Part of the beauty of BUILD has been the organic way it has spread within Africa’s Great Lakes Region through local linkages there, particularly within the Anglican churches. But it is now encouraging to see some ‘leakage’ both geographically and denominationally.
The focus on East Africa and its Anglican provinces is to be expected given BUILD’s roots in the Church of Uganda. This focus has been reinforced through the way in which Church has managed the programme: one intention has been to keep it as a programme of churches in order to spare it from negative aspects of NGO culture. But those provinces are keen to serve other churches and to learn from how BUILD might work elsewhere.
It is exciting, therefore, that there has been some welcome take-up in Southern Africa, specifically with training taking root in Cape Town, a natural hub at the tip of the continent that attracts people from across the region. In addition to economic migration from South Africa’s Eastern Cape there is significant movement from Malawi, Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and that diversity is reflected in the townships of the Cape.
Mareka Nolo, who lives and works in Cape Town shares that, “we have been equipping pastors and church leaders in two townships around Cape Town: Imizamo-Yethu and Vrygrond. Both these places have alarming rates of unemployment, high crime, alcohol abuse and killings. These townships have become centres of gravity, with thousands of economic migrants flooding in from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, which makes the places diverse culturally. The number of church plants have increased enormously over the years due to this immigration. So I work in a place that is surrounded not only by taverns but also by churches.”
He continues to explain that, “we have been meeting with pastors and church leaders from different denominations within these townships, many of them come from Pentecostal backgrounds. Although many of them have been in ministry for a while, most of these leaders have never had the opportunity to go to a Bible college or to receive any Bible training. Most of them did not even complete high school which makes learning tougher, and a great deal of patience is required when teaching.”
Mareka gives three examples of leaders who have been empowered by the training: Henry, Chancy and William. “Henry Blessing Phiri is the bishop of about five Churches and BUILD has enabled him to equip pastors of those churches. His understanding of the Bible and ability to preach has improved enormously.
“Chancy Bizweck is a believer in one of the local church in Vrygrond; he never used to get preaching opportunities, but since started coming to our training, Chancy has been given opportunities to preach and the church wants him to be one of its pastors.
“Finally, William Hodges was a minister at Rivers of Life Ministries in Vrygrond. After two years of attending BUILD training he recognised the need to go back to Malawi and pass on what he has learnt to other Church leaders there. He is now running BUILD workshops in different locations in Chikwawa, in the south of Malawi, and nearby Blantyre, and he has been well received by local church leaders there.” That, perhaps, is a story for another blog post.