St Philip's, Bundibugyo

Making an impact: Bundibugyo, Western Uganda

The staple diet of the Church of Uganda’s BUILD Unit is to train trainers who reach out to local church leaders across Uganda with essential biblical knowledge and ministry skills. Those leaders, in turn, influence co-workers and churches, and the lives of those around them. But  the BUILD team is also involved in direct work with individual churches and communities in a range of ways, which has included schools work and basic HIV & AIDS education for example.

One intervention grew from an invitation to train leaders in the neglected area of Bundibugyo in the west of Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. And, with a recent training even there, it is worth looking back at the genesis of BUILD’s work there a decade ago. Bundibugyo is a community with significant deprivation, with few committed Christians and high levels of drug and alcohol abuse. Livelihoods have suffered through poor farming practices, low education levels and a lack of financial skills with which to handle the modest income from crop sales. In the midst of this poverty trap, a Uganda-based agricultural business that is committed to the area and has a Christian director constructed a beautiful new church building, St Philip’s, to replace the one on Church of Uganda land the company had purchased for its new factory.

However, to some peoples’ surprise, very few came to the new building, the real church had yet to be built. BUILD was invited into the situation to not only train leaders and build a congregation, but to reach out with the gospel, influence other churches in the area and bring change to people’s lives. The approach was simply to equip church leaders to handle the Bible and to help them apply it to areas of church and community life, alongside additional training in sustainable agriculture. Using the new church building as a venue, training began with 30 local leaders in 2008. Within a year numbers had grown, with over 125 involved, increasing to 140 by 2010. Follow-up training was done in six local centres, with one church attracting over 150 participants. Wider evaluation of BUILD’s impact in the area found numerical growth in congregations; improved stewardship and giving; new Bible study groups and youth groups forming; and people gaining and using new agricultural skills. And many had transformed attitudes to saving and a more hopeful outlook.

When these localised efforts began in 2008 there were fewer than 20 people attending Sunday worship in the new church building. Now over 400 people gather regularly to worship the living God, with youth fellowships, children’s activities and Bible study groups in place. And with a well-trained leader to oversee the people he has equipped, the groups are sustainable. The church also reaches out to those around them in different ways. This mission focus continues so that at one event at the beginning of this month, March 2018, 132 people responded to the gospel. The church building now has and continues to have a real church at its heart – a congregation that understands its purpose and is reaching out to the community to which it belongs.

Finally, one other unexpected outcome early on in the outreach was the first ever writing and translation in the local minority language, Lubwisi, which had no orthography let alone Scriptures. Local leaders were asking for genuine local training, not in their second language or third language, but in their first. Partnership with translators and others providentially led to the first Lubwisi Scripture: Second Timothy, the text BUILD Module One is based on.


Influencing training in the Zambezi Evangelical Church of Malawi

Myles MacBean (businessman, mission-partner, church leader) developed a preacher training programme and leadership development seminars for Malawi’s Zambezi Evangelical Church. Both programmes drew on aspects of the BUILD approach. Jem Hovil interviews Myles about one element of that, BUILD’s ‘ERA’ model of reflection.

Q: Myles, can you give us a thumbnail picture of ZEC and the programmes you developed?

A: Zambezi Evangelical Church was formed in 1892. It is the largest explicitly evangelical church in Malawi, Presbyterian in its governance, and credo-Baptist in its practice. With some 700 preaching points, the church identified the strategic need to develop biblically mature servant leaders as – in this typical sub-Saharan context – there is a core of college trained pastors but the vast majority of preachers and leaders are untrained.

Q: One element of BUILD that you adapted and adopted for leader training is the ‘ERA’ (encounter-reflection-action) model of reflection. Why did you include that?

A: A concern of the church was that doctrine, policy and decisions were typically being made based on church tradition, cultural norms or expedient intra-church politics rather than the application of biblical principles. Having encountered and applied ‘practical theological cycles’ during my masters degree in the UK, I realised this appropriately simple version could be a way of encouraging leaders to slow down and reflect more deeply and biblically on a situation.

