ECLEA News & Blog
Accounts of ECLEA's training conferences are set forth below, often with photos. Accounts of all-African conferences and TOTs are contained in the pages of the individual East African countries (click on the flags above to go to the pages of the countries). Older news accounts are located in the News Archive. News items are added regularly, so please stop back often.
Additionally, ECLEA's director, Jonathan Menn, maintains a blog related to ECLEA that includes entries pertaining to his book, Biblical Eschatology, sermons he has preached, the activities of ECLEA-trained East African pastor-teachers, and other matters.
Visit Jonathan's blog here.
ECLEA Director Jonathan Menn with Maasai leader Boniface Kugotha at a Biblical Stewardship TOT in Nairobi.
Jonathan Menn, ECLEA Director
REPORT OF TRIP TO UGANDA & TANZANIA, OCT. 22-NOV. 11, 2017
I have finished my fifth trip to East Africa for 2017. We began with a week in Uganda. Here’s what happened:
Bishop Stephen Sempala, ECLEA-Uganda's national coordinator, and I traveled to Masindi, headquarters of the Masindi-Kitara Diocese of the Church of Uganda (COU--Anglican). There we led ECLEA's course on The Church: Its Nature, Mission, and Purpose with 13 participants in attendance. That book focuses primarily on discipleship and mission. It includes multiple resources and practical suggestions for developing a systematic and comprehensive discipleship program.
As I told the participants, "If you do not have a formal discipleship program in your church, you are failing at your primary responsibility." Each of the church leaders did have some form of discipleship program, but it was clear from the note-taking and the discussion that they all saw many areas in which their discipleship programs were lacking and could be improved. It will take some time, some earnest discussion and research, and some effort to implement more systematic and comprehensive discipleship programs, but it will be worth it. Real discipleship will be transformative--not just for the individuals involved but for the churches and, through the churches, their communities. This is ECLEA's goal: "Deep foundations, healthy churches, and transformed lives."
Meetings with Bishops
The day after our training session ended, Stephen and I met with the Masindi-Kitara Bishop, Rev. George Kasangaki. The next day we were able to meet with the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, his grace Stanley Ntagali. He was very favorable about what ECLEA is doing and has given his blessing for us to partner with the COU throughout the Province of Uganda. Through the good offices of the archbishop, ECLEA in the future will be able to develop good working relationships with the COU throughout the entire nation. The day after that, we met with Bishop Alfred Olwa of the Lango Diocese, headquartered at Lira, UG. He also was enthusiastic about our working with his diocese. These developments are very heartening, and the potential impact of these meetings is tremendous!
Bishop Sempala, Archbishop Ntagali, JMM
After leaving Uganda, I traveled to Tanzania. Here's a brief report of events in Tanzania:
I led our course on The Church: Its Nature, Mission, and Purpose for about 18 participants. There is so much important, practical, and potentially transformative information in this course! Dickson Laizer, ECLEA-Tanzania's national coordinator, told me that the participants were discussing the course outside and during lunch. He told me that one said, "This course has so much more than we had in Bible School." Dickson felt that everyone was eager to learn and estimated that 75% would try to apply what we discussed.
Application is, of course, the key, particularly since the course has a real concentration on discipleship and mission. It includes lots of practical suggestions for both, including multiple discipleship resources and courses available online for free. However, applying a comprehensive and systematic discipleship program (and mission strategy) will take lots of research, conversation, thought, and effort, since both represent a sea-change in how most churches are currently operating. The potential impact in both areas, however, is tremendous!
Mirerani is a town about 20km from Kilimanjaro International Airport. It is pretty much dependent on the tanzanite mine located nearby. (Tanzanite is a gemstone found only in Tanzania.) Typically, the town looks to be flat, dry, and dusty; however, due to the rain, when we got there it was flat, wet, and muddy.
Dickson and I were joined by ECLEA-Tanzania national secretary Joram Ibrahim and led the course on The Church: Its Nature, Mission, and Purpose for approximately 18 mostly Pentecostal participants. Our host, Bishop Somy Severiua Kaaya, is a good, wise, and winsome man. He said that he had been both enlightened and challenged by the course. The four interlocking missions and purposes of the church we stress are worship, discipleship, mission, and unity (wholeness). Some of the participants felt so strongly attached to the biblical mode of baptism (immersion) that they seemed very reluctant to reach out to and work with churches of other denominations who baptize by sprinkling or pouring. I hope that as they reflect on matters they will adopt a less exclusivistic attitude. Please pray for them.
