Monday, May 10, 2010

Greetings from Kenya: Part 2

South B slum (Nairobi, KE)--site of Biblical Stewardship conference Lucy Kariuki teaching in Webuye, KE

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 ( 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

Greetings from Kenya: Part 1

Student preacher--Murang'a, KE Here comes the bride! Murang'a, KE

Kenya's EPI national leadership group--Thika, KE

I just returned from a month in Kenya. The following report from the field was sent to those on my email list while I was there. If you would like to be included on my email list, please email me at and request to be included:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

This is proving to be a very busy but fruitful time in Kenya. I began by having a Biblical Stewardship TOT (training of trainers) session in Thika, KE with 15 people who are leading EPI's work here. The Kenyans have done a tremendous job of organizing themselves to coordinate EPI's work here. They have elected a national coordinator and regional coordinators for the 8 regions of the country. Thus, the continuity of our work here does not depend just upon one man. Further, they all share the vision and are passionate about equipping the Kenyan pastors themselves. This is very encouraging to me. Kenya has come a long way since I began working here 3 years ago. The short-term and long-term prospects are very positive.

From Thika I traveled to Murang'a, in the Central Region. I was honored to preach at a wedding, and then again at the Easter Sunday church service. Kenyan weddings are social occasions where many people come, whether invited or not. Like funerals, they provide a good opportunity to present the gospel. Thus, I preached for about 40 minutes at he wedding and for an hour on Sunday. No one considers that a long time here.

We then conducted our first Expository Preaching conference in Murang'a. Much of preaching over here is the pastor taking a verse and using it to say whatever he wants to for about an hour on Sunday mornings. Consequently, we selected a group of just over 30 pastors who are fluent in English. The reason is that, after teaching about the nature of expository preaching, principles of effective sermons, reading and preaching in context, sermon organization, etc., we divided the participants into 3 small groups. Each group was assigned a passage of Scripture to preach (approximately 1/2 to 1 chapter). The small groups had a number of sessions during the conference to analyze the passage and work or preparing a sermon. On the final day, one representative from each group was given approximately 40 minutes to preach a sermon based on the passage, and apply what we had been talking about. The entire group then critiqued the sermons, both the good and the bad (and I, of course, had plenty to add).

The participants obviously learned much. Such things as employing a problem or issue-based introduction, a "proposition," and "organizational sentence," and specificity of application were largely new to most of them. The three sermons all showed promise. You may be interested to know that I would rank the woman preacher ahead of the two male preachers, if I were ranking them. All in all, I think the church will be deepened as a result of this. George Kariuki, my host (and EPI's Kenya national coordinator) demonstrated his understanding of good preaching by the comments he made to me while the others were preaching. They mirrored many of my own comments which I had written. That is heartening to me. Despite various cultural differences, there are some cross-cultural principles that, as they are applied, will lead to better Bible teaching and preaching--and thereby to a strengthening of the churches in East Africa.

I am now in Karatina where we are doing a conference on Biblical Stewardship. This conference is a first in that 5 African leaders (George Kariuki and 4 of the regional leaders who had gone through Stewardship TOT) will be teaching with me. That is exactly what I want to see happen: the Africans themselves doing more and more of the teaching. In George's session, he was able to stimulate a lot of Q&A and discussion. That, again, is "music to my ears."

After Karatina comes a week in Nairobi for Expository Preaching and Stewardship, and then to the Rift Valley and Western Kenya for Biblical Marriage and Parenting and 1 Timothy. Thank you for your prayers and support. Your prayers and financial support make this all possible. In that regard, I just got an email that the Kiswahili translation of the Expository Preaching course materials is now being finalized!

Best regards to you all, Jonathan