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Dr. and Mrs. Walker Travel to Uganda Christian University

January 15th, 2014

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Dr. and Mrs. Walker at Uganda Christian University.

Beneath the blazing sun in Mukono, Uganda stands an open-sided pavilion called Nkoyoyo Hall.  As Dr. Graham Walker and his wife Lindy arrived there one morning in late October, hundreds of college students were crowded into it to worship the Lord, singing contemporary Christian songs (the same ones sung in churches and Christian colleges around America) along with local Ugandan songs.  After the service, the students streamed out to their classes or dormitories or to their elegant new state-of-the-art library to study.

Uganda Christian University (UCU) is the largest Christian university in East Africa, sponsored by the Anglican Church of Uganda. The university is home to 11,000 students, 8,000 of them at the Mukono campus. It was founded in 1913 as a theological school for seminarians, but in 1997 was relaunched as a full-fledged university.  Its aim: to provide national leadership and cultural impact in Uganda. Over the past sixteen years, enrollment has vastly expanded from its several hundred inaugural students, and it now offers 29 undergraduate majors and 19 graduate degrees to students on its five campuses. It’s not just for training pastors any more.

PHC President Dr. Graham Walker met Dr. John Senyonyi – the Vice Chancellor (i.e., President) of UCU – at an Anglican conference. The two men began nurturing their friendship via lunches and emails, and Dr. Walker hosted his Ugandan counterpart on the PHC campus two years ago. Later, when UCU’s Vice Chancellor invited him to deliver the commencement speech at their centenary graduation ceremony, Dr. Walker eagerly agreed.  In late October Walker and his wife Lindy flew to Uganda, along with PHC’s Distinguished Professor of Journalism, Dr. Marvin Olasky, and his wife Susan, and also with the father, mother, and older brother of PHC senior Nick Ziegenhagen.

Walker’s commencement address, entitled “A Spirit of Power, Love, and of a Sound Mind,” was delivered to an audience of 6,000 people on the Mukono campus.  Another 200 Ugandan policy makers heard a separate lecture from Dr. Walker on higher education issues, in the capital city of Kampala, addressing “What Ugandan Higher Education Can Learn from American Mistakes.” The Archbishop of Uganda presided at both functions, and the immediate past prime minister of Uganda offered comments in response to Dr. Walker’s paper on higher education. Both of his speeches were received well.

While Walker attended to lectures and scholarly diplomacy, his wife, Lindy, cultivated friendships at the university, getting acquainted with the director and staff of the university counseling center, learning about the university nursing programs, and hearing about the law students’ interactions with International Justice Mission in Kampala.  She also formed a friendship that has become an ongoing long-distance mentoring relationship with a female graduate student in Theology.

Walker is well aware of the future implications his trip may hold. He and Senyonyi have been emailing, reviewing the trip, and discussing potential plans. In the future, there could be exchanges among faculty at both institutions, as well as study and service opportunities for students. Walker might return to do a series of scholarly lectures on the Mukono campus and hopes Senyonyi may do the same at PHC.

Observing similarities between UCU and PHC students, Dr. Walker noted that both groups have an entrepreneurial spirit, and that, in both schools, graduates often aren’t looking so much to find jobs as to create jobs for themselves after graduating.

As the Walkers enjoyed their time in Uganda, ministering at the university and forging new relationships, another fascinating story involving two of their closest friends unfolded in close proximity. After arriving in Uganda, the Walkers met up with Mark and Elizabeth Ziegenhagen and their oldest son Charlie. Mark and Elizabeth are dear friends of the Walkers and their youngest son, Nick, is completing his senior year at PHC. Mark and Charlie accompanied the Walkers during their time at the university, while Elizabeth traveled to the remote township of Karamoja to do evangelistic work with Ugandan friends.

“God had us on two different journeys,” Elizabeth said of her trip and the Walkers, “Both journeys were so powerful and both were with His people.”

Elizabeth called her husband every day and sent pictures to the Walkers. They would text back and forth, sharing what God was doing in Mukono and Karamoja.

Karamoja is usually considered high on the list of places Americans should not visit because of extreme dangers. Due to poor soil and bad crops, the people are in a continual state of sickness and starvation, some even practicing child sacrifice and witchcraft, and so hostile that few American missionaries venture there. But Elizabeth and the team led by her Ugandan friends hosted a Christian conference and fed attendees each day of the conference.  Elizabeth described the experience as nothing short of miraculous. The harvest was ripe; the people were ready for the message of Jesus, and over 850 Karamojans professed Christ while Elizabeth was there.
 
At first, Elizabeth was afraid of being asked for something by the Karamojans that she couldn’t give, but realized God wasn’t asking her to give more than she was able.  He wasn’t asking her to clothe or feed or give them money: The only thing He was asking her to give was Himself.

“If He wants you to give more than that, He is going to supply it,” she said. “When He gives you the heart [for something], He gives you what you need.”

Photos from the Walkers' trip to Uganda:

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