Unfortunately also, only about half of the participants were able to actually contribute the 10,000Tsh (about $4.50 USD) to get the books. As a result, I fear that for most of the participants there will be little application. I hope I'm wrong, as this course, if applied, can transform churches and lead to multiple church members growing in depth in many areas of life. Again, please pray for this.
The last week was spent in the coastal city of Tanga where we did Biblical Eschatology for 12-14 participants over the course of four full days.
Most of the participants were Pentecostals. Consequently, the only thing they had been taught was premillennial eschatology and the "pretribulational rapture." Neither of these views are, in my opinion, biblically defensible. Hence, most of what we discussed was both new and challenging (the Anglican participants had a more biblical view of eschatology).
We began by looking at the major issues and then considered what I think is key: the overall biblical eschatological structure of the "two ages" (this age and the age to come). The dividing line between the two is the second coming of Christ, which entails resurrection of all, judgment of all, and the renewal of the earth. With that foundation, most of eschatology actually falls into place and is coherent and understandable. We looked at the major millennial views, and spent a day looking at Christ's Olivet Discourse and a day on the book of Revelation, as well as responding to multiple questions along the way.
At the Tanga Biblical Eschatology class
When we had finished, our host (a good and godly man) said in substance, "This has been a very thought-provoking and worthwhile time. We need to revisit the subject of eschatology and the book of Revelation so that we can know why we believe what we believe and be able to teach with confidence to our people."
At the conclusion, Joram Ibrahim (ECLEA-Tanzania's national secretary) gave the participants a homework assignment: take any passage or issue and write a page or so on what he/she believes concerning that issue and why. Each participant is to sent a copy to Joram and to me for our feedback. I think that is a great idea, and I look forward to hearing from them.
Now I will be home until mid-January. I hope to see many of you during that time. Your support of ECLEA is making a real difference.
Thank you and God bless you, Jonathan
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ECLEA 2017 YEAR-END REPORT
2017 has been an eventful year for ECLEA. Here are some of the highlights:
Jonathan’s work in East Africa
As has been my practice for several years, I made 5 trips to East Africa and did training sessions in each of the countries of the East Africa Community (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). As I have been trying to do for the last few years, I am working more and more with smaller groups of leaders rather than doing larger conferences. Also, I am trying to not do as many of ECLEA’s foundational courses (since we have good African teachers in each of the countries who teach these well) but concentrate on training our pastor-teachers in more theological courses. This focus is reflected in my work this year:
* Burundi: I spent a week doing Christianity & Islam with 10 members of Rema Ministries (ECLEA’s partner in Burundi) and selected others.
* Kenya: I did Biblical Interpretation 4 times with 65 total participants, Biblical Theology once with
20 participants, and Biblical Stewardship once with 11 participants.
* Rwanda: I did Biblical Theology 2 times with 28 total participants, Expository Preaching 2 times
with 22 total participants, and Biblical Interpretation once with 12 participants.
* Tanzania: I did The Church 4 times with 60 total participants, Biblical Eschatology 2 times
with 27 total participants, Christianity & Islam once with 30 participants, and Expository Preaching once with 12 participants.
* Uganda: I did Biblical Interpretation once with 30 participants, Biblical Theology once with 28 participants, and The Church once with 13 participants.
Frank Cummings’ work in East Africa
Frank made 3 trips to East Africa. He concentrates on Biblical Counseling and Hermeneutics (he uses somewhat different material than I use for Biblical Interpretation). He taught the following courses to over 100 total participants:
* Kenya: Biblical Counseling 3 times.
* Uganda: Hermeneutics once and Biblical Counseling 2 times.
* Rwanda: Biblical Counseling once.