Q: Were there ways in which you modified the ERA model, or lessons you learned from using it?

A: I tweaked the model to be “explore-reflect-act”. Partly this was a semantic change to encourage an active approach. It also clarified that we would start by pausing and exploring in depth the situation under review and its root causes, before moving on to reflect on what the Bible had to say about the topic, and then agree how we could concretely act to improve the situation. We learned that the process was best done in small groups, where different perspectives on the topic and a shared understanding of Scripture could be brought to bear.

Q: Can you give an example of the sort of issue you applied that to, and the outcomes?

A: We applied the method to many common pastoral issues in Malawi from the appropriateness of contraception to traditional marriage practices. However, one issue that came up repeatedly was what the church’s attitude should be to the so called ‘prosperity gospel.’ Most preachers recognised they lacked a clear, biblical, theology for suffering, poverty and prosperity with which to counter this false gospel. The typical result from the application of the ERA process was the rediscovery of Bible texts and themes emphasising that the gospel is about a supreme God giving us a far greater gift than wealth, health and prosperity: himself. That the most perfect of men, Christ himself, had to suffer to enable that gift. That Bible history showed that God’s blessed so often suffer. That Christ himself did not link suffering to a lack of faith or to sin. And, that ultimately the ‘prosperity gospel’ is another manifestation of false human religion where mankind vainly tries to control God. The preachers left encouraged to preach more confidently on the subject, and it is expected that this ERA approach will now be used to establish ZEC-wide pastoral guidance on this and other key doctrinal topics.

Q: How does that engagement with God’s word and God’s world strengthen the preaching programme, and the leaders and churches as a result?

A: In practice I saw Malawian church leaders wholeheartedly embrace the tool, recognising the improvement it brought to their decision making, and giving them confidence to go back to biblical first principles when reviewing the major pastoral challenges the church faces. It was also a good introduction for the ‘Preach the Word’ program which gave the leaders the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of hermeneutic principles that would help their future decision making as well as their preaching. Also, a sermon series on the topic was almost always one of the actions resulting from an ERA reflection, again emphasising the complimentary nature of these different elements of church leadership.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers on this particular topic?

A: Western readers might want to consider using this model within their churches. During my masters studies the eldership team of my home churches successfully used theological reflection when two churches entering into partnership had different traditions concerning Holy Communion. Reflecting together on the situation not only resulted in a renewed and common view among the leaders but was also an excellent team building exercise.

Thank you Myles. It would be good to interview you again in the future about an aspect of the preaching programme you developed.

I also want to thoroughly recommend your recent book, Preach the Word (London: Apostolos Publishing 2017). It is an invaluable resource for those who are developing training programmes in context. I have written a review of the book here.

St John's Mukhombe


With Reformation 500 and all that talk of ninety-five theses behind us, what about the ninety-five percent of local church leaders with little or no theological training? It is time for the reformation of our training priorities, a revolution in resourcing in order to BUILD God’s present and future Church.

Ninety-five percent. Ninety-five out of every hundred of those who actually lead, care for and teach congregations in the world today, the majority of whom are in the global South, and many of those on the African continent. Yes, it is an estimate (sources here), based on the approximately five percent of church leaders who have formal theological education, meaning, conversely, that ninety-five percent do not.

But ninety-five. And if anything this shocking global estimate underestimates the problem in the global South, where it is intensified and exacerbated due to the unequal distribution of global Christian resources: it is estimated that around sixty percent of the world’s Christians access only seventeen percent of those total resources. This is then compounded by the fact that the limited resources are invested in forms of training that are inaccessible and often inappropriate for the majority.

So, at the start of 2018, beyond Reformation 500, here is a brief reminder of what BUILD is all about. First, a new arithmetic, that of multiplication as well as addition. The mathematics of traditional training is the slow trickle of one-plus-one equals two. Constant and considered, with all sorts of advantages, but addition none the less. The cascade that is needed is that of twelve-times-twelve equals one hundred and forty-four. Second, a new approach, that creatively couples non-formal and formal forms of training. To achieve multiplication BUILD recognises the importance and experience of existing systems, but wants to couple non-formal, group based learning in situ, to formal, mixed-mode training of trainers. Finally, to break the barrier students face on leaving formal training, and the rupture that results, it puts a dynamic, locally developed curriculum in their hands, that not only equips them to equip others, but helps them to grow and to continue to grow in the process.

