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 (, 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

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