All-African ECLEA training conferences
ECLEA’s name reflects what we stand for: we equip church leaders of East Africa so they can equip others. As a result, the vast majority of ECLEA’s work is done by the East Africa church leaders themselves! This is reflected in the all-African ECLEA training sessions conducted in 2017. My records indicate our ECLEA teams have taught the following courses (and the number of times each course has been taught):
* Burundi: Rema Ministries (ECLEA’s teaching partner in Burundi) did Biblical Theology—2; Biblical Stewardship—2; Christianity & Islam—12; Biblical Interpretation—4; and 1 Timothy—2. Rema
has established 4 teaching centers around the country and typically teaches for 5 days in a row, giving
assignments and conducting follow-up.
* Kenya: Kenya has 14 regions for ECLEA training, each with a regional coordinator. This year the
ECLEA-Kenya teams have done 1 Timothy—23; Forgiveness & Reconciliation—19; Biblical
Stewardship—35; Marriage & Parenting—8; Biblical Theology—6; Expository Preaching—4;
Biblical Interpretation—12; Biblical Counseling—1.
* Rwanda: Rwanda has established 6 training centers around the country, each with its own coordinator. This year the ECLEA-Rwanda teams have taught Marriage & Parenting in 3 centers, Biblical Interpretation in 4 centers, Biblical Theology in 4 centers, Biblical Counseling in 4 centers, Forgiveness & Reconciliation in 5 centers, The Church in 3 centers, and Expository Preaching in 6 centers.
* Tanzania: Tanzania is divided into 4 zones which are subdivided into regions and districts, with
ECLEA leaders over each. This year ECLEA-Tanzania teachers have done the following training
sessions: 1 Timothy—19; Biblical Stewardship—23; Expository Preaching—12; Biblical Theology—7; Biblical Interpretation—1; Forgiveness & Reconciliation—1; Marriage & Parenting—3.
* Uganda: Uganda is divided into 3 ECLEA teaching regions: West (primarily the Masindi-Kitara
Diocese of the Church of Uganda); Central (consisting of 12 centers); and the East (Soroti area).
ECLEA-Uganda teachers have taught the following: 1 Timothy—36; Biblical Stewardship—2; Biblical Interpretation—2; Marriage & Parenting—7; Forgiveness & Reconciliation—4; Biblical Theology—3; and The Church—3.
The impact ECLEA is having
Here are some reports I have received this year from East Africans concerning the effect ECLEA is having:
* Michael Mwalumba (Kenya): “ECLEA is making tangible and remarkable impact. Truly speaking ECLEA is completely different as compared to other organizations in terms of vision, structure, operation, and implementation; hence the fruits are vividly evident in many parts of Kenya and the rest of East Africa. For the years I have been involved, I am confident in training the courses since this has become part of me that I practice what I train and I have seen results in my personal life and in the ministry as well. We are proud to be part of what God is doing in East Africa through ECLEA.”
* Theodore Mbazumutima (Burundi): “We have been teaching the same course The Church: Its Nature, Mission, and Purpose in Cankuzo and I must say that the churches are being transformed beyond what can be described in an email like this. The course on Forgiveness is turning things upside down. I heard stories and stories on how people have been applying this course in their churches, families, and community. I cried because of joy and I could not believe my ears! Let me say it this way: you have no idea how God has used you in developing these courses. Yes you have no idea how important and practical the courses are. I am humbled by what God is doing.”
* Stephano Edward (Tanzania): “I thank you for the materials for translation which you promised to send to me. As I have said before, it has triple benefit to me. I take it as ministry opportunity for me, I am edified by the materials because in the process of doing I get deeper understanding of the subject and also this gives me general support as an individual and the family in my living.”
* Samuel Tumushime (Rwanda): “I am reporting to you that I have been blessed by translating the book and I have learnt much more about Christianity and Islam and salvation than ever before in all my theological training.”
* Alex Obaale (Uganda): “I had a team of 15 pastors and Christian leaders who attended our 1 Timothy conference in Mbale. The discussions were encouraging as a cross section of the pastors said with lament in their hearts that they wished they had first done or trained by ECLEA before they got into ministry, especially going through 1 Timothy. This is because 1 Timothy is foundational in the life of a Christian leader.”
Other ECLEA happenings
In addition to the all-African training conferences and the conferences led by Frank and me, more is going on to help equip the church leaders of East Africa, including the following:
* Each country now is led by excellent people and has organizations of pastor-teachers who all share the same vision and are committed to what ECLEA is doing. ECLEA’s vision and goal is summarized as “Deep Foundation - Healthy Churches - Transformed Lives.”
