By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Director, Yeshua Institute

As February ran down a bit closer toward spring, we were in the middle of presenting our Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus Encounter. It’s something Dick Kunnert and I have done a hundred times or more.

But in the moment, it was very unique and special.

For one thing, we were doing it online – on Zoom, to be precise – and the people who were sharing our screens with us were in the Philippines. The moment was especially special for a variety of reasons:

  • As Dick and I began presenting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24, it was already 6 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, for our participants. I’ve never straddled days like that before in real time. A little mind-boggling.
  • It was 1 a.m. in Kampala, Uganda, but in just a matter of hours, an Encounter would be beginning there, presented by our Master Facilitator there, Javis Mugagga, to 40 Catholic high school principals.

The Yeshua Institute’s impact has become truly global.

We envisioned that when we launched about a decade ago. Now we’re living it.

Time in Manila in the Philippines is 14 hours ahead of us in the U.S. Central Time Zone. Time in Kampala, Uganda is nine hours ahead of us. I find it helpfully humbling to think of our colleagues in both places as being ahead of us – because in one very real sense they are.

Not the first time

Although our Encounter in the Philippines was our first there, it was not our first foray into international waters, or even into Asia.

Several years ago Dick and I journeyed to Bangalore, India, to present an Encounter to audiences of clergy, religious and lay business people.

Not long after that I traveled to Uganda, where I presented several Encounters to clergy and laity – and met and trained Javis to be a Facilitator. Within a couple of months, Dick was making the trip to Uganda with another of our board members, Father Dave Beauvais. They met with Javis and local church dignitaries, and then presented an Encounter for about 200 priests in Kampala.

Ongoing presence in Uganda

Since then our programs have been presented continuously there, thanks to Javis, who has gone from an enthusiastic single man of 22 to a 32-year-old married man with two children. Thanks be to God, his enthusiasm has not waned and his impact has grown and grown.

In the past two weeks he and associates did four leadership training programs for the Kampala Archdiocese that reached 90 participants. The programs signaled the start of a very busy season for Leading Like Jesus in Uganda.

Under the auspices of the National Catholic Education Department in Uganda, Javis will be presenting “train the trainers” workshops on “Capacity Building on Leadership” at each of four sites:

  • March 10 at St. Augustine’s Institute in Nsambya for all the dioceses in the Ecclesiastical Province of Kampala.
  • March 12 in the Ft. Portal Diocese for all the dioceses in the Mbarara Ecclesiastical Province.
  • March 16 in the Soroti Diocese for all dioceses in the Tororo Ecclesiastical Province.
  • March 18 at the University of Sacred Heart in Gulu for all dioceses in the Gulu Ecclesiastical Province.

Participants include nearly 100 members of boards of governors, headteachers (principals) and each diocese’s Secretary of Education. Your prayers for the programs and all of their participants are much appreciated.

Thanks to donors

As we continued with our Encounter session on Wednesday here in the U.S. and Thursday in the Philippines, I was momentarily distracted by the amazing situation in which we found ourselves – and how grateful we are to our donors because without their support none of this would be happening.

Not in Asia. Not in Africa. Not in North America.

If you are a donor to the Yeshua Institute, let me say two things. First, thank you so very, very much for making our work possible. Thank you and bless you.

And second, congratulations! What you are accomplishing is nothing short of amazing.

BTW, if you’re not a donor but would like to be – or if you are a donor and would like to provide additional support for our work -- click here.

God bless and thank you.