Learning and leading on the move

A previous post reported the beginnings of BUILD training among South Sudanese refugees in settlements in northern Uganda. Revd Scopas Bullen-Lado, who oversees a number of churches in one of the settlements, Rhino Camp, is on the BUILD training-of-trainers course, and this post tells his story.

Scopas’ life and ministry has been one of constant movement. He was first displaced from his village in South Sudan in 1988 and ran to the nearby town of Yei. Having fled with others from his village, he continued to act in his role as a community leader. Shortly after he was displaced, he was asked to welcome a Christian preacher who had come “to encourage the displaced.” Scopas was not himself a believer, but as he listened to the word of God being preached he was convicted of his own wrongdoing, and in the early hours of the morning of 24 August 1988 he came to trust God himself.

Scopas’ growing faith served him well when a few years later he was forced to flee again, this time into Uganda in the early 1990s. In exile he grew in faith and leadership and began to encourage others. His gifts were recognised and he received formal training at Bishop Allison College, which had itself been displaced from Sudan to Uganda. Having received some training, Scopas returned to Yei when it had become more peaceful. There he served in a number of positions: leading theological education by extension; acting as diocesan secretary back in Yei for a time; and coordinating the education department.

But within a few years of South Sudan gaining independence Scopas was once more forced by insecurity to move back to Uganda in 2016. Within a fortnight, he had built a church in the refugee settlement using materials given by the UN and the government of Uganda. Not only did Scopus establish a church, he began to visit and encourage other churches in the settlements.

Meanwhile his Bishop from Yei had moved from South Sudan to Arua, the nearest town to the settlement where he was living, and established an office there. Scopus and some of the other pastors in the camp hired a vehicle and went to meet with him so that they could develop a structure for the church in exile: “He advised us positively to get organised as church centres (not as parishes or archdeaconries as we are under the Church of Uganda). He encouraged us to follow a structure based on seniority. I happened to be the most senior leader so I became the presiding priest, overseeing the pastors.”

Scopus and the other pastors formed four zones with thirty-five churches divided between them. Everyone constructed their churches: they started off with mud walls and tarpaulin on top, but now have corrugated iron roofs. As Scopus said, “We are now comfortable in these churches and they are packed. The smallest has 300 [in the congregation], the largest over 700. We gather together as the six main clans of Central Equatoria: the Bari, Pojulu, Kakwa, Kuku, Mundari, and Nyangwara. We want to know the word of God deeply.”

Scopus is now coming along to the BUILD Trainer of Trainers course, which began in Kampala in May this year. Pray for Scopus and the rest of his team – Moses Akuaak Hiek, Jimmy Tabule Mubarak, Jacob Karaba and Emmanuel Bita – as they develop BUILD training that equips the churches to know the word of God deeply and to live it out in practice in the midst of the testing conditions they face.

Learning to teach and teaching to learn

“The more I have prepared to teach, the more I have learned and understood. Each time I teach I learn many things through what I deliver, and the participants also teach the facilitator through the discussions or dialogue” (Stephen Kewaza, Provincial BUILD Coordinator, Church of Uganda).

Learning to teach and teaching to learn is the title of one BUILD learning unit. In the context of the sustained learning that is Psalm 73, it draws attention to features of the BUILD curriculum which, by providence and design, make it such an effective training tool. For example, the unit points to the familiar pyramid of learning retention by teaching method used. The ascending recall rates are around 5% for a lecture, 10% for reading, 20% for audio-visual, 30% for demonstration, 50% for discussion, 75% from action, and 90% from teaching others (e.g. David Sousa, How the Brain Learns).

BUILD participants are challenged by the figures and note how the Psalmist himself reflects and passes on his learning in the form of the Psalm. As a result learning preferences and local learning styles are discussed, along with the need for a range of teaching strategies, and the importance of passing on learning. They learn that ‘teaching-to-learn’ has become a recognised adult-education strategy in its own right.

