Mombasa training – a new focus for growth in Kenya

The work in Kenya is growing. In both in its spread and depth. This is due to concerted efforts to grow the number of trained-trainers for the programme, and, importantly, in relationship with key theological colleges. A new partnership is with Bishop Hannington Institute of Theology and Development (BHI) and BUILD Partners caught up with Ben Kibara after the recent, initial training of first year students there.  

Ben, why Mombasa as a centre for training? 

Mombasa is a very strategic centre for BUILD training. BHI is based there and exists to train individuals for ministry in the East African Church. Its mission statement is, “Equipping and empowering the people of God for transformative leadership”. The college is led by the Rev. Martin Olando as Principal, who has been a close friend over the years. And the main target dioceses of the college include Mombasa, Malindi, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Kitui, Kajiado and Garissa. These dioceses cover the eastern and coastal region of Kenya, a new region of the Anglican Church of Kenya for BUILD.

What are the plans for the training there? 

The plan is to equip all first years, both at certificate and diploma level. The training program is implemented through a one week intensive every semester. That means all new students will have an opportunity to go through four intensives, covering the first four modules of BUILD. This not only builds a strong biblical foundation for their theological learning (BHI is deliberately putting the intensives at the beginning of each semester), it helps in their formation for their future ministry, and it equips them to pass on BUILD learning to others.

You have trained so many different groups, what struck you most about this cohort?

The Mombasa cohort is very unique and has a huge potential for identifying and developing faithful leaders who can train others in the region. We had 6 female and 19 male participants. The diocesan representation was as follows: Mombasa (8), Kitui (7), Taita Taveta (3), Makueni (2), Machakos (1), Malindi (1), Nambale (1), Maseno North (1), Kisii (1). Thirteen of the 26 were between the ages 22 – 25; seven between 26 – 30; and only five participants were older than 30. The age range gives a good indication of the potential of this cohort to train more leaders from their dioceses for many years ahead, and that they are representative of a young, growing population. The participants went right ahead and identified potential leaders they are intending to train back in their churches.

What were the outcomes of this initial training? 

The main outcome was the induction and orientation of the new students beginning of their life in a theological college. The training provided a solid biblical foundation by emphasising the importance of keeping the bible central in ministry, together with the need to correctly understand, explain and apply the gospel. The training also addressed the challenge of the lack of faithful leaders who can train others, and the call to persevere with gospel ministry despite the enormous challenges they face.

Participants went through Pastoral Epistles and, remarkably, for the first time the majority of them completed a single reading of a book of the bible and had the opportunity to encounter individual passages from those books in depth, which was an eye-opener for them. (The other students in the college wondered why they hadn’t been given an opportunity to go through such a programme!) The Principal assured all the new students that the program will take place every semester so that they can be thoroughly equipped as workers who correctly handle the word of truth.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

There is are huge benefits in BUILD partnering with theological colleges. We are able to challenge students to keep scriptures and its gospel central in their ministry. And a college is an excellent ground to get committed trainers who will be able to then train others.

Thanks Ben. Integrating different patterns of training has always been an essential part of BUILD’s vision and it is wonderful to see that becoming a reality, and such a productive one.

BUILD on a mission to Gambella, Ethiopia

Cross-cultural mission is in BUILD’s DNA. For example, an intercultural group from across Uganda began the curriculum design process. Neighbouring countries then invited teams from Uganda to visit and share our early BUILD training efforts, and leaders from those countries then joined the curriculum workshops back in Uganda. In a range of ways, BUILD has always had an emphasis on mission. It was therefore natural to respond to a recent call for BUILD training from the Diocese of Gambella in Ethiopia, a next-door neighbour to our current footprint.

Gambella lies in the west of Ethiopia. It juts out westwards into South Sudan, which serves as a reminder of some of the tension and conflict in the area – and, by extension, in its churches. Gambella has been deeply affected by long term ethnic tensions between its Anuak and Nuer communities, as well as by conflict in neighbouring South Sudan, with refugees spilling into Gambella and the neighbouring regions.

