Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas is coming: Biblical Eschatology is here!

My book, Biblical Eschatology, was recently published by Wipf & Stock Publishers
Copy and paste this link to learn more: http://www.amazon.com/Biblical-Eschatology-Jonathan-Menn/dp/1620325799/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386695098&sr=8-1&keywords=menn+biblical+eschatology

Here's what reviewers are saying:
"This is the single best volume on eschatology ever written and I truly believe that it will become the standard teaching text on the subject. . . . It also should be required reading by all who believe that eschatology is a vital component of their faith . . . which should be all of us. This book is comprehensive . . . it covers all of the doctrines and biblical texts associated with eschatology and the author has read and interacts with the differing positions on them honestly and fairly." Michael Newnham (the "Phoenix Preacher")

"There is a great deal of eschatological pap out there, but here we have the first comprehensive and exhaustive (nearly half the book consists of appendices and notes!) examination of eschatology firmly rooted in scripture. Menn has given us an important resource, one that will perhaps reopen discussion of a topic critical to Christian living here and now, and Christian hope for the future." John T. McFadden

I have been informed that Biblical Eschatology will be reviewed by The Gospel Coalition (thegospelcoalition.org) and in The Covenant Quarterly (the journal of the Evangelical Covenant Church). There will probably be additional reviews as well.

Ordering information
Since Christmas is coming, this would be the ideal present to get for yourself and for all of your friends! (shameless plug) You can order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or directly from the publisher via phone (541-344-1528) or email (orders@wipfandstock.com).

God bless you, and Merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

ECLEA: Year-End Report

2013 has seen a lot of wonderful happenings. Here are some of the highlights.

ECLEA is born!
For reasons announced at the time, in Spring 2013 Dr. Frank Cummings and I formed Equipping Church Leaders-East Africa under the legal, financial, spiritual, and accountability covering of Community Church-Appleton, our home church. ECLEA’s vision and purpose is to “equip East African church leaders with sound and relevant biblical doctrine in order to transform lives, the churches, and communities.” Our dynamic website (ECLEA.net) was launched and is regularly being added to.

Community Church-Appleton is part of Converge Great Lakes. ECLEA was present at CGL’s annual meeting in the Fall. Brenda Hernday, the head of CGL’s Short Term Ministries Initiative, likes what ECLEA is doing, wants to become more actively involved, and is planning her first trip to East Africa for April 2014. I have also spoken with CGL pastors who want to explore the possibility of partnering with ECLEA.

Conferences and TOTs
I believe my personal impact will be maximized by spending more time teaching smaller groups of pastor-teachers (TOTs) who can then teach their own people and other church leaders, instead of concentrating on teaching at larger church-leader conferences. I still teach at conferences where my presence is requested and valuable. However, even though I travel to East Africa five times a year, I can only be in relatively few places. Thus, equipping indigenous teachers who have the ability and desire to teach others is my priority.

In 2013 I led the following TOTs: Burundi: 1-Biblical Stewardship; 1-First Timothy. Kenya: 3-Biblical Theology; 2-Forgiveness & Reconciliation; 1-Biblical Interpretation; 1 Biblical Stewardship. Rwanda: 1-Expository Preaching. Tanzania: 2-Biblical Theology; 2-Expository Preaching.

In 2013 I taught at the following church-leader conferences: Burundi: 3-First Timothy; 1-Biblical Stewardship. Kenya: 1-First Timothy. Tanzania: 3-First Timothy; 1-Biblical Stewardship. Uganda: 1-Biblical Stewardship.

This year’s mix of conferences and TOTs reflects my priority, as it is weighted toward TOTs. Even at the conferences, however, I make sure that 2 or 3 Africans teach with me. This year’s activities also reflect the fact that ECLEA has established itself in many places in East Africa. Because of this, I am able to introduce other courses that build upon what we have already done instead of concentrating solely on our “core” courses of First Timothy and Biblical Stewardship.

All-African conferences and TOTs
ECLEA takes its name seriously: we truly want to “equip” East African church leaders so that they can teach their own people—and other church leaders—the excellent material that we provide in their own languages and cultural context. If ECLEA is to have a long-term impact, it cannot ultimately depend on me, or Dr. Cummings, or any Westerner. Rather, the Africans will have to “own” and transmit our vision and teachings.