The curriculum as a whole illustrates these points: BUILD uses a number of methods, including highly visual and active approaches to understanding biblical texts, with discussion central to BUILD. And teaching-to-learn is integral as trainers are exposed to training modules and, with the help of notes, pass on their learning through local BUILD groups. Stephen Kewaza, quoted above, adds that for the believer God and his word stands behind this process:

“I have grown steadily spiritually too: when you read the bible to teach others there is a way God speaks to you as a person. Through the time of preparation you end up also reflecting on God’s message and what he wants you to do. The Bible is a unique book which does not spare anyone. As you preach or teach others the Holy Spirit also teaches you.”

Stephen also points to the fact that the Scriptures arm the teacher with the attitudes needed for teaching-to-learn: “My experience indicates that I am the most needy student…, rather than those being taught.”

Finally, his experience bears out recent research that suggests that the learning from teaching-to-learn is deepened when retrieval is achieved without notes:

“When I first roughed [through] BUILD module one in 2005/6 there were many challenges to me as teacher. I was always reading the participant’s and facilitator’s notes word to word when teaching. But after ten years I can teach even without the books. One time my students asked me: “Sir, how did you learn all this with biblical references in your head?” I answered that if you start groups to teach you will also better understand the subject and topics.”

Over time it is important for trainers to be weaned off notes, and that in turn streamlines BUILD training further, making it yet more scalable and sustainable.

“I wish that every diocese had a representative here”

This month saw the launch of a new, central, training-of-trainers cohort in Uganda. The two-year, mixed-mode programme is based at Uganda Martyrs Seminary, Namugongo, in the form of a Diploma in Bible, Theology & Leadership (similar to the Kenya programme described last month). It was wonderful to witness students gathering from across Uganda and beyond, as the first residential block got underway.

Uganda was represented by these dioceses: Bunyoro-Kitara, Busoga, Masindi-Kitara, Mityana, Rwenzori, Soroti and West Buganda. But students also came from further afield: Matana Diocese in Burundi, Kamango in Congo, as well as from Athooch, Lainya and Yei in South Sudan. The five South Sudanese students from those dioceses are currently refugees in Rhino Camp, north western Uganda, and they have come with a vision to equip others in the settlement. It was not only encouraging to see new dioceses represented, but also to have a day visitor from Karamoja: Rev Samuel Ngorok. As the diocese’s Education Secretary Samuel is a well-equipped and well placed leader, who is developing plans for BUILD training in Karamoja.

The course was opened officially by the Church of Uganda’s new Provincial Education Director, Rev Paul Kakooza. Due to existing links with BUILD, Rev Kakooza has been quick to promote BUILD and is encouraging wider take up within the Church. This was reflected in his opening speech in which he stressed “the importance of having a training of this nature” and his desire for BUILD to spread within the Church. While he thanked the students who were there he shared his bigger vision: “I am also praying that every diocese has a representative, because we are targeting to train people to train others. I wish we could have trainers from each diocese trained to go and train others.” That longing is based on the conviction that, “if we do not do something as the Church of Uganda, we are finished. The Church is surrounded by numerous challenges, we need to be prepared to combat them, to ensure that the Church is steady and that the purpose of the Church is fulfilled. So I want to thank Canon Kewaza and I want to thank our partners for this programme, which is going to redeem the Church.”

Rev Kakooza went on to emphasise a number of significant areas that BUILD has a part to play in, including the urgent need for discipleship, the retooling of existing ministers, and the importance of the research component of the diploma. “We have challenges in discipleship,” he explained, “the Church has preached the gospel and people have been saved. But where are they? Where are they?” And on the refreshing of existing leaders he explained: “I am very happy to see clergy in this class. You clergy, you cannot be the same when you go back. You know we have pride, foolish pride as clergy, we think we know everything. But we don’t know, we always need to be refilled, nourished and encouraged. So I thank you for coming, to be humble, to sit at the feet of some people here to refill us, even spiritually.”

The Director of Education challenged the students over their research to focus on this question “What is important?” for the growth of the Church: “You know the meaning of research, but sometimes you have taken it for granted. Can we try to identify problems? Don’t do things others have already done; look for new areas where the Church will benefit. The new areas are there but people don’t want to venture into them.”

