Mission Partner

Jem Hovil

Jem leads the UK charity BUILD Partners, which helps to nurture the BUILD training initiative. BUILD stands for ‘Biblical Understanding for In-service Leadership Development’ and is designed to equip church leaders who have limited access to traditional training.

The programme began in the Church of Uganda, where it is an integral part of the Education Directorate. But it has also spread to surrounding countries and Anglican provinces, with varying degrees of presence in Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania, and others engaging with it from further afield.

BUILD uses an in-service model with in-built multiplication to deliver its training. Its more formal training-of-trainers course equips leaders to go on to train others at the grassroots in local, non-formal BUILD groups. It does that by teaching them to use the modular BUILD curriculum, which is biblical, theological, practical and thoroughly contextual.

Jem joined Crosslinks in 2000 and lived in Uganda until 2007 before a move to South Africa. He returned to the UK in 2013 but continues to serve BUILD remotely and through regular trips to East Africa. Jem is an honorary Canon of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Shinyanga, Tanzania, has permission to officiate in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and serves in his local church.




Evangelical Christians:


Main religion:


Main Languages:

English, Luganda and Swahili

Recent Prayer Letters

‘Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine’ Paul’s words sprung to mind on my trip to Tanzania and Uganda in November. Both Tanzanian graduations were supremely joyful, with lashings of dancing and singing, speaking and praying, with feasting thrown in. There were plenty of surprises. BUILD branded cakes were cut and fed to people on stage. Poems of congratulation were read. A song composed, played, sung and danced by students further back in the programme to congratulate the graduates gradually grew in volume and tempo with the number of people dancing until it was approaching a full-scale party. As a guest of honour, I was of course invited to join in… no comment on the quality of that cameo. Most importantly there were wonderful testimonies from those who had been trained and were beginning to put their learning into practice as well as to pass that training on to others.
Thanksgiving for training underway in Gambella, Ethiopia I rewrote the buildpartners.org website recently and some will have seen the piece in the news section there: ‘God’s gift to the diocese of Gambella’ (a soundbite from an interview with their Archdeacon). It has been a long journey from exploratory discussions during the pandemic to training getting going in Gambella, Ethiopia, so it was wonderful to read recent reports and watch video interviews. These included an interview with Archdeacon Jeremiah, which included this wonderful quote, which says it all: ‘I regard the BUILD programme as God’s gift to the diocese of Gambella. Having got 25 students to come and study BUILD, it’s a real privilege for us because when they go back to their mission centres and churches they will make a great impact in the lives of the congregations. Especially leaders who cannot afford to come and learn in English. They will go back and teach them and explore BUILD in their own languages.’
Thank you for your prayers for my time in Rwanda and Uganda in April. I asked for positive outcomes from Gafcon IV, Kigali, for good meetings with the Rwandan bishops we relate to, and for productive time in Kampala with the Church of Uganda. I was there in the rainy season and God’s response to those prayers felt like that: when it rains it pours!
Depending on when you receive this, I’ll either be in Kenya on a trip or back in the UK. Please adjust your prayers accordingly (don’t attempt the theologically impossible, but do pray for the outcomes!). Giving a day by day account will give you more of an idea of what I get up to on these trips.
It has been a big few months with travel and growth on the BUILD front, set against loss and change at home.

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