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 He also observed that the current curriculum, “borrowed from the western world,” is outdated.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.


BUILD takes to the air

It is estimated that two million people listen to Namirembe FM in the central region of Uganda. For the past four years BUILD has been capitalising on that with a programme that spreads biblical teaching and encouragement to leaders and people alike. We caught up with Stephen Kewaza who presents that programme in order to find out more…

Q: How long has the show been running?

A: We began the 93.9 Namirembe FM programme in 2012. It runs from 8.30 to 9.00 p.m. every Sunday, and is advertised by the producer throughout the day.

Q: Can you tell us about a typical programme?

A: A typical programme presents a unit of teaching and then hosts discussion around it – so there is a three minute introduction, a seventeen minute presentation and ten minutes of callers’ questions and our answers.

Q: Why do you feel it is important to give time to this?

A: It gives us an opportunity to reach out to many listeners in the central, Buganda, region. But we have also had callers from as far as Kasese [in the west] calling in to say, “you are reaching us!” And we have also heard from people in Hoima and Masindi [in the north-west], as well as some in Busoga, Mbale and even as far as Busia [in the east by the border with Kenya]. Because our show is in the setting of a Christian, Church of Uganda programme, they are expecting biblical encouragement, so it attracts listeners who already have an appetite for BUILD learning and who want to grow.

Q: How do you adapt the training for the radio?

A: We simplify it for the beneficiaries – when handling a text of Scripture we make sure that we go into application. We regularly use BUILD’s seven-steps for understanding, applying and teaching the Bible, and many of our listeners now understand those well. We want to move all the way from text to teaching. We discuss Bible words on air, summarise  the meaning of passages, and we ask and answer questions such as: ‘How should we preach this passage?’ or ‘How does this speak to you who are listening?’

Q: What is the impact of this?

A: Respondents call to say things like this: “I have been refreshed in a new way” (Wilberforce from Mityana called to encourage us), and they share how they now see biblical passages in a new light. Someone shared that they never realised they could preach from the Song of Songs and how it has helped them. And it is not just church leaders: teachers call in, including a headmaster who is in touch with us. Some call in repeatedly.

Q: Why does radio remain so important?

A: It is so easy to reach people through the radio – it is low cost and finds people where they are, it takes training to them for free, they do not need to move anywhere or meet anyone as we are spreading the gospel on air.

Q: Thank you for sharing with us.


Learning from Luwum

Forty years ago today, on 16 Feb 1977, Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum’s body was discovered, murdered by Idi Amin’s forces and under his orders. His death was a critical moment in Uganda’s post-colonial history. What had led to that point and what are some of the lessons to learn?

Throughout Amin’s time the semi-established Anglican Church of Uganda had to learn to live without the traditional privileges of position and to stand firm in the face of suffering and turbulence. Rather than retreat, the Church responded with renewed vigour, particularly in northern Uganda where, united by a common threat, believers worked together, and historic rivalries and divisions were overcome.

The understanding of what it meant to be a church in opposition was strengthened when Janani Luwum, the Bishop of Northern Uganda, was elected to the position of Archbishop. Luwum, a fierce critic of the atrocities of Amin’s regime, brought a bold voice of protest to the very heart of the Church. It was a voice that Amin tried to silence with accusations of political involvement, allegations that eventually led to Luwum’s arrest and brutal death. But he went to that death as a martyr, sacrificially standing firm for freedom in Christ, and leading his people in the way of the suffering servant.

Prayers are underway today at Janani Luwum’s birthplace in Mucwini, Kitgum district, where, incidentally, some of the first local BUILD training in northern Uganda was conducted. Led by Uganda’s Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, together with 26 other bishops and thousands of believers, they are remembering Luwum’s legacy of Christian endurance in the face of brutality and injustice, and his tireless commitment to peacebuilding. Given the significance of Luwum’s death in Uganda’s history (evidenced by the fact that there is a public holiday today in remembrance of him), those same lessons continue to have relevance today.

As a result, they are embedded in Module Ten of the BUILD curriculum, a study of Revelation and apocalyptic under the title, The Victorious Christ and Leaders that Endure. One unit draws together some of the learning with a focus on persecution and martyrdom. The unit begins by looking at the events in 1877, a century before Luwum’s death, when the gospel came to the court of the Kabaka or King of Buganda in the south. With a change in Kabaka in 1884, the nascent church faced the fire of persecution and martyrdom, and through it experienced the birth of a robust indigenous church. The learning unit ends with events a hundred years later, those surrounding the death of Janani Luwum. Through reflection on them it underlines the message of Revelation using the module’s key verse, Revelation 14:12, which recognises that the whole book is a call, “for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.”