Ninety-five percent with little or no training, and the bulk of training resources being directed towards the minority who have the education and resources and mobility to access them. Isn’t it time to change the statistics with the revolutionary spirit of reformation?

Chandia Rhino Camp

Serving South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda

Joseph Chandia, a vicar in northern Uganda, has been involved with BUILD for many years. His Eleku parish lies close to Rhino Camp refugee settlement and members of the churches have been reaching out sacrificially as part of a wider humanitarian intervention. That has included some BUILD training and we spoke to him about the challenges and opportunities.

As of August 2017 there were 1,355,764 formally registered refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda (Uganda Refugee Response Portal). Over 900,000 of these refugees are South Sudanese who are hosted in northern Uganda, having escaped violence in South Sudan. This is reflected in the nearest settlement to Joseph, who explains that, there, in Rhino Camp, “the Sudanese are the majority, along with some Congolese, and a few Burundians and Somalis.”

In the past and in a previous parish, which was even closer to the settlement, Joseph’s church reached out to the settlement with basic clothing and provisions that they themselves gathered together – those with very little, serving those with even less. Now, with Rhino Camp growing and the ongoing influx of refugees, Joseph has been reaching out under the joint initiative of Madi-West Nile Diocese and the Church of Uganda’s (COU) Directorate of Household and Community Transformation (HCT), led by Nason Baluku.

Joseph and some of his parishioners serve in the largest zone of the settlement, where around 15,000 people are living. He describes the churches there as “mixed up,” meaning there are a number of Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) churches together with “Pentecostal churches of different kinds.” He estimates that there are around twenty churches in the zone, with a dozen ECS churches among them. Most of the ECS leaders are lay leaders who have come from the Diocese of Yei, and they are led by a Pastor Joyce who helps to organise and encourage them.

Currently their churches meet under trees, although they are beginning to access materials to create simple thatched structures. And they lack basic training for their different ministries. In addition to the provision of basic needs and psycho-social support from the diocese and HCT, Joseph has been gathering ECS leaders together for BUILD workshops. The leaders “stay in different clusters and they travel far, so things are not easy.” But they have been “looking into Paul’s letters to Timothy, together, and the training has benefited them a lot. Many of them have not had a background of training; they feel the ministry should go on, but they are lacking the training.”

Joseph is both leading a parish and studying, but he is determined for the BUILD training to continue because he is sure “it can work very, very, very much.” So, in partnership with the BUILD Unit at the COU’s Provincial Secretariat, Joseph is looking at ways of making that happen, with the constant prayer that one day these leaders will return, rebuild and serve back in Yei.


A UK vicar test-drives BUILD materials in Uganda

Jem Hovil interviews George Crowder, a vicar in the UK, about his recent visit to Kanungu, western Uganda, where he field-tested the BUILD materials.

Q: George, what sort of training gathering were you attending and why?

A: I was part of a small team who went out to Kanungu on an information gathering trip, with a view to building partnerships between schools and churches in Uganda and schools and churches in the UK.  I suggested that while I was there I did some training workshops for local pastors, with a view to exploring training options for church leaders in that area.  As it happened all of the pastors in the newly formed Free Methodist Church Uganda were in Kanungu for the consecration of Hamlet Mbabazi as Bishop. So he asked them to stay on for the training.

Q: Can you describe the mixture of people who came to the event in terms of educational levels and the contexts they are doing ministry within?

A: There were some pastors who had done some formal training, but most of them had not.  Most of them were from rural towns in the South West, but there were a few from Kampala.  Most of them spoke Rukiga, but there was a small number who only spoke Swahili or French.  More than half spoke English, but I still needed an interpreter (Rukiga).  These were a group of pastors working in a very challenging situation in Nakivale Refugee camp.  Nakivale was established 20 years ago and has over 65,000 people living there.  There was a massive range of educational levels.

