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Swahili commentary sets back in print!

By Tanzania

The Akan people of Ghana have a saying: “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi.” Roughly translated it means, “It is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.” From the proverb comes the word ‘Sankofa’, which means, “Go back and get it.” The symbol of Sankofa is a bird moving forward but with its head turned backwards, in effect going forward while remaining conscious of the past and the wisdom contained there.

At APF, we have had a sense of the importance of moving forward but looking back for some time. Our friend and partner Rev Dr Kate Coleman put it to us like this: “When you get on the train, choose the seat facing backwards.” Move forward but remain conscious of where you’ve come from.

So, while eVitabu, Jubilee Trees, Growing Greener, solar energy projects, locally-led pastor training in-service workshops and many other new and exciting initiatives absorb much of our time, we’ve also been keen not to forget good things from APF’s past. To go back and fetch what we forgot.

For example, our Tanzanian friends and partners have been asking for a reprint of our New Testament Bible Commentary sets ‘Ufafanuzi Wa Agano Jipya’ for some time. Written in the 1990s by Sister Dorothy Almond, a Church Army Tanzania missionary from Yorkshire, Ufafanuzi Wa Agano Jipya remains to our knowledge the only complete New Testament Bible commentary written in Swahili, not a translation into Swahili. With its clear language and simple explanations, demand remains high amongst poorly trained rural pastors who rarely have access to any other books beside a Bible.

It has taken us a while to get it right but at last, three thousand copies recently landed at the port in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from printers in India. APF partners in Tanzania including Heavenlight Luoga (Karagwe), Amos Nkini (Arusha), Timothy Saulo (Mwanza) and Emanuel Mhina (Morogoro) have been busy distributing hundreds of copies to rural church leaders across their regions.

Another 500 sets are available from the shelves of SomaBiblia Christian bookshops across Tanzania where they are selling at heavily subsidised prices to ensure they remain affordable to pastors.

We are deeply indebted to our generous donors in the UK and our committed partners in Tanzania whose support have made the reprint of Ufafanuzi Wa Agano Jipya possible.   Asante Sana!

Please pray

For Heavenlight, Amos, Timothy and Heavenlight as they distribute commentary sets at training workshops and through local bookstores.

That the faith of rural pastors using Ufafanuzi wa Agano Jipya would be enriched and their ministries strengthened.

For other APF literature projects such as the distribution of local language Bibles funded by OM Special Projects.

For growing links with African theological seminaries, especially connections with the Network of African Congregational Theology (NetACT).

Jubilee Trees

By Uganda

Geoff Holder, APF’s Project Coordinator, updates readers on Jubilee Trees, an exciting new APF partnership with Climate Stewards and the Baptist Union of Uganda:

Trees have a special place in African culture. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide people with food, medicines and wood for tools and shelter. In many traditional African cultures, trees have a spiritual connection to the supernatural world of the ancestors.

Recently, I’ve been researching the role faith plays when African Christians think about the environment. My study demonstrates that trees still retain a very special place in African people’s thinking.

From Malawi to Uganda, from Cameroon to Ethiopia, Christian leaders responding to the research made a direct link between climate change impacts (changing weather patterns, increasing droughts and floods) and the dramatic loss of trees the continent has suffered over the last 50 years. One pastor put it this way: “Trees and African people are one. You cannot separate us.” Many expressed a sense of regret around the continent’s deforestation, but the reasons behind it are complex. Rapid population growth, demand for charcoal, poverty, and the erosion of traditional value systems which protected forests: none of these have helped.

Although responsibility for climate change undoubtedly lies primarily with industrialised nations like the UK rather than in Africa, Africans are showing how we should respond.  The African church is at the forefront of action on climate change. In Uganda, the Bishop of West Buganda, Rt Rev Katumba Tamale recently announced his support for Ugandan school children joining the famous Fridays for Future global school strikes.

