touched with a deep yearning to be a pastor and a teacher. To actually achieve this mission, I realized I needed time to grow. I needed to be informed. I could not serve until I was prepared. That took a long time of waiting, and I developed perseverance. Now, at times I have noticed that those I teach and even pastor will not turn out to be what I expected. I must wait for God to take the Word spoken to them and transform his people in his time. It is my job to persevere with my mission.
After my studies at Vihiga, I began to serve in pastoral ministry. An opportunity to study at Friends Theological College in Kaimosi advanced the process of preparation, developing the ground to continue my service to Christ as both teacher and pastor. I now teach at FTC and continue my pastorate.
Discouragement continues to cause a war within many people, its force defeating many, preventing them from achieving their goals. Like them, I have faced various discouragements, but in each I realized God’s intervention. For example: there was a question of how my family’s needs would be taken care of were I to become a pastor. In my area of the world, the job of pastor sometimes does not provide enough money to support a family. Also, the worry of how would I make it through academically and financially as I studied weighed heavily on my mind. In each case, as I look back, I see how God intervened and provided for me and my family.
For the last 11 years, my family has been a huge success. My wife has been able to train as a teacher and our children have been able to go to school. I have been able to continue with my studies at FTC and to realize both of my dreams of being a pastor and a teacher. Our family is bound with the love of Christ that has seen us through this far. That love bound us in the midst of many challenges of sickness, economic constraints and so much more.
I have found that my pastoral experience has greatly informed my teaching ministry. As a pastor, I know there are many needs. My students come with many needs. No student or congregant should feel segregated or sidelined. The strength of love is paramount, calling for attention to the spiritual work that continues within. As a teacher and a pastor, I am a role model and a mentor. I have found that students actually desire to follow in my footsteps. I work to ensure that others will know their calling and follow the leading from God as I did.
Just as a pastor, a teacher needs to be a shepherd to his/her students. These students are the flock I tend. Having the heart of a shepherd is helpful in meeting not only their academic needs, but also their spiritual ones. The relationship between a pastor and a congregant is much like that between a teacher and student with one exception. A teacher has the means to examine whether or not the student has understood what has been taught. A pastor has no such examination tool, but bringing pastoral experience to teaching ensures that transformation of life does take place. The dual ministry impresses on me that students grow spiritually and academically. Christ, our great shepherd, is leading people through both of these ministries.
Yet I cannot turn a blind eye on two very real needs facing ministers in Kenya. Serving in the ministry must include the means to be financially independent. FTC created a curriculum geared towards meeting this need. There is emphasis on creating work that provides a sustainable income. Courses, such as, Community Development and Transformational Development, guide the student in the creation and implementation of an income generating project for the whole community. Because of this program, churches that FTC graduates now serve, or will serve, actually become independent.
Without the worry of money, or rather, its lack, congregations have embraced the vision of early Quaker missionaries who yearned to have self-propagating, self-sustaining and independent churches. Students are preparing to promote this vision throughout Kenya.
My own personal example of an income generating project occurred with my own congregation. These blessed people have very low income. The women, some of whom are widows, are affected the most. Poverty impedes spiritual growth and believing in God’s provision in the midst of severe lack is difficult.
To help meet this very real concern, I contacted the Rural Service Program, an organization teaching people the principles of organic farming. An agricultural specialist guided my congregation to the creation of a working, sustainable, income-generating organic farm. As my congregation began to see progress, it also set out to create, with the help of Rural Service Program, more income-generating projects. Thus, this community became financially stable and as a result, its spirituality grew.
God continues to amaze me through these ministries. I am honored to be a vessel that teaches and provides pastoral care. Through this mission my life speaks the message of God’s provision. God calls me to be obedient. I know when he calls, he will provide. I personally have seen it time and time again.
Oscar Lugusa volunteers as a pastor of a local village meeting in Vihiga Yearly Meeting, Kenya, and is an administrative associate and adjunct tutor at Friends Theological College. He is married and has three children.