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New app 'is pioneering work'

Canterbury software developers and Baptist church members donate time to local charity for new mobile app to transform lives across Africa 

eVitabu launch in Uganda700

Two software developers from Canterbury have donated over 250 man-hours of time to locally-based Christian charity African Pastors Fellowship (APF) to develop an app that will bring both Christian teachings and practical skills lessons, on topics such as sustainable agriculture, to remote communities across East Africa.

The ‘eVitabu’ app, which is installed on solar-powered Android tablet devices, was developed for free by Jonathan Haddock and Michael Berry, both members of Canterbury Baptist Church, who committed evenings and weekends to the project.

The ‘eVitabu’ app will help support pastors’ ministries with large church networks across East Africa, potentially impacting the Christian journey of over half a million people.  

It is estimated that over 3 million churches in the developing world are led by people with little or no qualifications for that responsibility. In Africa, it is reckoned that as many as 90 per cent of pastors have never received even a single day’s training. eVitabu, which means books in Swahili, is a pioneering tool designed specifically to support the African church.

The eVitabu app includes studies on personal, spiritual and pastoral growth; audio Bibles in local languages; theology courses from internationally renowned centres; 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.

eVitabu picture

Dave Stedman, CEO of APF commented, 'APF resources and enables African Christian leaders, of all denominations, to minister effectively through the local church. eVitabu has the potential to enable thousands of rural church leaders to access great quality training material possibly for the very first time.

'Excitingly it also provides a unique platform for the voice of the Africa church. African leaders can use eVitabu to upload and share their own material with other church leaders, so everyone benefits.'

APF launched the eVitabu app at a three-day training conference in Uganda where the durable Android Tablets were given to 57 pastors from eight East African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, South Sudan and DRC. These pastors can now browse and download the searchable library of content before going into remote parts of the continent to teach and support other pastors and congregations. New content can be accessed and downloaded almost anywhere using a mobile phone as a wifi hotspot.

Jonathan, who works in IT for local government said, 'When Dave and Geoff from APF approached us with the vision for the app, it was clear that such a tool could address several needs faced by rural communities across Africa in a new way, with the potential to have a long-lasting impact. It was therefore exciting to be part of project that could have a life-changing impact.'

The Revd Dr Kate Colman, former President Baptist Union of Great Britain and Chair of the Evangelical Alliance Council who supports the project and attended the launch said, 'APF’s eVitabu is a totally unique resource. A mobile app full of text, audio and visual training resources in languages spoken across Africa, perfect for even the most isolated locations.

'This is pioneering work.'

One of the pastors who was provided with an eVitabu tablet is Heavenlight Luoga who oversees a network of 60 rural churches in North West Tanzania. Heavenlight explains how it will support his ministry: 'I have found many good materials on eVitabu from different contributors.

'I have mobilised a core team of five teachers and we will meet each month to study together. My wife, Kesia, will also use eVitabu resources when training pastors’ wives in Burundi. eVitabu will improve our teaching and help us address issues in the church and community such as theological error, farming and entrepreneurship.'

The eVitabu app was developed by a small group of APF volunteers who donated hundreds of man-hours to deliver this resource to impact the African church.

To send the app, loaded onto an Andoid Tablet and provided with a durable case and solar changer to Africa costs APF £200.

To support the work of APF, to learn more or to pray for its mission in Africa visit: http://www.africanpastors.org/

Baptist Times, 12/06/2018
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