That we are succeeding in this is shown by the fact that the number of all-African church-leader conferences and TOTs more than doubled over the number of all-African conferences and TOTs in 2012! In 2013 there were 80-85 all-African conferences and TOTs in Kenya and 25-30 all-African conferences and TOTs in Tanzania. Additionally, ECLEA-trained teachers even led conferences in Democratic Republic of Congo. ECLEA helps to financially facilitate these all-African conferences and TOTs.

Other happenings
Frank Cummings continues to travel regularly to East Africa teaching biblical counseling. He has now developed an advanced counseling course to complement his basic course. And, consistent with ECLEA’s vision of equipping the East African church leaders, East Africans are now beginning to teach the basic course to other African church leaders!

An important part of ECLEA’s long-term impact is getting our material translated into the major East African languages. This is an ongoing project, but several Kiswahili (the most widespread East African language) translations will be completed soon. Additionally, efforts are underway to translate into Kinyarwanda and Kirundi (the major languages of Rwanda and Burundi), the major tribal languages of Uganda and Kenya, and French (which is spoken in Rwanda, Burundi, and Democratic Republic of Congo).

I could use help in proofing the translations. You don’t have to know the language, because I am proofing for format. This is a very important task, and it needs to be done before we place the translations online and distribute them to our East African partners and friends. If you would like to help with this important ministry, please contact me!

ECLEA now has leadership committees/structures/organizations in each of the countries of the East African Community. In Burundi we have partnered with an indigenous ministry, Rema Ministries, to work with us and teach our material. As the local ECLEA organizations develop and grow our impact will increase. This is an important part of the process of the East Africans “owning” this vision and ministry. Further, our goal is that our committees be interdenominational, inter-tribal, and include both genders: we want ECLEA to model both sound biblical teaching and Christian community.
ECLEA-Rwanda Committee
Rema Ministries/ECLEA-Burundi Team
Joram Ibrahim & Dickson Laizer: ECLEA-Tanzania Coordinators
ECLEA-Uganda Committee

JMM and ECLEA-Kenya Coordinators

 Looking ahead
As an American, I always tend to want things to be done “now” (if not “yesterday”), as opposed to what we say in Africa: “slowly by slowly.” ECLEA is still developing, but we have laid a good foundation.

One significant “growing pain,” however, is this: because the importance of what we do is recognized by the East African church leaders themselves, the demand for and tremendous expansion of all-African conferences and TOTs has exceeded our financial ability to meet the demand. We are working closely with theECLEA-East Africa committees to bring the cost of conferences and TOTs down and to increase the African share of the cost so that we can help facilitate more and more. We are making progress in those regards, but even so there have been some planned all-African conferences and TOTs that we simply were not able to facilitate because of lack of funding.

This underscores how much we depend on you—who want to make a long-term, significant impact in the lives, churches, and communities of East Africa. Please consider partnering with ECLEA financially. Dr. Cummings and I welcomethe opportunity to speak at your church or to interested groups of individuals.
Tax-deductible donations can be made through ECLEA’s website via credit card or PayPal. Brenda Haase (920-732-5523; ccappleton@att.net) can give you the necessary information to enable you to establish automatic fund transfers from your bank account to ECLEA. Or you can send checks, payable to ECLEA, to me at 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914. And please remember: 100% of your donated funds go to the work of the ministry; nothing is raked off for my personal support.

Those of you who regularly pray for me and for this ministry: I thank you! I need and appreciate your prayers. I have seen the results of prayer when I am in East Africa. This ministry would not succeed without you and without your prayers.

God bless you, Jonathan Menn

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ECLEA: Return from East Africa

Three days ago I returned from a productive trip to Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Here are some highlights of the trip following my report from the field.

Arusha (Usariva suburb), TZ: 1 Timothy 
One of the problems ECLEA sometimes encounters in East Africa is that many western missions have, intentionally or not, created a "culture of dependency" by paying people to attend meetings, providing everything for free, etc. To a greater or lesser degree that type of thing is now anticipated if not expected by many of the African church leaders. We are trying to establish matters on a better basis. We encountered the rotten fruit of that dependency culture in our last conference in TZ. The organizers had sent out 135 invitations, but when the participants learned that they were expected to contribute 5000Tsh (about $3.00) for the book and meals they would get, only about 25 people showed up. But that's OK. I told Dickson not to worry about the numbers: the financial investment the participants make serves to separate the serious people from those who are not serious. I would always rather have a smaller number of serious people than a larger number of non-serious people.

