All Posts By

Geoff Holder

Africa Trip Update

By Kenya, Uganda

In November and early December, Dave Stedman met with key APF partners in Uganda and Kenya. Here’s a few of his photos and highlights of his trip.

In Kampala I met with regional overseers of the Uganda Assemblies of God churches for an eVitabu induction and a Digital Theology Taster workshop.

Lunch meeting with Ben Mutegeki, Managing Director of Pastors’ Discipleship Network and Cornerstone University. There are exciting plans for Digital Theology to be part of the curriculum at PDN and they discussed growing the partnership with APF.

I met with Pastor Joshua Ssemanda, Uganda national coordinator for Africans Training Africans (ATA). Joshua travels the length and breadth of Uganda, visiting some of the remotest regions to mentor, encourage and train rural pastors.

Musa, caretaker at Bulogo Primary School, who helped the children plant 250 trees during my visit. I love the juxtaposition of tradition hoe with the smartphone in his shirt pocket. I find this symbolic of continuity and change across the continent of Africa.

Moyo conference with 35 South Sudanese pastors . We are moving from a Digital Theology taster session to an eVitabu induction workshop.

I planted this mahogany tree at Bulogo in 2015 on one of my first visits to Uganda for APF. Its growth is somehow symbolic of the increasing influence of APF in the continent through eVitabu and our partners.

Lunch with old friends Walubo Jude, Makos Pearson, and Kiiza Geoffrey. Dave shared that he has known some of these men since they were boys and they are now fathers. Great time discussing politics, rugby and parenthood!.

A brief but joyful and productive meeting with Rukundo Abel, national overseer for YWAM in Uganda. He has an infectious passion for sharing Bible teaching and ending Bible poverty. Abel installed eVitabu on his phone and is encouraging YWAM staff to download it.

I had a productive morning with Revd Bernard Obuya Obuya, president of the Baptist Convention of Kenya, and members of his team. There is likely to be an opportunity in 2024 to do an eVitabu workshop with regional overseers and other key Baptist leaders, as well as a request for study Bibles for Baptist pastors and local language Bibles for church congregations in rural Kenya.

For Prayer…

By Prayer

Please pray with us for our partners in Africa.

“Grace Kaziba, the house manager at Faith Babies Home in Uganda, is due to undergo surgery this month. She asks us to pray for funds to cover medical bills, the doctors who will perform the operation and for her complete healing. The 45 children in her care and support staff need Grace to be fit and healthy.”

Grace KazibaFaith Babies Home, Uganda

“Japhet Matugoma is the retired legal representative of Église Évangélique de la Bonne Volonté au Rwanda. His home was severely damaged by landslides earlier this year and the government has advised the local population to relocate as there remains a risk of further landslips in the rainy season. Japhet has lived in this place for around fifty years, it is the family home and there are limited resources to help with a relocation and construction of a new house. Please pray for him as the need is urgent.”

Japhet MatugomaÉglise Évangélique de la Bonne Volonté au Rwanda

“Daniel Odour Gwara is one of APF’s most active training partners. Operating in western Kenya, he reaches eight large groups of leaders and has been training them using eVitabu. During 2023, Daniel’s training has covered topics including prayer, agriculture and vocational skills. Daniel doesn’t have a smartphone so he relies on the goodwill of neighbours and fellow eVitabu users to search and download resources on eVitabu, for email and other online activity. Please pray for the provision of a phone or tablet for Daniel, and others like him, so they can access essential tools of ministry in the digital age.”

Daniel Odour GwaraCentral Rift Baptist Association, Kenya

“Ruth Nalugya is founder of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Network Uganda (SHYNEA), a Ugandan NGO which provides advocacy, practical advice, access to clinical care and awareness raising projects to support children and families living with disability. Ruth is the mother of a child with spina bifida and understands the stigma that can still be associated with disability. Pray for her and give thanks for her strong faith which motivates her work.”

Ruth NalugyaisSpina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Network, Uganda

Equipped for Digital Ministry

By eVitabu, Training

In November 2023, APF launched an exciting partnership with Spurgeon’s College to offer APF partners and eVitabu users a unique opportunity to enrol for the Equipped for Digital Ministry course (EfDM). Dave Stedman explains what the course involves and why it is so important.

