Near the center of the African continent, nestled below South Sudan sits Uganda, a country just a bit smaller than the state of Oregon.
Within Uganda’s borders, more than 5,000 children attend Lutheran schools each day.
“It is very important for our churches/congregations to have Lutheran Schools because our schools are outreach outposts, positioned to attend to the spiritual, knowledge and moral education needs of our children and all who attend, providing an education that produce an all-round person,” explained Bishop Charles Bameka, the leader of the Lutheran church in Uganda.
Through the faithful mission gifts of countless LHF supporters, these students – who come from Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican and even Muslim homes – are learning who the one true God is by studying Luther’s Small Catechism, sent to them by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation in partnership with Concordia Publishing House.
“When students study the Small Catechism, they don’t remain the same,” said Rev. Raymond Kaija, dean of the Midwestern Deanery of the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU). “Their faith is strengthened. They become God-fearing children who are able to treat their fellow students with love and respect.”
On average, the LCU has about 250 students at each of its 34 primary schools and one high school. Because Uganda has over 50 different languages, the school teaches in English.
While the schools function to teach young Ugandans the basics of reading, math and science, there can be no doubt that LCU’s Lutheran schools function as a mission outreach as well.
Rev. Kaija said that the catechisms have become a textbook for religion class, and they also use the books every day during chapel.
“Muslim parents send their children to Lutheran schools because of the lack of Muslim schools in the area and because of the quality of education our Lutheran schools offer.
In the meantime, all our students, including Muslims, have learned Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers,” said Rev. Kaija. “I see the Holy Spirit planting faith in the lives of Muslim children and Muslim workers at our schools.”
Bishop Bameka agreed. “The Lutheran Church of Uganda desires and encourages our School Children to study Luther’s Small Catechism because it leads us to discover what the Bible says rather than simply telling us what it says. The Small Catechism lessons are thought provoking, leading many of our learners to walk through the journey of Scripture. They help us to think about the meaning of scripture so that we can truly understand what God’s word is saying.”