fbpx
Category

Kenya

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.

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.

New APF Trustees

By Kenya, UK

We are delighted to welcome two new trustees to our board, Kingston Ogango and Peter Flew.

Kingston Ogango is Africa Regional Director at Alpha International and in-charge of ministry, serving as Alpha’s National Ministry Lead for Kenya. He is the former Head of Media at Christ Is The Answer Ministries in Nairobi, overseeing Hope FM and Hope TV for over six years. He has also served as a deacon among other church leadership roles. Recently he was one of 80 contributing writers from 27 countries to Light for the Writers Soul: 100 Devotions by Global Christian Writers published by Media Associates International.

Kingston holds a masters degree in Organisational Leadership from the International Leadership University in Nairobi in addition to other qualifications in leadership, sound engineering and production, digital media management and broadcasting from institutions in the US, the UK, Italy and South Africa.

Kingston graduated as a designer and practised for over 25 years, winning several awards both locally and internationally. Kingston has a particular interest in mentoring and developing young leaders. Following this passion, he founded The Summit Leadership Trust in 2009. He is married to Tabitha, his wife of 23 years, and has two sons, Andrew (22) and Jeremy (17).

Professor Peter Flew also joins the APF board of trustees. Peter is Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the School of Education at the University of Roehampton in south-west London, one of England’s largest providers of Initial Teacher Education, training hundreds of teachers for schools across the country each year.

Prior to joining the university in 2013, Peter was a primary headteacher in Godalming, Surrey. He trained to teach in 2002 following a career in banking and finance IT. Peter has a varied portfolio of non-executive roles including as trustee of the Royal Academy of Dance, a director of Wastebuster CIC (a provider of recycling educational resources for schools) and sitting on the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education. Peter has worked in Uganda and India with STiR Education, a teacher development charity. He hopes to bring his expertise in education, safeguarding and IT to support the mission of APF.

People for Jesus bringing hope to Maasailand

By Kenya, Training

Between 2019 and 2021 Pastor Tom Opiyo, founder of People for Jesus Ministry (PFJM) in Kenya, received an APF scholarship to study for a bachelor’s degree in theology at the Pan Africa Christian University in Nairobi. He graduated in July of last year and recently sent a very full and encouraging annual report.

PFJM is a registered Kenyan non-governmental organisation. It is based in Narok County in the south of the country and works in Maasailand in practical and pastoral ways. Tom’s report ran to nearly twenty pages so here is a brief except and a few of the highlights:

Adult Literacy Programme

PFJM churches are being encouraged to address the education gap experienced by many Maasai women and girls that drop out of school due to early marriages. The classes combine basic literacy with income generation skills and advice to enable adults to earn as they learn. Although the overwhelming majority of pupils are female, around 15% of the cohort is male.

Support for Flood Victims

During 2022 there were severe floods in the Kandaria area. Many local residents were housed in the compound of Kandaria Secondary School, a PFJM foundation establishment. Even after the floods subsided some people remained due to food and economic insecurity with more than 350 people displaced from their homes that were lost to the flood.

Outreach to the Nations

During March 2023 PFJM teams were visiting Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Iganga in Uganda for short term missions. The outreach involves evangelistic crusades and intercessory prayer gatherings, as well as support to local projects and churches. Closer to home two churches have been planted at Loita, near the Tanzania border and Nyang’ande in Kisumu County in the far south west.

Care for Vulnerable People Groups

In Nyang’ande, People for Jesus Ministry is giving a helping hand to more than 80 children living with disability through socialisation activities and around 40 senior citizens at the Bigoma Community Centre. The community is not connected to the national grid and lacks power, lighting and access to clean water. Tom hopes that once the power supply is installed a well can be drilled if resources allow.

In addition to these ministry needs Pastor Tom requests prayer for his family, especially his wife Eunice who shares much of the ministry burden in church and managing the many women’s projects, and their children: Joy (studying Public Health at university), Joshua, Deborah and Peter who are still at various stages in their school careers.

The PFJM motto for 2023 is Isaiah 40:31. Let us pray with them as they reach out to the hungry, thirsty, helpless and oppressed that, waiting on the Lord, Tom, Eunice and all the team will “mount up with wings like eagles … run and not grow weary … walk and not grow faint.”