Today, of all days, is a day to remember that same call to be faithful, not only for the Church of Uganda and the surrounding provinces where BUILD training goes on, but for the Anglican Communion and God’s church worldwide, in turbulent times. And it is a day to commit to the sort of biblically faithful training that will strengthen the Church to face the future, knowing its ultimate security in Christ, the first martyr, or faithful witness, who is also “the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5).


Training for transformation in Wabigalo, Kampala

While every community on earth needs spiritual and social transformation, that need is more apparent in some places than others. Kampala’s densely populated Wabigalo area (or slum, as it is known locally), is a case in point. So it was inspiring to experience first-hand the welcome that BUILD is receiving there as an opportunity for training and transformation.

Canon Simon Sibomana, the exiled Archdeacon of Bujumbura, Burundi, is leading the Anglican sub-parish there (name and location used with permission). Simon may be far from home, but that means his story is in fact typical of those in Wabigalo. The area sits above the industrial area on the east side of Kampala, an area characterised by its stacks of containers, and is close to the end of the railway line that used to arrive from Nairobi. Not surprisingly, over the years the area has become something of a melting pot, not only of Ugandans from across the country (in particular the west), but also of immigrants from western Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo and South Sudan.

Therefore, Simon and his family identify strongly with the local community, and with the other leaders who live and work there. The church at the heart of the sub-parish is run by a team of around half a dozen of these men and women. The story of one of them, a local trader called Boaz Benywanira (pictured above with his family), is typical of local church leaders in the area: along with his wife, he generates his own livelihood, he has an infectious faith and extraordinary commitment to building the church in this overlooked corner of Kampala, and he has a thirst for learning.

So while Wabigalo may be overlooked by Kampala City Council, its potential for current and future mission is extraordinary. As a result of BUILD training, local leaders are learning the good news afresh in all its wonder from the Scriptures and can see its implications for them, their families and their local community. From the beginning, BUILD has had a strong, gospel based strand of social transformation, which is taught as integral to understanding, living out and sharing the message. For instance, an early unit on how to share the gospel equips people to understand it not only as a testimony to share and a message to communicate, but also as a change to demonstrate. The curriculum then systematically builds on that in a range of ways as it progresses through the modules.

In addition, as lives are being transformed in a place where people move from everywhere-to-everywhere, the hope is that they will carry the message and the training with them. As a result, Wabigalo is certainly not a place that will be overlooked by BUILD, as it becomes an important centre at the grassroots for urban training and mission.


Economic and theological empowerment for migrants from Malawi

A previous post described the beginnings of BUILD training for pastors of African initiated churches in townships around Cape Town. It pointed to the potential for training to spread through networks of migrants due to, rather than despite, the economic realities they face. This entry describes how locally sustainable, self-propagating BUILD training can reach leaders and churches that other forms of training cannot reach.

Despite New Testament models of mission and church development, here in the West our default vision of the church remains one in which full-time leaders who have received full-time training spearhead growth. While that model is true in some contexts on the African continent, for the most part a very different set of realities exists, in which church leadership and training for such leadership is a spare-time or part-time occupation. In this context, economic migration – a concept that is often portrayed in negative terms, not least in the media and by political leaders – has the potential to play a key role in driving and sustaining training.

This potential is evidenced by stories of Chancy, Bonex and William, Malawian migrants and non-formal BUILD trainees in Cape Town. As Mareka Nolo, a BUILD trainer in Cape Town, recently reported: “Chancy is one of the ministers at a Rivers of Life church in Vrygrond, Cape Town. He is also one of the many economic migrants from Malawi. Chancy first came to South Africa four years ago, leaving behind his wife and two daughters with the hope of finding greener pastures so he can best care for his family.”

When asked about his reasons for being in South Africa, Chancy explained: “It was not my initial plan to come to South Africa, and I never thought I would leave my family behind, but due to our weak economy many of us struggled to find a job and we were unable to feed our families. South Africa was the only option I had in the end and I took a chance to come down here. I now work as a gardener here in Cape Town and I am able to provide for my family back home. My plan is to go back to Malawi one day when I have saved up enough money and buy a piece of land so I can grow and sell vegetables to care for my family.”

Quite apart from blurring the distinction between ‘forced’ and ‘economic’ migrant, his story gives insight into the lives of thousands of families in southern Africa, and the economy of remittances that support them. But Chancy is also hoping to train church leaders when he gets back home, something that Bonex’s story also underlines.

