In 2005, Mike Congrove and David Kaya met for the first time.
Mike Jorgensen had taken his disciple, Mike Congrove, to Kigali, Rwanda. Both Mikes worked for e3 Partners Ministry and e3 was hosting their Africa country directors for a meeting in Rwanda. Early on in the meeting Jorgensen asked all the country directors to share what God had done that calendar year in their ministries.
Yosef Menna of Ethiopia started the time by sharing that he had overseen 1,000 church plants that calendar year. No one else had quite that large a testimony, but they were all positive. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and more all had good testimonies. The last director to speak was David Kaya of Sudan.
He had just been promoted from an EvangeCube Trainer to Country Director. Kaya told us that a 23-year civil war had ended only four months earlier. He had just moved back to Sudan from two decades of living in a refugee camp in Uganda. He said he’d started ten new churches, but had run out of leaders to start any new churches.
Kaya said he’d just returned from preaching at a large conference deep in what’s now South Sudan. He reported starvation and that some people actually died while he was preaching.
Mike Congrove was moved and drawn to both David and the seemingly impossible task of operating in such a hard environment.
In 2006, Mike Congrove and David Kaya started what would become a partnership for the Gospel in South Sudan and Sudan.
They worked together. Mike would recruit people in the United States to come on short-term mission trips to South Sudan. David would organize the pastors on the ground. Their first collaboration was in Rumbek, South Sudan. After two visits to Rumbek, they hit their first major obstacle: They couldn’t find trained church-planting leaders.
So they called a full stop to their initial strategy and asked God to give them a new plan.
They felt God instructed them to start a bible school in Kajo Keji that would specialize in training church planters. It would keep a strong base of biblical and theological training, but it would also include many practicums in disciple-making, church-planting (or starting), and living like a missionary.
In March 2007 North East Africa Theological Seminary (NEATS) was born in Kajo Keji, South Sudan.