Digital Theology in Africa

By eVitabu, Kenya, Training

Transformational Compassion Network (TCN) is responding to the rapidly changing context in Africa. Revd Walter Rutto explains why Digital Theology is so important in Africa and introduces the pioneering work they’re doing.

We live in a digital age. That is true in Africa as much as anywhere else in the world. Mobile technology has changed the way we interact, do business and live our lives. Here in Kenya, we send and receive money by Mpesa, we text to get information on market prices, we speak to our family on WhatsApp, we get our news through Facebook.

Christianity in Africa is not immune to the consequences of this digital revolution. Digital Theology is the study of the connection between digital technology and theology. It reflects the digitisation of our society and the implications of this for our faith and worship.

Like many different religions practiced in Africa, the Christian Church is changing through its engagement with social media, its conversation through websites, and the growing use of digital resources in worship, pastoral practice, and evangelism. The primary premise of Digital Theology is engaging with this new virtual tradition and reflecting on the new context the Church finds itself in. It demands sparkling theological conversations and new approaches.

With the support of APF and our partners, TCN aim to be at the forefront of this revolution. We are formulating a digital curriculum for our certificate-level pastor training programme. This is critical in preparing leaders for ministry in the digital age. It covers topics such as theology and technology, reading the Bible digitally, theological thought in digital culture, online worship, living ethically amidst digital technology, online liturgy and online church.

In July, we organised a workshop as a fact-finding mission for the Digital Theology programme. It was attended by 60 participants in-person and over 100 online. APF helped us facilitate the training. The sessions underlined the huge need for Digital Theology training in the Africa context. With the majority owning a smartphone, they already have the key tool they need.

TCN are grateful to APF for their support in this endeavour and invite any other interested party help develop the curriculum with us. The members of the team may be from any country as we can easily meet together online.

Celebrating 60 years of St Paul’s College

By Kenya

On a recent visit to the Anglican Diocese of Kapsabet in Kenya, APF’s Chair of Trustees, Rev Canon Richard Suffern was able to attend the 60th anniversary service and celebrations of St Paul’s Theological and Bible College. Richard writes:

At a colourful and vibrant service members of staff and students, present and past, celebrated the diamond anniversary of the establishment of St Paul’s College. Five hours of worship, testimony, prayer and presentations followed by an excellent lunch made for a day of praise and thanksgiving to God for all that He has done through the College. St Paul’s serves four Dioceses in particular, but students come from all over Kenya. Over 600 students have trained here, the largest Anglican theological college in Western Kenya.

St Paul’s has always aspired to be at the cutting edge of theological training, both academic and applied. This makes APF’s involvement in the life and teaching of the College very relevant. St Paul’s has devised a five-year development plan which includes APF’s flagship eVitabu. As College Principal Rev Elizabeth Cheruiyot says: “Our priority areas include utilising modern technology by going digital and exploring the opportunities therein.”

Many of the graduates have gone on to senior leadership positions in the Church, and the preacher for this occasion was the inspiring former student Rev Dr Sammy Wainaina, Provost of Nairobi Cathedral. The training is also very relevant to ministry in remote and less developed areas of Kenya which include West Pokot district where I worked for five years with Tearfund. I was also able to go to West Pokot to visit the newest Diocese of Kenya, Kapenguria, in May. This Diocese was a parish when I lived in Kenya! There are now hundreds of local churches with their leaders who need resourcing in the way that eVitabu makes possible.

I returned from Kenya even more convinced of the great value of eVitabu training and resourcing work of APF. I give thanks to God for calling APF into existence for such a time as this as well as for times and conditions of the past. Well done to all our team who work in such a dedicated and inspired way to see vision become reality!

Empowering Leaders for Community Transformation

By eVitabu, Kenya, Training

Walter Rutto is a pastor trainer from the highlands west of Kenya’s Rift Valley. He’s passionate about holistic pastoral training. In 2013 he founded Transformational Compassion Network (TCN), one of APF’s newest partners. He shares some reflections on the church in Kenya and describes how TCN’s partnership with APF has helped sustain them through the pandemic.

