Getting the word into Kiswahili!

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Mathare No. Church, Nairobi North

Flag of Kenya  , Nairobi Area,
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sunday, July 18, Travel Blog

We were off to Mathare North, one of the congregations in the Nairobi North Presbytery, since we had been in Nairobi East and Nairobi Central. Our partnership doesn't yet have any project in Nairobi North, so we have been in conversation with David Ndumo, Nairobi North rep and newly elected treasurer of the Partnership Board, succeeding Julius Muchiri.

We arrived at the church in time to catch a bit of the Sunday School, before we were over to the sanctuary (still under construction, with walls and a temporary roof, awaiting a building up of the walls a few more meters to support a full roof.  This church was heavily affected by the post-election violence of 2006 (next one coming up in 2012 is raising fears of possible repeat of the violence, depending on the outcomes – with some people stockpiling weapons in anticipation, but also numerous groups, such as Veronica Muchiri’s Women’s Guild and some other groups (more about this in a later blog!)  The slum community just down the hill from the church was totally destroyed, burned out, people chased, and even seeking refuge in the church building were also nearly reached by the torch-carrying mob – Luos after the Kikuyus!   There were reports that the Luos were paid to kill the Kikuyus!   So the church lost many of the children which were included in the outreach ministry in a school and children’s center.  The church itself had to close and cease operation, opening again only in January, 2008.  Some of the people have returned, but many relocated to other areas permanently.

It was a very warm and welcoming community of faith, representing a community with less education and social standing, but close and warm and very hospitable.  As always the faith and praise team opened the service with a very lively 20 minutes or so of song and prayer, followed by a long prayer, praise sermon by our host, Rev. Hezekiah, who had formerly had oversight over this congregation and others in the Presbytery, but apparently had not preached here for several years, and maybe was trying to get in several years’ worth of exhortation!  Since I had had an opportunity to completely type and print the sermon, my good translator David Ndumo and I had a good time preaching the word in Kiswahili and English.

Interesting note:  for the collection of the offering, there was a market basket for each of the "districts" of the congregation, a gathering of families with an elder as overseer (the biblical meaning of Presbyter!), so that a record was kept of the offering brought by each district – different colored market baskets with the district name.  Members of the congregation came forward from the pews to place their offering in the appropriate basket.  We joined the pastor in placing our offering in the basket of the district to which he belongs.  I suggested that it was my hope that the elders and deacons would need bigger baskets as the congregation grew.

As we finished the service, the church bus was off, filled with children, to a “Festival” (a contest among the congregations of the Presbytery, which included teams from each congregation with memory scripture verses, songs and music, dramatic presentations and original pieces – sort of a church Olympics within the PCEA, leading from Presbytery levels up finally to a nation-wide contest).  The Mathare North team was satisfied with their showing and brought home second place in the Presbytery.

Once again we had a luncheon prepared by the congregational kitchen and words of appreciation and messages to take back to our Presbytery:  rice, a cabbage mixture, beef stew, chicken and the marvelous fresh fruit of Kenya, pineapple, melon, bananas.

My friend David reported that the congregation is seeking to add classrooms to the Sunday School, and begin again to bring in children for after school and Saturday enrichment classes, and offer, as with many congregations, a feeding program through Compassion International.

Rev. Hezekiah took us to his new Presbytery (Nairobi West, which does not yet have any partners!, and the very upscale Milimani Church, just west of the downtown area – the most richly appointed and clearly financially supported facility we had seen!  -- the softest pew cushions I have ever sat upon!)  The congregation does support a number of major outreach projects and programs with their funds, including a center in one of the near-by slum areas, where as Hezekiah says, they give their money but probably are not willing to set foot.

So if there any Kenya Mission Network folks out there who might be willing to consider partnering with a congregation, or are part of a Presbytery willing to help develop a Presbytery partnership, let’s talk!!  These are marvelous opportunities for mutual support, encouragement and growth in the service to our Lord Jesus Christ!

We were back to the Methodist Guest House, ready to rest a bit and share experiences with our Pat, who had been away with Julius Muchiri since Friday afternoon.
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