Bonex is also from Malawi and is working as a gardener. He, too, is serving as a local church leader in Vrygrond and has not seen his wife and children for almost three years: “I cannot afford to go and see my family in Malawi because I have to support them and send tuition fees for my daughter at college. My dream is to return home and start a fishing business; I want to save up for a small fishing boat. I also want to pass on what I have learnt from BUILD, as I believe many pastors in Malawi need such training.”

William has taken this a step further. William was a pastor in Vrygrond for two years, but returned to Malawi late last year to start BUILD training in Chikwana, in the south of Malawi. William has been running workshops almost every week training local church leaders, and has a farm where he grows rice and sweet potatoes to support himself and his family. He writes, “Most of the churches here need training, and I have been reaching out to a couple of them and training their pastors. For those who are far I often borrow my friend’s motorbike to reach them and do some training with them, and other local churches have asked me to come and preach on Sundays.”

These stories bring together into one space insight into the fundamental economic realities facing migrants, the realities of church life and leadership at the grassroots, and the need for basic training for those who want to lead churches. But they also point to the need for a very different approach to training – one that is rooted in local realities, and therefore one that can be delivered and can spread organically. BUILD is doing just this: it is ensuring that migrants, if well mentored by BUILD leaders like Mareka, can be empowered theologically to create and then sustain simple training networks.


A new ‘formal’ BUILD initiative is launched in Kenya

The ‘formal’ aspect of the BUILD work has seen considerable development. At first trainers were being trained on the Uganda Martyrs Seminary site as a deliberate, but secondary, outcome of what was first and foremost a series of participatory-curriculum-development workshops. Many of those then pioneered more local training-of-trainers work, particularly in Uganda and Rwanda. That all led on to the same college offering a Diploma in Biblical Studies, Practical Theology & Leadership Development based on the modules created there (described in March 2015). Now, in Kenya, a diploma with the snappier title ‘Bible, Theology & Leadership’ is being taught.

How does this ‘formal’ aspect fit into the BUILD work? A quick search of this blog reveals the repeated use of the terms ‘formal’, ‘non-formal’ and ‘informal’ in relation to BUILD training. However, while there is an implicit presentation of this threefold typology there is no explicit explanation of what is fundamental to the structure of BUILD. Hence this post.

In the discourse around training in the global South there is an understandable tendency to separate out formal ‘academic’ theological education (which meshes with national education systems), from non-formal ‘grassroots’ approaches (that are structured carefully, but sit separate from those structures). And those approaches often lead to or include the vital informal training and outcomes that serve the mission of the church. BUILD, from the outset, has sought to integrate these three elements, not least in order to help bridge the gulf that local church leaders and theological students perceive exists between the academy and the local church and its mission.

Linked to this, BUILD has sought, in the context of the extreme needs for capacity building, to integrate multiplication into the same system. The presupposition behind that is this: only a small minority can afford the time and money for residential training (or have the privilege of the educational background required to enter and cope). And the institutions only have the capacity to serve this minority. Whilst in the West it might be excusable to organise training around an arithmetic of addition, in most parts of Africa it is indefensible if the privileged few who do make it to college are not trained to multiply up the impact of their training. The few must be equipped to equip the many, and their training must be tailored to do so in deliberate ways.

That is the intention of the formal, training-of-trainers element of BUILD training: not only are select students strengthened in their own theology and practice, they are deliberately equipped to train others at a non-formal level. Therefore BUILD welcomes the initiative and partnership of Butere Diocese and AICMAR (the African Institute for Contemporary Mission & Research), in pioneering the new Diploma in Bible, Theology & Leadership, based on the BUILD curriculum, which incorporates lessons learnt from the earlier efforts in Uganda.

26 students arrived for the training, representing seven dioceses in western Kenya and two in Tanzania. It was the first of four, three-week, residential blocks that will take place over the next two years, with the incremental development of local training initiatives and other requirements in between. And they have been taught, from the word go, using a picture of a productive mango tree, that the foundation of BUILD is the ‘formal’ training of trainers (the roots), the focus of BUILD is the ‘non-formal’ equipping of church leaders in local groups (the trunk and branches), and the fruit of BUILD is the ‘informal’ impact those leaders then have on other leaders, congregations and communities (all the fruit and leaves and shade the tree brings).

It will be interesting to see if the immediate knock on effect is for them to increase themselves tenfold or whether some manage “thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20), and whether we will witness an impact of 260, 780, 1,560 or 2,600 others being equipped as a result, not least when the formal, non-formal and informal aspects are all factored in.


BUILD takes root in Southern Africa

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.