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Geoff Holder

Download our October 2021 newsletter

By Impetus

October 2021 Impetus.

Thank you so much for reading our October 2021 newsletter.

Do you remember when the world was young and ZOOM was just an onomatopoeic word used in primary schools? Or when it became the title of a hit song by Fat Larry’s Band in the 1980’s? Now I suffer ‘Zoom fatigue’ and I have developed my own brand of ‘Zoom wear’: smart up top, casual down below!

I have spent a lot of time, too much time, on Zoom calls over the past 18 months. In the midst, some excellent contacts have been made and relationships developed.

I especially enjoyed meeting the Archbishop of Uganda, Most Revd Dr Stephen Kaziimba. We were introduced because in addition to the obvious synergy between his ministry and APF’s, we share a common concern for children and families living with disability.

Archbishop Stephen shared his vision for the conversion of heads, hearts, hands, homes and hospitals and we prayed together for the outworking of this defining motive.

Another excellent contact is Pastor Edward Kiwanuka. Edward is founder and national overseer of Deliverance Church Uganda, a network of more than 500 churches, schools and clinics in Uganda, Burundi, DRC and Kenya. The movement began at Makerere University in the late 1960s. Pastor Edward has already received funding from APF for local language Bibles and we are working towards online eVitabu introduction workshops with church leaders.

There is no doubt the world has changed; the word ZOOM will never be the same again. Here at APF, we’re adapting well to the new normal and planning for the future. I believe this edition of Impetus illustrates the agility of APF and ingenuity of our partners, finding ways to minister despite lockdowns and loss. But I also pray for more opportunities to meet friends like Archbishop Stephen and Pastor Edward and many others in-person during 2022.

Thank you for your continued support


Revd Dave Stedman
CEO

APF 40th Anniversary Celebration

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 [email protected] 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!

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.

50 miles in three days for Covid

By Covid-19, Fundraising, UK

In July, APF CEO, Dave Stedman, and Projects Coordinator, Geoff Holder, accompanied by Geoff’s dog Dylan, tackled 50 miles of Offa’s Dyke Path in the Welsh Marches in three days. They were fundraising to help APF partners tackle Covid-19 in Africa and generous sponsors donated over £3,000 for the walk. Geoff describes some of the ups and downs (literally) of their hike. 

We set off bright and early from the Welsh market town of Monmouth. The first day took in green, rolling Monmouthshire farmland, the skyline increasingly dominated by Ysgyryd Fawr, a mountain known locally as The Skirrid.

Neither Dave nor I had had a chance to do any real preparation before we started. By mid-afternoon we were both feeling it, but the long-term effects of Dave’s encounter with Covid were beginning to concern both of us. Fortunately, a banana, my brief history lesson about why the Mercian king Offa probably didn’t build his dyke along this part of the Welsh border, and a decent pause meant we were able to stumble on and finish the stage.

After the laboured climb onto Hatterrall Ridge, the second day took us up into the magnificent Black Mountains. With spectacular views in every direction we made good progress until I had to retrace my steps after losing Dylan’s lead somewhere near the summit of Hay Bluff.

The final stretch to Kington included the most varied terrain: lush river valley meadows and deep wooded dingles, craggy upland ridges and ancient green lanes. Our blisters and cramps were soothed by messages of encouragement from African friends affected by Covid-19.

2021 has been a good year for sponsored walks with APF staff and trustees raising nearly £10,000 from a wide range of different sorts of hikes, treks, strolls and rambles.  In addition to part of Offa’s Dyke Path, 70 x 70 minute dog walks and the entire length of the Chesterfield Canal have all been conquered.  

 Why not plan your own sponsored walk for APF next year? Get in touch if you’d like to have a go at a sponsored event or activity of your own. We can help you set up a sponsorship web page, share what your doing on social media and generate some support.

Growing Greener in Zambia

By eVitabu, Farming, Zambia

It’s the early hours of the morning. The rumble of distant thunder and close-by chirp of crickets is suddenly drowned out by the first drops of rain on the tin roofs. Soon the whole community in Zambia’s Mumbwa district are awake to the comforting sound of rainfall. Planting will start at first light.

