Monthly Archives

June 2021

Download our July 2021 newsletter as a PDF

By Impetus

July 2021 Impetus.

Thank you so much for reading our July 2021 newsletter. As we continue to mark APF’s 40th anniversary year, I have been reflecting on the years of my own involvement.

I was aware of APF from the earliest days of local church ministry. I was even interrupted while preaching one Sunday in the early 1990s when a church member unexpectedly brought a brand new bicycle into the church for APF to send to Uganda.

Back in 2013 when I was a trustee, we conducted a review of APF’s Africa and UK activity and set several strategic objectives for the future. In the intervening seven years, I took on an executive role leading the charity toward these goals. A key aspiration was for APF ministry to be active in Africa even when UK personnel were not there.
At that time, the possibility of having a network of African ‘Regional Overseers’ was also mooted, together with African representation at board level and perhaps, in time, an African Director, based in Africa. We felt that building a team of regional APF leaders would extend APF’s reach and influence significantly, release local leaders for contextualised ministry and demonstrate better value for money.

Although in the end we didn’t run with Regional Overseer as a name, we do now have a strong, established and growing network of trusted partners spread across several African regions. These leaders exercise brilliant, contextualised pastoral training and holistic ministry regardless of whether I, or my colleague Geoff, are in Africa or not. This pan-African network is the bedrock on which APF’s future is being built.

This edition of Impetus identifies and celebrates these individuals and their unique contributions. Please join with me in praying for these sisters and brothers; that APF will continue to enable them to thrive in ministry and that in them, God’s Kingdom comes through local African churches. After all, partnership is fellowship in action.

Thank you!

Revd Dave Stedman

APF 40th Anniversary Garden Party

Join us at St Margaret’s Church, Whitnash (near Leamington Spa) on Sunday 3rd October* from 10am to celebrate 40 years of African Pastors Fellowship.

Start by joining us at for a Celebration Harvest Service.

This will be followed by:

  • Wonderful African catering and music
  • Keynote addresses
  • Recorded greetings from African partners
  • And more!

For catering purposes, please register your attendance by visiting https://bit.ly/APF40
Call us on 01227 681186 or email info@africanpastors.org for more information.

* The event was originally scheduled for June 26th but has been postpone due to closeness of this date to the planned easing of lockdown restrictions.

** If it is not possible to have a physical gathering because of Covid-19 restrictions, we will have an online event instead. Although in that case, you may have to do the food yourself!

Find out more...

Vaccine Rollout in Africa

By Covid-19

The Covid-19 vaccine drive is well underway in Africa but a third wave threatens. At the time of writing, eight countries have seen abrupt rises in case numbers and the World Health Organisation reports of dwindling vaccine supplies.

Supply crunch
African countries relying on vaccines from the UN-backed Covax programme and the Serum Institute of India are in danger of being left behind as vaccines made in India are diverted for domestic use. Problems getting hold of enough vaccine doses means many African countries are struggling to protect their most vulnerable populations. The Guardian recently reported that about 50 million doses had been received in Africa, of which 31 million doses had been administered across 50 countries. That does not sound too bad until you realise the combined population of those countries is more than a billion. Uganda received only a third of the vaccines expected from Covax despite recording a 131% week-on-week rise in early June. Such shortages are almost universal. Tanzania, Burundi, Chad and Eritrea are yet to start any vaccinations.

Adding to this is an acknowledgment that case numbers are drastically under-reported across the continent. Unless testing is improved, fears are growing that Africa could suffer similarly to India, or perhaps even worse. India’s healthcare system is considered more robust than those in sub-Saharan Africa.

Slow rollout
Even when vaccines are available, getting them to priority groups is frequently disrupted by funding shortfalls, too few healthcare professionals and vaccine hesitancy from misinformation spread on social media. Reaching people in remote regions or areas of political instability was never going to be easy or quick.

Insufficient funds
Most African countries had funding to cover the cost of the first batch of vaccines but funding shortfalls are a growing problem. As the number of people needing to be reached rises and areas to be covered are located further away from major cities, costs are rising.

Vaccine hesitancy
Myths and misinformation have spread fast on social media globally and Africa is no exception. Misleading claims on social media have led to vaccine hesitancy and mistrust of the vaccination programme.