In the forth century AD, a small Christian population brought change to the entire Roman Empire. From tiny beginnings, its impact was vast. Since then, the Church has pioneered social services, schools and medical care; it has been an inspiration for art, culture, and philosophy; an influential player in politics, ethics, and law. Imagine the 631 million Christians currently in Africa, making up 45 percent of the population, taking the same route as their Roman predecessors!

2000 years later in Africa, however, while the number of churches is growing fast, numerous difficulties and brokenness remain. They cause doubt about the truth of God’s presence in the lives of his people. We have many strict religious gatherings with different convictions, ways of thinking and tenets, all aimed at responding to local challenges. But it seems the more gatherings, holy places, and Christians, the higher the degree of brokenness, poverty, and hopelessness.

I believe the problem stems from the Church being disengaged from the deep cultural, social, and physical needs of Kenyan communities. Rather than serving communities at the level of their culture, a false separation exists that pits the sacred against the secular. It means the church offers extreme spiritual care (miracles and wonders), but it lacks social compassion and the physical touch.

Regardless, the Church is still the solution. A local church in the community is the most important strategic institution for bringing holistic transformation. The key is empowering, equipping, and encouraging local African churches to fulfil their God-given role in advancing his Kingdom.

It is for this reason that Transformational Compassion Network (TCN) established the Theology and Development programme. The training challenges the separation of spiritual and secular realms, changes mindsets and demonstrates the ways faith and society interact as central to holistic community transformation.

Since we began the programme in partnership with the Kenya Highlands University in 2016, 247 learners have achieved certificate-level training. There are two programme tracks for Christian leaders who already have higher education and one for those who have not been able to complete schooling. In August, we held our fifth graduation ceremony where thirteen students graduated from Kenya Highlands University. More will graduate in November at our new partner institution, Kaboson Pastors Training College.

When the Covid-19 outbreak hit Kenya and classes were suspended, the learners asked if they could continue studying online. At first, it was hard to plan and structure online learning. We did not know how to achieve it. Then we heard about an app called eVitabu developed by APF. The app could house all our training materials and help us bring the entire training programme online. APF support worker Rossa Wanjiru came and trained TCN staff on how to use eVitabu and it has been a big help.

We can do this in Kenya because digital connectivity is at now at over 85 percent. Many programme learners and programme alumni, who are hoping to enrol for diploma- and bachelor-level courses, are now using eVitabu regularly. Experience from our Sekenani class in Narok County shows that even those unfamiliar with smartphones can access the app after the training Rossa provides. We are now discussing translating the English programme material into several local languages.

For TCN’s Theology and Development programme to achieve its goals, partnership and collaboration from likeminded institutions and organisations is paramount. TCN is happy to share the programme through eVitabu to benefit pastors, church leaders and believers from across Africa. Appreciation to all our partners as we look forward to creating a framework of working together through eVitabu.

New Theology and Development programme classes began this September. TCN welcomes you to get involved by funding scholarships for learners from poorer backgrounds and supporting the programme in hard-to-reach areas. Please contact APF for information about how you can help.

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.

Making the cut? Tackling FGM/C in rural Kenya

By Kenya, Training

Walter Rutto is CEO of Transformational Compassion Network (TCN). He explains why the local church is best placed to work alongside rural Kenyan communities to address sensitive cultural issues and gender-based violence and promote sustainable development.

Transmara South sub-County is a part of Narok County. Located towards the south of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, it is home to Maasai, Kalenjin, Gusii and Kuira ethnic groups. It is an area famous for its wildlife and rich cultural heritage. Traditional culture in rural Transmara remains deep rooted. Rhythmic music and call-and-response songs echo under the guidance of a song-leader. Boys are sent out with the calves and lambs as soon as they can walk.

Several ethnic groups here continue to practice circumcision on young boys and girls as a rite of passage into adulthood.

In Maasai villages, for example, young men and women undergo ‘emorata’ when they come of age. Girls experience female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) as part of an elaborate ritual before entering early arranged marriages. Boys must endure the operation in silence or be shamed.

Men normally take several wives. Traditionally, when a woman gets married, it is understood that she has also married the other men in her husband’s generational group as well as her husband.

Across Transmara, we estimate that there are more than 30 different church denominations and networks ranging from the older Anglican and Catholic churches to new indigenous local groups and congregations.