* Our goal is to have indigenous, independent, self-sustaining ECLEA organizations in each of the East African countries. To this end, the ECLEA organizations in the countries of East Africa are in the process of developing constitutions and registering with their respective governments as independent organizations (in Burundi our partner, Rema Ministries, is already established). This will facilitate a more effective presence and continuity, especially after the Westerners have left the scene.
* The development of new teaching books and the translation of our books into the major East African languages is continuing. This year our new course book The Church: Its nature, Mission, and Purpose was premiered, our book Biblical Eschatology was substantially revised, Biblical Interpretation was translated into Kiswahili, and Biblical Theology was translated into Kinyarwanda. The Kiswahili translation of Forgiveness & Reconciliation and the Alur translation of Biblical Stewardship are in their final stages.
* We now have a major opportunity to work with the Church of Uganda (Anglican) throughout the nation of Uganda. Stephen Sempala, ECLEA-Uganda’s national coordinator and I met with Archbishop Stanley Ntagali who has given ECLEA his blessing to work with all of the dioceses of the COU in Uganda!
I am very grateful for the East Africans who are doing an excellent job of equipping the church leaders in this vital and strategic part of the world. I am also thankful for those of you who pray for this ministry and support ECLEA financially. God has certainly answered our prayers, and your financial support is paying great dividends. Very few others are doing what we are doing and not on the scale we are doing it.
Here’s what you can do to make a difference
* Giving opportunities: Automatic fund transfers can be arranged through your bank, checks (payable to ECLEA) can be sent to the ECLEA office at 3701 N. Gillett St., Appleton, WI 54914, or tax-deductible giving can be done through the website (http://www.eclea.net/contact.html).
* To contact ECLEA's bookkeeper: If you wish to contact Benda Haase, ECLEA’s secretary and
bookkeeper, her office number is 920-731-5523 and her email address is email@example.com.
* We value your input and suggestions. If you no longer wish to receive these updates, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from the mailing list.
To give you some visual picture of the people we work closely with, below are photos of the national coordinators for each of the East African countries.
Frederic Harerimana, BU Ernest Mwilitsa, KE Francis Ngoboka, RW Dickson Laizer, TZ Stephen Sempala, UG
Thank you, and God bless you, Jonathan Menn (ECLEA Director)
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Jonathan Menn, ECLEA Director
REPORT ON TRIP TO BURUNDI, RWANDA, AND UGANDA: JAN-FEB 2018
I have finished leading our Expository Preaching course for the Rema Ministries staff here in Bujumbura. We had seven full-time participants and a few others who were able to attend some of the time. Three days were spent discussing how to put together and deliver a good sermon, then a day was spent preaching and critiquing.
I am happy to say that the participants seem to have learned something. I was concerned that things weren't coming together, so I decided to preach at the beginning of the third day so that they could see and hear how the model I was teaching works and how the elements I was emphasizing (introduction [raising an important issue of life], proposition [the one main point], organizational sentence [a brief roadmap to let the audience know how the proposition will be unfolded], and application [the practical implications of the proposition for our lives]) all fit together.
That seemed to help. Of the Burundian preachers, Obed Niyokwizera really hit the major elements quite well. That was particularly encouraging to me since he was not as fluent in English, so he preached in Kirundi with an English translator. The fact that he "got it" allayed my concerns that I was not getting through (since most of what I had talked about was new to the preachers). As I told them, expository preaching is "100% about the Scripture and 100% about life," since the Bible is intimately related to our "real lives," our problems, issues, questions, and concerns. The Bible is God's primary "change agent" for helping us to get our lives in proper alignment--and good preaching can facilitate that greatly.
Obed Niyokwizera preaching at Rema Ministries
Tomorrow I will preach at a church in the morning and then will be flying to Rwanda where I will be next week before heading on to Uganda. I will try to send you another report while I am here in East Africa. God bless you, Jonathan
I have completed an interesting and, I think, fruitful week in Rwanda and have just arrived in Uganda. Let me give you some highlights.
