ECLEA’s mission is to glorify God by training and equipping East African church leaders with sound and relevant biblical doctrine in order to transform lives, the churches, and communities. This section details our mission, vision, ministry, strategic goals, and more.
Why East Africa?
East Africa is the most strategic area in Africa, and perhaps the most strategic area in the world, for assisting the church through equipping its leaders. There are several reasons for this:
- Africa is becoming the most “Christianized” continent in the world. A century ago, approximately 90% of all world Christians were in the West. Now, approximately 70-75% of world Christians are from the non-Western nations. The church is growing faster in Africa than in any other continent in the world. ECLEA focuses its efforts in the area of the world where God clearly is at work.
- The church is the most important institution in Africa, particularly in the villages. It is the place for meeting people's spiritual and practical needs. Church leaders typically have the respect of local government officials, and churches can act as resources for community development. Despite the church's importance and rapid growth, it has been estimated that up to 90-95% of all African church leaders have no (or very little) formal theological training. Most African church leaders have very few theological resources, and most of the resources that do exist are not in the indigenous African languages. ECLEA recognizes that, since the strength and health of the church depends upon the strength and health of its leadership, we must do what we can to provide the training and resources that the African church leaders do not have and will not otherwise receive.
- Although the world church is now primarily non-Western, the leadership of the world church is still largely in Western hands. That, however, is changing and will continue to change. Leadership will follow the demographics. ECLEA recognizes that the leaders of the African churches need to be trained and equipped in order to insure that the next generation of world Christian leadership will be in sound hands.
- Africa is the prime meeting point between Christianity and Islam. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. Islam controls northern Africa and the coastal areas of Africa. It has a well-financed plan to Islamize the rest of Africa. Muslims are spending millions of dollars to build mosques and schools everywhere in Africa. The only institution in the world that can stand against the rise of Islam is the church. Governments cannot and will not do that—they will follow the demographics. There is no other institution in the world that has the size, history, and influence of the church. ECLEA recognizes that for extremely important geopolitical-social-religious reasons, the leaders of the churches of East Africa need to be equipped now.
- East Africa is probably the most democratic, stable, prosperous, and pro-Western region of Africa. In many respects, it influences the rest of Africa. The East African Community is becoming increasingly integrated politically and economically. Christianity also is well-established in East Africa, having been brought to East Africa approximately 150 years ago. One might say, “As East Africa goes, so goes the rest of the continent.” In other words, if the church falls to Islam in East Africa, it will fall everywhere else. On the other hand, if the church leaders are well-equipped in East Africa, they can not only revitalize their people and nations, but they can also go out to train and equip the church leaders of the other countries of Africa. We have a golden opportunity to have a long-term impact in the most strategic region of Africa and possibly of the world. Now is the time and this is the place. ECLEA will do what it can to be faithful to God’s call to train and equip the leaders of his church at this important time and in this strategic place.
"DEEP FOUNDATIONS • HEALTHY CHURCHES • TRANSFORMED LIVES"
DEEP FOUNDATIONS • The Bible compares the church to a building or temple (Eph 2:20-22; 1 Cor 3:16; 1 Pet 2:5). Any building is only as good and strong as its foundation. Christ and his Word are our foundation (1 Cor 3:10-11; 1 Pet 2:6 [Isa 28:16]). We are called to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). As we do that—i.e., as our foundations are deepened—we attain to the unity of the faith, we become stable and mature, and we become more and more like Christ himself (Eph 4:13-15; see also Heb 5:12-14).
HEALTHY CHURCHES • Christ has called his church to mission—to “make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observes all that I commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20) and to “go and bear fruit” that will remain (John 15:15; see also John 15:8; 20:21). Jesus said that only “good” or healthy trees produce good fruit (Matt 7:16-20; 12:33; Luke 6:43-44; John 15:4-6). The health, strength, faithfulness, and fruitfulness of the church are directly related to the depth of its foundation in Christ and his Word (Matt 7:24-27; Luke 6:48-49; 1 Cor 3:10-15).
TRANSFORMED LIVES • Deep foundations and healthy churches will result and be reflected in transformed lives. We are called to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). Indeed, the whole point of our lives is that we would be “conformed to the image” of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). When we abide in and know the truth of God’s Word and demonstrate the fruitfulness that Christ and his Word brings, we will experience—and can convey to others—the freedom and abundant life that Christ promises (John 8:31-32; 10:10).
