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eVitabu

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).

Twenty Years of Partnership in Malawi

By eVitabu, Farming, Malawi, Training

2021 is APF’s 40th Anniversary year! In celebration, some of our longest standing partners have shared memories of partnering with APF. This time, Revd Lloyd Chizenga describes some of the ways APF has supported the ministry of New Life Christian Church in Malawi for more than two decades.

I joined the Fellowship in 2000 when Revd Ralph Hanger was APF Director. Since then, APF has been instrumental in my life and family and the ministry of New Life Christian Church here in southern Malawi. APF to us is family so we are celebrating 40 years with you.

Over the years, APF has been a true partner in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When our house was attacked by robbers in the night, APF helped us relocate to a safer part of Blantyre and build a new home.

When our church network was very young and had no trained leaders, APF helped new pastors get vital basic training. Each person got a certificate of attendance.

APF provided goats to poor church leader families. When a goat gave birth to twins, one young goat was given to another family as a way out of household poverty.

Income generation projects have been an important part of APF’s support here in Malawi. Working with pastors’ wives to set up micro-businesses has made a huge difference. Many children were able to go to secondary school and pay school fees because of the profits pastors’ wives made from these small enterprises.

More recently, APF has equipped our leadership team with eVitabu. eVitabu is like a library that grows and grows. I was one of the first pastors to use eVitabu.

I travelled to Uganda in 2018 and was given a tablet to use eVitabu on. There are so many resources on eVitabu that are good for pastors here in Malawi to read.

Covid-19 continues to be a huge challenge here. Many businesses are bankrupt and hospitals are struggling. In Blantyre, city health authorities have launched emergency activities to deal with a big increase in the number of patients. At Christmas, workers returning from South Africa brought that new Covid-19 variant with them which is more easily caught. Malawi is not likely to get any vaccines soon, but we are grateful to APF for the grant which helped us buy washing buckets, soap, masks and sanitiser.

The most significant partnership between APF and New Life Christian Church however has been the Growing Greener project. We have been running this for about five years now and it is truly a life changer for poor farming households. We train communities in village churches on farming techniques like no-till soil management, composting, mulching, agroforestry and on-farm micro-business.

Rural communities are always suspicious of change. Even when a change is shown to make a positive difference, witchcraft is blamed. But because the Growing Greener project is led by us and comes through the local Malawi church, not from outsiders, people trust it, follow the teachings and it is working. So far, this project has reached many thousands of households.

All this would have been impossible without APF’s standing alongside us. By working in partnership with the local African church, APF taps into the resources already there in the church and in the community. It is this approach that is really make a difference.

So, to all our friends who support APF back in the UK, thank you!

Revd Lloyd Chizenga is ‘Bishop’ of New Life Christian Church (NLCC). NLCC is an independent network of churches based in Blantyre. The majority of NLCC congregations are in rural communities in Malawi and Mozambique.

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Zoom + eVitabu = Growing Greener Zambia

By eVitabu, Zambia

In March 2018, we received an email from Pastor Lawson Limao in Zambia. We replied, thanking him for getting in touch but explained we were not looking for new partner church networks at that time. eVitabu and our lockdown Zoom meetings changed all that.

Pastor Lawson leads the small Zambian church network called The Word of God Ministries International. During 2020, he joined us every month online for our Zoom meetings. During one meeting, other pastors talked about how they were using eVitabu, our mobile library app full of resources for African church leaders. Lawson downloaded and installed eVitabu on his own Android smart phone that evening. He was immediately drawn to training from Foundations for Farming about sustainable agriculture. “Rural pastors and leaders need training to do farming God’s way in which nature is preserved whilst making farming a profitable venture to undertake” he explained in his APF project application. Last summer, we agreed to fund his farming project which reached hundreds of farmer pastors from Ila communities in rural parts of Central Province.