The conference itself went well. The bishop who attended said, "If we get training like this every year, we will be changed." Another participant added, "This was divine timing. When leaders are blind, they lead their people into the pit. Now we know about not jumping around by single verses but teaching in context and paragraphs." Another said, "I have a Bible School diploma but never understood 1 Timothy as deeply as in the last two days."
Site of Usariva, TZ training session
Naivasha, KE: Forgiveness & Reconciliation TOT
Naivasha is a town northwest of Nairobi. It was one of the centers of the post-election violence in 2007-2008 where many were killed or brutalized. James Ndiba and James Kamau had recognized the importance of ECLEA's course on Forgiveness & Reconciliation for this area and had taught it awhile ago. We returned to do a TOT on the same subject so that the 14 participants would be well equipped to model and teach it to others. Despite the progress made since 2007, there is still a lingering undercurrent of tribal-based enmity and mistrust. Fortunately, the final day of the TOT in particular saw an extremely good and long discussion among the participants on tribalism in the churches and how to overcome it. The pastors' fellowship will begin with itself and develop a plan. A number of specifics were discussed. This could result in something big that could spread out from Naivasha to other affected areas.
James Kamau, James Ndiba, and Naivasha, KE participants
Ololulunga, KE: Forgiveness & Reconciliation TOT
Boniface Kugotha, the Maasai leader whose picture is on the News & Blog page of ECLEA's website (eclea.net), hosted our final TOT for about 35 participants. The name of his village (Ololulunga--located west of Nairobi) means "everything in plenty," but that did not include moisture. The drought and dryness actually meant that our TOT on Forgiveness & Reconciliation came at a very opportune time. The reason is that the drought has caused many people to invade others' land in search of greener pastures for their flocks and herds. This has resulted in lots of property disputes in the area. Our course can help diffuse and resolve the tensions.

The lead in teaching this course was taken by my Kenyan team: James Ndiba, James Kamau, and David Njeru. I chipped in when requested and appropriate. The immediate impact of this course was seen in that one of the participants was the principal at a local school. The day before the TOT began, a large lorry crashed into the school building. Fortunately, there were no deaths or major injuries, but the principal was very bitter toward the driver and the trucking company. At the end of the course, however, she testified with a smile on her face that, as a result of what we had taught her, she had forgiven the driver and company and had been healed.
Jonathan, Boniface (center), and my fellow teachers David Njeru, James Ndiba, and James Kamau
Ololulunga, KE participants and teachers
Thank you for your ongoing interest and support
Your continuing prayers and financial support are vital. In addition to the conferences I participate in I also need to pay for translations of our teaching books into the major East African languages and help facilitate all-African ECLEA conferences and TOTs. With the end-of-year approaching, please pray about making tax-deductible donations to ECLEA. You can send checks to me at 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914 or can donate online (click on the Contact & Donations icon on eclea.net).

God bless you, Jonathan

ECLEA: Greetings from East Africa

This post was emailed from Tanzania during my recent trip to East Africa:
ECLEA's Rwanda committee
I am in Tanzania right now. After a productive meeting with my ECLEA-Rwanda committee, here are some things you might like to know.

Bukoba, TZ
I thought that the trip from Kigali, RW to Bukoba, TZ was going to be on one bus. Not so. At the border we had to walk more than a mile to the various immigration stations. After that, we waited for an hour or so. Then it was three separate, crowded vehicles for the last 6 hours of the journey. A small station wagon jammed about 11 people in: 4 in the front (where I was); 4 in the back; and 3 in the way back. Then 2 matatus, which jammed up to 25 people in vehicles designed for 17. And all over unpaved roads. As an older African man said to me on the last leg of the trip, "this is Africa."