The local church is the best place to address the challenges facing young people in this part of Kenya. Churches are where young girls shelter and seek protection especially during ‘circumcision season’ in early December. Girls prefer church-run safe houses to those run and funded by international organisations. Despite the church’s poverty, the girls know and trust Christian leaders. Only pastors have the power of persuasion needed to facilitate reconciliation between rescued girls and their families.

Although pastors have the spiritual authority to tackle FGM/C in local village communities, few have received higher education or proper theological training. Most, especially those serving in smaller church networks, dropped out of formal education before even finishing primary school.

At TCN, we are working in partnership with the Kenya Highlands Evangelical University and Kaboson Pastors’ Training College to support rural pastors across Transmara. The training is giving pastors Bible knowledge and is equipping them to think theologically about their culture. We believe that the Bible in the hands of a well-trained pastor is the key tool that is needed to address damaging practices like FGM/C.

Climate change is making rainfall less predictable and less frequent. This and overgrazing mean the economic outlook is challenging. It has led to ethnic conflict, cattle rustling and land disputes. We therefore also train pastors as peacemakers and teach them to lead sustainable development projects that reduce environmental degradation and improve food security. We never lecture but use a ‘flipped classroom’ approach where learning is achieved through discovery, discussion and reflection.

Thank you for supporting TCN as we work together to empower leaders for community transformation in Transmara.

My pastor called the people from here and told them there was a kid he was bringing whose father wants her to get circumcised, but she doesn’t want… I slept at the pastor’s place. The next morning… he took me to a certain office and registered me. There was a file he filled, so he talked with the people of this rescue centre and we came.

17 year old girl from Narok County.Quote from Population Council report ‘Tracing Change in FGM/C’, December 2018. Church leaders play a key role in facilitating rescue from FGM/C and reconciliation between rescued girls and their families.

Please pray

Give thanks for Walter Rutto and the work of TCN in rural Kenya. Pray for him as he works to support the mission of local churches and equip village pastors.

Pray for local village pastors working to protect girls and young women from FGM/C. Pray that God would strengthen them and protect girls at risk.

West Kenya Training Update

By eVitabu, Kenya, Training

Daniel Odour Gwara coordinates Renewal Ministries, an ecumenical network of Christian leaders from across western Kenya. Equipped with eVitabu and an annual APF training grant, Daniel holds church leader teaching workshops for pastors and lay leaders from across the region. He updates us on progress.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been trying to reach key leaders of training hubs in West Kenya. Together, we have been organising training for this year.

At this time, the big challenge we all face is the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 is making people fear for death. It has made people think about life and death and many are now coming to ask about Jesus. When leaders gather for training, we have done our best to make sure we have water for washing hands and other things we need to stay safe.

A great tool that I use when I train church leaders is eVitabu. One of the resources I have been using on eVitabu is a video message from Revd Dr Kate Coleman about David and Goliath. If we have a big screen connection, we show this video on a projector.

Another set of resources on eVitabu that have really inspired people at the training hubs are from Foundations for Farming. This training teaches more sustainable ways of doing agriculture and running on-farm businesses, all starting with God’s word.

With APF’s support, we are running training across fifteen centres in western Kenya and reaching hundreds of pastors and church leaders. They really want to learn as many lack even basic pastoral and theological training. We have also been holding fellowships for about 100 women in Kisumu city. Most of them are lay leaders and women pastors.

We trust God that soon we will be holding a vision casting. This will be for those who have not yet heard of eVitabu. We’ll be helping them find the app on their own smartphones so they can also download it and benefit from the training resources on it themselves.

Please join us in praying for more opportunities and openness to the word of God here in western Kenya.

Please pray

Give thanks for Daniel as he travels to meet, encourage and train Christian leaders serving in rural communities throughout western Kenya.

Give thanks for the pastors and leaders who gather for training. Pray they would benefit richly from what is being shared.

Pray that more funding will be found to support APF Regional Trainers like Daniel.

Pray for other leaders who receive APF Regional Trainer grants including Pastor Heavenlight Luoga (Tanzania), Revd Peter Mugabi (Uganda), Revd Francis Esomu (Uganda) and Revd Charles Munyamahoro (Rwanda).