KAMPALA – Being a pastor is a difficult life at the best of times. Pastors commit to a life of serving the Lord and reaching out to others, often at great personal sacrifice, to help them carry their burdens. Being a pastor in developing countries in Africa has got to be even more difficult, especially in those countries that are being torn apart by military conflicts.
When civil war disrupts a country, people must seek refuge. Some are Christians. In many cases, entire communities of believers are forced to flee. Some of those believers are pastors.
Displaced people run for their lives. Wherever they find a resting place, even in refugee camps, they often lose touch with friends and fellow believers and find themselves surrounded by strangers.
Pastors find themselves without a church.
For many, it is a time of great despair. Depression is common, even among believers. Many become suicidal because they have lost everything. Pastors find themselves ministering without the literature and tools they might ordinarily have had.
That is the scenario pastor Alex Sokiri and his wife faced when they had left all their possessions behind to escape South Sudan and arrived at the Morobi Refugee Camp in Northern Uganda.
Pastor Sokiri searched out other pastors in the camp. They began working together to gather believers to meet together under trees. Then they scavenged small logs to assemble shelters as places to worship together.
Initially, it did not occur to them that the Lord was using them to plant new churches! But that is exactly what was happening.
Then the Lord supplied new manna in the form of an app. The African Pastors Fellowship, acutely aware of the increasing demand for pastoral supplies, commissioned a mobile app loaded on a solar-powered, Android tablet.
The app, eVitabu (Swahili for ‘book’), contains studies on personal, spiritual and pastoral growth; audio Bibles in local languages; theology courses from internationally renowned centers; video lectures by top Christian leaders; community development toolkits; and guides on family healthcare, leadership, advocacy, peace-building, and sustainable agriculture.
It also enables African pastors to upload and share their own theological insights with their peers.
Content has also been provided by partner agencies including Tearfund, Christian Aid, CPAS, Westminster Theology Centre, Lausanne Movement, A Rocha, and many others.
The eVitabu app was launched in Uganda this year on durable Android tablets. Influential church leaders from eight East African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, South Sudan, and DRC are now browsing and downloading the searchable library of content and going into remote parts of the continent to teach and support other pastors and congregations in rural areas. New content can be accessed and downloaded almost anywhere using a mobile phone as a wi-fi hotspot.
Even in the midst of turmoil and strife; even when all appears to be lost; even when it seems impossible – the Lord continues to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. He is doing that right now with a high-tech app in refugee camps and wilderness areas in remote regions of Africa.
To read more news on Uganda on Missions Box, go here.
- African Pastors Fellowship, eVitabu
- Christian Daily, How a Bible app is growing churches in a Ugandan refugee camp
- Screenshot, African Pastors Fellowship Facebook page