This week, Craig Dyer (training director of Christianity Explored), Jim McAnlis (of Fields of Life and East Africa coordinator of Christianity Explored) and I are in Burundi to launch the new Kirundi translation of Christianity Explored.
CE is a popular ten week evangelistic course, based entirely on Mark’s gospel which includes talks, group Bible discussion and personal reflection. Now available in more than 20 languages and being used in more than 70 countries, CE is designed to help participants answer three simple questions around which Mark’s gospel is structured: Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus come? What is his claim on my life? It is literally a walk through Mark’s gospel to explain, through the teaching, the miracles, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the incredible claim made in the very first verse, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1).
The course is also designed to help give church members confidence in the Word of God and learn how to share their faith as well as train new church leaders. The strategy is to train hundreds to equip thousands to reach millions. CE is distinctive among other similar courses because it simply allows the gospel to teach the gospel.
This is the fourth year we have visited East Africa to train pastors and clergy to use Christianity Explored. In previous years we have held conferences at Carlisle College in Nairobi, Kenya, at Kiwoko Bible Week, and for clergy in Luwero and Masindi Dioceses in Uganda. Working closely with the Anglican Bishops, Pentecostal leaders, the Uganda Bible Society, Kiwoko Hospital and Fields of Life, we have launched translations in Luganda and Swahili and trained several thousand clergy to use the course. It is estimated that tens of thousands have completed the course in Uganda and we know of new churches that have been planted as a result.
At the invitation of the Anglican Archbishop of Burundi, the Right Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, this week we visited Matana Cathedral and trained about 70 of his clergy to use the course. In Makamba Diocese, with the blessing of Bishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, the Diocesan centre hosted a similar conference for over 200 pastors and clergy from 35 different denominations. This was the first time many of them had experienced a small group bible discussion. They discovered the value of group study to personalise, compliment, reinforce and apply Biblical teaching.
Returning to Bujumbura, through the beautiful mountain scenery of Burundi, we stopped by the shores of Lake Tanganyika at the large stone making the place where in 1874, Livingstone, coming from the coast of Tanzania, met Stanley coming from the Congo.
The world has changed dramatically in the last 140 years, but the heart of the human problem remains the problem of the human heart. Transcending the barriers of language and culture, people are discovering through CE and the teaching of Jesus, that we are more sinful that we ever realised but more loved that we ever dreamed.