After a prolonged dry spell the heavy rain is very welcome. Not everyone is optimistic, however. “The rainfall pattern has not been consistent. We could be headed for a repeat of last season” complains one farmer.

Southern Africa has experienced normal rainfall in just one of the last five growing seasons.  Persistent drought, cyclones and flooding have wreaked havoc on harvests in a region dependent on rain-fed, smallholder agriculture.

Zambia is experiencing both climate extremes at the same time. Farmers in the south-western parts of the country are anxious about erratic and unpredictable rainfall patterns. In the north-east, they are battling flash floods.

It is unanimously agreed that the changes in Zambia’s weather patterns are caused by human-induced climate change, over-exploitation of natural resources and deforestation.

The group most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation are the poorest as they rely on natural resources for their livelihoods. The scale of the challenge facing poor rural communities feels overwhelming, but one pastor still has hope. Lawson Limao oversees a small network of Zambian churches called Word of God Ministries. “Where God is there is hope” he says.

One source of hope is the farming guides Lawson found APF’s eVitabu app. He uses eVitabu on his old Android smart phone. Using the guides on eVitabu and some funding from APF, Lawson trained around a hundred farmers last year. Despite Covid and lockdowns, the training went well, and more funding is heading to the church network so he can continue his training and reach many more farmers this year.

“The training I do I found on eVitabu” he explained. “On the app there are resources from Foundations for Farming and other experts which can help rural pastors and leaders do farming in new ways that are less sensitive to drought and look after the soil.

“God’s way is to preserve nature whilst making farming a profitable venture to undertake. This is what I love to talk about with pastors and their wives. The content of the training includes faithfulness and fruitfulness, farming for a profit, crop management techniques, composting, crop rotation and cover cropping.

“The programme I am doing with APF’s support in Mumbwa District is among the Ila people. This people group are mainly subsistence farmers and they have for some time been practicing conventional farming methods like ploughing. That has led to the poor soil structure and outright poverty despite God blessing them with adequate rainfall and land.

“It is my view that the training will benefit the community through the church to adapt to the new farming techniques. This will help improve their yields thus providing sustainable food security for their families and for church purposes whatever the changing weather brings.”

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
CEO

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 [email protected] 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.

Under-reporting
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

Download our April 2021 newsletter as a PDF

By Impetus

April 2021 Impetus.

Thank you so much for reading our April 2021 newsletter. Here are some of the highlights you’ll find inside this edition:

  • I talk about why it was so important for me to travel to Uganda during March.
  • Find out about our monthly online meetings with African partners.
  • Read about some fantastic fundraising undertaken by supporters.
  • Revd Lloyd Chizenga talks about the difference 20 years of partnership with APF has had on his ministry.
  • We explore the ‘African paradox’
  • Revd Daniel Odour Gwara provides an update on the West Kenya training hubs.
  • Walter Rutto from Transformational Compassion Network 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.
Download 'Impetus' here

APF 40th Anniversary Garden Party

Join us (hopefully!) at St Margaret’s Church, Whitnash, Leamington Spa on Saturday 26th June, 2-4pm for a garden party to celebrate 40 years of APF.

Including:

  • African catering and music
  • Keynote address
  • Recorded greetings from African partners
  • And more

Visit https://bit.ly/APF40 to reserve your free entry ticket today!

* If it is not possible to have a physical gathering, we will have an online event instead, although in that case you may have to do the food yourself!

eVitabu Sponsorship

Since the launch of the eVitabu sponsorship portal in January, we have recruited over 40 sponsors! Thank you so much for your generous support of eVitabu. For a monthly contribution of less than the
cost of a paperback book you can place a library in the hands of an African church leader. Visit www.africanpastors.org/evitabu and sponsor a pastor in Africa using eVitabu today!

And as ever, thank you.


Revd Dave Stedman
CEO