Q: How did the BUILD approach and the Module One Trainers’ guide help you during your time with them?

A: It worked very well.  Even the educated pastors needed to work on exegesis, so that totally levelled the playing field.  Especially doing group tasks, and then going through the structure of the text on the whiteboard.  I covered the first six units in Module One.  Each unit took two hours to do, but I went at the pace they could cope with and I always knew they were with me because of the feedback and the questions.  I found the material easy to use and very accessible.

Q: What were some of the responses to the material? Were there key issues that were debated or discussed or raised by it?

A: The main response was that this is exactly what they needed, particularly the step by step approach to exegesis.  Because the material introduces itself conceptually it raised discussions about implementation of the whole BUILD programme.  The pastors had never met together as one group before, so it was a real melting pot for ideas and discussion.

Q: Was there anything new or surprising that struck you, as a church leader, during those discussions?

A: The joyful response of the pastors.  When they learned something new they stood up and praised God.

Q: What did you notice about the way in which they interacted and learnt, and the way the BUILD materials facilitated this?

A: I was looking out for possible ‘equippers’ and I did pick up on that as they worked in groups.  When we did the evangelistic exercises, they really enjoyed sharing their stories with each other.

Q: Do you have any thoughts or plans for the future of this training or this sort of training?

A: I would like to help implement the whole BUILD programme for these pastors.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I wonder whether this would be useful for training pastors elsewhere in the world …

Kisii workers

Translating training: Kisii speakers on a mission in Kenya

Bishop John Orina believes himself to be the youngest bishop in the world. At thirty-five he was made a suffragan bishop in the large Southern Nyanza Diocese of western Kenya (the diocese has the shores of Lake Victoria on its west side and Tanzania to its south). Kisii is the name of his missionary bishopric, named after the lush, highly fertile, densely populated area it covers.

While the land may be fertile, Naomi Ngoge explains that the work has been extremely hard. The diocese has struggled to reach Kisii and its vernacular speakers because of language barriers between them and the largely Luo speaking church leaders. While many of the local Kisii speakers also speak Kiswahili, Thomas Odingo notes that the Luo speakers’ Kiswahili is not always of the highest standard. This is honest: Thomas is himself a Luo speaking parish priest who has been called to the area. There is simply very little vernacular preaching, and only fifteen Anglican churches dotted across a vast area that covers two counties of Kenya. Those churches, set within four parishes, have only around 2,000 Christians.

The critical need for the church in Kisii is to grow leaders from among the potential leaders at the grassroots, but using the very few who have some basic training. Thomas along with Naomi and three other extremely valuable local, first language Kisii speakers (Vincent Ogaro, Benson Ogoti and Joshua Ochola), are all attending a BUILD, block based training-of-trainers course in the west of Kenya. Naomi, the youngest, turned twenty-two today and is already in charge of a congregation within Kisii town, an important node for growth. Benson shares just how hard and costly travel can be, with no tarmac roads and the rich, red soil that so easily turns to mud. Benson is the coordinator for mission and evangelism covering the entire area: he has a vision for developing a team of evangelists to share in the work, working alongside Vincent.

Thomas shares the way in which they are all committed to carefully teaching the BUILD material, but doing so intelligently – selecting the simplest and most important units in the early modules. They plan to then go back over the more complicated areas that have been left out when the participants are ready to take in units that are at a higher level (when they have reached a third module and have learnt how to handle the Scriptures, and think theologically about basic issues).

All of them plan to translate from the English or Kiswahili versions as they go, but to work together: with one teaching while another takes Kisii notes of the key ideas that need to be communicated. In the process the most basic of Kisii resources will begin to be developed.

Thomas knows from experience that “as you train people they grow in confidence: they understand the Bible for themselves and are then able to share it with others themselves. They then say things like, ‘I can use the Lectionary myself and really teach in the church,’ whereas before that they just shy off and do not want to do their duties.” And all of them are looking forward to sitting down with the young Bishop John to share their vision and make a detailed plan of how the training can be translated into Kisii and into people’s lives.

