A mobile phone app that enables preachers access a wide range of theological resources and Bible versions from which they can teach, prepare sermons, and inspire communities has been distributed among Pastors in a northern Uganda refugee camp.
The eVitabu app developed by the African Pastors Fellowship (APF), which is loaded on to a solar-powered tablet, includes studies on personal, spiritual and pastoral growth; audio Bibles in local languages; theology courses; video lectures by Christian leaders; community development toolkits; and guides on family healthcare, leadership, advocacy, peace-building, and sustainable agriculture.
Speaking to media reporters, Rev Alex Sokiri and his wife Harriet who fled an armed raid on their town in Kajo Keji in South Sudan in July 2016, leaving all their possessions behind, said the app “gave me guidelines to prepare my sermons” for the members of the Morobi Refugee Camp, in Northern Uganda where he settled.
Rev Alex and his wife travelled more than 30 km on foot to the Morobi Refugee Camp where they, and people from their own church and community, struggled to adapt to life in the establishment that has now been their home for the past two years.
On her part, Harriet said: ‘When we came to camp, life was too hard. Some came to us wanting to commit suicide because they had left everything. We could not forget our members in church. Being leaders we had to gather them and tell them what to do. First we began fellowship under trees from there we started collecting simple, simple logs and we put them together and put [up] small structures for us to do the worshipping.’
Alex drew together other pastors from across the camp and small church plants were established to help people gather into supportive communities. He said there were many mental health issues and suicide rates were high.
Having fled with no possessions, Christian Today reports that Rev Alex found the loss of his theological library challenging. However, the eVitabu app provided him and Harriet with ideas for ministry.
“We started developing very many ideas through reading that app, because we can read about counselling, we can read about farming, we can read about church planting. So, that app brought very many changes in our life and life in the refugee camp.” Alex said.
Christian Today reports that currently around 100 youths attend the programmes being run, which now has both a girls and a boys football team.
It is estimated that over 3 million churches in the developing world are led by people with few 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.
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