Enjoying God in Kenya

9.4.2020 | Mission News, Global Mission, Moderator, Mission, Overseas Tour

Just over a month ago, the Moderator, Rt Rev Dr William Henry, returned home from his 14-day overseas tour of Kenya. His pastoral visit, to the predominantly Christian east African nation, focused primarily on encouraging and supporting the work of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) three missionary families there. Each of them is seconded to serve with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) and Dr Henry met its senior leadership team. 

When I returned from Kenya some six or so weeks ago, the world seemed a very different place. In that time, I have been able to reflect on my visit to a nation that I have now been to twice. Having been there, I can relate to Rich Mullin’s thought that “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa - for he has so much to look forward to!”

Seeing God at work

We had an amazing trip to this vast, beautiful country which is teeming with wild animals and friendly happy people, but more importantly, it is a country in which we saw God at work and evident in the lives of His people.

The primary focus of our visit was our global mission workers and the amazing work that they do in Jesus’ name. We were also keen to meet different partners and observe projects. The sheer amount of travel from the north to south of the country was immense and this, coupled with the lack of electricity, never mind Wi-Fi, quickly shelved my plan to write a daily blog as I had intended.

In many ways, this underscores both the scale of distance, and remoteness, in which some of our global mission workers live and the variety of the projects they have initiated in partnership with PCEA. So now, having had time to reflect, I have collected a few thoughts.

On a practical level, I’m indebted to our global mission workers for looking after our needs. Depending on where we were, they picked us up at different locations, organised transport and food, in addition to providing us with local knowledge, there was also good conversation and great company!

As a family at home (before the current Coronavirus emergency) we are so used to the convenience of large accessible shops where you can casually nip in to to get last-minute items. No such luxury for the Cowans and the Reids, who as part of normal everyday life need to plan menus, and when in Nairobi, sort supplies and then transport everything home. For different reasons, this is also becoming part of our lives now.

Strong communities of faith & Frontline evangelism

While this has become a regular aspect of life for our global mission workers, it is an encumbrance and a monthly hardship whereby we are reminded in simple terms of the cost of their personal discipleship and following after Jesus. Having journeyed with them on long and arduous drives, which are also part of their routine, I am reminded of the continual need to pray for journeying mercies and strength for each of them on a daily basis.

My abiding memory of the situations in which our mission workers minister is the creating of strong communities of faith. Working with tribal people and working to resource the church is frontline evangelism, never easy, but through friendship, partnership and providing mechanisms of change, our workers have shown Christ to the Kenyan people.

We were immensely privileged to visit and see the fruit of many years of labour. Seeing folks pray and worship together; and express their faith in Jesus who calls them to follow him, above everything and everyone, is a humbling experience. Hearing leaders express their commitment to change and move away from old, deeply ingrained cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, for example, is a powerful reminder of the transforming power of the Gospel.

The value of education

Witnessing too, the costly commitment of individual families and the church in general to schooling was inspiring. We saw first-hand how education brings hope and is life transforming, especially for young girls, and witnessed the value of Christian education by extension. And we witnessed people, young and old, male and female meeting together in fellowship and joy.

In 1 Corinthians 13:13 Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It’s knowing Christ and his love that draws us to seek an ever-deepening relationship with him and an ever-deepening knowledge of his word and his ways.

It’s knowing his love that compels us to go to those who have yet to hear of the life, peace and hope that is found in him. It is the love of Christ that we long to share with unreached peoples, a love that will draw many to a saving knowledge of our Lord. Having spent time in Kenya, I have been challenged personally to ever press on to sharing that love, and in supporting those far from home in doing this.

Revelation 7:9 states “…I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” The joy of Kenya for us has been the realisation that many Kenyans will worship with me before the Lamb on that day, as they have heard and responded to the gospel, as introduced to them by global mission workers.

That’s the ultimate vision, isn’t it? To stand before the throne of the Lamb in worship with peoples from all across our world. To Him be glory!

Photos: (1) The Moderator, Dr William Henry, in a remote part of Masialand called Siana, high up in the moutains of southern Kenya before an open air Sunday service (2) with global mission worker Naomi Leramore (right) with her husband Thomas, sons Aaran and Silas, with Dr Henry's wife, Nora  (3) global mission workers Stephen and Angelina Cowan (4) global mission worker Gary Reid in Siana, Masailand, whose wife Mary is also a global mission worker with him  (5) The Moderator at Tuum Secondary School (6) with Rev David Mburu, elders and members of the congregation of Taivasha Town Presbyterian Church, where Dr Henry spoke (7) the Moderator with senior members of PCI's partner church in Kenya, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa at their Nairobi HQ.

Dr Henry headed for Kenya on 13 February and returned on the 26 February. Accompanied by his wife Nora, the Moderator paid for his three children, Bethany, Megan and Connor, to experience part of the tour, to get a sense ‘mission’ and see what it looks like on the ground. In a seperate blog, Connor writes about his experience in the African nation, which you can read here.

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