MDiv Student Prepares to Reach Muslims in Northeast Africa
Seminary student Billy Paul Owere Okumu is preparing to establish training hubs in local churches in the Muslim regions of Northeast Africa after completing his master of divinity in May 2024.
A native of Uganda where his parents were church planters in a small town with a Muslim majority, Owere plans to assist local churches in North and Eastern Uganda, South Sudan, and later Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia by equipping individuals through practical ministry training and pastoral mentorship.
“This will allow the locals, who I believe are the best candidates to plant the churches and strengthen the existing local church, to get training right where they are or close by,” Owere said.
Since Uganda, being one of the more stable countries in the region, is an easier location to organize and host trainings for Ugandans and those from neighboring countries, Owere plans to spend two years in Uganda establishing the base hub. Then from that hub, he plans to extend personnel and other resources to set up a similar hub in South Sudan.
Having first considered fulltime ministry during missions and outreaches within Uganda as well as Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Sudan, Owere carefully prayed over the years about what he felt to be God’s call.
When his church hosted a missions exposure training by a mission agency from hostile Muslim territories in Northwest Africa, he was convinced he was called to the same work: “I came face to face with the reality, cost and great need for missions work among Muslims. We all committed to praying that if the Lord gives us long life, we will go, and whatever we needed to do to better be equipped for the work, we will do.”
During a two-year pastoral apprenticeship program in Abu Dhabi, Owere’s desire for that specific mission field continued to grow. As part of his training, he began taking seminary-level classes there, but he did not intend to go away to attend a seminary because of his desire to immediately return to ministry.
However, he followed the advice of the pastor there: “You could go back to Uganda right now, and I have no doubt you would be effective, but if you go to seminary, you will dig yourself a well from which you draw upon for many years down the road in your ministry.”
As he was praying and considering seminary, Owere met two BJU alumni through the church and apprenticeship in Abu Dhabi and first learned about BJU Seminary. Once he began seriously considering which seminary to attend, he applied for and was approved for BJU’s Timothy Scholarship Program, which specifically provides for international ministry students who desire to return to their home country, plant churches and spread the gospel.
“This was a huge answer to prayer as the cost of doing seminary at that time was very high,” Owere said. “The scholarship was a blessing that allowed for me to be able to come and attend classes in person.”
Said Owere: “I joked with a friend once, that here at BJU seminary you do get your money’s worth and more when you take a class, yet by comparison, it would make you ask for a refund if you took the class elsewhere. This is because the professors go over and above in delivering the necessary content.
“They pack so much into the classes which are well thought through in order to resource, equip and help me as a student grow in understanding of theology and practical ministry. I truly have been challenged to live out the theology that I am learning.”