Saturday 4th May Arrival in Nairobi and dinner with the Principal, Kennedy.
Brian and Sheila (who have been presenting "Rooted in Jesus" for the last 2 months) are now with me in Nairobi for the rest of my stay.
Monday 6th May made a good start on teaching from Ecclesiastes, with discussion questions on Fatalism and Purpose in Life. I have got someone to go to the library to look up the dictionary definition of Ambiguity – they understood the ambiguity of the Church strapline ‘God loves hurting people’! There are 12 in the class so far, with 15 expected.
Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th May were good days of studying and discussing Ecclesiastes.
Chapel service included a drama on the Unforgiving Servant which was well-received and understood.
Thursday 9th The Ecclesiastes class is expanding all the time and there are now 24 (including Joseph and Alain - our Burundi FECABu students).
I had a good time with Bernard's church (Academic Dean)– 25 people out at 3pm to pray. I am looking forward to the Tent of Refuge on Saturday but with trepidation – and tiredness – it will be my 17th meeting. (Addressing teenagers from the slums is more challenging than students or churches - how to get their attention and be able to communicate??)
Evening- a good party with 17 students. They enjoyed (very competitively) the quizzes and ate all the food - cake (from the supermarket!), apples, oranges and juice.
Friday 10th Distributed the African Study Bibles to the class I had taught and bought for them. I said it was a ‘random act’ in the spirit of Ecclesiastes!
The spokesperson for the class made a speech in true African fashion and said they were missing (me) even now when I was still there. She said that the teaching on Ecclesiastes had taught them so many new things and the forgiveness teaching was going to enable her to live a new life.
(The hunger for the Word of God and the faith with which it is received is one of the main things I miss from being in Africa. It is so refreshing and it seems to be very rare amongst Christians in UK.)
Friday 10th evening - at Kennedy's church, preaching on forgiveness (for the 6th time).
Saturday 11th Visiting the Tent of Refuge on Dandora Estate, Nairobi.
The Tent had about 100 children present throughout the morning activities with worship and games, culminating in a nutritious lunch for all. (Many of the children are undernourished and live mainly on maize meal made with water. They have little milk, vegetables or fruit and very little protein.) The children did a presentation for us of a song with actions in which they all joined enthusiastically; some recited memory verses from the Bible and others did a rap dance backing to a contemporary song. We brought with us two cases full of books, games, videos, classroom supplies, toys and teaching materials which we had collected.
We interviewed several of the children and learnt how they loved the singing and the games and the opportunity to learn how to follow Jesus. Highlights were talking to a young lady who has been part of the Tent since it started and is now in her 3rd year at University studying microbiology; and seeing the mother of a boy, Edward who is now in Secondary school both of whom worked on the dump, recycling plastic and metal. She looked so different. Edward now has hope of employment in the future.
Visit to Plants & Pillars Teenage Project.
The teenage group were taking part in a session about non-aggressive communication and numbered about 70 girls and a small group of boys who were mainly in school although it was Saturday. They are sent by the heads of 5 neighbouring schools – and in fact the numbers invited to attend from each school have to be limited due to demand. I was particularly struck by how the mentoring programme with its emphasis on self-esteem, God centred living, knowing one’s body and sexual health, has given the girls real courage to be pioneers in their family and aspire to be different and to go further than their parents. The 4 mentors present then reprised the teaching with the girls before they had lunch.
The Boys programme revolves around a Football team for which we supplied some more equipment – bibs, boots (a few which had been donated) and kit, although we were not able to meet their main need of a £400 registration fee to join the local league. I was glad to see some of these boys involved in the Tent of Refuge teaching the younger children & hearing how their Christian commitment has reduced the stress levels in their lives in this rough inner city estate.
It was an encouraging visit both for us and for the Tent team of volunteers. We were able to leave a laptop and mobile phone with a camera to help them collate their information and communicate with us and all those interested in the project. We got the sense that the children are actually contributing to the rejuvenation of this church which has spent a lot of time, energy & money erecting a vast 5,000 seater building.
Sunday 12th Preaching at Dandora Cathedral on Forgiveness with a drama
(The Bishop is a former student of ours and his son and his wife have initiated Plants and Pillar Project)
Monday 13th Visits to Tent of Refuge families, children, school etc.
Tuesday 14th Flight Home. Arrive 8.30pm
I arrived back early on Tuesday evening after a straightforward 17 hour journey with every connection leaving and arriving on time.
Once again I was wonderfully aware of being lifted up on a carpet of prayer both in the circumstantial outworking of events and in the feeling of being enabled to rise to the various speaking occasions – and in being kept free from bugs and thugs.
In my 8 active days there were 21 hours of speaking to 10 different groups. It was good to see former students of the Bible College now heading up the African denomination of 3000 churches we work with and all of them involved in serious Church planting and discipleship. Sunday schools were on the increase in the Cathedrals I visited with attendance of 200 and 400 respectively and youth groups 100 and 200 strong
All the congregations responded to teaching on Forgiveness wholeheartedly giving the impression that it was timely and that action would be taken in obedience to the word. The impromptu dramas of the Unforgiving Servant brought the teaching to life (and the congregation in fits of laughter) at each church.
The Bible College is riding a phenomenal wave of fruitfulness with 2,500 graduating in 2018 from its multiple 1, 2 and 3 year courses. With the Academic Dean just completing a PhD in On Line aspects of Distance Learning, it is preparing to catch the next wave.
I was happy to present 25 copies of the Africa Study Bible to the Ecclesiastes class. In the spirit of the book I sad this was a ‘random’ act which might not be explained or repeated!
I was able to encourage the 2 Burundian students we are sponsoring for the BA programme who are both working hard. Emmanuel, who graduated in 2017, has decided to stay in Kenya and serve the church there in a voluntary capacity. I was glad to hear that he has planted a church (40 attenders already) and is now on the official register of pastors in the Dandora district.
The Tent of Refuge at Dandora Cathedral continues to see some students annually pass through secondary education either to university or church work with greatly strengthened character and self-respect arising from Bible teaching and mentorship.
The Plants and Pillars meeting for teenagers was most heartening. Over 70 teenage girls were fully engaged as a token of their faith and determination not to be distracted from following Christ’s path for their lives through education and mentorship – either though the demands of lusty young men or discouraging economic circumstances. The Boys Football team is very popular but needs £400 to join a league.
So thank you for making all the above possible and giving another reminder that God’s Kingdom spreads through the weapons of the Word and prayer and willing partners.