Ownership of a smartphone is now an essential prerequisite for candidates applying to study at many universities, seminaries and Bible schools in Africa. Digital devices are no longer ‘luxury’ items but essential tools for business, banking, entertainment, travel and study.

With mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa set to reach 685 million by next year, the need for training in the use of digital tools for ministry and theological reflection about the relationship between human beings, technology and God are as urgent in Africa as in any other part of the world.

EfDM is a six-module online course. Students can work at their own pace, and the completed course leads to a college certificate. Learning and assessment requires students to engage at both an academic and vocational level with the following modules:

  • Ministry in a Digital Culture
  • Digital Church: Communications
  • Media Streams
  • Inclusion and Ethics
  • Digital Church in Practice
  • Digital Futures

Over the past two years, as a result of studying for a Masters in Digital Theology at Spurgeon’s College, I now find myself inhabiting a niche area of theological expertise in east Africa with many invitations to open up the subject of digital theology in both formal and non-formal training environments. I’ve delivered numerous Digital Theology Taster Seminars and developed an introduction workshop called The Smart Pastor.

Feedback from these workshops has shown an obvious hunger for more in depth teaching and capacity building in both practical and theoretical aspects of ministry in the digital age. As a result of exposure to The Smart Pastor, there is even a Christian university in Uganda which has committed to introduce digital theology as a core component of its ministry training and is asking for support in developing its curriculum and delivery.

Over the course of this year, through conversations with Spurgeon’s College Principal, Rev Prof Philip McCormack, the possibility of offering EfDM to African clergy began to take shape. Philip recently returned from a visit to Moyo in northern Uganda where he saw first-hand the appetite for learning and the need for capacity building of Baptist pastors from South Sudan.

Spurgeon’s College has generously reduced the price of EfDM for APF partners. Philip sees this as a great opportunity for the college to expand its influence as global

One of the early applicants, Revd Shadrack Koma, a regional overseer in the Africa Inland Church in Kenya, is ambitious and excited about the course and how it will enable his ministry. He writes, ‘[EfDM] will help me to reach out to millions of unreached people in the digital world. By leveraging technology, especially social media and other digital platforms. I look forward to upgrading my ministry digitally.’

Pastor Daniel Masiga from Uganda, who chairs the Christian Leaders Fellowship in Mogadishu, Somalia, is similarly enthusiastic. ‘For me being equipped for digital ministry is an opportunity to be better positioned and better equipped in the cause of advancing the gospel of Christ using technology’ he explains. ‘Technology has a way of magnifying human abilities and learning to use it efficiently is an opportunity I wouldn’t love to miss. Especially knowing that this education is coming from a college and a team of educators such as Spurgeon’s College. In a nutshell, I hope to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency in digital communication so as to reach people and places I may never be able to physically reach.’

At the time of writing, just one week after applications opened, twenty-three APF partners have already enrolled (although only one has paid). Despite EfDM being offered at a significantly reduced cost to APF partners, £305 remains a lot of money for the average African pastor. For many it is out of reach.

We believe it is important that applicants take financial responsibility for their studies so a proportion of the cost will always be met by the student, but we also appeal to our supporters to consider sponsorship so we can fast-track some of those who enrol but will struggle to ‘mobilise the funds’. As one of my African friends told me just last week, ‘the flower is there, the bees wish to come, and when they do they will go and make honey’.

The EfDM Africa partnership is unique and undoubtedly strategic. Please pray for those that aspire to learn to be enabled to access the training: May they fulfil their personal potential and strengthen the church, practically and spiritually, in-person and online, wherever God has placed them.

Healing Bruised Lives in Kenya

By Farming, Kenya, Training

APF partner Transformation Compassion Network (TCN) is an interdenominational network that trains Christians in Kenya in bringing holistic development to their communities. TCN Director Walter Rutto shared Betty’s story with us. It illustrates exactly the sort of transformation TCN seek to bring about in the lives of individuals, households and whole communities.

