Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Return from Rwanda & Burundi

Small group discusion at Nyamata, RW

Pastor Emmanuel teaching at Nyanza, RW
Forgiveness & Reconciliation TOT group at Kigali, RW

I returned home Sunday afternoon from the trip to Rwanda and Burundi. I am happy to say that the food poisoning and malaria have healed. Thank you very much for your prayers. I'm just a little under the weather, but that is more nose and throat, related (I think) to flying in airplanes for about 24+ hours with lots of other people and recirculated air.

Nyamata & Nyanza, RW--Biblical Stewardship
Following my last report, we did 2 Biblical Stewardship conferences, in Nyamata and Nyanza, RW. The second one, I thought, was more productive in that the vast majority of the 42 participants were actual pastors. They were engaged, asked quite a few questions, and committed to apply what they learned. At the first conference about half of the 40 participants were not actual pastors, but were deacons, youth leaders, women's group leaders, etc. Of course, none of our teaching is "wasted." Nevertheless, I want to focus my attention on equipping those who are in the position and authority to actually implement the changes we talk about at the conferences.

Kigali, RW--Forgiveness & Reconciliation TOT
We concluded with what I thought was a very productive TOT on Forgiveness & Reconciliation in Kigali, RW. It was the first time we had done Forgveness & Reconciliation. As you might imagine, there is a great need for a good understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation--and how to practically do those things--given the genocide that took place in Rwanda 18 years ago, as well as all the "normal" inter-personal conflicts that plague people. The 14 TOT participants engaged in many lengthy and spirited discussions concerning all aspects of forgiveness and reconciliation. I think we all have a much better understanding of this, and they seemed eager to teach their people about the important principles we talked about. It was an encouraging way to end the trip.

EPI on the Radio
Theophile Rugubira will be following-up in a few months time to assess the impact of what we did. Further, he now has the opportunity to host a radio program every week in which he will teach EPI's material (probably beginning with Biblical Stewardship), field questions from the audience, and discuss our material with pastors whom we have taught and others. Thus, we have the opportunity to be heard by millions. The cost will be $100 per month. This is a cost-effective way to get EPI's teachings out to a large number of people. As always, your tax-deductible donations to EPI (which can be made online at EPI's website [] or checks can be mailed to me at 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914) will prove important as we begin this new venture.

Thank you for your friendship, prayers, and support. I will be home until I leave for Kenya on March 30. During that time I want to make a number of additions and revisions to my materials on Biblical Theology, and a few to Biblical Eschatology, as well as work on proofing translations, and other things. If you have any questions, please feel free email me. God bless you. I will keep you advised of all major developments. Jonathan

Report from Rwanda & Burundi

Anglican Bishop opening the Marriage conference in Muyinga, BU

Theophile teaching in Buhiga, BU

Expository Preaching grop in Kigali, RW

Here is the report I emailed to friends and supporters "from the field" about 2 weeks ago when I was in Rwanda and Burundi:

I have been in Rwanda and Burundi for 2 weeks. Here are some highlights of this trip:

Kigali, RW--Expository Preaching TOT I did round 2 of expository preaching with about 15 pastors from both RW and BU. We concentrated on 2 passages that implicated both the OT and the NT: Ezek 37:15-28 and Luke 11:29-32. I had sent them to the participants in advance, with suggested relevant parallels, and asked them to read and think about, so we could hit the ground running. Unfortunately, very few did that. I have to get used to this, but it is hard to. Their actual sermons showed greater attention to the form I am trying to teach them, but I am sorry to say their analyses of the passages missed the big points of the passages, which we had spent 2 days talking about. {sigh}

Buhiga & Kobero, BU--Biblical Stewardship Burundi is the least developed (both spiritually and technologically) of the 5 countries of the East African community. In both places the pastors seemed to be at a very low level theologically. Further, in Buhiga only 3/47 were actually paid, and Kobero only 1/48. Incredible. Yet, in both places they were serious, and clearly wanted to learn. In Kobero, where we had been last year, they said that, as a result of last year's conference, they had formed an interdenominational pastors committee, which they had never had before. In both places several pastors gave testimonies of how they had been teaching and applying 1 Timothy (which we had taught last year). They both promised to show positive evidence of applying our stewardship material when Theophile Rugubira follows up with them in a few months. In Buhiga they gave Theophile, Frederic (my translator) and me flashlights as a token of the light which we have brought them.

Muyinga, BU--Occupational Hazards Theophile and I then traveled to Muyinga, BU to do a Marriage & Parenting conference, scheduled for this last Mon.-Wed. Unfortunately, the Saturday afternoon we arrived in Muyinga I became very ill. I was diagnosed by a doctor as having some malaria and a bad case of food poisoning. I basically spent the next 3 days shuttling almost every hour between my bed and the toilet. I seemed to turn the corner Tues. afternoon when I was able to eat a little avocado and banana, my first food in 3 days. That night I actually was able to spend the night in bed, without the usual shuttle. I'm now on the mend. Theophile taught the first 2 days of the conference by himself, and from all reports did an excellent job. I chipped in by teaching one unit on Wed. morning, the last day of the conference.

That whole experience confirmed 3 things for me: (1) It demonstrated the absolute necessity of developing good core groups of African teachers of EPI's material. I always have at least one (usually more than one) African teach with me. If I didn't do that, this conference would have been scratched. EPI is not about Westerners coming to teach the Africans, but about both of us working in partnership until, God-willing, there will be so many well-trained African teachers that Westerners won't be required to come at all. (2) This also confirmed what I have long perceived: Marriage is so highly culturally-influenced that I think it is far better that all marriage conferences be conducted entirely by Africans, without any Western teachers at all. Although there are some units in this course that can be seen as less culturally-influenced, I think that any Westerner faces a huge uphill battle of overcoming the (unspoken) perception that, "You may say you are just teaching what the Bible says about marriage, but what you are really doing is imposing on us Western culture and the 'Western' way of doing marriage." Theophile was, of course, able to teach in the local language, and stimulate LOTS of Q&A, testimonies, and discussion, which I or any Westerner simply could not have done. On the last day he was able to deal with and discuss lots of questions regarding contraception, polygamy, and divorce from both an African and a biblical perspective that any Westerner simply cannot do. The misinformation and absence of theological and other knowledge regarding sex, contraception, and other aspects of marriage, as a result of the culture, is simply astounding. I think that well-trained Africans, who of course already know the culture but also know the Bible and EPI's material, are in a vastly better position to deal with that misinformation and ignorance sensitively, without the risk (that most Westerners would face) of being patronizing. (3) On a more positive note, my experience in Muyinga proved to be a very effective way to lose weight! Not too pleasant. But effective. Just trying to be helpful in case you're having trouble losing those last 10 stubborn pounds.

God bless you all. And for those of you who were aware of my illness and prayed, THANK YOU. Best regards, Jonathan