Decrying that so many trees had been cut down and not enough planted, “The lives of our children are now at stake,” he said. Most Rev Thabo, Archbishop of Cape Town, says people of faith must walk the walk when it comes to climate change: “We depend on this beautiful web of life God created…  The challenge now is for us to become healers because we have failed to be stewards.”  After all, Africans are collectively the most vulnerable people in the world to climate change impacts whilst having the fewest resources to adapt to and mitigate for these.

But now, the Baptist Union of Uganda, in partnership with APF and Climate Stewards (a UK Christian charity providing carbon offsetting through carbon mitigation projects in the developing world), has launched the Jubilee Trees campaign. Funding from APF and Climate Stewards is helping local Ugandan Baptist churches plant indigenous trees on church land. Hundreds of Maesopsis, Grevillea and Terminalia tree saplings are now growing on five church sites in central Uganda.

This small pilot is only the beginning. Plans are already coming together for more planting next year. Climate Stewards has created a unique online tool called CQuestr that projects the amount of climate change causing carbon dioxide each tree plantation will capture and lock away. The projection is used to estimate a carbon price for the plantation, a monetary value for the carbon captured by the trees.

And as the trees grow, the churches will benefit from shade, timber, fruit, better soils, water retention and wildlife which will support higher crop yields. They’ll protect people, buildings and soils from strong wind, heavy rainfall and scorching sunshine.

This exciting project was conceived by Revd Peter Mugabi, BUU General Secretary. Peter has seen first-hand the impact of deforestation in Uganda. To implement the project, Peter is being supported by Bernadette Kabonesa, an expert in indigenous forestry from the Ugandan National Forestry Resources Research Institute.

With Peter’s passion and Bernadette’s expertise alongside APF’s project management experience and Climate Stewards’ CQuestr toolkit, this project has already captured the imagination. Last year, Christian Aid filmed Peter, Caroline Pomeroy (Climate Stewards’ Director) and myself as we began to put the Jubilee Trees project together. Christian Aid will use the short film as part of their campaign to coincide with the United Nations’ COP26 international climate change conference which will take place in Glasgow in 2020.

Preparing for Harvest in DRC


Heavenlight and Kesia Luoga are leaders in Deeper Life Ministries, a loose network of independent African churches. Based in rural north-west Tanzania, they are both well-respected Bible teachers. Recently, APF funding enabled Heavenlight and Kesia to hold a series of training seminars in the Democratic Republic of Congo where pastors from smaller denominations rarely receive any in-service training opportunities. Heavenlight wrote to update APF supporters on their progress:

Thank you for your prayers! Kesia and I had a wonderful and very successful trip to Goma, in eastern DR Congo. Kesia facilitated women seminars for two days and youth seminars for two days too. I spent much time in pastors’ seminars.

About 119 youth, 100 women, 20 pastors and six evangelists attended the seminars which were coordinated by local Baptists groups. I spent most of the time exploring what it means to be ‘in the time of harvest’ based on Matthew 9:35-38 and John 4:35. I asked, “What does Jesus mean when he says, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest?’”

My teachings focused on three areas:

Firstly, we saw that Jesus was a man of great humility and compassion. He went through all the towns and villages to preach, to teach, to heal and to comfort people. Christians should be willing to do likewise.

Secondly, the world is waiting to hear the good news of God’s Kingdom, but the workers are few. Therefore, whoever we might be, we all have a part to play in God’s renewal of the world.

Thirdly, we are told to ask God to send out workers into his harvest field. This is a call to pray for and to equip evangelists, church planters, chaplains and Bible teachers. We should always be listening and ready for when God asks us to respond with love. We are all called to be involved in his Kingdom.

After the seminars I was asked to go back to DR Congo in August to speak at a three-day training event immediately preceding the General Assembly meeting of the Community of Baptist Churches of Eastern Congo (CEBCE).

As my schedule was tight, my answer had to be “Thank you but no.” Then they asked me to speak at the 2020 event, even offering to cover our expenses for transport, visas and accommodation for both Kesia and myself. I said, “Yes!”