The movement of people into Gambella, however, has also brought more believers into Ethiopia, and has created the greatest concentration of Anglican Christians in the country. Gambella is part of the Province of Alexandria. Alexandria was previously a diocese of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, but became an independent province in May 2020, partly due to the growth of the Anglican Church in Gambella. Alexandria’s other dioceses have fewer, more dispersed Anglican believers and churches: the Diocese of Egypt; the Diocese of the Horn of Africa (covering the rest of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia), and the Diocese of North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Mauritania).

Alongside this influx of believers, theological education and training in Gambella has been challenging. To date, St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College (SFATC) in Gambella town has been the focal point of efforts, with an emphasis on relationship and bridge-building across the Nuer and Anuak communities, and on reaching out through them to others.

BUILD was initially asked to help with the training of the scattered lay-readers in the dioceses, of which there are 150 or more. Just as elsewhere in the BUILD region of Anglican churches, lay readers, catechists and senior Christians act as the de facto congregation leaders, and the health of the churches is highly dependent on their health as leaders. Having considered a number of different options for introducing training into the area, we took the decision to send a Kenyan BUILD trainer to work in Gambella.

Revd Samuel ‘Sammy’ Atsali Mangu had gone through the BUILD system in the west of Kenya, which then enabled him to study theology at Uganda Christian University, before returning to Kenya to lead a parish and head up the youth work in the western region of the Anglican Church of Kenya. When asked if he might consider moving full-time to Gambella as a BUILD mission partner, we were taken aback by his almost immediate and faith-filled response, along the lines of, “I am humbled to be asked, yes, I will go”. Since then, the model has evolved and Sammy now acts as an itinerant missionary: he has been accepted as a local partner of CMS-Africa, released to them by the Diocese of Butere as one of their ‘Missionary Clergy’. Sammy remains based in Kenya but travels up to Gambella regularly for research and sensitisation purposes. He travels again in September to help the current cohort of students at SFATC complete their studies.

SFATC is transitioning to using the BUILD curriculum as the foundation for its studies, and the college will act as a hub for local level BUILD training elsewhere in the diocese. This means that Sammy has a dual role, as reflected in his title, BUILD Programme Coordinator, Gambella Diocese, and Acting Principal, St Frumentius Anglican Theological College – something, perhaps, that he had not quite imagined when he first put his hand up for this pioneering task. For someone who had never been on an aircraft before last year, and who has now become a frequent-flyer, life is full of new surprises and challenges as Sammy continues with BUILD on a mission.

 

Featured picture, Revd Sammy (right) with SFATC students.

A feast in famine

The Diocese of Shinyanga in northern Tanzania was formed in 2005 but due to limited resources there have been no capacity-building workshops to date. In reality that training-famine dates back to 1991: Shinyanga was carved out of another diocese, one in the midst of years of conflict and training-paralysis. No wonder that the launch of BUILD training in the diocese has been greeted with such enthusiasm and commitment.

Following on from the TMOT (training of master trainers) reported in last month’s blog the trainers got to work in Shinyanga for a fortnight in late May. The hunger for training meant that they were greeted by not one but two different classes: a day-release one and a block-release group. (Although the ‘day-release’ class, who were keen to get started, had to meet in the evenings because the block-release group were meeting every day.)

Even those two groups represented four different types clustered together: 55 BUILD students from Shinyanga municipality – the day-release group (with 14 clergy and 41 lay leaders); 25 students from rural areas who are being trained through a block-release approach (local clergy and an evangelist); 22 students with English language ability who form a diploma-level block-release group (15 of those are lay leaders); and a larger certificate class of 58 BUILD students, who are learning primarily in Kiswahili (31 pastors and 27 lay leaders). Those 80 students are approx. 60% men and 40% women, but are more evenly matched in terms of whether they are ordained or not (with a slight majority of lay leaders among them).

Getting too close to the detail might mask the main points: first, that all this represents a training revolution; second, that Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole and his team are thinking courageously about training needs and how they can be met; third, that all this is part of a grand mission plan to not only strengthen existing churches but to plant 500 new ones.

