2019 USA trip yields prayer, UCU medical school assistance
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2019/03/2019-usa-trip-yields-prayer-ucu-medical-school-assistance/
By the Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi, Vice Chancellor, Uganda Christian University
Once a year since becoming the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Vice Chancellor in 2010 – and thanks to the generosity of UCU Partners and new and long-time American friends – I travel to the United States. Usually, my wife, Dr. Ruth Senyonyi, accompanies me for a month of sharing about Uganda’s culture, communicating the successes and needs of the university and providing the Word of our Lord. Ruth not only provides the much-appreciated marital support but also speaks easily about UCU, offering insights that I miss.
Our annual trip to the USA happened from January 24 to February 20, 2019. We started out in Washington DC, and proceeded to visits within the states of Virginia, Georgia, Massachusetts and California. We lived out of a suitcase, adjusting to dress codes for informal meetings, dinners, church services, the annual UCU Partners Board meeting, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Conference. While USA faith-based universities face stronger pressure from the secular world than UCU, it was reassuring to note that we share the same resolve regarding adherence to Christ’s teachings in our campus life and curriculum.
As expected, this year there was keen interest in the new UCU School of Medicine, particularly as it relates to Christianity. It is a truism that technology often accelerates faster than the ethical implications of such advancements; the latter matter most for Christians and certainly for social wholeness. Probably no field of study is more affected than the medical disciplines since their direct customer and object of trade is the human being.
Furthermore, all recognise the capital-intensive nature of medical schools. UCU has invested much so far but it is the nature of medical schools to demand heavy investment on a continuing basis after the initial input. It is therefore beyond question that a University needs a steady revenue base for a medical school, far exceeding tuition collections from students.
The subject of the medical school was paramount during our UCU Partners’ Board, in the churches and other functions where I preached or spoke, and at Mercer University, Macon, Georgia. Mercer University is one of America’s oldest higher education institutions with a medical school started there nearly 40 years ago.
Our contact with Mercer came unexpectedly through the kindness of Uganda’s honorary consul to Georgia, Hon. Jack Ellis, a former mayor of Macon, Georgia, who visited Uganda in 2017. Hon. Ellis introduced us to Mercer President Bill Underwood, who opened the door for a possible partnership with Mercer.
The Consul also connected us to MedShare, a non-profit, humanitarian organization with one of three American medical equipment distribution centers in Georgia. MedShare aims to strengthen the world’s health care systems with various initiatives such as shipping new and “good-as-new” medical equipment around the world to boost health care. This could come in handy to equip both the UCU School of Medicine teaching hospital and to provide needed learning hardware for our students. We are submitting an application to MedShare.
The interest to support our efforts was profound. We declared the need for prayer support, academic exchanges and research, personnel support and certainly medical equipment.
UCU Partners has been advocating such support since last year, and some help has trickled in. Indeed, Ruth and I spoke at a dinner at the Church of the Epiphany in Virginia, sponsored by UCU Partners Board members. The interest was strong at both the individual and corporate church level. After the dinner on a Saturday evening, I preached at their warm Sunday morning services.
It is worthy of note that the USA has many nationalities. Many of these maintain strong connections with their home countries and send significant financial support to their countries of provenance. One such is a Ugandan Anglican church situated in Boston, Mass., and that worships in the Luganda language. I had preached there before, and they welcomed me again into their pulpit. They have a stronger interest in UCU and are ready and open to enhanced relationships with the University.
Our concluding stops were in the California locations of Escondido and Imperial. New Life Presbyterian Church, Escondido, had booked me for preaching since June of 2018. Nearby was the stop at Imperial to make connection with a donor to the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity Theology that we had never met.
Overall, these were very successful United States meetings in terms of promise for growth for all of UCU. We thank God for the relationships, the promise and our safe travels without incident. We thank God for this partnership in the Gospel – we went as envoys from UCU, and so we were received (Philippians 4.10-20). Praise the Lord!
For more stories about UCU, visit https://www.ugandapartners.org. If you would like to support the university and its faculty, students and programs, including the new School of Medicine, contact Mark Bartels, Executive Director, Uganda Christian University Partners, at email@example.com or go to https://www.ugandapartners.org/donate/