Meet Dr. Philomena Njeri Mwaura (pictured above), Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Kenyatta University, Kenya. For the last 27 years, Philomena has been teaching, researching and writing on African Christianity in Kenya. This July, we were honored to have Philomena visit us at the Network's Global Distribution Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Within minutes of first meeting Philomena, we knew her story would be an encouragement to you. We invite you to read our fall newsletter cover story featuring Philomena here, and watch the video series here.
Without further ado:more
Meet Network supporter, Ruth Veltkamp. Ruth lived in Nigeria as a missionary teacher for over 45 years. She taught at secondary schools, theological education by extension programs, and West Africa Theological Seminary. Though she now resides in the U.S., Ruth still returns to Nigeria to teach at conferences and seminars.
We first met Ruth at our annual “Women’s Voices” luncheon in April 2018, when she came to hear her friend Anne Zaki speak. Last week, we reconnected with Ruth at our Global Distribution Center ahead of her upcoming trip to Nigeria.
When asked about the need and opportunity for theological books in Nigeria, Ruth shared, “Roughly half of Nigeria would call themselves Christians but many of them, including many pastors, have had little theological education, much less training for missions, including effective witness among Muslims. Since the national language of Nigeria is English, theological books written in English are very effective for the many Nigerians educated in government and private schools.”more
Recently, the Network had the pleasure of hosting one of our partners from Rwanda, Dr. Garry Friesen, faculty at Africa College of Theology and All the Bible in Community (Pictured above under the Rwandan flag). Dr. Friesen was able to share with the Network’s staff the impact our shipments have made in these two communities.
With great enthusiasm, Dr. Friesen explained: “One of the most enjoyable moments in my ministry life was the Kigali Kollection (with a “K”). We watched God raise up 20,000 books to create the Africa College of Theology (ACT) library in Kigali, Rwanda. It was a miracle. Our students from ACT later created the separate ministry called ABC (All the Bible in Community). ABC has started oral Bible reading groups and rural pastoral training.”
The Network is thrilled to hear how God is raising up a solid library at ACT and multiplying sound teaching for rural pastors through ABC.
In June of 2018, ABC finished the first of 6 bible study training modules with a third cohort of 35 pastors. Dr. Friesen taught Old Testament Survey, and they...more
A few weeks ago I shared with you "Joe's" inspiring testimony from my recent trip to Kenya (you can find it here). Now, I'd like to share with you three more testimonies from students I met in Nairobi.
The next Is "Judy", a woman in her late 40s who has been a missionary since 1990. In 1998 she began to recognize a great need for scholarship, so she came to Nairobi for graduate studies. As she encountered more and more Muslims of differing scholarship levels, she felt the need to get even more training. She's now pursuing her PhD in Islamic Studies. "The books that are available help me be more effective in ministry and to teach other Christians so they'll be effective, especially when interacting with Muslims.", Judy shared.
Then came "Pauline", a woman also in her late 40s. Pauline is a teacher and full-time missionary with S.I.M. (Sudan Interior Mission). She's in the Islamic Studies Program in Nairobi. "In my experience I encountered several challenges to effective ministry. That's why I decided to come here. And...more
When I travel on behalf of the Network to our Majority World partners, I always ask students two questions: "Why are you pursuing a theological education and what will you do when you're finished?"
One of the students I remember most was a tall, confident man who looks to be 45 or 50 years old. He might be as young as 35. It's hard to tell because of the difficult miles he's travelled through life already. Let's call him 'Joe', because his name is so long it's a source of humor on campus.
Originally from South Sudan, he was an untrained, nominal Christian. One day a Muslim teacher, Yusef, from Sudan, challenged him to find answers to three questions in the Bible. "If you find them, I'll become a Christian." Joe spent a year reading and studying the Bible. When he had finished, having found the three answers, he went to Sudan looking for Yusef.
"What was it like looking for a specific Muslim in Sudan for the purpose of converting him?", I asked.
"It was hard. I was threatened at gunpoint, beaten several times, put in jail and in prison. I was stabbed with...more
Judith K Simonson
When I first learned about the Theological Book Network, I realized that the name, at least, combined my interest in theology and my lifelong passion for books. I attended the Women’s Voices event in the Spring of 2017 at then-President Nancy Arnison’s invitation and was intrigued. I was very pleased to learn that books on topics that are important to me are being provided to libraries in seminaries throughout the Majority World and are making a difference. These topics include gender and Christianity, poverty and inequality, Christian-Muslim relations, and stewardship of our natural world.
Volunteering has afforded me an opportunity to learn a great deal about the Network’s growth and the work it has done. I hope that I can continue to be of service to the Network by doing tasks that will free the staff to focus on their important work.more
One of the most recent resource requests we receive is for materials to support Christian-Muslim engagement and the study of Islam. As Christianity and Islam grow and their followers increasingly work, worship, and live in close proximity to one another, our partners tell us how vital it is that the two faiths deepen knowledge of each other to cultivate better understanding and build bridges of mutual respect and cooperation. To do this, our partner schools in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are increasingly offering more courses and opportunities in inter-religious studies.
Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST) provides one such example. Director Misgana Mathewos explains:
EGST provides the chance for both students and faculty to be engaged in an interfaith study through specific courses that introduce students to other faiths. As part of this engagement, EGST provides community services, particularly maternal, newborn, and child health training to religious leaders from all faiths.
For schools like EGST, there is a pressing need for access to...more
“Why send books and not shovels? Because we are called to write the vision - to make it plain and easily read. Because books can equip God’s people for their part of God’s work in God’s world - provoking new thinking, nourishing hope, and empowering for action.” Dr. Ruth Padilla DeBorst, Center for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies, Costa Rica
On October 3, 2017 friends and supporters gathered at the Network’s annual dinner to celebrate the work of our Majority World partners and to introduce a new initiative to further support Latin American schools. Our speaker, Colombian theologian Dr. Ruth Padilla DeBorst (pictured above), presented a challenge:
Since I've become involved with the Network, I'm seeing Scripture through new eyes. The familiar story of Martha and Mary is a recent example.
In Luke 10 Jesus and his disciples stop at the home of Martha and Mary. Martha works diligently on the meal preparation, while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. It's not long before Mary pays a price for her decision. Martha rebukes her sternly and asks Jesus to send her back to work. Jesus teaches clearly that Mary's learning from Him is more important than the day-to-day demands of life.
So, what has this to do with the Network?
Well, it occurred to me that life in the Majority World is often difficult and laborious. For a young woman (or anyone, for that matter) to remove herself from the kitchen of life and add graduate studies to an already challenging life requires the power of the Spirit, a profound love for the Lord, and personal fortitude.
The question is, "At whose feet will this very deserving disciple sit?" At the Network, we strive to help local colleges, universities, and seminaries in the Majority World...more
“In the midst of the tragic events affecting the Middle East…I found myself attracted to an old book on my shelf, and wondered: Can an old book forgotten in history help me in the 21st century? … It was then that I began my journey into the book of the prophet Habakkuk.”
For many of our supporters, donating books to the Theological Book Network is a bittersweet moment. In hope, they give their personal and treasured books wondering what difference it might have in someone else’s life across the globe. Recently at the Network, we were reminded of the power of books to inspire global church leaders to minister to people in hardship in their own communities and produce their own theological works. These leaders equipped with books apply the scripture to their own unique cultural contexts.
Syrian theologian Dr. Riad Aziz Kassis recently shared with us a story of how a single book from the Network made a difference in his ministry to Syrians caught in a tragic situation. In October 2014, the Network celebrated its ten-year anniversary. Dr. Kassis, a longtime...more