Behind that, +Johnson writes, “As a diocese we have had a time of long longing for BUILD training in Shinyanga diocese. We affirm the vision of BUILD which is, ‘to see a multitude of well-equipped leaders at the grassroots building healthy churches’ across the seven districts in our Diocese of Shinyanga and we affirm the BUILD mission which is, ‘to enable churches to train their own leaders with a practical understanding of the gospel, Scripture and theology.’ It is our plan to use BUILD training programme as our essential training model to every clergy and lay leader.”

In practice that means, first, “All students trained for ordained ministry from colleges after graduation will be enrolled into BUILD training so that they may be equipped practically for biblical studies, practical theology and leadership development.” And, second, “All evangelists / church planters who will be trained at ACT Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Centre will be also enrolled in BUILD training programme. Finally, “We will encourage and make plan for Youth leaders, Mothers’ Union leaders, Church elders and Sunday school teachers to be enrolled in BUILD training programme.”

Because the needs are acute and the solution has been embraced, the diocese has already made enormous strides in building-in local sustainability, but that will need to be part of another blog-post. But it would be a shame not to end with testimonies from a few participants.

Michael explained, “I followed BUILD guidelines while preaching the Word somewhere and the local pastor told me, ‘you were so good, you went to college again?’ So for me I have found something of great value. Thank you so much BUILD for making me much better. We need more BUILD.”

Joan adds, “BUILD has been very useful to me because it has given me a speed governor: I used to preach from more than five different bible books but now am giving attention to a specific bible passage.”

Finally, Musa shared, “On leadership, the training has helped me a lot to manage the truth regardless of the environment, the opposition and the false teachings that exist. I believe by the end of this training we will have a new Shinyanga with the courage to stand up and tell the truth, plant more churches and Shinyanga will be drawn to Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for this great and profound vision for thinking about the health of the present church.”

The featured picture is of the block release group with the bishop and others before returning to their parishes.

Training the master trainers for Tanzania’s lake zone

The training-of-trainers or ‘TOT’ is an important and well-worn concept, not just for BUILD, and not only for theological education, but worldwide and across adult education. In BUILD’s four-fold programme structure it provides the foundation for the work. But how can we best equip those who will go on to train and support teams of trainers?

The concept of ‘master trainers’ is not new or unique: it is prevalent in primary education programmes in the global South, where multi-level, cascade models of teacher training are used to scale up education. But for BUILD it is a fresh idea and one that emerged recently by accident. First, a BUILD trainer was released by a bishop in the west of Kenya to serve as ‘missionary clergy’ further afield in East Africa. In the release letter the bishop shared how they would be delighted if the individual concerned could act as a master-trainer in the BUILD programme more widely. Second, at the Mtumba Consultation described in the March blog, the phrase was then used and emerged as a lead idea to help BUILD to grow teams of trainers to operate across multiple training centres. In other words, to address the question of how can we best equip teaching ‘faculties’ for training centres: trainers who can then lead the training of trainers at those centres, and further multiply the work?

As a result our first ever ‘Training of Master Trainers’ or ‘TMOT’ event took place at the Nyakato Bible College near Mwanza, Tanzania from 4 to 8 April. The intention was to train teams for the two main centres for the new initiative: Nyakato Bible College itself – the northern centre for BUILD training in the Lake Zone; and the Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Training Centre – the zone’s southern centre. Representatives also came from Kagera Christian Theological College to the west of the zone, which plans to integrate BUILD into its training, and from the Diocese of Biharamulo – which also intends to develop a BUILD training programme.

Selection was key, with those attending not only having prior theological education to their name, but also with significant experience of teaching others at a local level. The challenge was to build on that learning and experience but not to be constrained by it – and by the traditional models of teaching and curriculum the delegates were familiar with. Quite a number had significant experience in teaching at local level but introducing a new model of training was not that easy, particularly on the first day.

In order to achieve the new and renewed learning the training focussed primarily on taking the potential master trainers through Module One, exposing them to the main types of learning unit as though they were learners, and discussing together how best to use them to equip others in context. In addition to that time was given towards the end to discuss the planning and implementation of BUILD training in more detail.

