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Christian Union
November 8, 2014

Princeton Ministry Fellow Leads Missions Trip

by Eileen Scott, Senior Writer

Uganda2014A former basketball coach for an elite high school program, James Fields approaches ministry with the same intensity, helping university students achieve victory through Christ.

Case in point was a missions trip to Mawanga, Uganda, sponsored by Christian Union this summer. Fields, a Christian Union ministry fellow at Princeton, and Asha Garretson, a Christian Union ministry fellow at Cornell, led the missions team, which was comprised of six students from Cornell, Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth.

Fields was previously an administrator and coach at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland, whose notable alumni include Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Like a good coach, Fields strategically prepared the students for their role in Uganda and sought to build unity among the team.

"I wanted our students to leave Africa seeing the people of Mawanga as God sees them," he said. "I also wanted them to leave Mawanga knowing God's passion and desire for them to become brothers and sisters in Christ."

About one month before students boarded the plane, Fields had them read When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Each student was assigned one chapter on which to write the discussion questions that would guide their weekly, online dialogue about the book.

"We reminded the students of the fact that people don't care how much you know until they first understand how much you care," said Fields.

Students were also encouraged to use illustrations and examples that would contextualize the Gospel for the people of Uganda. As a result, they were quite observant and asked specific questions relevant to the people there.

When the team first arrived in the village, over 300 children greeted them, most waving branches. According to Fields, this served as a reminder that the team was a physical manifestation of Jesus to the people of Uganda, as they recalled the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The team served the people of Uganda in a variety of ways by partnering with Rural Orphans and Widows Aids Network (ROWAN). In addition to praying and worshiping with the people, the students also directed a seminar for locals who supervise and provide leadership over the villages. Fields and the team also assisted with ROWAN's discipleship program for roughly 50 children.

One Sunday, Fields preached to more than 200 people at a church in Mawanga. His sermon was entitled "Now Faith," and revolved around Hebrews 10:32-11:3.

"There was a great response to the message of God," said Fields.

But what struck him the most was two women who were freed from demonic oppression when they came forward for prayer.

"It was my first time witnessing this," said Fields. "What stood out to me the most was the power and authority of Jesus."

The time overseas impacted Fields' work as a ministry fellow at Princeton University, where he leads Bible courses for undergraduate students and provides them with mentoring and leadership training.

"I have quite a few students of African descent in my Bible courses, so to be able to better understand their context is always helpful when I am making illustrations and references during Bible courses," he said.

Likewise, the students from Cornell, Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth also came away from Uganda with some life-transforming lessons.

"The students were greatly inspired to know that they have the ability to make a significant difference in someone's life," said Fields.

"What I did not anticipate is that we would see the face of God within the Christians of Uganda so clearly. They were the most hospitable people that I have ever met." 
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