Disruptions to essential health services
The pandemic has seriously disrupted essential health and immunisation services across Africa. Professionals involved in immunisation programmes for diseases such as measles have been reallocated to deal with Covid-19 risking new outbreaks. Fear of contracting the virus at a local clinic or hospital has led to lower numbers of patients seeking care for other conditions.

Economic impacts
Analysis by the US Pew Research Center found that the recession caused by Covid has pushed 131 million people into poverty across the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia accounted for most of the increase, reversing years of progress.

About 494 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, out of a total population of 1.14 billion, were expected to be living in poverty before the pandemic in 2020. That total has risen by 40 million, the Pew analysis estimated. While analysts predict an economic recovery after the pandemic, years of economic growth have been undone, disproportionately affecting the poorest.

What the World Health Organisation say
“WHO has been at the centre of the vaccine rollout in Africa, and has supported African countries since the beginning of pandemic,” says Dr Richard Mihigo, WHO Africa’s Immunization and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator. “We are working to coordinate all efforts, giving policy and technical guidance and tailored support to African countries.”

Mission and Ministry in Mali

By eVitabu, Farming, Mali

Pastor Pascal Adams Thera found APF online. After introducing himself and his work amongst the Malinké people of south-western Mali, we soon got him up and running on eVitabu, our church leader resource-hub app. Since then, we’ve enjoyed finding out more about Pascal and his community development work in this challenging part of Africa.

I was born into a practicing Christian family. I am married to Marceline Sanou who is a nurse and we have four children and five grandsons. I accepted Jesus Christ in 1975 and the call to ministry came shortly after. I did not enter a full-time pastoral ministry immediately, however. I first trained as a business manager and administrator and worked as a management consultant and development officer. My call was to be a lay preacher, or tentmaker as we say.

In those days, I belonged to the Evangelical Christian Church of Mali. As Development Officer, I worked on many agricultural projects. This is so important as Mali is very food insecure and every year the desert grows larger.

In 2017, I came to Manantali. Manantali is a small but busy market town near the dam of the Bafing River. You find the town in the Bafoulabé Cercle in the Kayes Region of south-western Mali.

I first came to Manantali wanting to establish an entrepreneurship project for young people through agriculture. The vision that the Lord gave me was for an agricultural project supported by a strong local church. The Manantali area is inhabited by four unreached ethnic groups: the Malinké, Soninké, Peulhs and Moors. Church leaders in the area have no training and they struggle especially with evangelism.

When I first arrived, I taught the church leaders using Paul’s ‘Call of the Macedonian’ in Acts 16. After I gave this message, the church leaders that were preaching in the desert asked me to answer this call myself and stay in Manantali. I agreed.

I began to formalise the framework of this work and soon Mission Evangélique Chrétienne Agape (MECA) was born. MECA is an indigenous Malian mission and  stands for evangelism, church planting and discipleship. Our headquarters are in Manantali where we also have a local church which I am pastoring. We have planted another church in Niantasso, 45 kilometres away with a trainee pastor.

Our goal is that we should not depend on the outside world for the financial life of our organisation. My background in community development has convinced me of the importance of sustainable agriculture so we have adopted this as a strategy for supporting the ministry.

Our headquarters has an area that we want to fence and irrigate for agriculture. At the same time, we are starting a sustainable agriculture training project for the local youth. In all the villages we are going to, we plan to acquire some land (either by grant or by buying it) and replicate this same approach.

What are my hopes for the future? To answer that, let me tell you about our vision. It is to establish at least one active local church, strong both spiritually and numerically, in every administrative village in the Bafoulabé Cercle and beyond. The Bafoulabé Cercle has 13 communities and has about 212 villages including Manantali.

We want to see the Malinké people reached for Jesus with a strong and living church among them. The Malinké are included in Revelation 7:9 so we have to work to make it happen.

We long to see communities able to support themselves and free from poverty. We long to see our own training institute where we will train our pastors and leaders in Christian theology, pastoral leadership and sustainable agriculture.

It is a big vision but we have a big God.

eVitabu workshops in Kenya and Uganda

By eVitabu, Kenya, Uganda

In May and June, workshops were held in Kenya and Uganda to help pastors and church leaders download, install and use eVitabu on their own phones.

In Kenya, Rossalynne Wanjiru helped around 50 pastors get started on the training and resource hub app in Kiambu, Kericho, Narok, Webuye and Kapsabet. Rossa did a fantastic job and was supported by the APF team back in the UK through WhatsApp.

