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.
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).