Karatina, KE conference
EPI-Kenya national leaders at TOT in Thika, KE
After a little more than a month in Kenya, I safely returned on May 1. I just made it back to Appleton three days ago, however, since I had to take care of a legal matter in Florida relating to my dad's estate, that had to be dealt with immediately upon my arrival back in the States. In fact, because of the Iceland volcano, Nancy had to re-book me on another flight through South Africa to insure that I would arrive back in the US in time to deal with the estate matter. That resulted in about 34 hours of flying and waiting in airports, but all went well.
The work in Kenya proved to be very worthwhile. As I had indicated in my report from the field, we have a very good group of Kenyan pastors who are committed to furthering EPI's work. I am hoping that we will be able to develop similar groups throughout the rest of East Africa, and then expand the size of the groups. To that end, I have already communicated with my national coordinators in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. The national coordinators and I are planning on meeting together in Kampala, UG in mid-October to share ideas and strategize. This will be the first time at which all of the national coordinators and I will have been able to get together personally. Please pray for this meeting, as I think it will prove to be very important.
This trip to Kenya also was important in that, other than the two Expository Preaching conferences we did, at all of the other conferences anywhere from 3-5 Africans did the teaching along with me. I am happy to report that they were all good, and some were outstanding. Sometimes they spoke in English, other times in Kikuyu or Kiswahili. As I have frequently told the pastors in Africa, "You can teach this material better than I can, because you know the language, the people, and the culture better than I ever will." In fact, at the Biblical Marriage and Parenting conference we did in Webuye, Western Region, KE, although George Kariuki, James Ndiba, and I all taught various sessions, it was Lucy Kariuki who "stole the show." She is the only one of us who was given an actual present at the end. Further, the ladies of Webuye specifically invited her back for more! Thus, as I see it, this trip really marked a beginning of the African church leaders embracing "ownership" of EPI and its vision. The more EPI establishes some sort of ongoing, distinctly African organization, structure, or other presence in East Africa, the more effective it will be, and the greater will be its impact, long after I am gone. That is one of the basic things I am aiming to do.
All of this confirms my thoughts and observations over the past year or so: namely, I need to spend as much time as I can doing TOTs (i.e., providing more in-depth training to smaller groups, who can then go out and teach other pastors). Also, I need to provide more good written materials to the church leaders in East Africa, and facilitate translation into the most widely used East African languages. Right now, Biblical Stewardship has been translated into Kiswahili, and has been posted on our website. Translation of Biblical Stewardship into Luganda and Kirundi is in the proces of being finalized, as is Expository Preaching into Luganda. Translation of 1 Timothy into Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Ateso, Luganda, Ruyankole, and French is occurring right now. More will be following as soon as possible. I hope to get all of my materials translated into these and other important East Arican languages over the next two years.
While I was away, I received two donations specifically earmarked for the translation project. Those donors recognize the importance of translating solid, biblical material into indigenous African languages. It will have a direct impact on thousands, and will last for generations. You can be a part of this project. You can either make your tax-deductible donation through our website (www.equippingpastors.com) or can send a check payable to EPI, c/o Jonathan Menn, 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914.
There are a couple of other exciting ventures which have the potential to significantly expand EPI's impact in East Africa. However, I will hold off on mentioning them until I see that they may actually come to fruition. Your prayers about all of these matters are most important. In my view, a ministry that essentially amounts to some Westerners going over to Africa and periodically holding conferences (and there are lots of such ministries) will basically have little or no impact, and is really not worth very much. On the other hand, to put in place sizable groups of committed, well-trained, and capable African teachers, who can draw on each other and who have excellent, theologically sound and practical written materials in their own languages to use and distribute to others--that is something worth striving for and will make a difference.
May God be with you and keep you, Jonathan