Betty Chepkirui is a real fighter. She is a single mother of three children and a resident of Balek Village in Bomet County, south-western Kenya. She’s an active member of St John’s Catholic Church.

Her past life experiences, however, had left her with much bitterness. The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and her words were an expression of endless pain.
A simple question from anyone would result in knocks, kicks and fights. She just wanted to be left alone and she believed that no one cared about her.

Then Betty joined our Kingdom Business course. Kingdom Business is a six-month course with three modules, each taking eight weeks. Learners attend class once a week for three hours to complete three lessons. This is a training that seeks to work on the mindset change for holistic transformation.
In the course is a topic called ‘Christian growth – experiencing God’s love and forgiveness’. Through this part of the course, Betty began to find some release from the past pain she had suffered from, began to forgive those who had oppressed and hurt her and experienced God’s healing in her life. It was like seeing medicine for the heart in action.

After the healing of her heart and mind, the healing further spread to her entire household. We soon began to see how Betty began to transform her smallholding, following the training we were providing very well. As her garden began to be more fruitful, the whole household began to experience a calm environment and her entire family discovered God’s love through this transformed woman.

Now Betty keeps poultry and dairy cows that help to feed her family. She sells surplus products and the extra income cushions her household budget.

The proceeds from her farm also helps her support her ailing mother. This has not been easy as she is the firstborn in her family. In this part of Kenya, it is said that a firstborn should be like an assistant parent. When the parents are not in a position to meet the needs of their dependants, all those family responsibilities are transferred to the firstborn child.

Since Betty’s life turned around, she has further known to walk in the way of the gospel. Because she has enough for herself and her children, she is now able to give offerings and tithes in church and also support the needy who live nearby in small but important ways. One of the best indicators of successful holistic training is when we look at church tithing records and note a tangible improvement stemming from community and economic development hand-in-hand with Christian discipleship.

Another aspect of our teaching programme covers household hygiene, health and wellbeing. Betty has taken this on board and kept this message close to her heart. Her compound is now always very clean, litter disposed of and the children know how to wash their hands before eating. This is no small thing and just these simple things can stop the spread of germs and bacteria. Diarrhoea remains a leading cause of death of children in Kenya.

When we asked Betty if we could share her story with African Pastors Fellowship and other partners, she was glad to do so to show just how transformative holistic training can be. Out of enthusiasm and without supervision, she is now teaching others in her village how to walk this journey too. Many are listening since it is evident that she’s a transformed woman.

A Flower Blooming in Northern Uganda

By Training, Uganda

In Kitgum Diocese in the far north of Uganda you can find a small rural trading centre near Pader Town. It provides a vitally important market for the many thousands of smallholder farmers who live in rural communities across the area. Pader District was badly affected by the long Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency which ravaged northern Uganda around the turn of the millennium but since then, the area has recovered quickly, in part due to trade up and down the highway to Lira, Kitgum and with South Sudan.

In 2014, without a single Ugandan Shilling of donor funding, the Diocese of Kitgum opened the Bishop Lee Rayfield Leadership College in the trading centre with a mission to train up new Readers (called catechists) to serve across the Diocese and beyond.

In rural Uganda, ordained clergy frequently oversee twenty-five churches or more spread over vast areas. Each congregation needs a trained leader and that’s where the Readers step in.
Readers read the prayer book (that’s why they’re called ‘Readers’) but they also teach, preach and provide pastoral care in their villages.

Based in some refurbished temporary classroom blocks, Bishop Lee Rayfield Leadership College offers a Certificate course in Theology and Development for Readers. It now trains men and women from across northern Uganda and South Sudan, keen to serve in this way in their own communities.

College Principal Rev Okidi Charles has a big vision for Bishop Lee Rayfield Leadership College. He describes the college as a flower that attracts insects. While the insects pollinate the flower, the flower provides nectar to make honey that is beneficial to their community. It’s a beautiful picture, perfectly illustrating the mutually beneficial relationship between the college, its students and the communities the students belong to.