Tanga meeting

Converging paths: BUILD and the Anglican Church of Tanzania connect

BUILD has enjoyed links with the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) for a number of years. Tanzanians were involved in BUILD’s curriculum development process; they have been and are being trained as trainers in Uganda and Kenya; and there has been BUILD training in-country. Importantly, BUILD has a special relationship with ACT’s Provincial Theological Education Coordinator, John Sembuyagi, and in principle BUILD has been accepted as a provincial programme. However, only now, through a timely meeting, does it seem clear that BUILD and ACT’s paths are converging.

This month, John Sembuyagi invited BUILD representatives from Kenya and Tanzania to Tanga (on Tanzania’s coast) for their Principals of Theological Colleges meeting, to discuss many of the key issues that BUILD has addressed in its curriculum development: namely curriculum design that is relevant to the local context, drives training and is both biblical and practical. As the Bishop of Tanga, Rt Revd Dr Maimbo, emphasised in his opening remarks at the meeting, there is a clear need for “a relevant, contextual and dynamic curriculum, developed by those who understand the situation of church and society in Tanzania.” He also observed that the current curriculum, “borrowed from the western world,” is outdated.

Participants at the meeting agreed with him. For instance, Rev Joseph Bea, from Mungu Ishi Bible College in Arusha, noted a lack of clarity and structure to the curriculum, which means “that colleges teach in a shallow way.” In addition, participants pointed to a failure to connect ministry training with ministry practice. Rev Canon Philip Munguti, the diocesan coordinator for Christian Education and Theology in the Diocese of Zanzibar, shared how the few leaders in his region who have theological education do not know how to apply it to their ministry. Rev Peter Akester, the Principal of Kondoa Bible College (and a mission partner in Tanzania for over twenty years), talked of the lack of relevant training, which helps students to apply what they are learning to their ministry context. Rev Samuel Maduma, Principal of Morogoro Bible College, put this down to the fact that the provincial curriculum has not been reviewed for twenty years; those who go through it are not able to tackle the current issues facing them in their ministerial contexts today.

Miss Schola Ochieng, from the diocese of Rorya and the head of Kowak Theological College, pointed out a related issue. She noted that Bishops seem to force students who have no capacity for formal theological training to go for studies. This, too, means graduates are unable to connect their training in the college with ministry in the field. But it is not only students who lack the capacity. One of the biggest needs is for “properly trained theological teachers in the colleges,” Rev Canon Jackson Mwidowe, Principal of Amani Christian Training Centre, Ruaha Diocese, explained. BUILD aims to address this need too: growing its own grassroots theological educators is integral to the programme.

Set against these needs that were being described, a BUILD trainer in Tanga Diocese, Rev David Peter, was instrumental in helping people to see the potential of BUILD. David, one of the current students at a BUILD regional class in Kenya, explained that when he started the BUILD course, “he wondered whether he would learn anything new.” But now, having experienced five modules, he admits that the course should be done “by everyone in ministry whether they have PhD or just a certificate.” David has gained confidence in his preaching and can now structure sermons well. He has also been able to use the BUILD method of theological reflection to tackle issues in his own ministry. He feels his leadership has changed tremendously as he has sought to become a godly leader who is strategic and missional in outlook. He has also benefitted from the fact that BUILD builds learning incrementally, developing people’s capacity as they progress, including their capacity to connect their training with ministry.

David’s shared his plans for a BUILD group in Tanga Diocese.  That class will signal a fresh start, but plans are being laid to create a platform for a much wider work within Tanzania as BUILD and ACT journey together in upgrading training in this part of the world.

Jem Hovil with Ben Kibara


Provincial and providential: recent BUILD growth

The word ‘provincial’ is ambiguous. It can mean that something is rather marginal or a little irrelevant. Alternatively, it can describe the reach or scope of something in terms of it covering an entire province or region. For BUILD and its work within Anglican churches it is entirely the latter and recent events have only reinforced that positive view.

