Many communities live in fear across Africa as they practice traditional African religions, animism, and non-Christian religions. Church bodies have asked the LCMS for help to train men to undergo a short training course and return to their respective villages and areas as evangelists to help reach people with the Gospel. This often results in the planting of new congregations where no Lutheran church existed. A local church contributes to the training through pastoral instructors, lodging, and food expenses. The LCMS provides teaching materials, limited assistance with costs, and sometimes missionary instructors through the Mission Training Center (MTC) program.
The Mission Training Center (MTC) program uses workbooks to enable a parish pastor to work with his helpers and evangelists monthly. Each month, the pastor meets with his helpers and evangelists to work through the workbook together. Most programs meet once per month for four days and do one MTC workbook in those four days. All workbooks are in English. Students who can read English receive a copy of the workbook and then keep it for reference. The parish pastor (trainer) must otherwise translate the workbook while teaching for students who do not speak or read English.
Mission Training Center programs have had a long and successful history throughout the Africa region. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK)uses the MTC’s to provide basic training in theology, catechesis, and liturgy to lay helpers who lead congregations within the parish under the oversight of a pastor.
The ELCK has officially relaunched its Mission Training Center program with twelve lay helpers. The program started with the books “Preparing to be a Church Leader” and “The Holy Bible.” As the program progresses, newly trained lay helpers engage in evangelism activities of sharing the Gospel and planting congregations in new areas. This program is the answer to the challenge of the ELCK’s few trained church workers, therefore helping the church to achieve her objective of “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ.”
“It’s my sincere witness that before I joined the Mission Training Centre program, I was ignorant of the Lutheran confessional teachings. However, within the first four months of training, I had started to gain a deeper understanding of the Lutheran confessional teachings that have moved me to a higher level. As I write this excerpt, I can’t hide my happiness in regard to the capacity and personality I have to preach the Gospel effectively before the ELCK congregants of Emulele congregation. To me, a new dawn has begun, and Christians are optimistic that through this training their souls and those of others shall find peace, joy, and hope in the good shepherd; our Lord Christ Jesus.” – Julius Amimo (MTC student in Kakamega)
“As the saying goes, A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. My journey as an MTC student has been a big milestone in my success story. The course “Preparing to be a Lutheran leader” has done great in my life. This course has enlightened and prepared me for the Lord’s vineyard. On the other hand, I have had problems understanding some Bible versions like the King James, but now I am glad that such is no longer a problem because the course on Biblical interpretation has worked that out. Lastly, I pray that through this program the ELCK church grows in western Kenya.” – Alfred Mukabi (MTC Student in Kakamega)