The responses on the last day were encouraging: “all the participants appreciated the place and value of BUILD training model, which lays emphasis and focus on the Bible, on practical theology and on leadership”. In part the event’s effectiveness lay in the presence of the two bishops who are ultimately responsible for the two main training centres: Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole of Shinyanga and Bishop Zephania Ntuza, the new bishop of Victoria Nyanza: together they “were a huge encouragement”. Their involvement meant a great deal to the participants, “who realised that the program has been well received and endorsed by the senior leadership of the Anglican Church of Tanzania”. The real test, however, will be the training that now emerges from those centres.

Mtumba reunions and commitments

The beginning of February witnessed a key consultation for BUILD in the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) at Mtumba Training Centre near Dodoma. The purpose: to consolidate the platform BUILD has in the ACT with a view to growth in BUILD training over the next five years, a period proposed by Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa.

The focus of the renewed, post-pandemic training efforts will be the Lake Zone Dioceses. Some of these dioceses are listed among the poorest in the world and have some of the most acute training needs, but they are rich in faith and believers and churches are growing in numbers. Shinyanga Diocese, for example, is a missionary diocese under the leadership of the former ACT General Secretary, the now Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole. There the plans are for the planting of 700 new churches.

The plan is that fresh, block-based training will develop at both the Shinyanga Mission and Evangelism Training Centre in the south of the zone, and at Nyakato Bible College in the north close to Lake Victoria. With day release training emerging there and elsewhere in the zone. Having said that, the current Provincial Christian Education Coordinator, the unstoppable Revd Canon Joseph ‘Argwing’ Adida, has already been renewing people’s enthusiasm further afield as well as spreading the word in new dioceses. Previously trained BUILD trainers are coming out of the woodwork and one of those, Mrs Mercy Mungai, will lead the work in the zone as the ACT Lake Zone BUILD Coordinator.

Quite apart from rebooting and refocusing the work, the consultation led to a number of commitments including to local sustainability at specific levels of training. The document that emerged included key commitments, such as:

  • To highlight the central importance of local, mainly parish based BUILD learning groups, which are locally sustainable;
  • To draw a clear line between those training activities which are locally sustainable, and those that need a mixture of internal and external resources (and that day-release training will be 100% locally sustainable);
  • To update the Swahili translations of the early BUILD modules;
  • To prepare for and deliver a Training-of-Master-Trainers (TOMT) workshop in the week beginning 4 April at Nyakato Bible School, DVN.

It was symbolic that a number of the participants then travelled on from there, first to Shinyanga, to meet clergy and potential participants, and then to DVN, which is under a new bishop, Rt Revd Zephaniah Amos Ntuza, and finally to Nyakato Bible College to meet students and staff there before they host that initial TOMT event in early April. The Mtumba reunions and commitments are already leading to action.

 

Featured photograph: the participants, from left to right, Rev Amon Jackson, Kagera Christian Training College; Revd Capt Ben Kibara, BUILD ACK Coordinator; Revd Canon Joseph Adida ACT Christian Education Coordinator & Acting PBC; Revd Dr Alfred Sebahene, Dean of Theology, SJUT; Rt Revd Johnson Chinyong’ole, Shinyanga Diocesan Bishop; Rev Stanley Sewando, Shinyanga Diocesan Secretary; Mrs Faith Chinyong’ole, Shinyanga Diocesan BUILD Coordinator; Mrs Mercy Mungai, ACT Lake Zone BUILD Coordinator; Rev Enock Chibada, Morogoro, Priest, Bible College Tutor, BUILD Trainer; Rt Revd Zephaniah Amos Ntuza, DVN Diocesan Bishop; Revd David Peter Mhina, Tanga Priest, School Teacher, BUILD Trainer. (Photo taken by Revd Dr Jem Hovil, BUILD Partners Trustee)

Carlile College: programmes that “propel the mission of the Church”

Carlile College, Nairobi was established in 1958 by Church Army Africa. Its name is explained by the fact that Church Army was launched by Wilson Carlile in the late 19th Century “to train ordinary Christian men and women to share the gospel with those most in need.”* Following on from last month’s blog post, Benjamin Kibara interviews the Principal, Revd Capt Patience Wanzala.

For our readers, can you give some further background to Carlile College?

Carlile College is a unique institution offering academic programmes with a focus on mission, evangelism, discipleship and church planting. Our vision and mission is to train men and women who will offer solutions to the church in Africa.