- Be the key organization in developing church leaders in East Africa.
- Be the leading organization providing sound and relevant biblical materials in East Africa.
- Become the key organization that will enhance growth in and cooperation among all denominations in East Africa.
- Equip the church leaders of East Africa to effectively preach and teach sound and relevant biblical doctrine and disciple their church members so as to transform this and future generations to attain the unity of the faith, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the maturity of the fullness of Christ.
What ECLEA does:
- ECLEA works with churches of all denominations. We are essentially mainstream evangelical in our tradition and theology. Nevertheless, we do not try to “push” our own tradition or theological distinctives since we work with Anglicans, Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Mennonites, African Independent Churches, and others. Our goal is to “major on the majors,” i.e., the primary matters in which Christians of all traditions should agree. The practical and societal issues that all the churches in East Africa face are the same. We want to foster greater cooperation among the different churches and denominations, for the betterment of the church as a whole and of society.
- Training and equipping: our strategy. Although ECLEA is small, our goal is to have a large and lasting impact throughout East Africa. In our view, equipping the church leaders in East Africa should not ultimately depend upon any “mzungu” (i.e., white person; Westerner) or upon Western money. Rather, the best way to train the church leaders of East Africa is to have well-trained East Africans do it since they know the language, they know the culture, and they can relate the truths of Scripture in ways that resonate with their people deeper than we could hope to do.
The State of World Missions Today
There are two main emphases in world missions today:
- “Humanitarian” missions, i.e., taking care of orphans, health needs, clean water, rescuing prisoners, infrastructure, development, and self-sustainability, and
- “Theological” missions, i.e., evangelism, church planting, Bible translation, discipleship, and theological education.
“Humanitarian” are widespread and are being done by many church and parachurch organizations, non-church related humanitarian organizations, NGOs, governmental agencies, and the UN.
“Theological” missions are also fairly widespread but, at least among Western missions, the concentration appears to be on evangelistic efforts, church planting, and Bible translation. Discipleship and theological education, to the extent that they are done, are often denominationally-based and do not focus on church leaders.
Why ECLEA is Different and Needed
The “humanitarian” side of missions, vital as it is, is largely being taken care of by many other individuals and organizations. The “theological” side, however, is not.
- There is no need to send Western evangelists and church planters to Africa. That was necessary 100 years ago, but is not necessary now: the church in Africa is growing indigenously faster than anywhere else in the world.
- Western efforts to disciple and train individual Christians is not a cost-effective strategy.
- The greatest “theological” need among the churches in Africa is well-trained and equipped leaders. They are the ones who can then train and equip their church members more effectively than Westerners ever could do. One important effect of this is that, once the leaders, and through them the people, are well-trained and equipped theologically, positive change occurs on the “humanitarian” side as people see the implications of their faith and begin living it out.
ECLEA respects the church as the most important institution or organization in the world and also recognizes that the strength and health of any organization, including the church, is only as good as its leadership. That is why our focus is on church leaders. Every leader we train and equip then will be able to train and equip scores if not hundreds of others—both church members and other leaders. This leverage or “multiplier effect” will have the greatest impact, both in the short term and in the long term. That is the strategy that Christ used, by concentrating on His disciples rather than by concentrating on “preaching to the masses.”
Few other organizations are concentrating on training and equipping church leaders. Yet that is the number one need in world missions today. ECLEA exists to meet that need in the most strategic area of Africa.
- Recruit and train East African church leaders
- Reach unreached areas of East Africa
- Translate ECLEA materials into local languages
- Train and equip national leaders
- Promote ministry sustainability by, and for, East Africans
- Promote ministry self-evaluation
- Promote follow-up with church leaders who attend ECLEA trainings
- Establish and strengthen partnerships with mainstream churches in East Africa
- Encourage East Africans to develop relevant training materials
- Ensure quality of printed materials
- Foster spiritual unity of purpose
The following are key elements of our strategy to achieve our vision and goals:
- The most effective way to achieve the goal is to develop indigenous committees or structures of well-trained and equipped church leaders in each of the countries in which we work and to enable them to train and equip other church leaders. We desire that such committees be interdenominational and include members of different tribes and of both genders. The leaders we work with know the needs, know the most strategic places to go, and know which courses should be taught where. The leaders we work with are also able to follow-up with those who have been taught and identify others who have the capability to become part of the team of trainers. Such committees or structures, in varying degrees size and experience, are already in place in each of the countries of East Africa.
