Equipping Church Leaders • East Africa                   |||             "DEEP FOUNDATIONS • HEALTHY CHURCHES • TRANSFORMED LIVES"

Deepening the foundations of biblical knowledge for East African church leaders

Burundi Kenya Rwanda South Sudan Tanzania Uganda
Burundi Kenya Rwanda S Sudan Tanzania   

to create healthy churches and transformed lives.

To learn more about each of the countries of East Africa and ECLEA's work in those countries, please click on the flags of the countries above.

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

ECLEA Director Jonathan Menn with Maasai leader Boniface Kugotha at a Biblical Stewardship TOT in Nairobi.

Jonathan Menn-ECLEA Director
Jonathan Menn

I just returned from Burundi. Although I always try to send a report from the field, on this trip there was no wi-fi or internet access the entire time I was there. The trip itself was interesting and worthwhile.

It got off to a peculiar start. The flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam was cancelled because of an oil leak. They couldn't find a replacement plane, so I had to spend the night in Minneapolis. The rebooked flight got me to Nairobi after the plane from Nairobi to Bujumbura, Burundi had left. There was no other flight that day, so I didn't end up getting to Burundi until Tuesday afternoon. Hence, we had to begin two days late. But we retooled matters, and all worked out well. I taught The Church: Its Nature, Mission, and Purpose in one venue and the book of Jonah in three venues. They all went well, and the participants were particularly impressed at the depth of the book of Jonah and how it deals with some of the most fundamental issues of life, including: the nature and character of God; our relationship with the world and things; our relationship with people who are different from us; and our relationship with God.

I also spoke at four graduation ceremonies. The government of Burundi now requires that anyone who wants to preach or be a pastor has to have evidence of a theological education. I am happy to say that our ECLEA courses meet the government's requirements. The 31 graduates in Rutana, 42 in Muzye, 38 in Mishiha, and 47 in Cankuzo received diplomas after having studied 15 ECLEA books over a period of 3 1/2 years. Many were accompanied by their spouses when they came up to receive their diplomas. In fact, the President of the Burundi national Senate attended and spoke at the graduation ceremony in Cankuzo. So what we are doing is important and will make a difference that will last.

   Graduates in Rutana (Francois is on right)        Our team: Patrice Nduwimana, Ferdinand                         Graduates in Muzye
                                                                         Haberimana (legal rep.), Francois Nitunga

At each of the graduation ceremonies, a number of the graduates gave testimonies of the impact of the ECLEA courses. One graduate said that she had always been afraid to speak to Muslims; however, as a result of what she learned in our Christianity & Islam course, not only does she no longer feel intimidated, but actually has led one Muslim to Christ! Another said that, as a result of our Biblical Stewardship course, he is now planting various vegetables and is supplementing his income from sales of the produce. Another graduate said she used the techniques outlined in our book on Forgiveness & Reconciliation to reconcile two people who had hated each other for six years; they are now "like sisters." Another said that, until he took our Biblical Theology course, he had never seen how Christ is present in typological form throughout the Old Testament. Several of the graduates testified how Rosemary Nelsen's Biblical Literacy course has made a big difference in their understanding of the Bible, and they recited the different biblical books in their proper categories (e.g., historical books, books of poetry, major prophets, minor prophets, etc.).

       In Mishiha I was given a chicken!                  Burundi Senate President & wife                   Beautiful Burundian dresses

In short, this was very inspiring to me and renewed my enthusiasm and drive to prepare more and more ECLEA books. (Spoiler alert: I have completed a book on apologetics entitled Is Christianity True? which has been accepted for publication here in the US; I will be posting the ECLEA version on the website after I do the video lectures that will accompany it.)

                                                         Teaching group in Muzye                                               Kids in Cankuzo

One other thing: as you may know, Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. That poverty currently is compounded by the fact that they are facing a huge fuel shortage. In Bujumbura, I saw taxis lined up for blocks because they lacked fuel. In Cankuzo, one fuel truck came to a petrol station one night. A large crowd gathered. Several policemen armed with automatic weapons were there to keep order. I saw three men filling large buckets with gasoline directly from pipes on the side of the truck. I took some pictures of this, but the police made me delete them from my camera. Fortunately, they did not impound my camera. Please pray for Burundi. The people I met and work with there are so dear, and the church can be the instrument for transformation in that small but strategic land.

                                          Trafffic jam between Mishiha and Cankuzo               Typical African meal: rice, beans, ugali,
                                                                                                                sweet potato, avocado

I hope you get some idea of the value of your prayer and financial support of ECLEA: both are making a big difference, and I am very appreciative and thankful for your continued involvement in this crucial mission. I am now scheduled to be home until the last half of August, when I will be going to Tanzania. Here are some photos from this trip. Enjoy!


