As we walked across the lush, manicured campus, I was calculating what time it was back at home on the West Coast. It was my third day in Kigali, Rwanda. I had come halfway around the world with a group of photographers to interview Pastor Charles Buregeya Mugisha, founder of Africa New Life Ministries and Africa College of Theology (ACT), a small Bible college. As we entered the classroom, we saw sunlight streaming in the windows and a screen in the far corner that read “Hermeneutics BTH1203.” Students dressed in collared shirts, slacks, skirts, and dresses—nary a pajama-clad young adult to be found—trickled in as the class opened with prayer and an a cappella song.

During class, students shared with us the great sacrifices of time and money they had made to pursue biblical education. A mother of two kids who served in the women’s ministry at her church wanted more education to empower her Bible teaching and leadership. Another student had moved to Rwanda and learned English just so he could attend the college, and another man, from the war-torn, neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, shared his dream to return home and teach classes to train pastors in different areas of his country.

As I listened, I heard from the vast majority of students that their purpose in seeking biblical training was to go out and train others who will never have the opportunity to get formal education. This sense of duty to the community stood in stark contrast to the more individualistic Western goals of pursuing one’s own calling and, in some cases, building one’s platform. As I sat in class, I found myself asking—what does it look like when we pursue education, not to elevate an individual, but ...

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