Dear ITEM Friend and Prayer Partner,

If you have been around a discipleship ministry, you have probably been introduced to this acronym: FAT…. F(aithful) A(vailable) T(eachable) These are the qualities you look for in someone you will disciple. These qualities are not any more true of any group any more than it is true of the ITEM teams from Burundi and Rwanda. I’d like to add “M” some place in regard to this group: M(ature). After our meeting today, I’d say they were all FAT when we first started training them to be trainers and now they are also M. . . Mature.


I spent Friday morning here in Rwanda with our teams from Burundi and Rwanda. It’s been two years since I’ve been with these teams and was quickly reminded of my feelings when I was with them two years ago.

These are outstanding teams with two outstanding coordinators. When we finished our time together, I told their coordinators that these men are mature, faithful, teachable, responsive, and responsible. I spent the first hour listening to them bring me up to date on their lives and ministries. As the stories came from each man, my heart was singing praises, and at one point I could feel tears of gratefulness forming in my eyes. Here are just a few highlights:

Valarie (Rwanda): His testimony revolved around one of ITEM’s key passages: Eph 4:11-16. We use that passage as a description of a church that is to the glory of God. It describes an “E-4” church which is at the heart of ITEM’s E-4 Church Strategy (to see churches transformed). He seemed to be grateful that we had introduced him to “expository (chapter by chapter) preaching” and how it brings maturity.

Adolph (Rwanda): Years ago he was not recognized as a pastor. Then he learned about expository preaching from ITEM. He started doing it and was put in charge of a new church plant. That church grew and now some want him to be the pastor of the mother-church. He is also being asked to speak at conferences. He attributes all of this to the ITEM training he’s received.

Celestine (Burundi): He had struggled trying to come up with sermon ideas every week but now that he is using the expository method he always knows where his next sermon will be coming from. He asks his church each week where the seminar is coming from and they tell him because they know where he left off last week.

Daniel (Rwanda): He encouraged me by quoting back to me two key parts of Scripture that we use. I have told pastors over the years that preaching can be explained in one verse: 1 Tim 4:13 – read it, explain it, apply it. Daniel said that is what he tries to do each week. He didn’t need me to prompt him. He had the verse ready. The other is the example of expository preaching in the Old Testament from Neh 8 where Ezra preached from the law, first reading it then explaining it so there was understanding.

Jean Marie (Burundi): He also emphasized how much learning the expository method meant to him. He also talked about reading the Scriptures and studying to find the meaning then giving the meaning and application to his church. He said that he is invited to speak other places and they always ask him to come back.

Moses (Rwanda): He was grateful that we had trained him to be a trainer. He also mentioned how he was committed to a “chapter by chapter” preaching style. He listed three things he had learned about the expository method. 1) It lets the Bible speak for itself. 2) It allows the preacher to preach the whole counsel of God. 3) It teaches the listeners how to interpret the Word of God.

Gershom (Burundi): Before he received training from ITEM he struggled when he tried to build a sermon. Now he doesn’t struggle. Second, he realized he was a false teacher, teaching and saying what would him. But now he is preaching verse by verse. He is not preaching his own thoughts or his traditions. And he is practicing 2 Tim 2:2 “teaching faithful men who will teach others also.” He said that when people hear an ITEM lecture/teaching they say, “That is Gershom’s teaching.” He was asked to speak to a gathering of 300 leaders.

Francois (Burundi): He said that expository preaching was removing the false teaching form people and he gave examples. One example: A pastor tried to convince Francois that as the “salt of the earth, when we die we melt into the earth like salt.” Francois was able to show the man the context and what the verse really meant.

Boniface (Burundi Coordinator): He didn’t know how to interpret Scripture until he was trained by ITEM. He knows that if he continues verse by verse he will not leave the context. He is helping other pastors to learn the same thing and he is finding pastors hungry to learn because they are losing people from their churches. He reported that mentoring has started in Burundi and those being mentored really like it and want to meet more often.

Dominique (Rwanda Coordinator): He, too, talked about learning truth and moving away from error. People are seeking him out for answers and tell him that when he teaches them they understand the Scriptures.

These men are doing a wonderful job using ITEM training and ITEM resources in their own personal ministries to their churches and in their role as trainers.

I pray that you are encouraged to hear these great testimonies. Overcoming the deep roots of traditionalism is a long term project. But these men are up to the task!

  • Pray for them as they continue to minister and train.
  • Pray for open doors and or receptive hearts as they teach others from God’s inspired Word and train other pastors to do the same.
  • Pray for me as I travel back to Kenya Saturday evening looking forward to a day off on Sunday before heading to Uganda for my last stop before heading for home next Wednesday.

Thanks for praying and to help these men and others make a difference in churches and in the lives of pastors they are training click here on DONATE.

And TRIP PHOTO ALBUM and you will be taken to the photo album where the individual men are introduced.

Tomorrow, if I remember, I’d like to reflect a little on the recent history of Rwanda.

By His grace,