How has that mission focus shaped the college’s programmes?

The college has helped the Church in Africa remain focused on mission by developing and offering programmes in Chaplaincy and Children’s Ministry, among others that propel the mission of the Church.

What developments would you like to see at the college over the next few years?

The development we anticipate at the college is to upgrade our physical infrastructure to give it a new face so that we are able to attract more students to our programmes.

How do you view your vision for Carlile in relation to the changes that might lie ahead for more traditional forms of theological education?

Our vision will not change even as are faced with new ways of doing theology: moving from residential to non-residential, physical to online. Last year we had to change to online studies and though our students and staff struggled a bit we managed. Therefore I believe change is possible with some preparation through training and orientation.

Can you comment on how we can we best achieve academic rigour and personal transformation through training?

Theological Education aims at academic formation, ministry formation and spiritual and character formation. These can be best achieved by ensuring that they are reflected in the curriculum, have faculty who understand that as their mandate and create time for implementation, partner with local churches and communities to provide space for student mentorship.

These are difficult choices, but how can we also take cost-effectiveness and sustainability into account?

The sustainability of theological programmes depends on ownership by all the stakeholders such as students, staff, church, community and partners who together support the running of the programmes in various ways [such as] funding, sending students, teaching quality, among others.

What might all this mean for modes of delivery, which you’ve begun to touch on?

That we need to adopt to friendly modes of delivery such as distance learning [and] online studies among others to give room to those [who are] working, [so they can] study at the time of their convenience.

Finally, in the light of what you know about BUILD, with its non-traditional approach and model of multiplication, how do you see it serving within theological education?

BUILD is a good programme that has its place in building the capacity of the leadership of the church. There is no programme that has monopoly of importance; therefore BUILD comes in to reinforce what other programmes are offering to the church.

Many thanks for sharing with us Patience. BUILD is proud of its own focus on mission and evangelism, as well as its intention to act as ‘yeast in the dough’ for theological education: connecting it together and contributing to the whole. That desire is certainly in keeping with your closing comment.

* From churcharmy.org

Extending theological education in the Anglican Church of Kenya

Since its beginnings in Guatemala over 50 years ago Theological Education by Extension (TEE) has had an extraordinary impact in doing just that: extending the reach of theological education. Walter Omudokolo is the Provincial TEE Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK). BUILD’s Benjamin Kibara caught up with him at Carlile College, Nairobi to talk about TEE and BUILD.

Walter, on reflection, what do you see as some of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach and the movement?

The books are one big strength of TEE, as is its suitability for the structures of the Anglican Church. Plus there is a long history of TEE courses in Kenya, which makes it easy to introduce to any diocese. However, our books’ content is dated and has served its purpose, and they are expensive for students to acquire.

How have those insights played into the story of TEE in the ACK, and how do you assess its impact?

TEE has impacted many leaders at the parish level. Many evangelists and lay readers have gone through the programme including some of the clergy. But due to lack of proper funding and coordination at the top, and lack of people who are willing and trained to teach TEE materials, the uptake has been going down over time.

Can you explain where TEE is now heading in the ACK and why?

The provincial department that was formerly known as TEE has been renamed to Lay Christian Training by Extension (LCTE). TEE and Certificate in Christian and Religious Studies (CCRS) are some of the programmes under LCTE; both are hosted by Carlile College. LCTE is a broader name that makes it possible to introduce other courses aimed at equipping lay leaders to serve the church.

TEE has a huge potential if the materials used for training can be availed easily to those willing to take it. It remains as a parish programme, especially for church leaders who desire to do personal study and acquire some basic theological knowledge. It is very informal, rather than rigorous and academic. There are very few formal requirements from the students compared to CCRS.

However, we have introduced CCRS as an additional course to equip the licensed lay readers and commissioned evangelists. Some clergy who had not been trained properly are also enrolling in this course. This is an academic course with an entry requirement, fee payment, exams etc. CCRS is a one year provincial course that is domiciled at Carlile College and validated by St Paul’s University.

Can you indicate the focus of the content: would you describe it primarily as training in discipleship or leadership or would you use another category altogether?

