Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 Year-End Report

George Kariuki (Kenya coordinator) and his wife Lucy

Justus Wafula and Wilbert Seme (Tanzania coordinator)

Theophile Rugubira (Rwanda/Burundi coordinator) and his wife Miriam

2009 has been my most productive year so far. Here are some of the highlights:
· In January EPI was in BURUNDI for the first time. We did two 1 Timothy conferences with a total of 99 pastors/church leaders.
· We did our first-ever conference (1 Timothy) in DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC). This was significant in that some Congolese pastors had come to our conference in Gisenyi, Rwanda and had requested that EPI come to DRC. Although I personally was unable to go, we recognized the need. Therefore, Martin Odi (EPI-Uganda) and Theophile Rugubira (EPI-Rwanda/Burundi) headed the team who went to DRC in July. This was also EPI’s first all-African (African led/African participants) conference. To me, that epitomizes what EPI is all about, and what I want to do: equip the nationals so that they can carry on sound Bible teaching indigenously.
· I personally was involved in 24 conferences, in each of the five countries of the East Africa Community, as follows:
BURUNDI—2 conferences (both 1 Timothy)—99 total participants.
RWANDA—2 conferences (1 Timothy and Marriage)—89 total participants.
KENYA—6 conferences (1 1 Timothy and 5 Stewardship)—599 total participants.
TANZANIA—5 conferences (1 1 Timothy and 4 Stewardship)—393 total participants.
UGANDA—9 conferences (3 1 Timothy, 1 Marriage, and 5 Stewardship)—656 total participants.
TOTAL—8 1 Timothy; 2 Marriage; 14 Stewardship conferences—1836 total participants.
· In addition to the conferences, I was personally involved in 6 TOTs (“Training of Trainers”). Each of the TOT sessions lasted 3½ days, and all were on 1 Timothy. TOT involves intensive training, lots of discussion, Q&A, and the participants all make 2 oral teaching presentations, which the entire group then critiques (we first “affirm” what the presenter did well, and then go to “the other side of the coin”—how the presenter could improve; some of the participants seem to love doing “the other side of the coin!”). A total of 84 participants were involved in my 6 TOT sessions.
· EPI also held its first all-African TOT, in Arusha, Tanzania, for participants who were not fluent in English. At our conferences, we typically present in English, and have translators translate into the local languages. Because TOT is a more intimate setting, involving usually 12-16 participants, I require that participants at my TOTs be fluent in English. However, since fairly large numbers of pastors, especially from Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, do not speak English, we commissioned 2 African pastors to lead EPI’s first all-African TOT (conducted in Kiswahili), in Arusha, Tanzania. Again, this is what EPI and I personally stand for: equipping the nationals so that they can train their own in depth. At Arusha, 14 participants were involved.

On a more “institutional,” but just as important, level—2009 saw the following:

· My “5 Point Plan” for East Africa is now beginning to be implemented. That plan is:
1—Mandatory, African-initiated follow-up for all of our pastors conferences. Follow-up helps spur actual implementation of what we teach.
2—In-depth training of a few. Seminary-level teaching and TOT equips pastors to teach others and carry on EPI’s work indigenously.
3—Discipleship. Most churches are evangelistic, but almost none of them have any formal discipleship courses for new believers. Most cannot afford the cost of published discipleship courses. I want to develop a discipleship course which EPI can distribute to the churches.
4—Notes available in translation. We need to reach those who are not fluent in English with good written materials. Only a few of our materials have been translated so far. I have identified 8 languages that will cover all of East Africa. The legacy of those written materials will be long-lasting and very profound.
5—Bringing pastors of different denominations together. As EPI's conferences bring leaders of different denominations together, they forge relationships and find that far more unites than divides them. In this way the entire church is strengthened and the unity of Christ is shown.