Jonathan Menn-ECLEA Director
Jonathan Menn

Kenya, April 2024;

I have now been in Kenya for about a week, and it has been quite an eventful trip so far. I arrived in Nairobi at about 10:00PM last Saturday. Michael Taari met me at the airport and we took a taxi to town. At about midnight we began the 6-hour matatu (14- or 17-passenger van) ride to the city of Voi, near the coast. That ride (in the very last seat in the back corner of the van) afforded me several hours of prayer. After being able to sleep about an hour at our hotel, I was up-and-at-'em and preached at one church. Then, later that afternoon, we went to another church in the middle of the "bush" where I preached again. In short, a full day.

The church in the bush where I preached

On Monday and Tuesday, we did Biblical Interpretation with about 10 participants. We had some very good interaction and discussions. The participants' pre-existing "frameworks" were challenged, particularly with respect to whether everyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit will speak with other tongues (they do not, per 1 Corinthians 12); whether the "100-fold return" of Mark 10:29-30 means that for every shilling or dollar you give, God will give you back 100 shillings or dollars (it doesn't mean that at all); and what the "sin of Sodom" (Genesis 18-19) was (it was NOT primarily homosexuality, if that was even included at all [see, e.g., Isa 1:1-23; Jer 23:14; Ezek 16:49-50; Matt 10:14]).

On Wednesday, I taught the Stewardship of Time to a large women's conference organized annually by Bishop Taari. We saw how important time management is, particularly for church leaders, such as most of those women are. We also saw that there really is no such thing as "African time" versus "Mzungu time": everyone can be and is on time for the things that are really important to us.

I then took the train from Voi to Nairobi. Rail travel really can be one of the most pleasant ways to travel. It is relatively quiet and smooth, and it took only about 3 1/2 hours instead of the 6 hours in the matatu, plus it was cheaper. Here in Nairobi I reconnected with my friends and ECLEA teachers Ernest Mwilitsa, James Kamau, and David Njeru. David has been my host, and what a good man he is. We just finished doing the book of Esther. What a fascinating and timely book it is. It is the one book of the Bible where God is never named by name and never makes an overt appearance. However, he is clearly present "behind the scenes," orchestrating events through a series of "coincidences." Deep conversations took place concerning the kind of responses Christians should make when placed in pagan environments (Esther's and Daniel's respective responses, for example, were almost entirely opposite). The far-reaching effects of pride and a number of other issues are prominent in the book and become clear when we spend the time to think about what we have read.

I mentioned David Njeru. He is a man of vision and action and has written more than one book, including one that had its genesis in the tragic death of his 14-year-old daughter, when a school building collapsed, killing her and a number of other students five years ago. We talked about expanding ECLEA's work to other areas in Africa, such as Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and possibly Zambia. He has contacts in some of these places, and I have been contacted by people in some of the others. David is the kind of person whom I would feel very confident in leading this effort. Interestingly, this is in keeping with the fact that when Bishop Stephen Sempala, ECLEA's Uganda national coordinator, was at our house a couple of weeks ago, he and Jake Boldig, ECLEA's treasurer, began formulating a plan to take ECLEA to Democratic Republic of Congo. This may be the Lord's prompting us that it is now time for ECLEA to expand its operations in Africa. Please hold this up in your prayers.

David Enjeru, Sharon (our guide at Nairobi national musem), and JMM

After preaching here twice on Sunday, I will be heading to Murang'a in central Kenya and then back to the Nairobi area before heading home next Saturday. I thank you all for your continued interest in, prayer for, and financial support of ECLEA. I hope you can see that ECLEA does what our name implies: we are equipping the East African church leaders so that they can lead the way in equipping others. Kind of like in the book of Esther, I can see the hand of God at work! Your support and encouragement make it all possible.

 I then traveled to Murang'a and Embu in central Kenya and then returned to Nairobi.

In Murang'a, I met with my friend George Kariuki. George is now a bishop in the Christian Foundation Fellowship denomination. As such, he oversees 63 churches. I had a one-day meeting with approximately 50 CFF pastors and church leaders, where we talked about the gospel, Christ's commission to the church, discipleship, and mission. I am hopeful that these church leaders will take these things seriously, especially with respect to instituting good discipleship programs in their churches and getting their churches engaged with their communities.