The focus of LCTE is more or less a traditional theological course. There is nothing new apart from the mode of delivery. In fact, the curriculum mirrors a very high percentage of what is offered in the other theological colleges.

Are you changing any of the ways in which LCTE is delivered on the ground?

The certificate curriculum has 12 units that are covered in three semesters. Currently we have 16 centres across the country. Each centre is operated independently. The diocese helps in recruiting students, they purchase the books which are sold centrally, the centre coordinator collects fees from students and a percentage of those fees is remitted to Carlile. The diocese is responsible to look for competent trainers who will teach the students.

What do you see as some of the greatest challenges that lie ahead for LCTE?

The content of the CCRS doesn’t help in spiritual formation. It is an academic exercise that focuses on head knowledge but very little on the heart. These challenge can only be met if we can have a current, contextual and relevant curriculum that is focused not only on academics but combines both academics and spiritual formation. Emphasis on discipleship and personal spiritual growth is lacking.

Tied to the above relates to the instructional materials that need a lot of revision to address aspects that speaks to the heart.

BUILD’s focus is leadership: strengthening those who lead, care for and teach local churches, as well as those in related ministries. It is not divorced from discipleship and encourages that, nor is it divorced from biblical and theological knowledge, but the content is designed to serve those who lead. How might LCTE and BUILD best encourage one another?

I wish you shared the information about BUILD last year, I could have launched the course as a diploma course in our latest centre doing a diploma. Looking at the content of BUILD, I can see a lot of emphasis on the Bible. This is something that is missing on many curriculum. Also I have noted that every module you have emphasis on leadership. The preaching emphasis and sermon preparation will be highly welcomed by our current target group of lay readers and evangelists.

Thank you for sharing, Walter.

Higher things

Training local church leaders at the grassroots is BUILD’s focus. But BUILD programmes have a range of other outcomes, both those that are anticipated and some that are quite unexpected. One benefit that we are seeing increasingly is the way in which BUILD training helps churches to identify, enable and prepare emerging leaders for higher education, and to build their capacity in this vital way.

We asked a handful of BUILD learners some questions about their experience of further education and how BUILD had prepared them. Their first names, which they have given us permission to use where appropriate, are Celestine, Erick, Rodah and Sammy. Here are those questions and some of their responses.

First, to what extent did your BUILD training enable you to enter your degree course?

Celestine: “The BUILD training I received elevated my academic standards, which boosted my admission at St.Pauls University.” Similarly Eric shared, “The BUILD training was vital for my admission into Uganda Christian University for a degree program. The admission requisite was for one to have at least a diploma in any Biblical course. Therefore my BUILD training came in handy.”

Once you began your course, how did the preparation from BUILD help?

Rodah noted, “the two complement each other, the difference is the depth of the content.” Celestine added, “[BUILD] helped me understand both the Old Testament and New Testament, which helped me tackle exegesis units well; understanding the Christology and pastoral care units was simplified by the knowledge I had, and it has improved my preaching. I was very good at presentation and having ideas during group discussions.” And a comment from Sammy: “The BUILD training prepared me for the task ahead. I found it easy when I entered the university because pastoral studies, biblical studies and preaching became a walkover during my studies.”

How did you feel your performance compared to that of your peers who had not done BUILD?

One respondent thought that, “Thanks to [my BUILD trainers] and the principles we gathered through the BUILD programme, my grades at university were much, much better. Not only were my grades better but my general understanding of the Bible principles was made better.” Another concurred, “My grades were better than those who did not do [BUILD]. And my exposure due to BUILD helped me to be more informed….”

A third noted, “My level of perception increased – the illustrations that I received in BUILD class when it comes to Biblical texts helped me gain a more advanced insight.” Perhaps most importantly one added, “BUILD gave me a perfect and faithful background when dealing with the word of God; those who missed BUILD training missed the real foundation of the study.”

How might teaching others using BUILD materials have helped you in your studies?

As Celestine put it, “I gained experience and more knowledge while teaching that helped me in my studies. It kept me alert.” And Eric had been active during his BUILD course, “I was often used by lecturers in leading other students through the BUILD manuals. This helped me develop confidence in our classes [at university] I would handle the word of God before my fellow students, and later on in the Church where I served.” Rodah underlined all this: “training and teaching others using the BUILD materials increased my skills in tackling Biblical texts.”