In Uganda, plans for workshops in Soroti, Mbale, Kumuli, Iganga, Lira, Mukono and Kampala unravelled as the government banned travel between districts and limited gatherings. Several workshop coordinators persevered and went ahead with locally run groups, taking care to follow the new Covid-19 regulations.

“I Only Wanted to be an Accountant”

By Liberia, Training

Grace Christian Fellowship Network of Liberia (GCFNL) is a small group of evangelical churches. The group has grown out of Central Christian Assembly Church, led since 2000 by Pastor Clinton Gbawoh. Clinton was the first pastor from West Africa registered on our eVitabu app. Recently, he wrote to us telling us about how he became a pastor.

My father had two wives but neither of them could have children with him. He was told by an elder woman that as both his wives had been married to other men before, he had been cursed. This hurt my father greatly.

Although he was not a Christian, he went into the bush to seek the face of God. He swept clean the ground under a palm tree and stayed there for a whole day, fasting and praying. He asked God to give him a son so the curse would no longer be on him. When he came home, his wives asked him where he had been, but he never told them.

One month after his fast in the bush, my mother became pregnant. I was born nine months later. I was given the name Targbasay which means ‘The story has changed’. The man who could not produce children now has a boy-child. I was also given the name Clinton. In those days there were not many English names in Liberia except for John, Joseph, Peter and James. Those were the names from the Bible that the American missionaries brought in the 1800s.

When I was young, my grandmother took me and brought me up in her home. She was a great pastor.

My grandmother wanted me to go to school so she took me to the General Overseer of an American mission. I was accepted into the school and in 1980 I was baptised there. After I graduated from school, I stayed with the American missionaries to learn how to be an accountant. In 1988, during my studies at the mission, I received the call on my life to be a pastor.

One night, I had a vision of a disabled man lying at the church altar. The General Overseer of the mission was there. He was calling for my grandmother to pray for the disabled man but my grandmother told him that I would do it in her place.

In my vision, she told me to pray for the disabled man. When I did, he immediately started walking.

After I woke, I wondered what this vision meant. Praying, I heard a voice saying that I was to succeed my grandmother in the future. I was not happy at all about this. I did not want my grandmother to die because I loved her so dearly. I only wanted to be an accountant.

Soon after, I had another dream. This time it was of a big convention hall filled with people. My grandmother was called up to preach but again she said that I would do it in her place. In my dream, I preached and the Holy Spirit fell on many people.

After I woke up, I wondered what the meaning of the dream was. Again I heard a voice. The vision and the dream meant the same thing, it said. I would follow my grandmother as a pastor.

Only one year later, our country fell into 14 years of conflict. It was during this war that my grandmother called me and told me to kneel. She placed her hands upon me and blessed me, saying that I would take her place as pastor. My grandmother died in January 2000. I became a pastor just four months later, graduating from the Wesleyan Bible College of Liberia.

From very humble beginnings in the forests of Sineo County, I now lead Central Christian Assembly in Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia. The church is part of a small network called the Grace Christian Fellowship Network of Liberia. I also chair the board of the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia. In 2019, I represented the network at the Evangelical World Alliance convention in Indonesia.

“With thanks to APF we had the financial support for our network conference. It was a worthy time and we do appreciate it.
“The conference happened for three nights with over 700 people attending each night. In total, 2,230 people attended. The theme of the conference was, ‘In Times Like These’. We used Matthew 24: 3-25 as inspiration. Pastor Sunday Gbamokolie preached the first night, Pastor Margate Wilson spoke the second night and Pastor Robert Taylor spoke on the third night of the conference.
“On the fourth day, we held a leadership workshop. This covered two main topics. The first was the responsibilities of church leaders and the second topic was ‘Tentmaker’. I led this part. We used various passages in the Bible to discuss how church leaders should seek to support their ministry and missional activities financially through the work of their hands.
“Please keep us in your prayers as we will be celebrating our network’s 15th anniversary this year. Pray for safe travels for all the delegates that are coming for the various gatherings and for the speakers so the Holy Spirit will speak through them.
“God bless you all in the precious name of Jesus Christ. We pray that our good God will continue to work through APF and ourselves in the country of Liberia.”

Pastor Clinton GbawohGrace Christian Fellowship Network Conference