For two weeks in January 2018, Jim McAnlis, Sam Oyirwoth and Stephen were invited by Bishop Darlington Bendankeha of Kagera Diocese in Tanzania, to train 150 of his clergy to use the Christianity Explored course. They also returned to the Anglican Peace Centre in Cyangugu on the Rwandan border with the DRC, to equip a further 50 clergy from Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo.
The week-long CE training programme includes an overview of Mark’s Gospel showing the identity, mission and call of Jesus, the biblical basis for evangelism, discipleship and spiritual multiplication, instruction on how to lead Bible study small groups, how to deliver each of the ten CE expositions of Mark’s Gospel, and how to disciple and train new leaders.
Participants gain first-hand experience by completing the course over four days, listening to each of the ten talks, taking turns to lead the Bible study groups, undertaking the home study each day, through daily Q&A sessions and one to one mentoring.
In Kagera, Bishop Darlington encouraged his senior Diocesan staff to participate in the training including Absolom, Principal of the Theological College; Marton, the Diocesan Secretary; Canon Furaha, the Vicar General; David, the Youth Coordinator; Josiah, the Mission’s Coordinator and Edita from the Mothers Union.
One evening, Bishop Darlington took Jim, Sam and Stephen to a strategic hill top where the borders of Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi meet. Along with Ugandan and Tanzanian clergy they prayed together in the pouring rain for God’s blessings upon Christian witness in these nations, where tribal tensions remain high.
In Cyangugu, Bishop Nathan Amooti takes a visionary approach to ordination. He explained that before he will ordain lay leaders, they must demonstrate their calling by planting a new church. Twenty-eight new congregations have been planted in the last year.
Stephen also met with Boniface, English service pastor and Diocesan Development Officer; Nepo, the Youth and Children’s Coordinator; Maurice, the Archdeaconry Youth Leader; and Faustin, Chaplain of the Jill Barham Secondary School, to discuss the integration of CY (the youth version of CE) within the Diocesan youth programme.
Bishop Bahati Bali-Busane from Bukavu in the Congo, opened the conference and in the closing session, gave an inspiring and motivational message on discipleship.
Encouragingly, Bishop Bahati of Bukavu Diocese, DRC, Bishop Seth of Matana Diocese, Burundi, Bishop Darlington of Kagera Diocese, Tanzania and Bishop Nathan of Cyangugu Diocese in Rwanda have each requested that the CE team visit their Dioceses to train more of their clergy, lay leaders, Mothers Union and youth pastors.
Over the past ten years, around a million people in Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and now Tanzania have been introduced to Jesus Christ through Christianity Explored. As with all gospel work it is the story of God at work in and through his people, because, as Rico Tice says, “Only God can open blind eyes”.
Through these training conferences, the CE EA team have helped equip and train many thousands of clergy and lay leaders to share the good news of Jesus Christ in and through local churches, schools, colleges, hospitals and prisons.
“When God reigns, there will be peace, life will be good, and we will be saved.” (Chris Wright)