Embu group

In Embu, we did the Forgiveness and Reconciliation course for two days with between 50-60 participants. It had been some time since I had taught this course. It is very practical. These things, of course, should characterize the church, but all too often nonbelievers see little among Christians that would differentiate us from non-Christians with respect to being forgivers and reconcilers. The participants appeared to grasp what we were saying, and I am hopeful that much forgiveness and reconciliation with occur as a result. 

We ended in Nairobi where Thomas Mwai and I taught Biblical Stewardship over two days to about 16 participants. This course, again, is very practical and deals with how Christianity and the Bible relate to all major areas of life. Thomas discussed stewardship of mind, time, and relationships. I began with an overview of biblical stewardship and then discussed stewardship of the environment, body, money and possessions, and contrasted Old Covenant versus New Covenant giving. I also spelled out how these church leaders should go about setting up family budgets and how that can make a tremendous difference in their lives.

Last meal in Kenya

Whenever I go to East Africa and am with the church leaders there, it brings home to me how important our courses are and the great impact they can have in the lives of individuals and churches. All of our material goes to the very heart of the most important theological and practical issues Christians face. Implementing these things may involve significant changes in the way that churches and individuals do things. Change is often difficult, but I pray that the church leaders take the time and effort to make the changes we discuss, since they will then be living--and demonstrating Christ--at a deep and meaningful level. When that happens, as Jesus said, "the gates of Hell will not overcome the church."  So, please pray the East African church leaders will have the wisdom, drive, and fortitude to apply what we talk about. They will never regret it, and the world will be a better place for it.

I will now be home until the latter part of May, when I leave for Burundi. Thank you for your financial and prayer support of ECLEA. I could not do this without you.

God bless you, Jonathan

PS: If you are interested, the "last meal" was shared by Thomas, Barnabas Mpekethi, and me, and consisted of mukimo (mashed vegetables), greens (mostly spinach), kachumbari (tomato and onion), and nyama choma (roasted meat). Also visible in the picture are lemons for my tea.


Jonathan Menn-ECLEA Director
Jonathan Menn

February 2024: Report from Rwanda

I am back in "the land of 1000 hills," the beautiful country of Rwanda. The first three days we did Biblical Interpretation in Kanombe, a district of Kigali for 10+ participants. I have been to Kanombe several times. This was a repeat class on Biblical Interpretation. It had been taught by another ECLEA teacher some time ago. As I told the students, "Repeating a curse is a good thing. You will probably learn new things and things that you may have heard before will sink in in a way they hadn't previously."

That proved to be the case here. Several students commented how they were impressed with reading and thinking about what they read more deeply and the importance of CONTEXT. In a few areas, their pre-existing "frameworks" (the way they always had understood something) were challenged. We saw how every aspect of the Bible has implications and applications for our lives. These may not be spelled out in narrative passages, but clearly emerge when the passage is thought about and put together with the rest of Scripture. All-in-all, it was a good and worthwhile time for all of us.

Kanombe group

We then traveled to the Ngoma District of the Eastern Province where we repeated Biblical Interpretation. The first day (Thursday) was Heroes Day here in Rwanda. We are staying about 30 minutes away from our venue, because there are no hotels or guest houses in the village of Rukizi where our training conference is being held. I have not been here before. The Heroes Day celebrations at first were going to delay the beginning of the conference's first day until the afternoon. However, because of rain, the celebration itself was delayed; as a result, we had to cancel our first day of training. One gets used to such things here in East Africa.

Today (Friday) we completed the first of now two days, with 22 enthusiastic participants. Many of them had previously attended ECLEA classes taught by ECLEA-Rwanda teachers. That is one of the great benefits of our model: most of the teaching is done by trained East African teachers instead of having to rely on Westerners.

The class went well. Pre-existing interpretational "frameworks" of some Pentecostal participants were challenged (particularly regarding the necessity that all people who have the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues) when we went through the text of 1 Corinthians 12). Lively and lengthy conversations regarding that and the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3) took place in Kinyarwanda. Protais later told me the substance of the discussion/debates. I always think it is a good thing when something like that happens, since it indicates the participants are interested and engaged. 

We also discussed the different spiritual gifts and the relative importance of the gifts compared to the "fruit of the Spirit." That discussion may not directly challenge a framework, but I believe that some will re-look at their priorities as church leaders. We will be doing a number of exercises tomorrow. In short, although our time in Rukizi is truncated, the time is well-spent, and much learning is taking place, which, God-willing, will lead to deeper foundations, healthy churches, and transformed lives.

