Friday, July 11, 2014

The difference of ECLEA

I recently returned from three weeks in Tanzania and Kenya where I was teaching East African church leaders with Equipping Church Leaders-East Africa (ECLEA).
 While there, I included the following as part of my report from the field:

I have been in Tanzania for over a week. One Tanzanian church leader told me that several Western missions come to Tanzania, but ECLEA is the only one he knows that actually gives responsibility to the Tanzanians instead of having the Westerners do all the teaching. I am happy to hear that that others see that ECLEA is serious about its name (we actually equip church leaders of East Africa and prove that by making sure that they teach), but am also sad that that is relatively rare.

I received the following reply from Bishop Barnabas Mpekethi of Kenya:
Barnabas Mpekethi

Praise Jesus brother Jonathan. What you doing in our region (E.A.) no man can really pay you or do any compensation of your devotion. It's true guys from western countries come, do their business, and teach false doctrines. I thank God because ECLEA has added value to our thinking, challenged the false elements in me, and also many African ministers of the gospel.

To be sincere, we have been preaching total rubbish and illiteracy to our people. But now, though far we were before you came to us, now we have the clue and the goal of our preaching and teachings. You are a gift to us and the African Church. Your hard labour will be rewarded by God Almighty.
How you leave your family now and then, visiting people and places you don't even know and how you cope with them is also a total risk to your life. I promise to emulate you because you are a good example.

God bless you and see you through.
Bsp Barnabas

Please note: I do not say any of this to show "what a good boy am I." I'm not. I know myself too well. Also, I have been working in East Africa for several years now, so I do know many of the places and people, and there really is little risk to my life. I say this, rather, to emphasize that we in the West have an opportunity to make a difference in a vital and strategic part of the world. I tell my East African friends, "You can teach better than I can, because you know the language, you know the culture, and you can relate biblical truths to fellow East Africans in ways that resonate with them."

The people I work with through ECLEA are as smart, dedicated, and sincere (or more so) than anyone I know in the West, and they work under generally more unfavorable conditions than we do. They simply need to be equipped with the resources and tools which many of them now lack and empowered to do the job themselves, rather than Westerners doing everything for them. That is why ECLEA exists. Through working together, by God's grace we will see transformation occur.

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