AlUMNI PROFILE / Master of Divinity

Nathan Bloechl

Nathan Bloechl is currently serving a year long internship with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Mbale, Uganda under the supervision of Rev. Charles Jackson.

It’s been almost six months since we moved to Mbale, Uganda, to complete a year-long internship. We have been in awe of God’s constant care for us both directly and through the kindness of His church. Anticipating moving overseas, our most significant concern was the safety and well-being of our kids. We have heard horror stories of children whose parents neglect their kids for mission work and other tales of children whose health is significantly compromised. However, our Lord has hemmed us in before and behind the whole way (Ps.139:5). Not only has He provided us with a safe place to live physically, but our children have even been able to thrive here emotionally and spiritually despite temporarily leaving behind family and friends in Indiana/Wisconsin. No doubt we have had our trials, but we have found they have given us better self-awareness and grown our faith, our understanding of God, and our dependence on God and the church. Living in a foreign context has also opened our eyes to the need for sound Biblical teaching here.

Between talking to a native pastor and hearing my head pastor preach on our first Lord’s Day in Mbale, I have quickly realized I am not in the Midwest anymore. Before moving to Uganda, I often took up the weapons of preaching, teaching, and apologetics against the current manifestation of agnosticism and atheism at work in the United States. However, as I started my work of study for sermon writing, I saw that atheism is not a regular threat to the church here. Some even say, “There are no atheists in Uganda.” The people of Mbale are not struggling dominantly with putting faith in the supernatural. Instead, they struggle with putting faith in the holy, blessed, and undivided God of Scripture alone.

The faith struggle here says “yes” to Jesus but also says “yes” to other false religions (syncretism). If you ask most Ugandans if they believe in Jesus Christ, they will say “yes.” For example, one Ugandan who says “yes” to this question may also subscribe to the teachings of Islam. It is also not uncommon for a Ugandan who says yes to Jesus to practice witchcraft out of her home. Maybe she went to church in the morning, but on her way home, she cast a spell on her neighbor for one of her business clients. Another Ugandan who says “yes” to Jesus only looks at what benefits Jesus or his bride can give. To them, Jesus is only a means to an end rather than the Bread of Life, the Light of Men, and our only hope in life and death.

Yet, despite the distinct syncretism in Mbale that forces a change in my preaching, teaching, and our witness, the promises of the Lord of the harvest stand firm here, as they do in the States: “The harvest is plentiful” and “white for harvest” (Matthew 9:37, John 4:35). The Kingdom of God is still advancing throughout the world, “like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33). Through the ordinary means of preaching, the sacraments and prayer by His Word and Spirit, the kingdom of God grows. Through the means of grace, though minimal in outward glory, the church advances against the gates of hell in whatever form they take – atheism, humanism, or syncretism (Matthew 16:18). This is the type of work that continues in Mbale, Uganda. Normal, ordinary, and even dull at times, but precious and powerful before the face of God.

We give thanks that the Lord of the harvest can use our ordinary efforts to advance the leaven of Christ, our light, and our life throughout the world in the labors of His beloved bride. We also thank God for the many Christians holding the rope for us in America. The prayers of the saints are nearly tangible. We continually thank God for how he prepared us for this work through our churches and, not least of all, Mid-America Reformed Seminary. We anticipate that God will continue working through the church to advance His gospel to the world.