The CEBCE is a network of about 800 churches and is one of many Baptist groups in DR Congo. Over 500 pastors gather every year at the General Assembly so this is a very wonderful opportunity for us to share with many church leaders.

Tearfund pilot eVitabu

By Burundi, eVitabu

“Without eVitabu, essential resources for church and community transformation are difficult to access even electronically.”

Revd Dr Sas Conradie, Tearfund Theology and Networking Engagement Manager (Africa), describes how Tearfund are preparing to use eVitabu to support church and community mobilisation in Africa:

Tearfund’s vision is to see people freed from poverty, living transformed lives and reaching their God-given potential. To achieve this vision, Tearfund partner with local churches to bring restoration to those living in poverty.

A priority area for Tearfund is church and community transformation (CCT) whereby we seek to bring whole-life transformation to communities through local churches. CCT consists of various approaches including the church and community mobilisation process (CCMP). In CCMP, facilitators and trainers are equipped to journey with local churches to help them work with their local communities and together identify and respond to local needs.

In our work with churches and communities, we know the importance of getting good resources to CCMP facilitators and trainers which they can use as they work with churches. This is why we were so excited when we were introduced to APF’s eVitabu app. We immediately realised the potential of eVitabu to provide our CCMP facilitators and trainers with access to good theological resources.

Barnabe Msabah, Tearfund Church and Community Transformation Lead for East and Central Africa, and Martin Uswege, Tearfund Church and Community Transformation Lead for Southern and East Africa, believe that eVitabu will be extremely valuable for their work. eVitabu could support the training of CCMP facilitators and trainers while the facilitators could be encouraged to use the eVitabu app when they work with churches. Barnabe and Martin suggest that the eVitabu tablet is made available to CCMP trainers at a subsidised rate to motivate them and to show appreciation for their work.

Martin has invited APF to equip Tearfund CCMP trainers in Tanzania in using eVitabu during a workshop in September. Barnabe requested APF visit Burundi in early 2020 to train CCMP trainers on eVitabu. By next year, we expect that about 30 Tearfund CCMP trainers will be equipped in using eVitabu. The Tanzania and Burundi pilots could then be expanded to more countries to provide CCMP trainers and facilitators with easy access to resources that can help them in their work with churches and communities.

Without eVitabu, essential resources for church and community transformation are difficult to access even electronically. We believe that eVitabu can greatly enhance the work of hundreds of Tearfund’s CCMP trainers and facilitators across Africa. In time, we believe that eVitabu will also be the go-to resource hub for theological leaders and students across Africa.

Role Model Leadership Academy

By Uganda

Over the last few years, APF have developed a growing partnership with Next Leadership, a Christian leadership consultancy founded by the former President of the Baptist Union and Chair of the Evangelical Alliance, Revd Dr Kate Coleman and Revd Cham Kaur-Mann.

APF are supporting Next Leadership to extend their outstanding leadership training programme into Africa through the Role Model Leadership Academy. As Cham reports, the first of three sessions happened in Kampala, Uganda during March.

A combination of factors meant that Kate and I were working night and day in order to produce exceptional materials and a robust programme for the first gathering of the Academy. We had very little time to pull it all together, yet we sensed God’s presence with us in so many ways. In fact, we were still printing materials on the Sunday evening before our Monday morning departure flight!

As we waited in the departure lounge at Birmingham Airport all seemed well until it was announced that all flights through Amsterdam had been cancelled due to high winds and turbulent weather conditions. We prayed, sensing that God was more invested in getting us to Uganda than we ever could be and was already making a way. Within two hours, we received news that we were to be rerouted, via Kenya. We eventually arrived in Uganda at 5am, seven hours later than expected but in time for our first meeting with the local support team.

With Christian leaders arriving from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, the first session of Role Model Leadership Academy started the next day. Participants included creatives such as a short film maker, artist and singer, through to pragmatic business people. There were graduates and senior church leaders from APF partners including the Baptist Union of Uganda and Pastors’ Discipleship Network. The youngest participant was 20 years old and the oldest, 80 years old, but everyone gelled quickly. Teams formed from groups and accountability developed. Obvious stratification lines dissolved quite early in the programme.

