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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

We spend a second week reflecting on my experiences doing mission work in Ugandan and Kenyan villages.  I was there to bring some formal theological education to local pastors who lacked the opportunity to attend Bible school.  We would gather them to a centrally located village and spend all day for a week on methods of Bible study, hermeneutics (the science of interpretation), sermon construction, etc.    Then on Sunday I would preach in as many of their churches as I could reach so that hopefully they could see me doing what I had been telling them to do.  In the evenings there would often be an evangelistic crusade—where I would be expected to play the evangelist, even though they were more effective in that role than I am!  But there was a method to their madness.

Village Evangelism

“But I’m a teacher, not an evangelist.”

“No, the muzungu must preach at the crusade.  That way, everybody will come.”

The stars shone on the hills of Africa

And on a sea of eyes that shone in wonder

At the generator-driven cinema,

Another sky of stars that spread out under

The temporary platform we’d erected.

They’d never seen a video before.

The younger ones had never once inspected

A white man.  I can’t say which held them more

Enthralled, the flashing images or my skin.

It was the skin that made them pay attention

When, once the “Jesus” film was at an end,

I rose to preach.  And now, what new dimension,

Stranger than moving pictures on a screen

Or ghost-like skin in health by some strange art

Could possibly be waiting to be seen?

Christ crucified and raised; the human heart

Made clean.

Remember: for more poetry like this, order Dr. Williams’s collected poetry, Stars through the Clouds, 2nd edition (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020) at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860!

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Muzungu is the word for white man in Luganda, the primary language in Uganda.  I do not suppose there are any places left where a white man has never been seen.  But I have been to places remote enough where I was the first one to be seen in the living memory of the younger children.  One young man was translated to me as having asked his father, “What’s wrong with that man?  He looks like a ghost!”  To be a white man in an African village is to be an instant celebrity with the children.  And so this little poem makes a good introduction to some of my experiences doing theological education by extension (pastoral training) in remote villages of Uganda and Kenya.  We’ll look a bit more closely at some of the actual ministry next week.

Children’s Choir

Celebrity

Muzungu!” cry the children,

And all then run to see

The ghost who walks in perfect health

Although this cannot be.

 

“Ooh!  Ooh!  Muzungu!  How ah you?”

“I’m fine,” I smile and say.

And then they giggle, hide their faces,

Grin, and run away.

Remember: for more poetry like this, order Dr. Williams’s collected poetry, Stars through the Clouds, 2nd edition (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020) at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Ugandan Choir

Sharing worship with Africans in a church with mud walls and a thatched roof that you had to reach by 4-wheel drive is an experience few Americans have had.  If you ever get the chance to do it, you should.

Mukama yeba si’ bwe” means “Praise the Lord” in Luganda.  “Chetibwa cha Mukama” is “Glory to the Lord.”  A kanisa is a church.  “Soli Deo gloria” is “Glory to God alone” in Latin.

Ugandan Congregation

Kanisa

The voices shout, “Mukama yeba si’ bwe!”

The drums are pounding, and the bodies sway.

Hands clap, feet shuffle, and a lady’s voice

Leads out to set the song; hers is the choice.

She sings a line; the people sing it back

With zeal and harmony.  There is no lack

Of  joy.  The cry, “Chetibwah cha Mukama!”

Resounds through the Kanisa.  Thus the drama

Of worship is played out in Africa.

And we, whose “Soli Deo Gloria

Is more sophisticated, less intense,

Might profitably pick up a couple hints.

Praise Band
Praise Band/Worship Team

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.