Bukoba itself is in a hilly area on the western shore of Lake Victoria. I was met by Dickson Laizer and Joram Ibrahim. It was the first time for all of us in Bukoba. We did a 1 Timothy conference for about 50, primarily Pentecostal church leaders. Despite pouring rain for several hours the second day, the conference went wonderfully well. Here are a few comments by some of the participants: "I learned the importance of teaching books of the Bible." "I learned to read and take notes and preach and teach in context." "I saw how to remain on our goal, which is love. It has expanded my understanding of how I should preach and teach through Christ's love." "It seemed like we learned the whole Bible through the book of 1 Timothy."
Bukoba, TZ conference
Mwanza, TZ
From Bukoba we took the bus to Mwanza, on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. We were going to do 2 TOTs on 1 Timothy, one in Kiswahili (led by Dickson and Joram) and one in English (led by me). However, because of the large number of church leaders who wanted to attend (over 60), we converted it into another conference. Dickson, Joram, and I again taught, and were joined in teaching by ECLEA's lake district regional coordinator, Godfrey Ongiri. The reception by the participants was again very good, several commenting that this came at just the right time and was an answer to prayer. I am grateful for this and hope it will bear much fruit.

Joram teaching at Mwanza, TZ
Arusha, TZ
My last venue in Tanzania this trip is Arusha, Dickson's hometown. We have been doing 2 Expository Preaching TOTs (Kiswahili and English). I had approximately 8 students in my class; Joram had about 12 in his. Today was "preaching day." In my class three students preached and the whole class critiqued. Joram had six preachers (he had given them a shorter preaching time limit). Joram said that one of his preachers understood and did everything almost perfectly. I could not say the same, but all of the preachers in my class made reasonable efforts to apply the things we had been emphasizing. The critiques and the discussion also showed that everyone learned quite a bit. May God be with them as they try to apply what they have learned back in their churches.
Arusha, TZ: My Expository Preaching group
Tomorrow we conclude with a 1 Timothy conference. This weekend I will take the bus to Kenya where I will be in Maasailand for a week. Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support, both of which are very much needed and very much appreciated. Regards, Jonathan

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ECLEA: Return from Burundi

After leaving Uganda, I spent a productive two weeks in Burundi. Here are the highlights.

Rema Ministries
The first week was spent in working through ECLEA's foundational course on Biblical Stewardship with eight of the leading staff members of Rema Ministries, in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. Rema is an indigenous ministry in Burundi that, like ECLEA, focuses on training church leaders. Frederic Harerimana, Rema's deputy director, serves as ECLEA's Burundi national coordinator. Consequently, Rema and ECLEA have entered into a memorandum of understanding whereby Rema will use its personnel and contacts to teach ECLEA's courses in Burundi and to identify good candidates among those who participate at ECLEA training sessions to become part of the ECLEA teaching team. I hope to be able to go to Burundi twice each year and spend at least one week each trip training the Rema staff people. Frederic is also drafting a protocol for following-up with the church leaders after there has been a training session. I am very encouraged by the level of organization, expertise, and commitment of Rema and think that ECLEA's work in Burundi is beginning on a good basis and, God willing, will bear much fruit.
Jonathan and the Rema Ministries team
The second week in Burundi was spent in the Bujumbura suburb of Gatumba where we taught Biblical Stewardship to approximately 48 leaders of the MINEVAM (Minist√®re International dEvang√©listion en Afrique) denomination. MINEVAM is headquartered in Burundi but also includes churches in a number of other countries. Bishop Peter Barihzigo had requested this training and was present and active throughout the course. The MINEVAM church leaders, who came from all the regions of Burundi, slept on mattresses on the floor of the church. Although most of our courses are typically taught over 2 1/2 days, we spent 4 1/2 days teaching this time. This allowed us to have extended periods of Q&A and several small group discussion periods. 
 MINEVAM Bishop Peter Barihzigo and his wife, Maggie

Where the MINEVAM pastors slept

As always, good African teachers taught alongside me. For this course Frederic Harerimana both taught and acted as my interpreter, and Rema staff members Pacifique Inamahoro and Francois Nitunga also taught a number of the sessions. They will also be following-up with selected church leaders to assist with application of what was learned.
Frederic teaching at MINEVAM
Looking Forward
After spending three days in New York City visiting our youngest daughter, Julia, I am now home until about October 24. I will then be leaving for Rwanda, where I plan to meet with the Rwanda ECLEA committee, and for teaching sessions in Tanzania and Kenya. That will be the last trip to East Africa for this year. I hope to see many of you while I am home.