We are not there yet, but all of our national coordinators are “on board,” and we have begun the process:
· We are now requiring follow-up at all of our conferences. Essentially, “no follow-up; no conference.” I need this to gauge our results and to spur application. I am beginning to get results, although compliance is not yet 100% (this is Africa).
· More and more I and the other African leaders see the importance of TOT, over and above our regular conferences. More will be accomplished, both in the short term, and certainly in the long term, by smaller numbers of intensively-trained and committed pastors, than by larger numbers of less intensively-trained pastors. Hence, in 2008, when we began the TOT process, we did 2 TOTs. In 2009 we did 7 TOTs, one of which was all-African.
· I got connected with contacts in several organizations who have good discipleship programs. Life Ministry (the African name of Campus Crusade for Christ) has a very basic, but very affordable discipleship course, in various African languages. I have informed my email list of African pastors of this. An American residing in Uganda has developed a good discipleship program, available at low cost. Through Martin Odi that is now being made available to several Ugandan pastors. I got connected with Pastor Russ Walker of Crosspointe Community Church, Whitewater, WI, who has developed an excellent, in-depth discipleship program. Martin Odi and others have made suggestions about how to “Africanize” it. It is my hope that Pastor Walker and others from Crosspointe will be able to travel to Uganda in 2010 to teach it to selected African pastors.
· We are now planning on printing and binding, instead of photocopying and stapling, our teaching notes. Printing and binding is more “professional,” as well as long-lasting, than photocopied notes. We did an initial print run of 1000 of our Stewardship notes in Uganda in August. The result was very favorable. Also, we learned some things for the future. I believe that getting these notes translated and into the African pastors’ hands will make a big difference. To that end, I have revised (or will do so) virtually all of our notes. I am now in contact with a good translator in Tanzania, who is translating our notes into Kiswahili. Theophile Rugubira is in charge of translating the notes into Kinyarwanda and French. I am in contact with an African who will translate, or oversee translation, into the Ugandan languages of Luganda, Luo, and Runyankore and Runyoro-Rutoro. Martin Odi is overseeing translation into Ateso. The Stewardship notes are even in the process of being translated into Arabic! This is going to make a large impact over the long run, since most Africans have very few good theological materials in their native languages.
One way in which you can make a big difference is to make a special donation for the purpose of translation and printing. It costs approximately $250 to translate each set of notes into one African language. It further costs approximate $1.25-$1.75 to print and bind one copy of the translated notes (assuming a print run of 500-1000). Thus, for approximately $1000-$1200 you can fund the translation, printing, and binding of 500 copies of a set of notes into one African language. The vast, vast majority of all good theological works available to Africans are in English. A few are available in French. Almost none are available in native African languages. My notes will now be available in the African languages. A resource like this has never been available before. It is going to have an impact on the churches long after we are gone.
· All of my African coordinators want to see EPI be a forum in which pastors of different denominations come together. That is happening now—not as much as I would like to see, but it is happening. At the TOT session in Western Kenya in November my friend Bishop Justus Wafula said that, before we got connected, he only associated with people of his own denomination. Now, he has become a facilitator for people of different denominations to come together in the common cause of advancing Christ’s kingdom. In fact, under his instigation, the “Western Kenya EPI-Network” has been formed, “to create a Christ-like inter-denominational body that glorifies God through faithful obedience to Christ.” Their vision is “to create good relationship among church leaders of different denominations of different background and cultures based on the goal of the command of Love which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Tim 1:5).” That, perhaps more than anything, shows me that we are on the right path.
· In addition to Martin Odi, who has been with EPI from its beginning 12 years ago, and who coordinates our work in Uganda, Western Kenya, and Sothern Sudan, we now have new, excellent, national coordinators in Kenya (George Kariuki), Tanzania (Wilbert Seme), and Rwanda/Burundi (Theophile Rugubira).

Let me close by saying that I could not do any of this if it were not for you. All Christians are in mission, either as “senders” or as “goers.” Being a sender includes your PRAYERS (which I very much need—having escaped or survived in 2009: almost dying in a “near-miss” car crash in Kenya; almost being robbed in Tanzania; almost being caught in a grenade attack in Burundi and riots in Uganda; and having had a partially collapsed lung and dysentery). Being a sender also includes your FINANCIAL SUPPORT which is TAX DEDUCTIBLE. I make 5 trips to East Africa per year. Air fare for each trip costs approximately $2000. I have to pay for the cost of translating and binding the teaching notes. I also have to pay for the cost of the conferences, each of which totals around $2500-$3000, and the TOTs, each of which totals around $1200-$1500. In addition, I need to make a significant funding contribution toward the all-African conferences and TOTs, which take place under my auspices. As you can see, it costs some money—but I can’t think of any ministry where you get such an incredible return on your investment as EPI. We are doing what few are doing, and are empowering the Africans (instead of creating a “culture of dependency”). I thank everyone who supports me. Please either give online (see our website:, and click on my name), or make your check payable to: Equipping Pastors International (or, “EPI”), c/o Jonathan Menn, 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and may the Lord Jesus bless your New Year.