Ngoma group

Following my last report, I was supposed to have two more conferences--in Gicumbi and Kigali. Gicumbi went very well, as I shall mention. However, in Kigali, the day before the conference was to begin, the Kigali City Council closed down the church where we were going to meet, demanding that the church "use tires and advanced sound proof" system. We certainly do not make much noise. The government has been heavily regulating and imposing itself on churches throughout Rwanda, particularly non-Anglican and non-Roman Catholic churches. We were not able to find another venue in such a short time, so we had to cancel.

In Gicumbi, I had been scheduled to do the book of Revelation. However, when we arrived at the venue, Protais said he thought that doing Biblical Interpretation again would be more valuable at this time. So, we did Biblical Interpretation. The attendance increased from about 30 participants to 40 on the last day.

Protais addressing Gicumbi group

I thought things went very well. Not only were there important discussions of the relative importance of the spiritual gifts vs. spiritual fruit, preaching series' of sermons through books of the Bible, and how to deal with the "Lamechs" (Gen 4:17-24) in the churches, but several participants testified at the end of how valuable the conference was to them. More than one mentioned the importance of taking into account the immediate and broader context of Scripture when reading the Bible, how love is more important than all of the spiritual gifts, and that, in the New Covenant, our giving to help the poor and needy and spread the gospel, should not end at 10%, but should begin at 10%.

Terraced hillside near Gicumbi                                "The land of 1000 hills" near Gicumbi

All in all, it was a worthwhile trip. As Protais texted me when I was about to leave, the classes "went well, and now people are responding well." I will now be home until early April, when I return to Kenya.

Best regards, Jonathan


Paul and Rosemary Nelsen-ECLEA Missionary Teachers

February 2024
Paul and Rosemary Nelsen are in Tanga, Tanzania. Rosemary has been teaching the Biblical Literacy course she developed. Biblical Literacy is ECLEA’s overview course of the Old and New Testaments. Check it out (both the written course and Rosemary’s video lectures) on the “ECLEA Courses & Resources” page of the ECLEA website (

Rosemary teaching in Tanga                         Visual aids for Biblical Literacy course                  Rosemary teaching Biblical Literacy

Rosemary spoke to a pastor named Lazarus who has taught the ECLEA course Christianity and Islam. His church has witnessed to more than 200 Muslims. Sixty have come to Christ. This is the power of the Equipping Church Leaders East Africa material.

Rosemary and Pastor Lazarus

Deep Foundations produce Healthy Churches for Transformed Lives.

Rosemary just filed this supplemental report:

It may have been said once that, “East Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep” in its Biblical understanding, but this is changing and at a rate that shows the power of God.

Paul and Rosemary Nelsen witnessed this personally from January 22-27 while in Tanzania with their host, Joram Ibrahim, who is the National Director of Equipping Church Leaders East Africa in Tanzania. They were there to teach three courses in Biblical Literacy by Rosemary and a leadership course based on Nehemiah that Paul taught.

Besides this Rosemary said, “When we set our dates we had no idea that an ELCEA graduation of about 40 students would fall on the day before we left in Tanga. What a privilege it was to be part of this well organized course of study by the students.”

For more than two years 20 courses of ECLEA were taught which included assignments, logging their hours of study, doing papers and being assessed by their teachers. Joram said, “We want them to go deep into the scriptures, to understand the power of God’s Word.”

“It was obvious that they wanted to know the Bible and see its transforming of lives,” Paul added. “We may not have been able to speak Swahili, but we certainly understood their commitment to His Word.”

The Nelsens not only witnessed the graduation but were asked to hand out the certificates of accomplishment. The graduates wore black cap and gowns, but their leaders wore ones that were colorful. “It was a wonderful experience,” the Nelsens said. They had met many of these students in Tanga where they taught. Most were pastors who already had their own churches, but now could offer so much more depth of understanding in their preaching and teaching.

Something else that impressed them was what another ECLEA leadernamed Lazarus told them. He teaches ECLEA’S Islam and Christianity Course. He had not only taught it but he and his church now witness to Muslims whenever they can. Lazarus said, “We have witnessed to 200 Muslims (in Tanga) pointing out Jesus in the Quran. Sixty have been converted to Christianity” and nine are in his church continuing in a small group to learn more about Jesus.

Joram is convinced that the mission statement of ECLEA is being fulfilled. It states ECLEA is deepening foundations, helping to create healthy churches, and is seeing transformed lives. This is not just happening in Tanzania, but in the other four nations Rawanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya where ECLEA courses are being taught. Other graduations have been attended by ECLEA Executive Director Jonathan Menn in Kenya and in Burundi.

The mission statement is being fulfilled and ECLEA is deepening the Biblical and theological understanding of church leaders in these countries.

Joram said, “It isn’t an inch deep anymore. It is now up to our knees or higher and we glorify God for this.”


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