ECLEA: Greetings from Uganda

Bishop George Kasangaki of the Masindi-Kitara Diocese (COU) and his wife, Joyce

 Archbishop Stanley Ntagali (COU) and JMM

ECLEA-Uganda team: JMM; Moses Isabirye; Vincent Balisanyuka; Innocent Uwacgiu

Greetings from Uganda! Some excellent things have been happening here in Uganda. Here's the situation.

A new beginning in Uganda
 Over the last few years when I was with the other organization, we never had a true indigenous committee or organization here in Uganda as we have in Kenya and Tanzania. Also, our involvement with the Church of Uganda (Anglican) had dwindled. I realized the need to try to rectify both of those situations. I am happy to say that we are on our way to having an ECLEA-Uganda organization on a better basis and a new start with the COU.

I met with members of ECLEA's interdenominational pastor-teacher organizing committee. It was a worthwhile meeting, as we discussed organization, strategy, and finances. After that, I met with the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda (Anglican), Stanley Ntagali. It was wonderful to personally connect with Archbishop Ntagali after a few years. He connected me with Rev. Titus Baraka, the Provincial Missions & Evangelism Coordinator for the COU. We had a short and good meeting. Rev. Baraka has his "finger on the pulse" of the different dioceses of the COU and is the person who can open the doors of all the COU dioceses to ECLEA.

An excellent stewardship conference in Masindi 
Moses Isabirye and Innocent Ucungi Uwachgiu, both members of the ECLEA core committee, traveled with me to the Masindi-Kitara Diocese of the COU for a conference on Biblical Stewardship for approximately 30 diocesan church leaders. The conference was blessed to have Masindi-Kitara bishop George Kasangaki present throughout. It is rare for a bishop to be present throughout such a conference. Bishop George's presence signaled the importance of what we were doing for all of his clergy. The bishop was not merely present, but was an active participant, including being the discussion leader for one of the small group discussions.

The conference itself went well. One participant stated that, before this conference, whenever she heard the word "stewardship" she thought only of money. However, "this conference opened my eyes to the far broader application of stewardship to all areas of life." We are hoping for some concrete applications. Moses is planning on returning to Masindi-Kitara in November to follow-up with some of the key participants.

The rest of this trip
I leave for Burundi tomorrow. I will be there for two weeks, meeting with and helping to train the Rema Ministries staff who will be teaching ECLEA courses in Burundi along with ECLEA's Burundi committee of pastor-teachers. We will then be conducting another Biblical Stewardship conference for all of the pastors of the MINEVAM denomination. I am scheduled to leave Burundi and get back to Appleton on September 18 following a short visit with my daughter Julia in New York City where she lives.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

ECLEA: Return from East Africa

 Tanga, TZ Biblical Theology TOT
 Area in Mombasa, KE where TOT was held
Ernest Mwilitsa leading Kiswahili Biblical Stewardship TOT

Two days ago I returned from East Africa, after a (too) short visit with our son David in Tempe, AZ. David is working on his PhD in biomedical technology. While we were in AZ Nancy and I missed the very hot weather but still got to enjoy temperatures above 110 degrees. That contrasted with what things were like in Arusha, TZ when I began my trip. Arusha had been colder than Wisconsin (temps only in the lower 60s during the day), and I had to ask for an extra blanket at night!

Tanga, TZ
Tanga is on the coast of TZ between Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, KE. It is home to Joram Ibrahim, ECLEA's TZ secretary. In Tanga about a dozen church leaders participated in a Biblical Theology TOT. Biblical Theology is foundational in that we discuss the overall biblical storyline, look at a major theme that runs through the Bible (i.e., God's dwelling with mankind as typified by Eden, the Tabernacle, the Temple, Ezekiel's vision of a new temple, and the New Jerusalem), and consider how Christ and the church fulfill everything that ancient Israel and the Old Testament were pointing to (e.g., they are the fulfillment of the nation itself and all of its institutions such as the temple, the feasts, the sacrificial system, the priesthood, the law, and the sabbath). This always proves to be an eye-opening course. It helps the pastors see how the whole Bible fits together and enables them to preach more effectively, especially from the OT.