- ECLEA provides teaching in two main settings: church leader conferences, which typically include anywhere from 30-100 participants; and TOTs (“training of trainers”), which typically include 12-24 participants and are designed to stimulate more discussion, Q&A, and the in-depth consideration of issues. When we conduct a church leader conference, we try to identify some of the participants who appear to have the ability and passion to teach other church leaders our material. We then follow-up with them in the TOT format. The church leaders who have been trained and demonstrate the ability and desire to teach then teach with us. Typically, anywhere from 1-4 African pastor-teachers teach alongside the Western ECLEA teachers at church leader conferences. Since the Western ECLEA teachers are only fluent in English, in most church leader conferences translators are used. TOTs require that all participants be fluent in the same language (which is English if a Westerner is leading the TOT). Jonathan Menn leads both church leader conferences and TOTs in all subjects except biblical counseling. Dr. Frank Cummings focuses on biblical counseling (which is most effectively taught in a “hands-on” workshop format).
- ECLEA also prepares excellent written theological materials for the East African church leaders. The reason is that most African church leaders lack good written theological resources. Our materials are designed to go to the heart of our Christian faith and deal with the most important aspects of the church leaders' jobs. As part of this aspect of our mission, we are in the process of getting our written materials translated into the major East African languages. The reason for that is that the vast majority of theological resources in East Africa are in English (with some in French, particularly in Burundi and Rwanda). However, almost no solid theological resources exist in the primary East African languages. Our written materials are available on the ECLEA Courses & Resources page of this website.
- Because the ultimate responsibility to equip the East African church leaders rests with the East Africans themselves, ECLEA helps to facilitate all-African church leader conferences and TOTs. These have been conducted in all of the countries of East Africa and typically are conducted in the local languages. It is our desire to see the number of all-African church leader conferences and TOTs increase. This is necessary because currently Jonathan Menn makes 5 trips to East Africa each year, with each trip lasting approximately three weeks in country. Dr. Frank Cummings makes 3-4 trips to East Africa each year. That means that we can only be in a relatively small number of places and teach relatively few people ourselves. Enabling Africans to teach their fellow Africans exponentially increases the scope and impact of our work.
Jonathan Menn did a presentation about ECLEA on May 17, 2015 at Fox River Baptist Church, Appleton, WI. The presentation dealt with why we exist, why we focus on East Africa, our strategy and how we carry it out, and how you can get involved. The presentation is about 58 minutes in length.
You may listen to the presentation by clicking on the "audio" button. An MP3 of the presentation may be downloaded by clicking on the "audio" button, then right-clicking on the audio payer that appears and clicking on "Save Audio As." A written PDF of the presentation, including the photos used during the presentation, may be downloaded and read by clicking on the "PDF" button: AUDIO | PDF
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ECLEA Affirmation of Faith
The Word of God
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
We believe that there is one living and true God, eternally existing in three persons, that these are equal in every divine perfection, and that they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, providence and redemption.
God the Father
We believe in God the Father, an infinite personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, and love. We believe that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings. We believe in His substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to earth.
The Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit who came forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify, and empower all who believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ, and that He is an abiding helper, teacher and guide.
We believe that all men are sinners by nature and by choice and are, therefore, under condemnation. We believe that those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the universal church, a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head and all regenerated persons are members. We believe in the local church, consisting of a company of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible confession of faith and associated for worship, work and fellowship. We believe that God has laid upon the members of the local church the primary task of giving the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world.
We believe that a Christian should live for the glory of God and the well-being of his fellow men; that his conduct should be blameless before the world; that he should be a faithful steward of his possessions; and that he should seek to realize for himself and others the full stature of maturity in Christ.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water into the name of the triune God. We believe that the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ for commemoration of His death. We believe that these two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe that every human being has direct relations with God and is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith; that each church is independent and must be free from interference by any ecclesiastical or political authority; that therefore Church and State must be kept separate as having different functions, each fulfilling its duties free from dictation or patronage of the other.