This is a great example of how eVitabu can work. Dedicated pastors like Lawson, downloading the app and accessing training materials on their own phones, need very little to make a huge difference in their churches and communities. Access to the library of training resources on eVitabu, and a little APF funding to help with the cost of sharing that training with others, means hundreds of families are now able to feed themselves better, farm more sustainably and know more of the hope they have in Christ Jesus.
eVitabu development continues…

We’re working hard to improve eVitabu and make it easier for African leaders to access resources on it. In recent months, our eVitabu developer Jonathan Haddock has been working hard to add new features our partners in Africa have requested. These include:

  • SD card support so more resources can be saved offline by users
  • Simplifying app registration
  • Bug fixes
  • Making it easier for us to add new resources on the app

All this is costly but you can help…

Sponsor an eVitabu user

  1. On your phone, tablet or laptop, go online and visit: www.africanpastors.org/evitabu
  2. Scroll down to find the ‘Sponsor an eVitabu user’ section.
  3. Complete the secure online payment form to set up your sponsorship direct debit. Just £5 per month, less than the price of a paperback book, will give an African church leader access to an entire library of books and training resources.
  4. You will be allocated an African church leader already using eVitabu to sponsor.
  5. You’ll receive an email telling you a little about who you are sponsoring including their name, where they live and their ministry background.
  6. Your monthly sponsorship will be used by APF to make eVitabu better for the person you are sponsoring and hundreds of other users all over the continent of Africa.

Please pray

Pray that the eVitabu user sponsorship campaign would be successful in its vision to see 400 sponsors added during this 40th anniversary year.

Pray for the APF staff team as they continue to develop eVitabu, adding new features and making the app work better for African users.

Pray for Dave Stedman and Geoff Holder as they work with partners in Africa to grow the network of people eVitabu, for Jonathan Haddock as he develops the app and for Rossalynne Wanjiru who is helping us upload new content from Nairobi.

eVitabu Expansion in Western Kenya

By eVitabu, Kenya

Daniel Odour Gwara coordinates Renewal Ministries, an ecumenical gathering of Christian leaders in western Kenya. Daniel attended the first eVitabu stakeholders conference and in 2018 became one of the pilot users. Since then, Daniel has become one of the most influential and strategic eVitabu trainers in Kenya.

Armed with eVitabu and an annual APF grant for travel and training, Daniel serves 18 teaching hubs for pastors and lay leaders around his region. We estimate his teaching ministry reaches at least 2,000 church and community leaders. Daniel told us:

“People in western Kenya are now happy because they can learn the word of God through eVitabu which is helping them to understand and apply the Bible well and illustrate it. Many pastors now come looking for me, requesting that I go to their churches to teach using eVitabu materials. In Kisumu, I have a group of widows that I train every month. Most recently we have been learning about prayer using the Prayer of Jabez and the Lord’s Prayer.

“We now have pastors who can prepare better sermons with good interpretation. Their church members are telling them that they have changed. I witnessed this one day when I was traveling. One pastor told me how people are happily receiving Christian teaching and are learning new things that deepen their understanding and maturity.

“The groups I serve vary from semi-literate marginalised groups, some of whom believe polygamy is a prerequisite of Christian leadership, to government officials.

“Good leadership training is wanted across all sectors. For example, a nursing officer asked for more information after listening to one of my community health training sessions prepared using resources from eVitabu. At another workshop, we used eVitabu to learn about God, the environment and farming. A government officer invited me to return this year and deliver further training sessions on this.

“I am so grateful to APF for eVitabu and the annual training grant which enables me to continue this important ministry.”

Please pray

Giving thanks for Daniel as he travels to meet, encourage and train diverse communities throughout western Kenya.

For Daniel’s predecessor, Edward Amwayi, who graciously handed over responsibility and resource to Daniel after being appointed to lead another denomination in Kenya.

For the pastors and leaders who gather for training to benefit richly from what is being shared.

For funding to be found to enable more Trainers of Trainers grants to be shared with African leaders like Daniel.

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.