Mombasa, KE
 I concluded the trip in Mombasa with my friend Ernest Mwilitsa, one of ECLEA's KE national executive committee members. Ernest and I led a Biblical Stewardship TOT for about 18 participants, divided into an English-speaking group which I led and a Kiswahili-speaking group which Ernest led. Both groups had lively discussions on many aspects of how Christianity applies to all areas of life (environment, mind, time, body, relationships, money & possessions, and the church). This course is designed to help people see the positive life-and-culture-changing nature of real faith and to help church leaders overcome the great "sacred-secular divide" that seems to have infected many churches. By God's grace, as courses like this begin to be applied, we are starting to see important life-changes.

Home and work
I am now scheduled to be home until the end of August, when I hope to leave for Uganda and Burundi. During that time I have to learn how to work on and add updates to ECLEA's new website (I have lots of photos, videos, sermons, and other material I would like to upload, but only know enough about computers and websites to be dangerous). I also will be proofing translations and must begin in earnest to start plotting out and working on the next ECLEA book I intend to write, namely, Christianity and Islam.

I hope that your summer is going well and that Nancy and I will be able to see many of you. Your continued prayer for this ministry and tax-deductible financial support are very much appreciated and are making a real difference in a hugely important area of the world.

God bless you, Jonathan

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jonathan leaving for TZ and KE on June 7 + ECLEA updates

 JMM and Maasai leader Boniface Kugotha
Boniface Kugotha, whose picture is above, is the Maasai leader I met at the Biblical Stewardship TOT in Nairobi whom I mentioned in my first report from Kenya. I thought you might like to see him.

Upcoming trip to TZ and the coast of KE
The time has been blasting by, and I have been very busy, since I returned from Kenya on May 5. I leave again on June 7, less than 1 1/2 weeks away. I will be spending 2 1/2 weeks in Tanzania and will finish in the Mombasa area of Kenya. While in TZ, in addition to our teaching, I will be having two meetings with important bishops from different churches and places in TZ. These meetings could prove to be very important in opening many doors to working with different churches in TZ. Please pray for this. I am scheduled to get back to Appleton on the afternoon of July 4, after a short visit with our son David in Arizona.

ECLEA websiteThe ECLEA website (www.eclea.net) is now up and running, although it is still under construction. New material in the process of being added. In that regard, I have revised most of my teaching books and given them the new ECLEA logo. They will be uploaded to the website soon. Check it out.

My blog: updatesThis blog is located at: http://jonathanandnancymenn.blogspot.com/. There is a link you can click under my name and picture on the ECLEA website to access it, or you can bookmark it. I always post reports of my teaching trips to East Africa on the blog along with pictures.

ECLEA's future is looking good
I am very excited for the future of ECLEA. While I was here I met with the head of Converge Great Lakes Short Term Ministry Initiative. I think (and hope) that this will pave the way to a great expansion of ECLEA's outreach and impact. Please pray about that as well.

I want to thank you all again for your prayers and financial support, without which we could not be doing what we are doing. As always, I will endeavor to send you a report from the field. God bless you, Jonathan

Report from Kenya: Part 2

 George Kariuki teaching at Murang'a
 Small group discussion at Murang'a
 Embu TOT group

Here is a report concerning the rest of my April-May time in Kenya.

Misikhu, KE: Biblical Interpretation TOT
The TOT on Biblical Interpretation was the first time we had done that particular course. It was hosted by Bishop Justus Wafula. I recently received an email from Justus in which he commented concerning that course, "Jonathan I really appreciate the new lesson you did with us. Biblical Interpretation was new to us but I really understood it better. May God touch you all who may sponsored the conference. Some of us from local areas have been problem to get skill we are getting. You are real changing the life of many people.May God bless you."

Malaba, KE: Biblical Theology TOT
We traveled to the the far western town of Malaba, on the border with Uganda, where we were hosted by Isabellah Inyele, parish priest and special assistant to Bishop Zakayo Epusi of the Anglican church of Kenya (ACK). There we did a TOT on Biblical Theology for a group of Anglicans and Pentecostals. The group of 14 participants interacted well and, I think, began to see how the Bible fits together in a new light.

