MTI Holds Magazine Training Conference in Kenya

By Michael Ray Smith, Special to EPA  

NAIROBI, Kenya — E-Life editor Bola Adewara loves to tell audiences about the first issue of his magazine. He received an unsolicited telephone call in his Lagos, Nigeria, office asking him the budget he needed to get his first issue to press. “Budget?” Adewara asked. “I don’t know.”

That’s when a relieved Adewara heard the caller tell him that this stranger would underwrite the product to get the first issue to market.

Although Adewara, who shimmers with energy, went on to produce a successful print and digital product with his own funding, he said that the training he received from EPA ministry partner Magazine Training International in early October would have helped him avoid costly mistakes over the years.

“I worked as a journalist for the first part of my career,” he said, adding that he knew all that was necessary to create readable content. What he lacked was background in management, one of the three tracks MTI’s Magazine Publishing Institute offered in Nairobi that explored budgeting, revenue ideas, branding and more. MTI trainers, which included several EPA members, all volunteers, provided insight on editing and design as well as management.

MTI President Sharon Mumper noted that the Kenyan conference, one of more than 70 conferences she’s hosted since her ministry began in 1989, attracted an international audience of 45 participants that included publishers, editors and writers and others from Australia, Romania, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other nations.

I’m impressed by the quality of the participants,” Mumper said. “They are serious, hard-working Christian professionals who are here to learn and grow.”

Mumper pressed the participants on the conference benefits and she heard participants say the training is practical and the trainers are outstanding in their fields.

Anne Elhajoui provides one-on-one design training during the Magazine Publishing Institute in Kenya. (photo by Tamara Welter)

The trainers included Tamara Welter, chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Public Relations at Biola University, a soft-spoken professor with a gentle spirit.

“What gave me pause was seeing the most diverse group of people come together—trainers, staff and students—from so many nations to work and learn from each other—even the trainers; it was all collaborative and dedicated to the purposes of the kingdom.”

While the Kenya conference was her first, Welter said she would return for another, if possible.

“I was moved by how much was accomplished,” she said, adding the trainers are talented and the participants are highly motivated.

Christianity Today’s Jeremy Weber, known by his trademark man-bun, worked in the editorial track at the MTI conference. He used his skills as CT's deputy managing editor to share more than a decade of experience with about 20 participants.

“The highlight was meeting other people who share the excitement of the intersection of Christianity and publishing,” he said, emphasizing the passion his participants exhibited in their work.

In particular, he mentioned a Nigerian attendee who is launching a magazine for youth in Abuja.

“Of everyone, this writer was the most enthusiastic,” he said. “It was like giving some water to someone for the first time and he loved the taste.”

Over and over participants raved about the practicality of the program.

“The thing about the training is that it gives publishers the tools on how to structure your organization,” noted Francis Ayieko, founder and publisher of The Shepherd newspaper in Nairobi. “The most important tool I learned were the planning tools.”

Besides Welter and Weber, other EPA-affiliated trainers included Carla Foote, Anne Elhajoui and Lou Ann Sabatier.

The conference included more than publication training and featured a talent show with music, comedy, fresh crepes and lots of music. In addition, the conference combined worship and a time of testimony by nationals and others including Adewara.

He told his story using his dramatic flair and booming voice. The audience found his words inspiring and gave him a rowdy round of applause.

Later, as Adeware relived the moment, he grinned his wide smile and said, “Thank you, MTI.”

To learn more about Magazine Training International, visit To inquire about volunteering to teach for future international conferences, contact Sharon Mumper.

EPA associate member Michael Ray Smith, author of “Fake News, Truth-Telling and Charles M. Sheldon’s Model of Accuracy,” teaches journalism and research at Lee University, Cleveland, Tenn. In addition, he is on the graduate faculty at Regent University, Virginia Beach, Va. He conducted research for MTI at the Kenyan conference.

Posted October 9, 2018