Monday, November 22, 2010

Report from East Africa #1

JMM and East Africa national coordinators Uganda leadership group

On Oct. 10 I left the US for Uganda and Rwanda. I returned hom on Nov. 5. Here is the first report I sent to those on my email list, while I was in Uganda:

The meeting of the national coordinators in Kampala went well. We spent 2 very full days talking about our vision for EPI, talking about a 5 year plan, and how to actualize it. Our goal ultimately is to see significant change in the churches and the church leaders. The specifics of such change can be measured by the major aspects of the things we teach: e.g., the pastors and their spouses have marriages that are biblical and reflect the relationship between Christ and the church; church leaders are selected by applying the principles of 1 Timothy 3; the churches have formal written budgets; interdenominational pastors fellowships are created and there is greater cooperation between the churches; the pastors begin teaching and preaching expositorily; the churches begin formally discipling new believers.

In order to achieve that, in the next 5 years: we need to get all of our course materials translated into the major East African languages; in each country we will develop a core group of committed, passionate, good teachers ("the cream") who will be our national leaders; we will provide good theological materials to those leaders; we will endeavor to have those leaders all meet together up to 2 times; and I will endeavor to recruit 2 Americans who can do what I do in East Africa. So, if you're interested in teaching in East Africa, please get in touch with me! Our 5 year goal is also to reduce the American portion of the funding of our conferences and TOTs from its current level of almost 100%, down to 50%. This will be a challenge, since the funding requirements will actually increase because, as we develop good teachers in each of the countries, they will be doing conferences and TOTs on their own. Thus, the total number of conferences and TOTs will be increasing substantially. The East African economy will not double or quadruple in the next 5 years, and I am responsible for funding these conferences and TOTs. Over time, by their using the resources they do have, concentrating on smaller numbers of participants, getting foodstuffs donated, etc., the Africans will be able to increase their share of the funding. This will require great prayer and work. But, in the long run, it is hugely necessary if the Africans are truly to take "ownership" of EPI's work in East Africa. That is my goal and their goal. All of the national leaders will keep each other informed by email as they take different steps to achieve these goals.

Following the meeting with the national coordinators, I met with Martin Odi and an interdenominational group of pastors he selected as the core of the Uganda EPI leadership team. They enthusiastically endorsed the importance of what we are trying to achieve. They will all be meeting themselves later this year to strategize and tackle some of the difficult logistical and funding issues. It was a very productive meeting. I want to concentrate on training them (and the similar groups from the other East African countries) well, as they will be the leaders in equipping the African church leaders and transforming the African churches.

We all agree that East Africa--given its history, location, relative stability, democracy, and prosperity--is the key region for all of sub-Saharan Africa. Islam is extremely aggressive, well-funded, and is a substantial threat to Christianity in Africa. As East Africa goes, so goes the rest of the continent. Consequently, what we are doing now, in developing well-trained indigenous pastoral teaching teams for equipping and strengthening the church in East Africa will have important and long-term consequences.

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