Over twenty years ago, Pamoja Ministries founders Sig & Joy Feser arrived in Zaire (now DR Congo) expecting to settle and remain there for the foreseeable future. When they were rather unceremoniously booted out of the country eight months later, they found themselves in an odd situation. They knew that their time in Africa was not finished, yet the country they’d come to minister in had closed every possible door. Instead of returning to Canada, they decided to wait in Nairobi, Kenya, making themselves useful until God showed them what the next step was for their lives and their ministries.
The family did more than just fill their days, more than just put in their time in Nairobi. They saw the need for resource materials, for solid teachings, for books and magazines in the local language and they began to intentionally work towards filling that need. They began learning Swahili and Sig began to outline possible writings that would be useful and culturally significant. After eight months in Nairobi, their future was a little clearer, and the work in Tanzania which would eventually come to be known as Pamoja Ministries began.
While in Nairobi, the Fesers were introduced to a man named Ralph Mahoney who was then head of an organization called World MAP. He was busy creating a reference book that included a mix of his own writings and that of others, designed for uneducated pastors in third world countries and intended to be distributed free of charge. Sig had already begun writing a simple, topical concordance for pastors to use when preparing a sermon. If a pastor wanted to preach on love one week, he could use Sig’s concordance to find six verses in the Bible that talked about “love”. Perhaps another week he would want to talk on forgiveness, so he could look up that key word and find direction to related verses. This concordance was included in Ralph Mahoney’s book “The Shepherd’s Staff” and translated in to multiple languages for distribution around the world. The simplicity and accessibility of this book has made it hugely popular among church leaders.
Originally Pamoja Ministries distributed the English and Swahili copies of The Shepherd’s Staff book, and recently we received our first shipment of French and Portuguese copies of this book and are now able to handle requests for copies in those languages as well. For twenty years these books have been distributed across this region by Pamoja Ministries, yet the need and demand is as high as ever. In this day and age of media, of movies and DVDs and music artists, the written word continues to have a high value to people, and we continually receive letters of thanks telling us what a difference this incredible, free, ministry tool has made.
Since Pamoja began distributing The Shepherd’s Staff in East Africa in partnership with World MAP, over 50,000 copies have been given out free to church leaders. The only requirement is that a person teaches or preaches to twenty or more once a week. Imagine a large stadium, filled full with people. That would be equivalent to the number of pastors and church leaders we have been able to equip with this amazing resource.
The literature aspect of Pamoja continues to be the backbone of the ministry, as important if not as glamorous as much of the other work going on here. Pamoja Ministries is discipling cultures through media.