Monday, February 10, 2014

ECLEA: Report from East Africa

From my emailed "report from the field":
Last week I was in Kigali, Rwanda doing such a training on Biblical Stewardship for the ECLEA-Rwanda team. Here are some of the highlights:

Jonathan eats an omlette
I have always hated eggs. Even as a child. On rare occasions in Africa I have tried to choke down part of a Spanish omlette that had been smothered in pili-pili to mask the taste. Here in Rwanda, however, I had a new experience. I stayed at the guest house and conference center run by Scripture Union. The food was very good (including lots of vegetables--a rarity most of the time in East Africa). Part of my breakfast each day was a Spanish omlette, but not like any other I'd ever had. These were liberally topped with lots of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. In fact, they looked like small, thin-crust pizzas! I added a few drops of Rwanda's "akabanga" chili oil.
An edible omlette
We also had good fruit including "tree tomatoes" (also sometimes called "bloodfruit") and passion fruit:
Tree tomato, passion fruit + one uncut passion fruit
Stewardship TOT
The ECLEA-Rwanda team currently consists of 8 people. Late last year they elected a new national coordinator after several excellent years of service in that capacity by Theophile Rugubira. The new coordinator is Stephen Nshimimana. He appears to be an excellent choice and has the confidence of the team and of me. (Theophile is still part of the team but got too busy to continue as coordinator.)

Six of the eight team members were able to be present for the entire four days of teaching and discussion on Biblical Stewardship. And deep discussions there were! Although I have worked with these good people for some time, more than one commented how valuable this time together was and how things "clicked" in ways that they had not before. I am very glad of this, because the Rwandans are planning on going out in groups of two to do stewardship TOTs in each of the provinces of Rwanda, beginning in late March.
ECLEA-Rwanda TOT participants
Interestingly, several times the subject of marriage came up during our stewardship TOT. Our stewardship course is all about how Christianity and the Bible are designed to apply to all areas of life and should transform us from the inside-out so as to affect our lives in all areas. Marriage, of course, is probably the foundational institution for society. The thing that came out clearly was that, even though we are dealing with pastors and church leaders, in many cases Christ is not at the center of their marriages. Rather, their marriages are based on their culture which, in certain important ways, is profoundly unChristian (this is not unique to Rwanda). Bringing the relationship between husbands and wives into the mutuality, trust, and love called for by Christ will take time and work. But it will be profoundly transformative if and when that occurs. Please pray for these good people, that their marriages will be healed and Christ will truly be the center.

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