Thursday, February 18, 2010

Return from Burundi and Rwanda

David Lewis teaching at Gahanga, RW Graduates of Bible School at Muyinga, BU refugee camp
Alan McClue and colleague at Ntarama genocide site
Jonathan at Nyamata genocide site

Here is the rest of the story from Burundi and Rwanda. The trip itself went well (thank you for your prayers!), although for much of it I was quite tired (perhaps because Nancy and I had driven about 22 hours from Orlando to Appleton the day before I left).
Following the conference in Muyinga, BU (which I mentioned in my report from the field) Theophile and I travelled to Rwanda, where we held three conferences, all of 1 Timothy: one in Gahanga (not far from the capital of Kigali), one in Kigali, and one in Ruhengeri to the north (the area of volcanoes, where the gorillas live).
My friend, David Lewis, joined us for the Gahanga and Kigali conferences, and taught at each one. David had previously been to southern Africa many years ago, but had never been to Rwanda. As is true for virtually everyone who comes there, he was very impressed with the country and its people. We made sure to visit two genocide sites, and had the good fortune to meet W. Alan McClue, a forensic pathologist from the UK who was there for a conference. That gentleman had been part of the investigation into the shooting down of President Habyarimana's airplane (now proven beyond a doubt to have been done by Hutu-power extremists within his own government as a pretext to begin the genocide). He also had been to the Ntarama genocide site (where we talked) about 8 years after the genocide when the bodies of many of the 5,000 victims at that site were still lying there. In one room (where victims were burned to death) you still walk over bits of bone and teeth.
This trip was very important in that I met men who expressed the desire (and appear to have the ability) to translate our materials into Kirundi (the dialect of Burundi) and into French (spoken throughout Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo). I also talked at length with Theophile about plans for the future. He is a good, well-trained, competent, and committed man. He has planted 41 churches, founded more than one Bible school (including one in a refugee camp, where I was honored to attend the graduation ceremony for the first graduating class), and has many good contacts through out the region. I see the hand of God putting us together for the important work of equipping the pastors and church leaders of the East African churches.
The translation of our notes is vital. I believe that, as we get our materials translated into the important languages of East Africa and into the hands of the East African church leaders, the effects over time can be profound. Some indication of the impact may be gauged by these comments from the man who is translating our materials into Luganda (a major language in Uganda): "Brother Jonathan, thank you for writing this book [Expository Preaching]. It is a book every faithful preacher and shepherd of God's flock should study and study and internalize. During the time of its translation, it has added very much to what I already know as a pastor and preacher of God's Word. And it will be a great joy for me to teach it to brothers in Christ wherever the Lord will have sent us to minister to them. It is the material we really need." And "I have just finished translating page 27 of Biblical Stewardship. But wow, I am learning great things. Thank you for writing these books."
It will cost between about $250-$500 to translate one of our sets of notes into one African language (depending on length and other factors). I currently have notes for 8 courses, and there are about 8 languages into which I would like the notes to be translated. As you can see, the total project (and I will be developing more courses) will end up costing several thousand dollars. Your tax-deductible donations to EPI will pay huge dividends for a very long time. Currently, very little good theological material is available for the East African churches in languages other than English (and some in French). Please think and pray about this. You can give online through or website ( or can send a check, payable to EPI, to me at 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914.
My next trip will last a month, from the end of March to the end of April, and will be spent in Kenya. I will update you further at that time.

Report from Burundi and Rwanda

One form of "public transportation" in Burundi
Burundian cultural drummers

Teaching at conference in Bujumbura, BU

Less than a week ago I returned from Burundi and Rwanda. This was the report I emailed to friends and supporters while I was still there. If you are not on my email list, but would like to be, please email me, and I will add you to the list so that you can get reports from the field when I am overseas.

Burundi is warm--in the 80s--and beautiful. Theophile Rugubira, EPI's Rwanda-Burundi coordinator, and I have done 2 conferences in the capital of Bujumbura. One was on Biblical Stewardship and the second on 1 Timothy. The people have been very receptive. The second group were people with whom we have not interacted before. Most of the pastors have NO training at all. It makes me very sad. However, they appear committed to do what they can with the new knowledge they have. Please pray for the churches in East Africa. They face huge problems, and have little training or resources. It is an honor to work with them.

I preached in the church of pastor Francois on Sunday. Afterwards he took me to Lake Tanganyika--one of Africa's "great lakes" and the deepest. A hippo was not far off shore. Not like back in Wisconsin at this time of the year!

I am now in the eastern city of Muyinga, not far from the Tanzania border. We are in the middle of a conference on Biblical Stewardship. I have been informed that this is the only internet cafe in the entire city. The connection comes from Nairobi, Kenya, and is incredibly slow. Additionally, the keyboard is not configured as are our keyboards back home. Oh well.

The people here likewise have had NO prior training. I have heard many times that even such basic (to us) information such as "our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we therefore should take care of them and bathe," and "your spouse should have precedence over your job," is "new," and "we have never heard this before." On the other hand, during small group discussions, all of the groups seemed enthusiastic about beginning the process of teaching their people how to do basic budgeting, and beginning to budget and keep records in their churches, as well as apply some of the other things we have been teaching. I was very distressed, however, to see that most of the pastors here are in the thrall of heretical "prosperity" teachers. I sensed great resistance as I was talking about that. Theophile pointed out, though, that they had never heard the orthodox Christian position on that issue. Naturally, they would be resistant. However, we have supplied them with an excellent written critique of the "prosperity gospel" in their own language. Theophile will be returning here in 3 months to follow-up with the participants. God-willing, by then they will have read, checked out what we have said with the Scriptures, and may have changed their views to a more biblical one.

Please pray for these dear pastors and church leaders. Their needs--spiritual and otherwise--are so great, and their resources are so few. Thank you for your prayers and financial support of this ministry.