At the Church of God center in Kigali, I did "The Church: Its Nature, Mission, and Purpose." This is proving to be a very powerful course. There were 12 attendees--at least the first day. The second day (this is a 2-day course), half of them didn't show up. This is the first time in my experience in East Africa where something like this has happened.
I asked our host, Samuel Tumushime, to check. He later reported back that most were for financial reasons (no money for transport), although one refused to return because he thought the way he had always done things was being undermined (more on that in the next section). We completed the course with the remaining participants. As it happened, those who did return were those most involved with ECLEA, so in addition to completing the course we were able to discuss how to better run things so as to improve. So praise God for that opportunity.
We then did the book of Revelation for about 20 enthusiastic participants in Kanombe. Wow! Questions were plentiful and wide-ranging. Discussion was animated and intense. Pastor Tumushime was also present for this course and commented (apropos of the course on "The Church" as well) that "Jonathan is both destroying and building." In other words, the previous way of doing things, of understanding and teaching, was built on a false foundation, but instead of just knocking that down, a new firm foundation and understanding are being established.
Virtually everyone at the course echoed Tumushime's comments. Two participants said that they could hardly sleep during the night, they were thinking so much of everything we had talked about! Praise God for their receptivity. And please hold all of these dear people up in your prayers, since many of the things they are learning in many of the courses are significantly different from what they have always been told. But as I tell them, "Don't just believe this because I say it, but check it out in the Bible yourself" (as Paul commended the Bereans in the book of Acts). That is why our teaching books are loaded with Scripture throughout.
Revelation class at Kanombe
I concluded my trip to Rwanda by taking one day to give a "refresher" on Expository Preaching at the "Hilltop" center. Francis Ngoboka had previously taught the course there, but he wanted me to give a refresher (there were also some new people among the 11 participants). I think this was time well spent. Hopefully, when I return, the members of that center and I can all actually preach and be critiqued.
The trip ended with a summit meeting in Mukono, Uganda of ECLEA leaders from all five countries of the East Africa Community. Along with the 12 East African leaders, Frank Cummings and Paul and Rosemary Nelsen from the US also were present.
ECLEA summit participants
Let me give you the highlights of this important meeting. Our goal is to have independent, indigenous, self-sustaining ECLEA organizations in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda (Burundi is a slightly different model, where we are partnering with a well-established organization, Rema Ministries, who is our representative in that country). At our last summit meeting (Nairobi, Nov. 2016) we agreed that the ECLEA groups would formally organize and get registered with their respective governments as indigenous organizations. I am happy to say that ECLEA-Kenya has achieved registration status, and registration is in process in the other countries!
This is important for continuity and for effectiveness. East Africans are taking "ownership" of ECLEA and church leaders throughout East Africa will come to see ECLEA as "one of their own." In this regard, we discussed how the ECLEA-East Africa organizations should get good Christian men and women of business--who are good at organizational and fundraising skills and who have good contacts in their countries--on their boards.
Frank Cummings led a lengthy discussion on moving more and more toward self-sustainability. One thing that is important to us is to not foster the "culture of dependency." Registration and getting people of means and business acumen on the boards should facilitate the East African ECLEA organizations' ability to fund raise and become self-sustaining. All the East African representatives said that, should something untoward happen to me, "ECLEA will continue!"
Paul and Rosemary Nelsen have been involved with an orphanage in Kenya for many years and were instrumental in helping develop our ECLEA vision statement of "Deep Foundations--Healthy Churches--Transformed Lives." They have both committed to become more involved as part of ECLEA. Rosemary is an excellent Bible teacher who has put together a very good, interactive, overview of the Old Testament course. She previewed the course at the summit to rave reviews.
Rosemary Nelsen teaching at the summit
All in all, ECLEA has come a long way. This is an important time for us as the East African ECLEA organizations get "up and running." I am excited about how things may look by the time of our next summit meeting on Nov. 7, 2019 in Nairobi.
To those of you who have prayed for and financially support this ministry, let me say, "Thank you." Your efforts are making a big and lasting difference in a profoundly important and strategic part of the world. If you have not yet become a prayer and financial supporter of ECLEA, I urge you to do so. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made in various ways through the website (www.eclea.net). God bless you, Jonathan
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