 Murang'a, KE: 1 Timothy Conference
We then returned to central Kenya where we taught through the book of 1 Timothy for approximately 66 pastors and other church leaders. George Kariuki, Bob Mwangi, and Thomas Mwai Ng'ang'a all taught with me. I always make sure to have at least one and, hopefully, more than one good African teachers for all pastors conferences. These gentlemen are excellent teachers and themselves have been leading all-African pastors conferences and TOTs for some time now.

Embu, KE: Biblical Theology TOT
We concluded this trip in the eastern region town of Embu with another Biblical Theology TOT for approximately 28 participants. Most of our courses are geared toward the TOT format in which I try to stimulate as much discussion and Q&A as possible. In this case we had huge discussions regarding the true nature of the Gospel, "words versus deeds," the "prosperity gospel," the nature and place of miracles, and other issues.

This was a productive trip.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Report from Kenya

 Biblical Stewardship TOT in Nairobi, KE
Biblical Interpretation TOT in Misikhu, KE

 Bishop Zakayo Epusi addressing Biblical Theology TOT in Malaba, KE
I returned from Kenya on May 5. Here is the report I sent "from the field":

It is the rainy season here in Kenya. But so far, while it has rained heavily every night, the days have been pretty good. Here is what has been happening so far:

Nairobi: Biblical Stewardship TOTWe had an enlightening and very good TOT on biblical stewardship in Nairobi with about 24 participants. Among the participants were 6 very enthusiastic Masaai pastors, one wearing traditional Masaai dress, whom I had not met before. They were there because some of the good African teachers I had worked with had done an all-African conference in Masaai-land and had invited them to this TOT. Everyone, I think, saw in a quite powerful way how Christianity not only is designed to change us from the inside-out but also is designed to give us a holistic approach to life. In other words, when we have Christ, our values and outlook on everything changes: Christ affects our relationships with people, what we do with our money, our bodies, our environment, etc. In prior conferences, I had stressed how Christianity applies and relates to all of these areas. In this one, it came home more to me how these are all just aspects of a fundamental inner and holistic change.

Murang'a: Biblical Theology TOTI took the matatu to Murang'a in central Kenya. The biblical theology TOT for about 40 participants was eye-opening and challenging. The first day we spent much of the time talking about the relationship of God and evil, and going over the overall biblical storyline. After that, the course was largely devoted to showing how Christ and the church fulfill all of the Old Testament "types" and "shadows," such as the temple, the covenants, the festivals, the sacrificial system, etc. Many pastors here do not have a good understanding about these fundamental matters. We had lots of good questions and discussion. Also, I was amazed at the practical and pastoral implications of these things. I think and hope that this will prove to be very helpful to these good pastors and, through them, to their people.

Misikhu: Biblical Interpretation TOTI am now in Misikhu, western Kenya, in the middle of a biblical interpretation TOT for about 20 participants. This is the first time I have done this particular course. It is generating lots of good discussion on a host of issues. Biblical interpretation, of course, has integral and important implications for application and for such subjects as biblical theology and eschatology. We have had lots of questions and gotten into good discussions on all of those areas. Change is coming, slowly by slowly, to the pastors and churches.

Thank you for your continued prayer and support. God bless you, Jonathan

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Report from Rwanda and Burundi

In January and February I spent three weeks in Rwanda and Burundi, mostly in Burundi. I inadvertently neglected to update this blog, so here is my report on that trip now (BTW, I am leaving for Kenya at the end of this week):
                                                        Expository Preaching class
                                                          Devastated central market
                                                          Frederic Harerimana teaching
                                                        Nestor Bukuru and his church

Expository Preaching
We did round 3 of expository preaching in Kigali, Rwanda with 14 students. Actually, it was round 3 for some, but about half of the students were new, so it was round 1 for them. It demonstrated the importance of doing this more than once. One round 3 student said, "Now it is all clear." We focused on two passages: Ezek 36:22-32 and John 7:37-39. The preaching and critiques are always a highlight. We divided into two groups for the preaching: I took one and Theophile Rugubira took the other. All of the preachers in my group were new, so many of them fell back into the old ways much of the time, but the critiques were helpful. Fortunately, we had sufficient time for me to preach one of the passages, so they were able to see exactly what I was advocating. That proved illuminating. Also, the students themselves expressed the desire to get together every two months or so for preaching and critiques on their own, in their own primary language. That will facilitate learning and understanding, since in most cases English is their third language.