Rev Charles has another metaphor for the work of the college. He says that one person having a monopoly of knowledge is like a tall eucalyptus tree standing in middle of a compound. It can only provide a little shade and is not very useful by itself. Training many people with knowledge and skills, however, is like a swam of caterpillars that can cover the entire community in any given moment. ‘I believe in teamwork and building human resources that will meet the quest of the Ministry of Christ’ he says, quoting an old saying in Acholi ‘Cing acel pe konyo’ which means ‘One hand alone cannot help but many hands put food on the table’.

Digital ministry is also creating new opportunities that Rev Charles is keen to embrace. He has a deep concern for the growing number who he recognises are called to Christian ministry but cannot study full time at a training institute because of work or home situations. ‘Training through digital ministry will rock the world’ he says. The solution is to ‘create digital space classrooms to enhance those God has touch to become tent makers. This is the desire of the college: training should be both physical and online.’

In order to achieve this vision, Rev Charles is aware of the need for investment in IT equipment, internet connectivity and web resources at the college. It is a big ask but he is not deterred. ‘Through digital tools we will be able to give the community and the Church in northern Uganda access to the message of God and developmental skills for holistic transformation’ he says. ‘This calls for collective efforts of all the stakeholders of Bishop Lee Rayfield Leadership College from within and without.’

January 2024 newsletter

By Impetus

January 2024 Impetus.

Welcome to the first Impetus of 2024.

In November and December, I spent nearly five weeks in Africa engaging with partners, teaching at conferences, monitoring projects and making new connections.

Among the highlights were a few days spent with Walubo Jude in Kamuli district in Uganda. There were two eVitabu workshops in churches, hospitality included six meals in one day, and around 500 trees planted at two different schools.

I planted the mahogany tree in this picture at Bulogo Primary School on one of my first trips to Africa as APF CEO. Its growth is remarkable! Somehow it symbolises the reach and influence of APF, especially through eVitabu and our dedicated African Training Partners in the intervening years.

Let us commit to pray for one another – and all we work alongside in Africa – that throughout 2024 each one might be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3).

Revd Dave Stedman

Parenting in the Digital Age

By Farming, Malawi, Training

New APF trustee Kingston Ogango will be leading ‘Parenting in the Digital Age’, an innovative and important workshop at Canterbury Baptist Church on Saturday 4th November. It is aimed at parents, carers, aunts, uncles, grandparents – in fact anyone with a concern for children, especially with regard to their exposure to the internet.

Parenting in the Digital Age
Hosted by APF and facilitated by Kingston Ogango, Africa Regional Director, Alpha International and recently appointed APF trustee.
This half day conference addresses issues around family dynamics, parenting tactics and how to remain relevant to digital natives.
Saturday 4th November, 9.30 to 14.00 at Canterbury Baptist Church, CT1 1UT
For more information or to book your place, contact:
WhatsApp +256 707 908298

Topics covered include ‘What Must Parents do to Remain Relevant?’ and ‘Parenting Digital Natives’.

If the workshop is of interest but you are in another part of the country, please also make contact to book Kingston when he is next in the UK.

For Prayer…

By Prayer

Please pray with us for our partners in Africa.

“Lerato Lesoetsa from Lesotho has recently moved to Chad to serve with African Inland Mission. She asks readers to thank God for the financial support that meant she could afford the air tickets and purchase some furniture and a solar panel for her new home. She asks us to pray for her long-term visa application.”

Lerato LesoetsaAIM, Chad

“Revd Charles Munyamahoro is a Free Methodist minister based in Kigali, Rwanda. He also teaches theology at the Free Methodist University in the south west of the country. Charles gives thanks for recent rains in Rwanda and asks that we pray for his students, especially those who are sick at this time.”

Chareles MunyamahoroFree Methodists, Rwanda

“Irene Kaziba is founder and director of Faith Babies Home, an outreach of Iganga Baptist Church in Uganda. She asks for prayer for the provision of food and medical supplies for the 42 children and staff under her care.”

Irene KazibaFaith Babies Home, Uganda

“Esomu Francis, Principal of Atirir Bible School in Teso Region of Uganda gives thanks for funds received from APF for student bursaries but asks that we pray for rains to come as there has been a prolonged dry spell which has impacted yields meaning that food will be scarce in 2024.”

