How can we engage and equip the thousands of church leaders in Africa who have little or no biblical training? How does the church multiply and grow under these circumstances?
A number of years ago, Richard Whitcomb, founder of Agape Bible College in Accra, Ghana, along with fellow missionary Terry Nutter, and myself pondered these questions. There are many established churches in Africa, but some lack the necessary tools to equip their pastors and leaders for biblical ministry. Frequently pastors in the rural areas, who desire to train their people for church leadership, will send them away for theological training but, unfortunately, many do not return.
A vision to reach more
Thus, in 2004 the vision for the Africa Association of Bible Schools (AABS) began — a vision to reach many more men and women in many more places than could possibly be trained at a campus-based college. We envisioned this training would increase exponentially if it were made available on site — that is, in the local churches and communities. With the discovery of John Mannion’s theological curriculum, Mobilization of Teachers through Multiplication of Teachings (MOTMOT), the way to implement this vision became clear.
The director of the Blessed Lamb Ministerial Academy in Nalerigu, Ghana, pointed out that both the far distance of the Bible schools along with the cost was a disincentive for many to receive further training. “To have access to MOTMOT courses within our doorstep is a big miracle and a relief,” Rev. Peter B. said. “It strengthens our faith and offers us the opportunity to train our church members for the local church. Currently about 98% of the students are working, yet they make time for the courses due purposely to their proximity and cost effectiveness.”
At the start, AABS provided its member schools with the 49-course MOTMOT I curriculum, a packet of documents containing guidance to operate their schools, and a variety of additional resources. Some years later we began offering an additional curriculum of 13 courses, known as MOTMOT II. Unfortunately, at that time, the advanced courses were only available in English.
A long standing dream
Many of the AABS schools use the English version of the MOTMOT curriculum, but there are a significant number of schools in the French-speaking countries of Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin that are currently using the French version. A long standing dream was that the advanced courses be translated into French since the AABS students in the francophone countries did not have the option to study them unless they also knew English. With the vision to spread AABS throughout Africa, it was imperative that the curriculum be available in French for people in the 24 or more African countries where French is either the official language or regularly in use.
Two factors delayed this dream from becoming reality — cost and the lack of an affordable and reliable translator. The first obstacle was overcome when EMM offered a grant to cover the cost. The second was met with the finding of a qualified Togolese translator and his team, who have recently completed this task. This is a significant accomplishment which we believe will impact hundreds of pastors and workers into the future, not only in Africa, but also in other francophone countries around the world.