It takes three days to travel by bus from my hometown to Murgwanza, Tanzania.
The scenery on the drive makes up for it - you travel along the river Nile, passing through several national parks and game reserves. You can see wildlife like elephants, giraffes and buffalos from the bus window.
Murgwanza is part of the Kagera Diocese, which is bigger than Rwanda and Burundi combined and has a very high population.
By 1994 (after the Rwandan genocide ended), only 40 church leaders in the diocese had been formally trained. Over half of these leaders were from Rwanda and Burundi and returned home immediately after the genocide, leaving the people in Kagera to be shepherded by a largely untrained and illiterate leadership.
It wasn't until a missionary from Crosslinks came to the area that the need for ministry training was identified and addressed with the introduction of Kagera Christian Training College. Today, nearly all of the church leaders in Kagera have gone through this college, attaining certificate and diploma awards.
The Bishop of Kagera, Bishop Darlington, joined a Christianity Explored leaders' training conference some time ago. He felt there was a real need to equip local leaders for the work of evangelism and so it was decided by his team that Christianity Explored should be introduced into the college's core curriculum from summer 2018.
When I visit our neighbouring countries, I often travel with thousands of copies of Christianity Explored, to give to church leaders.
Like much of East Africa, Burundi is very hilly and has a hot climate.
Our partners are based in Bujumbura, a small town which is 60% Catholic. Most people there work as fishermen because the town is located next to Lake Tanganyika. The people speak Kirundi and French. It can be difficult to communicate!
Again, there are very few trained ministers here. Most church leaders leave to work in other countries after their training and lots of missionaries have left too due to security issues. One youth worker we met said: “To get a good Bible teacher in Bujumbura is like looking for a needle in the forest.”
“To get a good Bible teacher in Bujumbura is like looking for a needle in the forest.”
However, amazing things are happening. The Christianity Explored Kirundi translation is underway, led by a team of four.
With Christianity Explored people are learning to read the Bible for themselves and we hope to see more and more people on the ground in Burundi who are able to teach their own people.
Democratic Republic of Congo
You have to pay for a visa in DRC as it is not officially part of East Africa. The diocesan headquarters are in Bukavu, and sometimes I hire a motorbike for this journey because in rural communities it can take hours for a car or bus to fill up with passengers.
Bukavu is the biggest town in eastern DRC. It's a very poor place, with poor infrastructure and facilities.
The coordinator of the Bukavu Diocese is Bernard Nasumbuko. Bernard is now working with other church leaders to introduce Christianity Explored within the archdeaconry.
They need copies of the material in Kiswahili, Lingala and French which we have to send to them by courier.
It's a short journey over the DRC border to Cyangugu, Rwanda. Cyangugu is in northwest Rwanda and is a big town, also situated on Lake Bukavu, which acts as the border between Rwanda and DRC.
Rwanda is a very green and calm country. They get a lot of rain and there are many thick forests. It also has the lowest speed limits (and accident rates!) in East Africa of 60KM per hour with heavy fines for anyone who breaks it, so journeys here are always slow.
Reverend Obadias Mahirwe (Dean of the Cathedral in Cyangugu) has recently completed the Christianity Explored Kinyarwanda translation. We plan to get it printed in Kampala.