Did you receive any comments about the quality of your work that might be traced back to BUILD?

One of the group had been seen as outstanding: “Yes, my lecturers loved my work and used me as an example to others, and in fact recommend me for further studies.” In a more reserved way another explained, “I received a few encouraging sentiments on my understanding abilities which were greatly enhanced during my training in BUILD classes. The lecturers appreciated my unique approach and view-points on various theological debates in a bid to clearly bring out biblical truths.”

The benefits of the clear focus on understanding and applying the Bible were matched by the others: “Actually my lecturers in exegesis we’re impressed with my participation in and I believe BUILD training had a hand in that.” And interestingly, “Most of the comment I received from my supervisors were when I proclaimed the word of God. [Comments such as:] ‘You have been so faithful with the text’; ‘Your introduction, body and conclusion were superb.’”

Do you have any final comments?

Erick underlined the focus of BUILD mentioned in the opening paragraph, and the difference between the types of study: “[The BUILD] programme, when compared to campus studies, is more practical and therefore better suited for training local pastors. The program receives direct feedback from the trainees who try out the lessons in the field immediately.” And for the record he highlighted his own experience of developing his preaching through BUILD: “The program helped me develop my pulpit character through in-depth sermon preparation and presentation on the study passages. This is still helpful to date as all my sermons are prepared through the BUILD structure.”

The others emphasised their enthusiasm for BUILD: “BUILD training is vital for those aspiring to be gospel leaders,” shared Rodah. And Sammy says he would “pray and urge upcoming ministers to go through the BUILD training because it’s the foundation that deepens the faith of a believer.”

A final word from Celestine: “Long live BUILD.”

Thank you all for sharing.

A firm foundation for BUILD

The name BUILD is a gift. The word sums up BUILD’s focus: to build God’s Church through growing and multiplying healthy local churches. It has also led to our anchor or memory verse: Matthew 16:18, in which Jesus says: “I will build my church.” And the five words behind the acronym (Biblical – Understanding – In-service – Leadership – Development) not only lead to some excellent learning tools but act as anchor points for the values behind BUILD. However, those values have remained implicit, until now.

Over the past few months one of the behind the scenes tasks has been to communicate BUILD’s vision, mission and values in fresh contexts within Africa’s Great Lakes Region (BUILD’s target area within East and Central Africa). With institutions operating in very different modes it has been an opportune time to move conversations forward about the place of BUILD in different churches. Until now BUILD has worked with a combined vision and mission statement and with implicit values. Teasing apart the vision and the mission, and creating an explicit set of values in dialogue with individuals in different countries has been rewarding: it has not served both our communication and our teaching.

For example, Module Four of the BUILD curriculum has the title Nehemiah & the Historical Books: Building God’s People & Strategic Leadership. One component, which follows on from a study of Nehemiah mobilising God’s people in Neh. 2:11-20, is a learning unit exploring that theme, and it includes the importance of mobilising God’s people around a common vision, mission and values. It has been important to work back through the curriculum and to flag up in Module One the need for those elements in relation to the BUILD initiative itself, and in so doing to anticipate teaching and learning that lies ahead.

The outcome is that these important elements are currently as follows (with section numbers left in place to indicate that they belong in a manual):

1.5  BUILD’S VISION, MISSION AND VALUES

We have already discovered the focus of BUILD, which is to build God’s Church through growing and multiplying healthy local churches. It is also important for any ministry or project to have a clear vision, mission and values. We will look at this subject in more detail in Module Four, but it is introduced here along with BUILD’s own vision, mission and values.

1.5.1  BUILD’s vision statement

A vision statement paints a picture of the future we hope to see as a result of the work we do in partnership with God and his people. Here is BUILD’s vision statement:

“BUILD’s vision is to see a multitude of well-equipped leaders at the grassroots building healthy churches across Africa’s Great Lakes Region and beyond.”

1.5.2  BUILD’s mission statement

In addition to a vision, it is important to have a clear mission or purpose. A mission statement captures how we aim to achieve our vision, as we work with God and his people. Here is BUILD’s mission statement:

“BUILD’s mission is to enable churches to train their own leaders with a practical understanding of the gospel, Scripture and theology.”

