Gail and I have returned from Buvuma Island out in Lake Victoria where we spent a week preparing the students who are ready to graduate from the studies I have given them. I was preparing them for the exams I will administer in June. We have 26 candidates for graduation who have faithfully been attending my week-long intensive Bible training classes since early 2014. I am very proud of them for what they have accomplished.

Preparing the graduates.

The potential graduates will answer questions in seven areas of study out of thirteen in which they have spent more than 200 hours of class time over the last four years. Why exams, you might ask. Well, here’s the deal for me. Certificates mean a lot to these people who have so little – it seems to be the same all over Uganda. Missionaries come here frequently, give a week’s worth of training with no evaluation and hand out certificates at the end of the week to all who have attended. They bear different titles – “Certificate of merit,” “Certificate of Accomplishment,” even “Diploma,” for typically one week’s un-evaluated attendance in some kind of evangelism studies (A student showed me one of these very  certificates just this last week). Now this is not to say that all programs are this way. I have run across three or four serious study programs from missionaries in Uganda that require serious dedication from their students over long periods of focused academic work. But the above pattern is all too frequent.

Getting ready for class.

So when I was asked for certificates, I decided I didn’t want to play that game. I committed myself to a hard course of preparation, and I committed my students to the earning of a certificate that would really mean something. So over time, this is what has emerged: A student may receive a certificate of graduation from Meade International and Lake Victoria Bible Institutes after completing 150 core hours of class attendance, and 50 hours of Christian Life class attendance for a total of 200 hours (for the Buvuma students, but probably more for those who follow from other areas – I am still working all this out).

Students completing these 200 hours may receive a Certificate of Achievement if they do not wish to take exams, or if they cannot pass the exams. If they take the exams and pass them, they will receive a Certificate of Graduation which lists the hours they completed (my current 26 students range from 240 hours all the way up to 270 hours of class work)and the specific classes each student has individually completed.

I have committed to coming to the island to prepare them for the test with a week of reviewing the material and answering questions. Then they have from now to June 11 to study and prepare themselves. Then I will come for a second week to administer the exams, and at the end of that week we will have a graduation ceremony where the certificates that have been earned will be handed out. I have just finished the first of those two weeks, the preparation week. I believe the anticipation and perhaps the anxiety is running high now as a result of the training. It is my hope that when they are handed their certificates, they willow they have accomplished something difficult, and it will increase the value of what they have done.



Of the 13 classes they have studied with me, I have selected seven to test them on:

Introduction to Church Planting
Soteriology (the study of the doctrine of Salvation)
Hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation)
Christian Leadership
Christian History – Apostles through the Middle Ages
Christian History – Reformation through the Present
Christian Stewardship

Bob reviewing the materials with the students. Bob has a torn rotator cuff.

From our training experience this week, I am certain this will be a taxing enough load to demonstrate their academic grasp of all the teachings.

The test will be carried out in two formats. The first will be a written exam, with which I am hoping to quickly pass those who easily grasp the material. The other students will be tested orally. This arduous process is necessary because some of them do not read and write (but they have the right to try for the exams anyway), and some cannot read English, and trying to get everything translated accurately is a huge and expensive undertaking. So after the written exams on Monday, the oral exams will take up the rest of the week, student by student, until we have them sorted out for certificates.

That is what we’re looking at the beginning and the end of this trip. In between we have the normal  trainings scheduled across Uganda, starting with a Marriage Conference the end of this week in Tororo.