From the beginning BUILD has been a unit of the Education Department of the Church of Uganda (COU), in the offices of the Provincial Secretariat, which serves the Province of the COU; in other words the Anglican Church in Uganda as a whole. Having been initiated, accepted and developed by the COU, BUILD is a resource that is available to all thirty-six COU dioceses, many of which have implemented the programme.

However, that provincial scope of BUILD is not true of all the Anglican provinces in the Great Lakes. While BUILD has relationships at the provincial level with some of the national churches in the region, it has tended to respond to invitations from individual dioceses in these countries due to the semi-autonomous nature of their bishops. In some cases that work has then in turn spread to a few neighbouring dioceses, as in the case of Rwanda. But this seems to be changing: BUILD is beginning to work not only on a diocesan basis but on a provincial one, in a movement that is from one perspective entirely providential, evidenced by the ‘accidental’ manner in which it is happening.

For a few years BUILD has related to the provincial offices of the Anglican Church of Congo, even if in practise that has meant working with a few dioceses near the Ugandan and Rwandan borders of that vast country. And there have been links with the provincial administration in Burundi, for example, even if the training is currently on hold there. But things are developing in Kenya (and in Tanzania for that matter – a topic for another blog).

BUILD’s strongest link in Kenya has been with Butere Diocese, headed by Bishop Timothy Wambunya, with his Diocesan Mission Coordinator, Revd Benjamin Kibara, leading the BUILD work there. As reported previously Butere has the regional training centre of AICMAR (the African Institute of Contemporary Mission and Research) in its diocesan compound, which has led to a regional BUILD initiative serving Butere and the seven dioceses surrounding it. But Bishop Timothy also happens to be the chair of the Provincial Education Committee for the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), under their Board of Education. The committee met earlier this month in Mombasa and Benjamin Kibara attended and reported as follows on two main areas from the perspective of BUILD:

First, Benjamin described how they worked together on the drafting of the Provincial Education Policy, a new document that will govern education related issues across the ACK as a whole. Benjamin shared about “the work of BUILD in Kenya and Great Lakes Region and we agreed that AICMAR, in Butere, will be the training centre for church leaders ranging from Bishops, Archdeacons, Administrative Secretaries, Vicar Generals and Provosts. We also agreed that once the BUILD curriculum is accredited [in Kenya], it will be recognised and used across the country to train grassroots leaders who may not be able to access the conventional theological training because of its structure and cost.”

Second, they went on to spend time reviewing the curriculum that is being used in schools but this also meant that, “we had time to share on the gaps of the current theological curriculum being implemented by mid-level theological colleges and the need to have a more dynamic, creative and bible focused curriculum. I shared again on the structure of BUILD curriculum, its design and how it places in the hands of the participants the skills to handle the bible passage with confidence and authority by going through from Genesis to Revelation.” Benjamin ended with his prayer that, in “the reviews of curricula and drafting of the provincial policy, God will use them to make the Bible central in all the theological training taking place in Kenya and beyond.”

It is our prayer that, in God’s providence, BUILD will play a significant role in the answers to that.

Bwerenga reduced

Fit for mission?

With some recent cases of ill-health among Church of Uganda leaders there is now a province-wide requirement for physical exercise to be integrated into training events. It was encouraging to see this stipulation implemented at a recent BUILD workshop, not least because the wider question being addressed was this: is the Church is fit for mission?

The participants, all relatively young graduates with various responsibilities for mission in their dioceses, embraced the demanding exercise routine at the end of each day: “It is a good culture to build into workshops given the increase in cardio disease among the clergy,” said one. “It boosts our circulation after sitting and refreshes us for the next day’s learning, and it boosts our team work too as we all exercise together,” said another. “We need to keep the body flexible, to burn the fat and develop the muscles – I will practise this at home,” promised one. Quite apart from the physical benefits, it provided a helpful backdrop for our BUILD studies on The Mission of the Church and Missional Leadership, as we looked at the book of Acts together and considered the spiritual fitness levels of our churches.

