By Chris Elliott
When the global Brethren event was held last November in Nigeria, leaders from Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC) came across the EYN Pastor’s Manual. The gathering was hosted by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) at EYN headquarters in Kwarhi.
The EYN Pastor’s Manual was in English and therefore not usable by most of the Congo pastors. When Galen Hackman and I visited the DRC in February this year, the pastors showed it to us, asking if we would assist them in translating and printing the book in Kiswahili (Swahili).
Lewis Ponga Umbe, a member of the Congo church, translated the manual, typing it into his computer. Over the past several years he has done a good bit of translation work for the Church of the Brethren but it has been difficult to verify its quality or accuracy. Because we now have Kiswahili-speaking Brethren in Uganda, I emailed the translation to pastor Bwambale Sedrack for him to evaluate. He confirmed that it is an excellent translation.
Sedrack had the translation printed in Kampala, Uganda. The title on the book cover is Kanisa la Wandugu (Church of the Brethren) Katika Nchi za Maziwa Makuu ya Afrika (Great Lakes region of Africa) Mwongozo wa Mchungaji (Pastor’s Manual).
Sedrack kept several copies for the pastors in Uganda. Umbe arranged for the remaining copies to be delivered by truck to Congo. A few of these copies will be given to the Brethren in Burundi and Rwanda–Kiswahili is not their primary language, but they are familiar enough with it for the book to be useful. The Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania District in the US provided the funds for translation, printing, and shipping.
Over the five years that I have been involved with the Churches of the Brethren in the Great Lakes region of Africa, I have looked for ways to bring the Brethren from these several countries together. Sometimes we have been able to have joint meetings or training sessions that have encouraged fellowship. On two occasions we had representatives from EYN travel with us to share with the Rwandans and Congolese. The Pastor’s Manual project was a wonderful collaboration between Nigeria, the DRC, and Uganda.
— Chris Elliott volunteers with the Church of the Brethren Global Mission to work with and promote the emerging Brethren groups in central Africa. He recently retired as pastor of Knobsville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
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