Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Year-End Report

Jonathan in Eden (actually Rwanda)

Small group discussion session in Tanzania
Expository Preaching group in Kenya

As we reach the end of 2011, as EPI's East Africa Director it is a good time to summarize my year, and the situation of EPI in East Africa.

Statistical Summary of Conferences and TOTs
As has been true since I began full-time with EPI 4½ years ago, in 2011 I made 5 trips to East Africa, each trip lasting approximately 4 weeks. This year I personally was involved in 35 events: 26 pastors conferences, 8 TOTs ("training of trainers" [more intensive and in-depth workshops involving smaller numbers of participants than the average pastors conference]), and 1 meeting of the EPI-Kenya leadership team. Of the pastors conferences we did: 1 Timothy 13 times; Biblical Stewardship 8 times; Marriage & Parenting 4 times, and Biblical Theology 1 time. Of the TOTs we did Expository Preaching 7 times and Marriage & Parenting 1 time. There were approximately 1643 total participants for the pastors conferences and 138 TOT participants (although some of them participated in more than one TOT).
My friend Stan Schug was with me the entire month of April in Kenya. Stan has a wealth of experience in prison ministry and motorcycle ministry, both of which are largely unmet needs in East Africa. Stan may be returning to East Africa in the future, and will be following-up with the contacts he made regarding prison ministry and reaching out to motorcycle drivers (of which there are many in East Africa).
In addition, my friend Dr. Frank Cummings made 4 trips to East Africa this year, leading 8 TOTs on Biblical Counseling for approximately 160-170 total participants. Dr. Cummings is a clinical psychologist, steeped in the Scriptures, and an excellent teacher. Since counseling is such an important part of a pastor's job, having someone of Dr. Cummings’ ability and experience to concentrate on this essential area is truly a God-send.

All-African Conferences and TOTs
To be most effective and have the greatest and most lasting impact, EPI's work in East Africa cannot ultimately depend on me or any Westerner. I can only go to limited numbers of places every year. More important, as I tell the good men and women I work with in Africa, “You can do this better than I can, because you are African: you know the language; you know the people; you know the culture; and you can relate the truths we are trying to convey in ways that resonate with the people better than I ever can.” Consequently, it is important to develop good core groups of indigenous EPI teachers in each of the countries of East Africa, and have them lead EPI conferences and TOTs without me or any other Westerner present. That is the only way to insure that this work will continue after I am gone.
That process began 2 years ago and greatly accelerated in 2011. In Kenya, George Kariuki and the EPI-Kenya team did 8 all-African conferences. In Uganda, Martin Odi did 4 all-African conferences as well as several other conferences with other Western EPI personnel. In Rwanda and Burundi, Theophile Rugubira did 9 all-African conferences, follow-ups, and TOTs. Just two years ago there was only one EPI-sponsored all-African pastors conference. This mission is truly on track.

EPI's Theological Resources and Translations
In the months that I am at home I spend most of my time researching, writing, and revising the teaching materials and theological resources for the African pastors and church leaders. We currently have major sets of teaching notes in 9 subject areas (most are in detailed, narrative outline format) available for free on the "Resources" page of EPI's website ( 1 Timothy; Biblical Counseling; Biblical Eschatology; Biblical Interpretation; Biblical Marriage & Parenting; Biblical Stewardship; Biblical Theology; Expository Preaching; and Forgiveness & Reconciliation. This year I finished Biblical Eschatology (a project that had taken more than a year), and made revisions to the other sets of notes. In addition, we have several other supplementary marterials in several areas.
It is necessary and important important to make good theological materials available in the indigenous African languages in order to properly equip the African pastors (since very few good theological materials are available in the indigenous African languages). I am in the process of overseeing the translation of our materials into the major East African laguages. That project advanced significantly in 2011. This year we have seen the following posted on the "African Languages Resources" page of EPI's website: Kiswahili--9 items; Kikuyu--5 items. Additional materials have been completed and are in the process of being proofed. Further, translations of our materials are being done or are planned in Alur, Ateso, French, Kamba, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Lumasaaba, Luo, Ruyankole, and perhaps other languages.

