“God’s gift to the diocese of Gambella”

BUILD training is finally underway in Gambella, Ethiopia. It has been encouraging to receive feedback from those who gathered for the training, not least from their Archdeacon who shared, “I regard the BUILD programme as God’s gift to the diocese of Gambella.”

Twenty-five participants, including South Sudanese refugees living in camps and Ethiopians from the area, came together for three weeks of training in Gambella town from 4 – 24 October. The backstory was described previously in BUILD on a mission. The trainee-trainers selected by the diocese were taken through the first two BUILD modules as part of a four-semester programme, and the comments that follow flow from the focus on those first modules: 2 Timothy & the Pastoral Epistles: Preaching the Gospel & Godly Leadership and Genesis & the Pentateuch: Knowing God’s Story & Leading by Faith.

Not surprisingly, there was a strong emphasis on learning about preaching. When asked what BUILD training has done for him/her, one trainee replied, “It trained me how to encounter a Bible passage and teach it to the congregation, and I am very grateful for this.” Another participant shared, “The training helped us to understand the word of God and how to teach the congregation.” Similarly, “The training has given me new knowledge on how to preach the Gospel, how to prepare a sermon and how to present it to the audience.” He went on to speak more personally about the impact it has had on him: “There is a very big change from what was before. Now I am changed. When I go back to our church, I can preach well, I can manage well. And also, the things that are not there will be corrected.”

When it came to the issue of growing as leaders, another participant told us, “The training has taught me how I need to be a good leader of the gospel.” One person summed up their learning: “The programme has taught me how I need to be faithful in God’s work.”

Many also shared how they want to use what they have learned to train others, with participants talking about how it has taught them to mentor other leaders. As one participant said: “Having received this, what I am going to do in my church? I will go and train others.” Or as a lay pastor in charge of a church said: “After this training I can train the youth who can be fruitful. To work together with them, train them, and spread it to other people.”

Others were challenged personally. One person felt, “the programme has transformed my Christian life.” And above all one individual was grateful that, “BUILD has taught me about the God that we serve.”

Sammy Atsali Mangu from Kenya, who led the training, asked Archdeacon Jeremiah about the newly launched programme and where he sees the BUILD programme going after two years. Returning to the quote we began with, but building on that, Jeremiah shared:

“I regard the BUILD programme as God’s gift to the diocese of Gambella. Having got twenty five students to come and study BUILD, it’s a real privilege for us because when they go back to their mission centres and churches they will make a great impact in the lives of the congregations. Especially leaders who cannot afford to come and learn in English. They will go back and teach them and explore BUILD in their own languages.

“After two years coming I would say there will be a continuation of this programme because we cannot just stop from there. We need others to learn about BUILD, because BUILD is teaching our leaders how to be Christ centred in their ministry and leadership. So I would say that the BUILD programme is going to grow and prosper in a way that we can’t compare to when it first started.”