Francis EsomuAtirir Bible School, Uganda

“Winnie Chemutai is a teacher with Transformation Compassion Network in west Kenya. She has a severe health condition which requires regular medical care, the cost of which is a great challenge. Please pray for Winnie’s personal provision and the means to fund her health and home.”

Winnie ChemutaiTCN, Kenya

“Revd Chris Khatela is Senior Pastor of Ngong Restoration Assembly in Kenya and an Associate Lecturer visiting seminaries in East Africa. Chris seeks prayer for provision for the reconstruction of the church sanctuary and travel costs to meet the demand for pastor training.”

Revd Chris KhatelaNgong Restoration Assembly, Kenya

“Sarah Sewagye, a pastor of Living Hope Church in Uganda is concerned for her mother’s help. Her mother requires surgery overseas but the cost is prohibitive and despite having sold land to help fund her treatment her condition has deteriorated.”

Sarah SewagyeLiving Hope Church, Uganda

“Edward Amwayi is Archbishop of the Worldwide Anglican Church (Kenya). He requests prayer to enable the recruitment, training and resourcing of evangelists.”

Edward AmwayiWorldwide Anglican Church, Kenya

“Rev Joel Agel Awio from NUICA in Lira, northern Uganda says that his region used to receive a very reliable rainfall especially in the second wet season (July to November) but there has been no rain since May. He asks for prayer as hunger has already hit and is expected to worsen towards the end of the year.”

Rev Joel Agel AwioNUICA, Uganda

October 2023 newsletter

By Impetus

October 2023 Impetus.

Welcome to the final edition of Impetus for 2023.

Doesn’t time fly! In fact, this is the twentieth edition of Impetus since ‘APF News and Prayer’ was rebranded back in 2019.

I hope you find the news in the ‘Around Africa’ and ‘In the UK’ pages encouraging. I also hope you find the articles a helpful focus for prayer, alongside the specific prayer needs shared by some of our friends and partners in Africa.

As always, thank you for reading and for your continued support.

Revd Dave Stedman

eVitabu on smartphone

Meeting Jesus in all the Scriptures through eVitabu

By eVitabu

Rev Dr Paul Blackham is an Anglican vicar, formerly of St Crispin’s in Islington and All Souls’ Langham Place. He is an author of ‘Book by Book’ study guides published by Biblical Frameworks which are included in APF’s library app, eVitabu. Paul writes, explaining why he feels the partnership with APF through eVitabu is so significant.

The Bible is the most important book in the world. It takes us through the whole history of the universe from beginning to end, but it also speaks clearly about our lives: Why are we here? How should we live? And most important of all, God’s written word points us to His Living Word.

At Biblical Frameworks we aim to give as many people as possible an opportunity to meet Jesus in all the Scriptures. That’s why we developed the Book by Book series of Bible study resources. We are thrilled to be able to share the Book by Book study guides with pastors and churches via the eVitabu platform. What a joy to know that these resources are now reaching so many and helping pastors and churches to get more out of Bible study.

Book by Book is designed for use by individuals, small groups or even whole church congregations. The idea is that we take a whole book of the Bible and unpack the key themes and main messages. We address the author’s purpose, context, and most importantly what the LORD is wanting to say to us through His word.

The study guides, which are all available via the eVitabu app, are set out in six or ten sections with a clear commentary and questions for discussion. A complementary series of videos is available free on YouTube at the Biblical Frameworks’ channel which you can find at www.youtube.com/@biblicalframeworks. There is a 15 minute video available for each section of the corresponding study guide.

eVitabu on smartphone

Book by Book makes studying whole books of the Bible accessible to reveal Jesus throughout and enrich our understanding of Who He is. Many pastors find the material really helpful in preparing for preaching and teaching as well using the studies directly with groups of people in their care.

We at Biblical Frameworks feel privileged to share in the work of the African Pastors’ Fellowship by supporting the unique mobile app eVitabu. Our prayer is that many people across Africa will meet Jesus in all the Scriptures through the app and especially through the Book by Book resources available on eVitabu.