We believe that local churches can best promote the cause of Jesus Christ by cooperating with one another in a denominational organization. Such an organization, whether it is the Conference or a district conference, exists and functions by the will of the churches. Cooperation in a conference is voluntary and may be terminated at any time. Churches may likewise cooperate with interdenominational fellowships on a voluntary independent basis.
The Last Things
We believe in the personal and visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and the establishment of His kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the eternal felicity of the righteous, and the endless suffering of the wicked.
— Adopted by the Converge Worldwide 1951 and reaffirmed in 1990
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ECLEA is a ministry of Community Church of Appleton which is registered as a church based in the State of Wisconsin and is a 501(C)3 organization pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code. As such, donations to the ECLEA ministry of Community Church of Appleton are tax deductible. Donations may be made payable either directly to the name of ECLEA or to Community Church.
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ECLEA Missionary Team
Jonathan Menn, JD, MDiv
714 S Summit St
Appleton, WI 54914
Visit Jonathan's Blog here
Click the book cover to learn more
Jonathan is a dynamic, passionate teacher and prolific author of pastoral training materials. He was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin. After receiving his law degree from Cornell Law School, Jonathan was a successful trial attorney for nearly three decades. After finding the Lord, Jonathan led Bible studies, founded a Christian school, and taught adult education at a local church. Nonetheless, Jonathan’s thirst for serving the Lord was not quenched. An increasing love for theology and ministry resulted in Jonathan's earning a Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL).
Through his studies at Trinity, Jonathan’s eyes were opened to the needs of the non-Western church. His teaching gift and passion for assisting the Church were brought together in ministering to pastors in East Africa. Jonathan’s calling was confirmed during trips to Africa with Equipping Pastors International (EPI) in 2005. Today, Jonathan serves as the Director of Equipping Church Leaders – East Africa, a ministry of Community Church – Appleton.
Jonathan's book, Biblical Eschatology, 2nd ed. (ISBN: 9781532643170) has been published by Wipf & Stock Publishers. Print and Kindle editions may be ordered from multiple online booksellers or directly from the publisher (at a 20% discount on the hard copy) by phone (541-344-1528) or email (email@example.com). One reviewer called it "the single best volume on eschatology ever written" and added "I truly believe that it will become the standard teaching text on the subject." It features forewords by Dr. Robert Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary, and His Grace, The Most Reverend, Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda, and includes a back cover endorsement by Dr. Steven C. Roy, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Since 1979 Jonathan has been married to his wife Nancy, a dyslexia tester and gifted teacher of reading and math to dyslexic children and adults, who founded Dyslexia Reading Connection, the largest organization in northeastern Wisconsin specifically designed to tutor dyslexic students in reading and math. Jonathan and Nancy have six children: Jessica, John, David, Rebekah, Paul, and Julia.
Frank Cummings, Ph.D.
1427-C Province Terrace
Menasha WI 54952
Dr. Cummings is a well-respected psychologist in northeast Wisconsin who serves as a biblical counseling missionary for Equipping Church Leaders – East Africa. Dr. Cummings is known for his compassionate and personable therapy, assessment, and consultation style. He has an unsurpassed reputation as an honest, cost-effective mental health service provider.
He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. For over twenty years he has owned and operated an outpatient mental health clinic in the Fox Cities area. He is on the medical staff at Theda Clark and Appleton Medical Centers, and listed in the National Register of Health Service Providers. Dr. Cummings is featured exclusively on Fox11 television.
Dr. Cummings has co-authored a biblical counseling manual with Jonathan Menn, ECLEA’s Director. Dr. Cummings is excited, and humbled, to lead biblical counseling workshops in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.
Dr. Paul D. Nelsen
Mrs. Rosemary P. Nelsen
741 Sunrise Dr.
Ripon, WI 54971
Paul D. Nelsen, M.D.
Dr. Nelsen received his B.A. from Grinnell College in Iowa in 1971 and then his M.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 1975. He practiced as a family doctor for 40 years in Wisconsin, 37 of them in Ripon. He became a believer in 1990 and then active in his church as a teacher, church chairman, elder, and other capacities. He has a thirst for the Word and now has been asked to preach occasionally.