The backing of the Province of the Church of Uganda as a whole could not have been clearer at this important stage in the growth of the programme. Not only did the Provincial Director of Education open the event, but Rev Canon Capt William Ongeng, the Church of Uganda’s Provincial Secretary, closed the first residential block: his prayer, too, is for this programme, which has its home in the Church of Uganda, to serve its Church well but to continue to encourage the neighbouring provinces, just as it is already doing.

Gaining approval, maintaining integrity

BUILD’s training-of-trainers programme has been approved as a diploma in Bible, Theology & Leadership by a local Kenyan university. With that good news we consider how the course has maintained the integrity of the BUILD approach, while working as an innovative academic programme.

The approval has come from the Great Lakes University of Kisumu and its constituent theological school, Bishop Okullo College, but is being delivered through AICMAR (the African Institute of Contemporary Mission and Research). This provides a robust local base for a course that serves the western region of Kenya. The breakthrough is significant not only for BUILD but also for AICMAR, as it seeks to develop as an institution.

For many readers that will be more than enough information. Read no further. But if you are interested in how the course has been structured, read on. It has become clear that for BUILD to take root, its training-of-trainers must be characterised by at least three things. First, it must maintain the integrity and sequencing of the BUILD curriculum, so that trainers become familiar with it and experience its impact. Second, the course needs to be academically rigorous for the qualification to have value. Third, it has to include elements that deliberately equip students to equip others: while pitched at a diploma level, it functions more along the lines of a postgraduate teaching qualification. That feature means it can function as a bolt-on, so that individuals with prior theological study can build on and utilise it to train others in a systematic and contextually appropriate way (something that is often absent from traditional courses).

How does the diploma achieve this? The BUILD modules are taught over the course of four residential blocks, spread over a two-year period. Each of the ten modules creates the lion’s share of the face-to-face time for one of the residential weeks (which are grouped into three-week blocks). But rather than the programme being structured around the ten modules of the BUILD curriculum, it is made up of 24 short courses, 18 of which draw directly on the BUILD modules.

Rather than disaggregating the learning units of the BUILD curriculum, the course recognises that, from a theological perspective, the modules have three types of learning unit: biblical studies, practical theology and leadership development. The extensive biblical studies material in each modules, coupled with additional reading, learning and assessment, creates a single course. That creates a total of ten biblical studies courses. For example the first of these is Second Timothy and the Pastoral Epistles, drawing on the biblical focus of Module One, and the final course is on Revelation and Apocalyptic.

To create four practical theology courses, those elements of a module are grouped together with related material from neighbouring modules. The first builds on material in the first two modules, creating the course Scripture, Gospel and Theology (God, History and Eschatology being the final practical theology course). Where three modules are taught in a block, rather than just two, the theological elements of those modules are drawn together in a course worth more credit units. Similarly, the leadership development components in the BUILD curriculum are used to produce the four leadership courses, the first being Biblical Foundations of Leadership and the last Advocacy, Spirituality and Leadership.

Astute readers will have noticed that if each residential block is three-weeks in length, leading to twelve weeks’ of residential time, two of those weeks do not draw directly on any of the BUILD modules. The first and last blocks therefore each have an additional week for other requirements. This also means that the first and last blocks teach and draw on two rather than three BUILD modules (hence the different weighting of the practical theology and leadership development courses associated with those particular blocks).

This still leaves six courses unaccounted for, four of which are ‘applied papers.’ Central to these is the Leadership Development Fieldwork course, which embeds the incremental development of a local training project into the programme. Guidelines are taught during the training blocks in-between which the students grow their own leadership development initiative in four distinct stages (Research & Sensitisation; Planning & Preparation; Training & Coordination; Monitoring & Evaluation). Another applied paper is Preaching with Peer Review in which students’ preaching is developed and peer-assessed, which includes utilising the time set aside for devotions. Students also take a Church Placement Paper and their own Practical Theology Project. The final two courses are simply ‘support courses’: English & Study Skills and Computer Studies.

If you have read this far, congratulations. You will at the very least have realised that this is boring but important. But you might be among those who appreciate the creativity of the course, which it is hoped, quite apart from its impact through the BUILD network, will inspire innovation further afield.

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.


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?

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 …

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.