Impact: What the Africans are Saying
Long term change takes time. While it is easy to quantify what we are doing, it is not so easy to quantify the impact of what we are doing. Unlike many missions, we do not go someplace and then go away, never to return. Instead, we return to many of the same places and build upon what we have done in the past. I charge my EPI-African leaders to follow-up with conference participants to learn what we are doing well, what can be improved, and to get a sense of the impact of what we are doing. An effective way to do this is for the African leaders to select a few sharp people who appear to have the potential and desire to be good teachers from each pastors conference; then to combine a follow-up TOT with those few, and at the same time assess how the conference went. This serves multiple purposes: follow-up and assessment; in-depth training; and identifying people who can come on board as future EPI teachers.
Here are some of the email comments I have received from the East Africans concerning our work in 2011:
Theophile Rugubira (Rwanda): On 2-3-4 May I was in Muhanga [RWANDA] with 18 pastors. As the result of the EPI teachings the pastors meet once a week for the Bible studies. They are working with the district to see if they can work together for the environment, and mobilize the people of Muhanga concerning the Stewardship of our body. The other good things some churches started to mobilize their members to do small business. Some of them started to set up the church budget which is giving them more money in their churches. The Baptist church pastor told us that after teaching how the families should cut down their expenses 3 families came to thank him and testify that now they are able to use well their money. The pastor from Pentecostal church said told us that he have been working with 10 families for cleaning the toilets. Now this families teach other families how better is to clean their toilets which may reduce some disease.
· Obed Magoko (Kenya): Me and George had a very successful meeting. We had an attendance of 70-78 pastors and church leaders daily. It is one thing to speak the word of God and people to say that they are blessed and another different thing all together to see it application. I realised that the church where we had our meetings had no facility to wash hands after visiting the toilets. During my teachings I challenged them and I gave that as an example. The next day I was amazed to meet the church assistant pastor fabricating a mechanism that was very cheap and yet very effective. He had on him a water-jerrycan that can hold 5 litres of water. He suspended it on the air with a help of a wire and two posts about 2 meters in height, a piece of wood connected to the jerrycanby a wire such that after visiting the toilet, you step on the piece of wood [like a car foot brake] and the jerrycan with water bends over and spills the water in small quantities and hence one washes the hands. It can not cost more than a dollar (Kshs 80.00), and every rural church can borrow this example.
· Justus Wafula (Kenya): The conferences you have done or offered to us have been positively to our ministry, spiritually and leadership. I thank those who sponsored the conference since 2008 up to now. I accept in our ministry we are not much learned but through these conferences we are much far. The other areas you people have helped us through this conferences is integrity through stewardship, handling carefully things of God and faithfully using them and also stay on budget. The books and notes you gave us has really pasted our standard in knowledge of theology. Thank you and God bless you for struggling to build His kingdom.
· William Gichini (Kenya): Since I knew you 2 yrs ago thru my friend Rev George my ministry have really changed. I have been able to teach leaders and pastors through the material you give me. THE OUTCÖME IS GREAT e.g. the church is increasing because of responsible leaders, other junior pastors have developed interest to learn more.....2day my friend and I were discussing your material of Éschatology. Very rich resource. I WILL USE THE RESOURCES TO COMPLEMENT MY SERMONS IN TEACHING LESSONS. I WILL ALSO NOT HESTATE TO SHARE WITH OTHER MINISTERS OF gospel.
· Maichael Nangai (Uganda): Am glad for Biblical Stewardship notes that are helping us in training church leaders on Capacity Building Program. I have two trainings going on now in Mbale and more are yet to begin. These materials are really biblical and very good for the church.

Looking Ahead to 2012
I am planning a similar schedule for 2012. However, since we now have several capable teachers in each of the 5 East African countries, I would like to spend less of my time teaching our foundational courses (1 Timothy, Biblical Stewardship, and Marriage & Parenting), and more of my time doing Expository Preaching and other TOTs, and introducing other courses.
All-African pastors conferences and TOTs should increase. My goal is to see EPI's work carried out indigenously to the extent possible. As more and more Africans are equipped to teach EPI's courses, there will be more and more all-African pastors conferences and TOTs. Right now I am underwriting the majority of the financial expenses for the all-African conferences. Thus, I anticipate that my expenses for 2012 should increase a fair amount over previous years. I already have received requests for at least 10 all-African conferences in Kenya and Uganda alone for the first 3 months of 2012.
I want to begin supplying laptop computers to all the EPI-African leaders. This is important for all the leaders, and is vital for the translation project. The problems faced by the church leaders is indicated by an email I recently received from Elkanah Munduni, my Luganda translator: "I am sorry I have taken a long time without sending you any response to the emails you have been sending me, it is because I have to access email either from Kiboga Town or Hoima, which are quite a distance from my home. And right now I am sending you this one from Hoima, a distance of 28 miles from my home! Another challenge is still that of load shading which is still a very big problem to power users in Uganda. In order to do my translation work with minimum interruption because of this, I think I will also need a laptop computer." Providing basic laptops will cost several thousand dollars, even at an average cost of $300-$400 apiece.
We want to begin printing our materials in paperback book format, rather than photocopying them. We are looking into the most cost-effective way of doing this, either printing large runs of the various sets of notes (so as to lower the printing cost of each book) or even to buy a printer, which in Uganda would cost about $3500-$4000.

Thank you for your continued Prayer and Financial Support
Your prayers have helped keep me alive and well for another year, despite various illnesses and road accidents along the way. Your prayers are also a channel God uses to increase the effectiveness of EPI's work.
Your financial support is, of course, also deeply appreciated and absolutely necessary. I am responsible for paying for everything that I do. Thus, if I don't pay for translation of notes, they won't get translated. All of your support is tax-deductible since EPI is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations can be made online through electronic fund transfers or PayPal, or checks can be made payable to EPI and sent to: Jonathan Menn, 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914. All of your donations to my part of this ministry go to the work of the ministry; nothing is used for my "personal" support. Equipping the indigenous church leaders is, in my opinion, the number 1 need in world missions today. Unfortunately, very few ministries, other than EPI, focus on that. When you give to EPI you are accomplishing something both lasting and important. God bless you, Jonathan