2013–2017: An Overview

Successes and failures and ongoing challenges. During our first eleven years in Kenya, we’ve seen our share in each of these categories. In this update, we want to share with you some of our key successes from our third term (2014-2017) as we continue to work with our support partners in the work of expanding Christ’s Kingdom in Kenya.

To learn more, read our August 2018 update here.

new church plant: Oltarakwai CCC

new church plant:  Oltarakwai CCC — 2018 June 10th
photo credit: Thomas ole Pesi

expanding influence

Most of you know that our Eating the Word of God curriculum has been published in three languages:

Enkinosata Ororei le Nkai (in Maa)
Kujilisha kwa Neno La Mungu (in KiSwahili)
Akinyam Akiroit a Akuj (in NgaTurkana)

(Maa, the language of the Maasai, is spoken in Kenya and Tanzania.  KiSwahili is the primary second language of most Kenyans and Tanzanians, and is spoken across East Africa.  NgaTurkana is the language of the Turkana people, who live primarily in Kenya’s northwest, between Lake Turkana and Uganda.)

Just to remind you, this is the textbook for the Eating the Word of God course of the Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI; there are three branch campuses).  The highfalutin academic title would be “Equipping Congregations for Biblical Understanding,” but we keep it simple.  The books are also used for teaching grass-roots level seminars.

Today some missionaries to the Tonga in Zambia (in Southern Africa) have asked if they can adapt our materials for the Tonga churches.  (We said “yes,” of course.)

update: February 2018

What do Maasai Christianity and Celtic Christianity have in common?  You might be surprised.

For details and pictures, read our February newsletter.

 

update: October 2017

CCBTI (Community Christian Bible Training Institute) classes, a new book published, Kenyan politics, home assignment update, and a very important baptism.

For details and pictures, read our October newsletter.

update: July–August 2017

We have big news:  Kenya’s Elections are next week and we visit America starting in October!

For more, read our latest newsletter.

 

Expanding Christ’s Kingdom: June 2017 update

Last month we shared with you our team’s vision — unhindered disciple-making — and new mission statement: “to be a catalyst of God’s Kingdom Expansion in Kenya and the world through our own actions and partnerships with CCC and others.” (“CCC” is the Community Christian Churches planted by CMF — these congregations now number well over 200.) Then we listed the first four of our eight key values which provide the foundation for our mission strategies — Christ-centered, Prayer-powered, Empowerment of nationals, Holistic Ministries. Our other key values are Partnership, Church-focused, Community, and Culturally Appropriate.

To read more, including an update on our Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI) — now expanded to three campuses! — here is a pdf copy of June’s newsletter.

A day in our life in Kenya

What’s it like to be missionary in Africa?  Our days revolve around teaching national Christians and our six children, whom we (mostly Ruth) homeschool.  To read more, visit today’s post on CMF’s blog, which was written by Ruth.

Unhindered Disciple-making

Christ’s Kingdom in Kenya is continuing to expand and deepen in so many exciting ways!  …  Since our last newsletter, we have witnessed baptisms, heard of many other baptisms and new church plants by our national co-workers, planted two new branches of our Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI), and have our Discipleship Training Institute (DTI) on track to have two sessions this year instead of just one.

Our missionary team has grown during this term — we are now twelve adults and twelve children.  As part of this time of growth, we have been working on developing a new vision and strategy.  Our team vision is simple — unhindered disciple-making.  To read more, including about these pictures, here is a pdf version of our latest newsletter.

For a copy of the newsletter with better image resolution for printing, drop us a line.

new family picture

Why your brand matters …

Branding is important.  This is why Madison Avenue (the global center of the advertising industry in New York City) is a center of influence and of wealth.  This is why the hosting television network charges millions of dollars for a thirty second commercial during the Super Bowl (the championship game of professional american football).  A cowboy in America’s Old West — or a Maasai olchekut even today — could identify the owner of the herd with a mere at a glance at a cow’s branding mark.

(Note:  the Maa word olchekut is usually translated as “shepherd” but is used of cowherds and goatherds as well.)