Dr. Nelsen has worked with Jonathan Menn in several capacities. He has helped him form a mission/vision statement for Equipping Church Leaders East Africa (ECLEA). He has helped network ECLEA with other international ministries and attended two of ECLEA’s summit meetings, while traveling with Jonathan to Uganda and Kenya. In April, 2019 both Dr. Nelsen and his wife, Rosemary, traveled to Kenya exclusively. Dr. Nelsen helped teach a portion of one of Jonathan’s courses. Dr. Nelsen is also president of the American side of New Life Community Center, which has an orphanage in western Kenya. The Nelsens adopted two teenage boys from Kenya in 2011. Dr. Nelsen has gone or lead medical or general mission teams to NLCC six times. He plans to continue to lead teams there.
Rosemary P. Nelsen
Rosemary Nelsen, who became a believer in 1974, has been a Bible Teacher for more than 40 years. She earned a degree in elementary education in 1972 from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and in 1977 took 14 graduate credits in Bible from what was then Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions in South Carolina. She taught public school for five years in the 1970’s and then was a newspaper reporter for the Oshkosh Northwestern for 18 years.
Rosemary has a never ending thirst for the Word and over a 20 year period has written Bible overview courses. She wrote them so they are easy to understand for Christians. She taught these courses, revising them often, until now they are on the ECLEA website in both English and Swahili. It was always Rosemary’s intent that people understand the Word and be able to teach it themselves. She has held many offices in her church from Christian Education Chairman, to Women’s Ministry Chairman to Prayer Chairman. She too traveled with Jonathan to Kenya and Uganda, where she presented her Bible Literacy courses to church leaders.
Robert and Sondra Adams
2566 Norwood Creek Way
Powhatan, VA, 23139
Robert and Sondra met while at University through their involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru). Robert received his BS in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University and Sondra received her BA in Education and Religion from Meredith College. They married and joined the staff of Cru and served in Lesotho for 5 years. They were drawn to minster in Africa in response to the great need for training and discipleship. While in Lesotho they worked as vocational missionaries, participated in teaching and encouraging the local churches, and organized training and evangelistic events.
Robert is an Elder in the PCA. Both have been involved in teaching and mission work through the local church and have participated in various international mission efforts. They were involved in planting Evergreen Community Church in Powhatan, Virginia where they are currently members.
Robert and Sondra see the huge impact that providing quality biblical teaching in ECLEA conferences has toward the building up of the church in Africa. They see the crucial importance of strong Christian marriages and families, and Sondra has a real heart for ministering to the women.
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Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing democratic regions in the world but remains one of the world’s greatest development challenges. Three out of four Africans live on less than $2 a day. Nearly half of all child deaths occur on the continent. Yet, the people have a hunger for God and a thirst for righteousness. ECLEA focuses it mission on the strategic and vital East African Community, providing trainings for church leaders in the following countries:
||Burundi: Officially the Republic of Burundi, a landlocked country in East Africa of stunning, picturesque landscapes, but devastating poverty. Click the flag at left to learn more.
||Kenya: Known for its wildlife preserves and national parks, the Republic of Kenya has a diverse tribal culture, diverse climate, and the largest economy of East Africa. Click the flag at left to learn more.
||Rwanda: This nation remarkably emerged from the genocide of 1994, when a million people were slaughtered in less than three months, to become a peaceful and stable nation today. Click the flag at left to learn more.
||South Sudan: This nation became an independent state on 9 July 2011. The newest country in the world has political independence, but continues to struggle for financial, spiritual, and political security. Click the flag at left to learn more.
||Tanzania: The name "Tanzania" is a combination of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. It is the largest country of East Africa, having a geographic area greater than Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi combined. Click the flag at left learn more.
||Uganda: This nation takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country. Winston Churchill called Uganda "the pearl of Africa." Click the flag at left to learn more.
For more on why ECLEA focuses on East Africa, see the section above on this page entitled "Why East Africa?"
Future ECLEA Ministry Opportunities
Democratic Republic of the Congo: One of the largest countries in Africa (both size and population), the war-torn DRC countryside has lush rain forests. Tourists often come here to see gorillas in their native habitat.
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Donate now to help ECLEA thrive!
Please visit the Contact & Donations page to support our work with a secure online donation or to mail us a check.
Your tax deductible gift helps equip, train, and empower church leaders in East Africa to promote biblical values and transform lives through the power of the Gospel. Plus, giving online means your gift can be put to work even faster to reach church leaders with practical workshops and encouragement.
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