We thought that we had set the bar high, but the participants went over and above our expectations. Even though some had undertaken a whole day’s travel to get to Kampala in the first place, everyone remained engaged all the way through the programme. There was a great deal of group interaction despite many of the participants being unused to non-judgemental spaces where they could speak and share freely without criticism.

One story that particularly stands out is Hosannah’s. Growing up as a ‘house girl’, Hosannah never had an opportunity to go to school and did domestic work to get by. After teaching herself to read and write she now works in Uganda’s vibrant music industry. On the Academy’s second day, she served as a Team Manager. With the support of her peer mentoring group, Hosannah was encouraged to present her team’s outputs in front of the entire gathering. She told me afterwards that this was the first time she has ever done anything like this. Her constant refrain was, “I can’t believe I’m here and that I’ve been asked to speak”. Hers, by the way, was the most concise, focused and informative presentation out of all the groups.

During the Academy, all the participants created their own six-month Personal Leadership Development Goals which they shared with the group and presented to God. By the end of the third day, the participants went off to establish work far beyond anything we’d expected. They had also committed to pair up with ‘Accountability Partners’ and to reconnect with each other every month for six months until the Academy reconvenes in October.

We’re privileged and blessed to work alongside wonderful local partners and grateful to APF for your prayerful support of this exciting initiative.

Digging for God’s riches in south-east Congo’s mining region


APF partner, Congo Pastors’ Fellowship, is led by Revd Bertin Mwanya. He supports pastor training within the mineral-rich area of Lubumbashi where impoverished artisanal miners dig for the minerals used in your mobile phone.

My names are Bertin Ngoy Nshimbi Mwanya. I am married to Esther and we have five children (three boys and two girls). Four of our children are at school and the youngest is preparing to start school next year. Our eldest son will soon graduate from high school and hopes to start theological training. Please pray for a breakthrough in funding for his studies.

Both Esther and I are ordained church ministers. I have been ministering as Senior Pastor of El Shaddai Baptist Church in the city of Lubumbashi for over twenty years now. I also lead a Christian organisation called the Congo Pastors’ Fellowship (CPF). CPF is made up of a considerable number of mainly local pastors who come together from different churches, denominations and local Christian organisations. CPF provide pastor training for church leaders and pastors’ wives on issues they identify as important.

Recently, we have run training workshops covering leadership development, marriage issues and various biblical themes. There is a desperate need for poor church leaders to have bibles and we are praying we will be able to provide more bibles, commentaries and other material in print or digital formats.

We also seek to help the poorest pastors to generate a better income so they can support their families. We are praying we can partner with APF to provide bicycles, solar power for household lighting and village phone charging, brick making projects, vegetable gardening or buying and selling micro businesses for women.

Lubumbashi is a very strategic area to minister in. Located near the border with Zambia in the south-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lubumbashi is the second largest city in the country after the capital, Kinshasa. The city’s population is over 1.5 million.

Lubumbashi is a mining hub of global importance. The mines around Lubumbashi produce more than three percent of the world’s copper and half its cobalt. It is likely that the copper and cobalt used in your mobile phone have come from our region.

Men, women and children often endure dangerous and unhealthy conditions to extract these valuable minerals. The industry relies heavily on artisanal miners who do not work for industrial mining companies but dig independently, anywhere they might find minerals, under roads and railways, in backyards, sometimes under their own homes. It is dangerous work that often results in injury, collapsed tunnels and fires. The miners earn between $2 and $3 per day by selling their haul at local mineral markets.

Please pray that CPF builds a strong partnership with APF so we can better support local church leaders as they share the good news of God’s riches with Congo’s artisanal miners.

In 2018, APF made a grant to the Congo Pastors’ Fellowship of £720 for local language bibles.