Fostering a Kingdom Force in Uganda

By Kelly Yonce

Intentional training of pastors in Uganda is a priority as a means to share the gospel and build disciples.

What makes someone qualified to train new pastors? When asked this question, Rev. Yusuf Oyo didn't list collegiate accolades, status or alma mater. His response was simple and threefold. The person must have a zeal for sharing God's Word, ability to give expository explanation of the Bible and be a living example of what they teach and preach.


Oyo is the principle of the Wesleyan Bible Institute (WBI) in Busia, Uganda, and leads the school’s extension program, which sends graduated students to train rising pastors in local districts. Battling a rooster in the background for volume, Oyo energetically shared an update on the WBI’s current victories and struggles.

“Students coming out of the program give us much encouragement, and we have seen great passion in them.”

WBI classes begin with 15 to 20 students, but typically only 9 or 10 reach the finish line. Lessons and materials are prepared in English. Though the official language of Uganda is English, the country is multilingual. The extension program spreads to neighboring districts, and some students lack higher education and primary schooling. Some cannot write or read in English. To curb the language barrier, students can write and answer in their local languages. Long-term, Oyo plans to translate the materials into all local languages.

WBI classes begin with 15 to 20 students, but typically only 9 or 10 reach the finish line.

Uganda’s poor economy, with minimal resources for travel and food, is another challenge common in landlocked countries where coastal export and import is impossible. Oyo is brainstorming resolutions, including a plan to grow food and raise chickens. Selling eggs and vegetables will raise money locally, as well as provide nutrition to WBI students.

One of Oyo’s goals is to help the WBI staff continue their education. WBI is not registered or accredited with the local government and depends solely on church resources. Oyo wants to encourage the main campus staff to further their studies so WBI can become accredited. He also plans to open an account for continued long-term funding.

Rev. Fred Cromer and his wife, Carol, founded WBI in 2015. They started with Global Partners in 1991 and worked in Zambia for more than two decades before following God’s call to establish the institute.

Class at WBI.JPG

“When the Wesleyan Bible Institute (WBI) was established, we wanted to do something sustainable that would continue after we left,” said Cromer.

At the start of WBI, Cromer joined forces with some of his previous students from Zambia. Oyo, Rev. Benard Rotta and Rev. Patick Deo Sanya joined him providing leadership and preparing student manuals, exams, syllabi and teacher manuals for every course.

Missionary funding was used to help students commute and eat. However, Cromer was determined that WBI endure and scale without a missionary presence. Because the commute was too costly for many students, a property with a building was purchased. The building accommodates a library, office, apartments and a training center. Fifteen students started classes Mondays and returned home Fridays.

The commute was still unattainable for some, so Oyo, Rotta and Deo Sanya began travelling and teaching two-by-two, establishing learning centers in Kenya, Kyenjojo, Mayuge District and Mbale District. Each teaching team included one experienced lecturer and one trainer who worked to educate the next group of students. After teaching six courses, the trainer would be considered experienced and could bring along a new protégé, a new trainer.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Cromer’s life verse, 2 Timothy 2:2, has shaped his life’s work: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Cromer’s legacy reverberates like a school bell, and Oyo echoes the sweet sounds of revival through education. When he’s not busy with his work at WBI, Oyo pastors a local church called Buwuni Wesleyan. His church regularly has 60 community members, and they will baptize nine people soon.

Within the last year, Buwuni Wesleyan gained a building, and Oyo’s plans for the space will not surprise anyone. He aims to institute a local primary school to boost enthusiasm for literacy amongst local youth and parents. Uganda has a 30 percent adult illiteracy rate, but

Oyo continues to answer God’s call to educate. 

Cromer’s strategy has been realized, as WBI continues sans missionary presence. Principal Oyo and staff work creatively through challenges and sprint toward long-term solutions to maintain a sustainable discipleship program.