Saturday, November 10, 2012

Return from East Africa

 Baboon by the road in Tanzania
 Jonathan bringing Stanley and Livingstone together in Ujiji, TZ
 Leaders' meeting participants in Kigali, RW

Two days ago I returned from East Africa. The following is a synopsis of the last part of the trip.

Katoro and Mwanza, TZ
We did biblical stewardship conferences in Katoro and Mwanza, TZ.  Katoro struck me (and the rest of my crew [Dickson Laizer, Joram Ibrahim, and Godfrey Ongiri]) as spiritually "hard ground." We had not been to Katoro before. It was hot, dry, dusty, and dirty. We did have fish soup for breakfast at what appeared to be the one OK restaurant in that town (Mama Nasoro's). I thought it was somewhat discouraging, and the pastors all seemed to be a a very low level.Godfrey Ongiri will follow-up, so I hope that good will come of it.

Mwanza, which is located on the southern end of Lake Victoria, was also somewhat discouraging. It did not seem to have been particularly well organized. There were only about 32 participants at the stewardship conference, and the majority of them were not pastors (but were elders, deacons, worship leaders, wives, and others). The teaching went well. Godfrey is from Mwanza, so should be able to follow-up fairly easily.

Kigoma, TZ
The situation was considerably different in Kigoma. The stewardship conference was well organized. In Kigoma there is a good inter-denominational pastors fellowship--so we had pastors and leaders from all denominations, Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal. There were even a few Roman Catholics. We had over 75 participants, and they purchased about 90 of the Biblical Stewardship books. This group was enthusiastic, asked lots of questions, and appeared to learn a lot. It is an area I certainly want to return to. 

Kigoma itself is located on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. It used to be the transit point for the Muslim slave trade. The Muslims (who have enslaved far more people than Westerners ever did) would kidnap the Africans from central Africa and force them to march across the continent to the east coast, where they would then be shipped to the Middle East and other points. Kigoma has a very high Muslim population. I had not realized it, but Ujiji (just outside of Kigoma) is the place where Stanley met Livingstone and uttered the famous line, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume." On our last day there we visited the site where that occurred.

Kigali, RW
This trip ended with an important meeting in Kigali, RW of top people from all of the countries of  East Africa with whom I work. Dr. Frank Cummings led a two-day strategic planning summit meeting. We even had three representatives from the newest country in the world, the Republic of South Sudan. Most of the participants never had attended a strategic planning summit before. We focused on our mission and vision, our strengths and weakness, and ended by developing the beginning of an action plan. This was designed, in part, to help the Africans to develop a sense of "ownership" of this mission.

The meeting was successful. I just received an email from Ernest Mwilitsa of Kenya. He echoes the sentiments that others who were at the meeting also expressed:

>>We thank God for using you to give us that good opportunity to meet our fellow labourers in the Lord. Matters discussed were very important to us and the future of EPI. It is our prayer that we continue to have such meetings every year.

From the look of things, that is a real milestone and road map to our future.I believe with such exposure many people will work hard to make EPI a success. You might not know the impact of EPI in East Africa,
but I want to assure you that it has transformed many ministries.<<

Back Home
I have much work to do now that I am home. Frank is on his way back home even as I write this (he led a two day advanced biblical counseling workshop in Kigali after the summit meeting ended). Later in the year I will post a year-end summary. God bless you all.

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