Branding can work for weal or for woe.  If a Maasai teen-aged boy so much as flinches when he is circumcised, he is branded as a coward for the rest of his life.  In the 1985 film Back to the Future, George McFly suffered the effects his whole life of having been branded as a weakling as a youth, until his son Marty altered the present by changing the past.  Currently nearly half of Americans are horrified at the prospect of their country being branded as “Trump Nation.”  Yet nearly half of Americans were terrified at the possibility of their country being branded by the “progressivism” of another Clinton presidential administration.  Branding matters.

Countries in Africa (including Kenya) are often branded as backwards, undeveloped, and primitive.  This is often done by NGOs and even by missions agencies as they are seeking financial support for various developmental projects.  Sadly, this branding often first creates and then perpetuates a cycle of dependency.  But this is often done by comparing the poorest of those in the slums with those comfortably middle-class (economically speaking) from suburbs and cities in the West.

Many of you have seen pictures of endemic poverty in African slums in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), or Johannesburg (South Africa) and been told “this is Africa.”  Others have seen the perpetual corruption and impunity of dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and been told “this is Africa.”  Those of you at least our age remember the popular song “We Are the World” and pictures of emaciated Ethiopian children with the swollen bellies of starvation and think “this is Africa.”  Still others hear “Africa” and think only of stories of genocide (e.g., Rwanda in 1994), perpetual civil wars (e.g., Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC; formerly called Zaïre), Boko Haram’s atrocities against christians (mostly in Nigeria), social unrest and violent atrocities after a contested election (e.g., here in Kenya after the December 2007 election), or even just of “zoo animals.”

But how many Americans would like the USA to be characterized, branded, only by images of Old West gunfighters, or urban rioters, or the terrible morals in so many Hollywood movies, or the ostentatious conspicuous consumption of wealthy celebrities, or the gruesome practices of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, or by the divisiveness of “the other side” during the 2016 elections?  Most Americans would protest, “that is not my America.”  And so for those of you who do not live in Africa, we invite you to take a second look with new eyes at the various countries of this continent.

It is as important to celebrate glorious success as it is to bring needs to light.  So when we host visitors here in Kenya, we want them to see the rich texture and vibrancy of Kenyan life.  We’ll visit a church in the Kibera slum, talk with successful Nairobi entrepreneurs and artisans, swing by a world-class Nairobi shopping mall, sit with small-town church members in their large stone church building, and drink tea in a remotely rural Maasai hut.

Here is one example of positive branding for Kenya.  It’s a music video / commercial for Safaricom, the largest telecom and micro-finance service provider in East Africa.  It is a celebration of Kenyan life, culture, and people.  Like the best advertising, it is not pushing a product so much as celebrating a vision for life.  I invite you to watch and listen to this short video (less than two minutes).  The lyrics (in kiSwahili) and translation (in English) follow below.  This is the Kenya we know and love.  These are the Kenyans with whom we partner.  Yes, there is still need, which this branding doesn’t depict.  But in this season of America’s Thanksgiving, celebrate with us the greatness of Kenya’s people.

UNGAANA, PENDANA
 ….. LET’S UNITE, LET’S LOVE

Kitu gani chatuunganisha,
….. What is it that unites us,
Mume kwa mke, ndugu na dada,
…. husband to wife, brother and sister
Marafiki tunaowajali,
…..  friends whom we care about,
Washiriki hata makazini,
….. colleagues with whom we work?

Jambo la muhimu,
Kwa hamu na gamu,
Twatumaini taifa,
Libebalo
ndoto, zote zetu
 ….. The most important thing is
 ….. earnest anticipation of
….. a nation which carries
….. all of our dreams.

Ungaana (ungaana), Pendana (pendana)
….. Let’s unite together (let’s unite),
…..
Let’s love each other (let’s love)
Tumeungana twaonekana,
….. We have united, we have seen that
Tuko huru tuko sawa,
….. We are free, we are equal

Ungaana (ungaana), Pendana (pendana)
….. Let’s unite together (let’s unite),
…..
Let’s love each other (let’s love)
Dunia ijue tuko sawa,
….. Let the world know that we are equal
Twaunganisha ndoto zeta
….. We bring together our dreams

Ungaana kwa upendo
….. Let us unite together in love
Ungaana kwa upendo
…. Let us unite together in love
Ni Upendo watuunganisha,
…..  It is love which unites us
Mume kwa mke, ndugu na dada
….. Husband to wife, brother and sister.

 

 

 

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