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Training

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.

“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

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).

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.

Photo gallery

Enduring Partnership in the Proclamation Task

By Training, Uganda

Since 1999, Proclamation Task has been helping Ugandan Bible teachers and preachers become diligent in studying, faithful in expounding the gospel and culturally relevant in applying God’s Word. Here, Proclamation Task founder Dr Julius Twongyeirwe (far left in photo) remembers the support he received from APF at that time.

“My wife and I first learnt of APF in early 1998 when APF’s then Director Ralph Hanger and his wife Jane were visiting Uganda. At that time, we were preparing to take a one-year study in London and my wife Grace was expecting our third child. The Hangers guided us as we wrestled with the various implications of having our child in Uganda or the UK. Our bonds of friendship grew stronger once we were in the UK and a co-workmanship developed between the organisation I led in Uganda called Proclamation Task and APF in the area of training pastors. We undertook a number of training events in Kampala and often made upcountry trips together in a close fellowship of joint service.

“The Hangers home in Coventry, which also served as their office, became home for us too. It served as a very refreshing stopover whenever we visited the UK. We drew so much encouragement from our relationship with APF, enough to keep us focused and progressing in training pastors and their wives for effectiveness in local church ministry.

“With APF and other like-minded cheerers, Proclamation Task has thrived with increasing numbers of trainees per year. We always structure training programs carefully and use our experience to provide the best approaches for indigenous teaching in Uganda. With the PT Institute now offering formal courses, the seminars and informal training at local church level have been anchored well.

“As APF marks its 40th anniversary, we look back with great joy, celebrating this longevity in ministry with visible marks of successful partnership among us. As our long-standing friends and co-workers, we join in to celebrate these four decades of APF, acknowledging how such a God-sustained enablement has indeed been marked by resilience, sacrifice and great devotion to ministry and the ministers in Africa. May God flourish the work of APF for many more years to come.”

Please pray

Give thanks for the testimony of long-standing APF partners such as Julius, who has benefitted from sincere ‘fellowship’ over many years and thrived in ministry.

Pray for the many others who sent us articles for this edition of Impetus remembering many years of partnership with APF but we did not have space to include. Remember especially Pastor Lloyd Chizenga in Malawi.

‘Oktoberfest’ training in Uganda

By Training, Uganda

During a two-week period in mid-October, APF sponsored three major leadership development conferences in Uganda that together reached around 500 pastors, youth workers, church leaders and entrepreneurs.

1. Role Model Leadership Academy (RMLA) is delivered by APF partner Next Leadership. This was the second of three sessions and was attended by more than sixty delegates from Uganda and Kenya. RMLA requires delegates to commit to three intensive training weeks spread over a year and involves study by extension and peer mentoring groups between the main conference sessions. Those who graduate will receive a certificate of leadership accredited by Bakke Graduate University, Texas. Ivy Kabagambe, who manages the New Beginnings Foundation said, “I am excited by the energy and clarity of vision RMLA generates. I always leave feeling spiritually stirred up and on a high!”

2. Jewels in His Crown was the inspiration of Rose Mugabi, Director of Women’s Ministry at Pastors’ Discipleship Network (PDN), who are also based in Kampala. The conference attracted more than 200 women clergy, pastors’ wives and lay leaders from all over Uganda. Inspirational leadership lessons were drawn from biblical texts including the stories about Hagar, Jairus’ daughter and the call of Moses. “The conference touched many women leaders across our nation,” Rose explained. “It would not have been possible without the support of APF. Every delegate was encouraged to hear the words, ‘God calls you for who you are not in spite of who you are.’ Learning that the issue of leadership is about wisdom and not knowledge was a big take-home for me. We shall continue to shine as Jewels in His Crown because of your partnership.”

3. Over the last five years, APF has sponsored senior leaders from the Baptist Union of Uganda (BUU) to visit isolated communities, taking basic theology and pastoral training to grassroots pastors in remote regional associations. Last October, over 80 local pastors gathered for four-day pastoral training in Lamwo, a town in the far north of Uganda, near the border with South Sudan. APF also arranged for Bibles in Acholi and other regional languages to be distributed to everyone at the training event.

4. As I was in Uganda during October, I was able to participate in some of the training events, bring greetings, preach and oversee how APF training funding was being used. During my stay I also had productive meetings with the new BUU President, Revd Abel Sseringiya and Ben Mutgeki, Managing Director of PDN.

Abel was keen to know more about the BUU’s long-standing partnership with APF and he shared his vision for the Baptist movement in Uganda. Ben and I discussed the possibility of APF sponsoring one of PDN’s field training events later in 2020. I also spent a day with leaders from House of Transformation (HoT) churches in Entebbe and spoke at an evening celebration for church members. The network of churches, which has congregations in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as well as in Uganda, is keen to explore further partnership opportunities with APF. Two HoT pastors are already eVitabu users and following our discussions, that number is likely to grow quickly.