I have completed 5 trips to East Africa, and am next scheduled to leave the States again (for Rwanda and Burundi) on January 10, following EPI's annual board and staff meeting on January 7-8. Now is a good time to highlight this year, as we look forward to 2011.
Statistics: The Deepening of the Church in East Africa
In 2010, among the 5 countries of the East African Community (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda), I was involved in different 33 events. These included both pastors conferences and TOTs (Training of Trainers), as follows: Burundi: 3 pastors conferences; Kenya: 10 pastors conferences and 6 TOTs; Rwanda: 4 pastors conferences and 2 TOTs; Tanzania: 3 pastors conferences and 2 TOTs; Uganda: 1 TOT, 1 meeting with East Africa national coordinators, 1 meeting with Uganda national leaders.
In terms of subject-matter, the breakdown is as follows: 1 Timothy: 12 conferences, 2 TOTs; Biblical Stewardship: 4 conferences, 5 TOTs; Marriage and Parenting: 1 conference; Expository Preaching: 2 conferences, 2 TOTs; Biblical Counseling: 2 TOTs. There were approximately 1432 participants at the pastors conferences, and 180 participants at the TOTs. The above numbers do not include the Biblical Counseling TOT led by Dr. Frank Cummings in Lira, UG, or the Biblical Stewardship pastors conference led by Theophile Rugubira and Martin Odi in Bukavu, DRC.
5-Year Strategic Plan
2010 was a milestone year for EPI's work in East Africa. For the first time sine EPI was founded 12 years ago, we not only have national coordinators in all of the countries of the East Africa community (Martin Odi: UG; George Kariuki: KE; Theophile Rugubira: BU and RW; Wilbert Seme and Joram Ibrahim: TZ). but all of the national coordinators have met together to formulate a united strategy for EPI's work in East Africa. Our meeting occurred in Kampala, UG in October, and resulted in a 5-year plan.
Here are the highlights: Our goal: 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 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.
EPI's Theological Resources
The "resources" page of our website includes our course notes and other materials. We currently have 8 comprehensive sets of course notes: Bibilical Interpretation; Biblical Theology; 1 Timothy; Biblical Marriage & Parenting; Biblical Stewardship; Forgiveness & Reconciliation; Expository Preaching; and Biblical Counseling. All of the notes have been revised on several occasions, so that they provide the best substance in the best format. I am in the process of completing a set of notes on Biblical Eschatology, which I hope to finish sometime in Spring 2011.
Here are comments from African pastors concerning EPI's written materials:
"I have gone through the EPI website and read some of the materials you have posted in it. I am greatly impressed by the level of research potrayed by those Pastoral Training Materials. They are simple to understand and relevant to our context. The depth and the organisation of the materials is commendable. It is easy to read and its stimulating. Any serious minister will find the truths you have written relevant. You have done an in-depth look at the themes you selected. It is a carefully structured research work. Your work covers a wide range of spiritual issues touching the pastoral ministry. Your resources are the kind of materials I have been longing to come across for my spiritual growth and also for those the Lord has entrusted to my care. It will help us equip a generation of church leaders. I am a pastor in the rural part of Kenya in Africa. I came to know of your training resources through Rev George Kariuki [EPI Director, Kenya]. He is of great help to us. Always sacrificing to bring transformation to our community." (Kenyan pastor)
"I would like to thank you very much for the great work you have accomplished in producing a commentary on 1Timothy in LUGANDA. This will be a tremendous resource to our clergy in terms of preaching from the Epistle as well as teaching from it. I will discuss with Archdeacons and find out the best way of accessing the printed material to all clergy." (Ugandan pastor)
Those comments highlight the need to get our materials translated into the indigenous East African languages. In East Africa, almost all good theological resources (other than the Bible itself) are only available in English. In Rwanda and Burundi, some materials also are available in French. Unfortunately, very little is available in the primary East African languages. As part of our 5-year plan, EPI wants to change that, by getting all of our course notes translated into the primary indigenous East African languages.
Currently, the following EPI courses or portions of courses have been translated into East African languages: 1 Timothy: Outline, Commentary, & Inductive Training Manual-Luganda; 1 Timothy Outline & Inductive Training Manual (only)-Kiswahili; 1 Tmothy: Inductive Training Manual (only)-Ateso; French; Kinyarwanda. Expository Preaching-Kiswahili; Luganda. Biblical Stewardship-Kiswahili; Luganda. In addition, the Kiswahili translations of Biblical Marraige & Parenting and the 1 Timothy Commentary are nearing completion, as is the Luganda translation of Biblical Interpretation. I recently sent the Biblical Stewardship notes to translators for translation into: Acholi; Ateso; Alur; Lumasaba; Luo; and Ruyankole-Rukyiga.
Already We are Making a Difference.
Here are some Testimonies:
"This thing is becomimg contageous. We had a conference with local pastors and a few from outside Nairobi, i.e., Coast, Central and Rift Valley and my subject was; MONEY IN MARRIAGE AND MINISTRY. I did teach from your notes and the impact was tremendous. Out of this a Bishop has invited me to teach his church leaders on the subject and multiple invitations are coming in from pastors who attended the conference. In fact one pastor told me that he has now eatablished a finance committee in his church after listening to the teachings." (Kenyan pastor)
"Since I met you and EPI teachings, I have changed HOW TO TEACH, by using context, paragraph, book to book, verse to verse. I have seen a lot changes in my church, but what I realized it is different with the first way. You have to give your time for preparation to the sermon that you will be preaching at least 4 days before." (Rwandan pastor)
"Through your teaching, now I'm a teacher of THE BOOK OF FIRST TIMOTHY!!! I like and I love so much this book." (Tanzanian pastor)
As I have mentioned in previous reports, I want to spend more time in TOTs or "TOT-like" conferences (i.e., smaller numbers, with more Q&A and discussion among the participants). We also want to continually use the conferences and TOTs to identify and winnow the the best teachers to develop good, ever expanding, core groups of well-trained, passionate, committed, and excellent teachers in each country. They will have a greater impact, and for a much longer time, teaching other pastors in their own countries than I would ever have trying to do the job myself.
Thank you for your Prayers and Financial Support
EPI is a 501(c)3 organization, so your financial support is tax-deductible. This ministry depends on the loyal support of you, the faithful body of Christ. I am responsible for raising the financial support for anything that is done under my jurisdiction. That includes the conferences, TOTs, costs of translation, printing notes, my airfare, ground transportation, lodging, etc. Each set of notes costs about $250-$300 for translation into one East African language, some more or a little less, depending on the length. Checks can be made payable to EPI, and sent to EPI, c/o Jonathan Menn, 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914.
Additionally, I would like to provide the key teachers who do not have laptops with their own laptops. Basic laptops can be obtained for $500 or less apiece. We take these things for granted in the West, but they would be a HUGE resource for the African church leaders, especially since I could load them with good theological materials (and I have already sent to my African contacts a list of good biblical research websites).
We live in strategic times where we CAN make a difference. If you are already supporting this efffort through your prayers and financially, I thank you (you know from past reports that your prayers have made a huge difference in saving my health and life and the health and lives of others). If you have not yet joined this effort, please consider doing so. It is well worth it. God bless you.