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.