One learning unit, ‘Mission Shaped Church,’ encourages leaders and churches to get fit for mission, based on indicators of health established early on in the module and in Acts itself. Just as the body needs to be fit in four key areas (endurance, strength, flexibility and composition), so the church must be actively announcing Christ’s message, developing his community, welcoming his presence and obeying his will if it is to effective in its witness to the world.

As a result of this and other studies, one trainee noted that “mission must not just be left in the hands of a mission coordinator – we need to all join hands together in mission.” Others became acutely aware of “our need for teamwork: we need to lead together in mission – like Paul, Timothy and Silas – and be trained for mission – there is a big harvest but very few workers.” Because the trainees came from the different cultures of north, east, south and west Uganda, and learnt from one another, one thought that involvement in mission further afield would encourage engagement locally: “we must encourage cross-cultural witness together within Uganda and participate in inter-diocesan mission, working with others in different contexts.”

It was agreed that this meant that “congregations need to be trained for mission and learn to support mission.” In other words, “the whole Church must be mission oriented, it must equip and send missioners into the world as Christ commands.”

Masimango ACC

Leading the Anglican Church of Congo from the grassroots

The Most Revd Zacharie Masimango Katanda is not only the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Congo (ACC), but he remains bishop of the vast Diocese of Kindu. Travel along narrow dirt roads through forest to the church centres is all but impossible except at certain times of the year. We listened to his experience of training local leaders to see what BUILD can learn as it partners with the ACC.

The Archbishop began by describing a typical visit to a distant group of churches: “Most of our parishes are in remote, equatorial areas. This means we are only able to visit them in the dry season: we go for confirmations, to visit the pastors, and to train the catechists where they are. We invite those from around five local churches to come to a central place, so that they are able to walk to meet with me. Sometimes I travel with my wife, Naomi, so that she can meet with the women, otherwise she will not have a connection with them.

“A visit like this can involve 250 kilometres of travel from the headquarters, and there is no petrol anywhere on the way. And so I carry my own petrol supplies on the back of the motorcycle. My bishop’s cross for ordination and confirmation [is in short sections] – I unscrew those so that it can travel in a box on the motorcycle, and I then screw it back together again when it is needed.”

Travel within the diocese is only part of the challenge. When asked about the training he does, the Archbishop described methods that are similar to those embedded in BUILD: “I teach the catechists an overview of the Bible as a whole; how it is set in sequence according to the plan of God. I use local illustrations to help: people are used to the way in which the leaves fall in the forest, and can understand the Fall of Man. I use images and ideas, such as from Creation, which they know well. And [to teach] the covenant I use ways in which they are used to making covenants – for example, a goat as the symbol of a covenant: two families being bound together. For the Holy Spirit, fire, which has great power. When teaching we use cultural issues.

“For example, teaching the death of Jesus: no one will die for another person in our culture, but sometimes people will use animals to reconcile people in the village. There is a large animal in the forest, and if they can find it they will bring it to share with each other: there is joy and a feast. The animal was hidden, just as Jesus was hidden in Heaven. Then he came and there is now reconciliation and peace.”

The training is at a basic level, and literacy levels are low. He shared that, “like BUILD, local level training is what we need. I am talking to people who have never been to school, but they have a heart for mission. So we need people who are creative with resources in adult education.”

The Archbishop is impressive for the way in which he is taking the lead in this, from the top to reach those at the grassroots. “I want to set an example,” he explained, “and I need to train others who can move and train others themselves using simple resources: with the Bible and teaching documents in Swahili, to share biblical models of leadership.”

An earlier post described the scale of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the genesis of BUILD training in Bukavu on the eastern fringe. It ended with a mention of the consecration of the first bishop of the ACC’s new Kamango Diocese, attended by BUILD representatives from Uganda, where BUILD has since begun some teaching. Archbishop Masimango shared how grateful he is for the vision of BUILD, and for the ways it is beginning to have an impact within the ACC. His prayer, and ours, is that slowly but surely it will continue to grow there.