1.5.3  BUILD’s values

In addition to a vision and mission it is helpful for churches, organisations and projects to have a clear set of values. Values are foundational principles that we believe in and which motivate us and guide us in our practice.

BUILD has five values. Each one is a conviction about Christian learning that flows from one of the five words that BUILD stands for (and from the word and verse in 2 Timothy they are linked to).

1. Biblical – BUILD believes in learning under Scripture

The word ‘biblical’ (and “Scripture” in 2 Tim 3:16-17) reminds us that our learning must come under the authority of God’s word. The Bible and its gospel must be central to our training if personal development and local church growth is to be genuine.

2. Understanding – BUILD believes in learning with integrity

The word ‘understanding’ (and “handle” in 2 Tim 2:15) reminds us that our learning must be conducted with integrity. Skilful and godly use of the Bible and its gospel are essential for the development and growth of true leaders.

3. In-service – BUILD believes in learning in context

The word ‘in-service’ (and “reflect” in 2 Tim 2:7) reminds us that learning is best done in the midst of ministry and mission. This means that the training of local church leaders must be done in partnership with their local churches. The fact that BUILD was developed locally reflects this commitment.

4. Leadership – BUILD believes in learning and leadership

The word ‘leadership’ (and “entrust” in 2 Tim 2:2) reminds us that learning and leadership belong together. Leaders who understand the gospel deeply and who then identify and invest in others are essential for healthy churches.

5. Development – BUILD believes in learning for life

The word ‘development’ (and “continue” in 2 Tim 3:14) reminds us that while every training course comes to an end, Christian discipleship does not: learning is for life. Our training must equip leaders to be life-long learners.

We hope you will find those elements as informative and encouraging as we do.

Courageous leadership in a refugee camp

Last month we began to connect learning with life in this time of COVID-19. How are the most vulnerable populations in East Africa coping? In order to find out we spoke to South Sudanese leader Jacob Karaba in a refugee settlement in northern Uganda. As a pastor and BUILD trainer he supports others in a range ways, and the pandemic has compounded local challenges, “exposing the community to hatred, poverty and educational problems.” But Christians like Jacob are responding with great courage.

Today Jacob reports: “Things are still at a stand-still as the lockdown and curfew has been increased for another 21 days. The restrictions remain on movement, public gatherings (including public worship), and schools remain closed. Lack of firewood has brought a number of conflicts between the refugees and the host communities. And there are shortages of drugs in the health centres, with fears of contracting the COVID-19 from social centres. Currently, people are scared and concerned about what will happen if this COVID-19 reaches the camps. And beside this, WFP [World Food Programme] has reduced the food ration to only 8.64 kg per month, there has been a lack of rain for two months now, and all this creates fear and worries among the refugees, not least in Imvepi Refugee Settlement which is a rocky land [and hard to dig]. Death rates, sickness, attempted suicide, cases of evil spirits, and domestic violence are becoming rampant.”

As a result, “COVID-19 has exposed tensions between the community of faith and local government. Some politicians are using this COVID-19 as an opportunity to finance themselves and to silence church activities. The challenge for all is how to foster community and to support one another while keeping physical distance.”

How are Christians and leaders like Jacob responding to these pressures and rebuilding community?

“Pastors and church leaders are under threat of harassment. As I speak now, when a pastor moves with a Bible it seems like he or she is carrying a coronavirus.” Despite this, “Many believers trust the blood of Christ to protect them, and in my community Christians are famous historically for staying to care for the sick and dying during significant plagues. After all to risk one’s life for the sake of another is the Jesus-like thing to do. They are never alone in these brave acts of service: this kind of self-sacrificial service is central to many of the pastors and the Christians.” And this, even though “pastoral care has become more complicated: some have set up a pastoral care roster of weekly phone or radio calls to check on both the physical and spiritual needs of members.”

In all this, “pastors are risking their life in providing some emergency services such as the burying of the dead, visiting and praying for the sick as well as reconciling families struggling with domestic violence.” Pray for Jacob and others that they would continue to do so.

The featured picture shows Jacob distributing food and support to the community