Bujumbura, Burundi   
I took the 6 1/2 hour bus ride to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, located at the top of Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in Africa. Here it is Florida-like: mid-80s and lots of semi-tropical vegetation. At the African leaders strategic planning summit in Kigali last November, I had talked about the importance of setting up indigenous committees/structures in each of the East African countries, for accountability and continuity purposes. The Burundians have done that. Frederic Harerimana is the chairman, along with Francois Sebagabo, Venat Bagabo, Nestor Bukuru, and Bonaventure Haringazi. We want to do things right here.

We will be doing three 1 Timothy conferences and one TOT, all in suburbs of Bujumbura. We have just finished the first conference, with about 20 participants. It went very well. Frederic did translating for me and taught three of the units. Venat and Nestor also taught. The bishop of Eglise Emmanueliste du Reveil Church hosted. He is an enthusiastic proponent of what we teach (he has been a participant in the past) and gave a testimony concerning the impact that the teachings have had on him and his people. I also preached in his church last Sunday.

A Tragic Loss    
About a week ago the central market in Bujumbura was burned to the ground. It appears to have been a well-planned arson. It has not yet been announced who is responsible. This is a terrible tragedy, especially for such a small country as Burundi. I was informed that the central market was home to countless small businesses, did the equivalent of about $5 million in business each day, and that about 5000 people worked there. Everybody and everything was totally wiped out. There were also a few deaths. In addition to the great personal losses, this will have significant economic repercussions throughout the country and for the country' s economy. Please pray for the people and peace of Burundi.

 Kanyosha and GatumbaWe did two 1 Timothy conferences in the Bujumbura suburbs of Kanyosha and Gatumba, before about 47 participants. Venant Bagabo, Nestor Bukuru, Frederic Harerimana, and Francois Sebagabo taught along with me. Developing good African teachers is particularly important in a country like Burundi where very few people speak English (the national language is Kirundi). The conferences went well. At the conclusion of the Kanyosha conference one of the pastors, Samuel, told us how my discussion of the so-called "prosperity gospel" in connection with 1 Timothy 6 had spoken very directly to him. He had been told by a "prosperity teacher" some years ago that if he continued to preach and teach the gospel as he was doing, he would never be able to live in a big house in an affluent neighborhood of Bujumbura. I am happy to say--and he is happy to say--that he has remained faithful to the real gospel of Jesus Christ and now sees from the exposition of the Scripture why that is so vitally important.

TOT in Bujumbura
We conducted a TOT on 1 Timothy for 15 participants at Francois' church in Bujumbura. Since 1 Timothy is written primarily to leaders, its impact on individual church leaders is always front-and-center at the pastors conferences. However, at this TOT, our discussions brought home to me, in a way I had not appreciated before, how the entire book is challenging the churches in order to get the leaders to ask themselves and reevaluate how they "do church" and why they do things the way they do. Specifically, what does the "church as a family" (1 Tim 3:15; 5:1-2) and "church as pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15) imply for how we do church, our priorities, and what we focus on?

We talked about many issues along these lines. Sometimes the discussions became quite animated, and at times they spent some time debating in Kirundi rather than English. All this is good, and I hope that some of the pastors saw a little bit about how bound many of us are to our own traditions, and also saw the great potential the churches have for making a real difference in their people's lives and in society if changes are made. This is particularly important given the burning of the central market and the financial devastation that resulted to many people. The churches, despite their own relative poverty, should play a prime role in restoration.

Final Thoughts
There has still been no announcement concerning who is responsible for the fire. Please pray for Burundi and for the revival and re-prioritizing of the churches. I preached at Nestor Bukuru's church (the walls of which are made of papyrus reeds). My Burundi leaders will be developing a strategic plan for our work in that country. I probably will return to Burundi in the late summer. It appears that we will have the opportunity to do five days with all of the pastors of a particular denomination at that time. So, there is potential that we can make a significant difference in this beautiful and challenging land.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support. I will keep you advised of developments. God bless you, Jonathan