Monthly Archives

December 2021

Download our January 2022 newsletter

By Impetus

January 2022 Impetus.

Thank you so much for reading our January 2022 newsletter.

I attended a very long and hot graduation ceremony at Kapsabon Pastor Training College in Kenya in November. I was given a minute to introduce myself and APF which I think I stuck to (unlike everyone else!) My address to the gathering was undoubtedly the shortest, with “all protocols observed” to coin the phrase of the day. It was a privilege to see women and men receiving their awards and being sent out to serve but I was tired, dehydrated and more than ready to stretch my legs at the end of the five hour extravaganza.

My highlight of the occasion was a joke in the keynote address. It went something like this:

A man had a dog. He loved the dog very much. But sadly, the dog died. The man went to see the pastor and asked if he would provide a burial service for the dog. The pastor declined, explaining the church did not offer rites of passage for dogs. The man was disappointed but as he was leaving, turned to the pastor and said, “I can pay $5,000 for my dog to be buried.” To which the pastor replied, “My friend! My brother! Why did you not tell me at the start the dog was born-again?!”

Many become cynical about African friends and money matters. There’s a seemingly bottomless pit of need, different understandings about budgeting and ownership, a lack of financial transparency to name but some of the cross-cultural challenges.

But I also hear myself in their appeals. For APF, there remains the constant need to chase down every donation, the pressure to maintain enough regular income to pay our staff and keep up with demands, not to mention the preparation of dozens of funding proposals to ensure we have growing funds to support our partners in Africa.

As we begin 2022, APF is looking to diversify and strengthen our leadership team to take on some of these activities. This will release my time so I can give more energy to implementing strategy, reflect more deeply on digital theology and foster key relationships both in the UK and Africa.

I’m not yet taking payment for canine cremations or barking burials, but I do want to see APF able to support more graduations (although I will happily sit them out!) and be better placed to help equip dedicated but under-resourced leaders with training, eVitabu and many other life-changing projects and initiatives.

Thank you for your generosity and trust. Please pray with me to stay focussed and trust the Lord for his provision in this new year.

Thank you for your continued support

Revd Dave Stedman

Vaccine hesitancy in Uganda

By Covid-19, Uganda

As news of a new coronavirus variant ‘Omicron’ emerges from Africa, we asked Rose Mugabi from Pastors’ Discipleship Network in Uganda about the vaccination programme there. With only 2% of Ugandans fully vaccinated, she explains how some churches have been complicit in spreading misinformation about vaccination which remains a very hotly debated issue.

The past two years have been very difficult for Uganda due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The country has experienced multiple total lockdowns that have driven many people into extreme poverty. Incidence of domestic violence and teenage pregnancy has spiked. Schools have not opened for the last two years and many businesses remain affected or have closed.

The government secured coronavirus jabs for mass vaccination programmes through the United Nation’s COVAX facility, which aims to provide equitable access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines globally. The hope was that vaccinations would ensure Ugandans were protected from the virus and schools, businesses and churches could open up again.

But the good news about the vaccine has not been received in good faith, especially in the Pentecostal churches. Many leaders of these churches have been misled about the vaccine through falsehoods circulating on the internet and social media platforms like Facebook.

Some have told me that they believe that the vaccine is really a microchip which goes inside you when you get the jab. They tell me that this is spoken about in the Book of Revelation and that the vaccine is the plan of the Antichrist. Others say that it is all part of a scheme by the western world to destroy Africa and take its abundant minerals and natural resources. They believe there is a plan to kill all vaccinated people within two years.

When I have these conversations, I always listen carefully to what is said but I also make sure they know that we are vaccinated, and our church fully supports the vaccination programme. For us, the vaccine is a gift, it is an example of God’s compassion for his people. He has given people the intellect and science to understand and tackle this enemy, and that we should trust that he is bigger than any virus and not live in fear of its cure.

The government has said that some jobs will now need employees to provide a proof of vaccination card, but in this climate of misinformation and rumour even this requirement has not turned the tide. To me, it seems like the non-vaccinated are waiting for the vaccinated to die while the vaccinated believe that it is only a matter of time before all non-vaccinated die. Here in Uganda, the vaccine is still a considerable debate.

Relief on the River Bank

By Covid-19, Mali

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, APF have been providing small grants to partners to help them, their families, their churches and their communities navigate the huge challenges posed by Covid-19. The most recent grant was made to our new partner in Mali, Mission Évangélique Chrétienne Agape, based in Manatali on the Bafing River. Pastor Pascal Thera reports on how the funds were used.

I received the Covid-19 relief grant from African Pastors Fellowship and immediately I began meeting the beneficiaries. The message I brought was the same for everyone. I said in the difficult times we were living in, some of my friends, partners of the Mission, are helping us give assistance to those in greatest need.

Knowing the communities and what they were going through, I told them that God loves them and has many ways to prove it. I said that this was part of Christ’s compassion for them and that I am just a channel.

The first reaction was the surprise and joy of receiving a gift like this from the Mission. One of the beneficiaries was Bamoussa from Manatali. He couldn’t believe it with his own eyes when I arrived to see him. Shedding tears and with his voice knotted, he said that the problem of the return to school was a very real challenge but he was also living with something else. Since the beginning of the month, he was living under the weight of several illnesses and his prescriptions remained unpaid. The pandemic’s impact on his very small income also meant he had a delay in the payment of his rent. In this, God really came to visit him.

Mamady, another beneficiary, said that he was feeling the weight of this pandemic. He is blind and before the pandemic he made a living from begging. But it was now more than a month since he had gone out into the streets to ask for money.

The difficult walk to the corner was no longer giving any reward. Before, people could give him a thousand franc note (a little over £1) or even two thousand francs. Now, he so rarely received anything he just hid away at home in despair. So let us come to him and give him a lifesaving gift from the Mission and from a person to whom he has never paid attention to before. What a joy!

Kama told me that he had learnt that Christians are good and help their neighbours. He is from Niantaso, some 45 km east of Manatali where we have one of our mission cells. He is also blind. I remember his words very well. “It was like a tale for me and even for many of this village,” he said. “That good comes from the Mission is not surprising because since you started coming to this village everyone appreciates you and says that you are good. We will keep your blessing in a corner of our hearts and through me, you have offered this gift to the whole village.”

This small but important operation has seriously marked me in my Christian life. I rejoice that I have been able to join in with this good work for the Lord. With it comes a certain inner peace. I am experienced in doing development work, especially in agriculture, but this is the first time in my whole life that I have been able to bring cash grants to very vulnerable people in desperate and immediate need.

It reminds me to leave aside my own benefit and understand the true meaning of compassion. I experienced this through the sharing of a gift.