Blog: Day eight – a foretaste of heaven

October 14, 2018
8 Service times

Note: These service times are changing on 4th November

I am writing this shortly after arriving back in the UK on Tuesday. The memories of Sunday however will linger long in the memory.

Sunday is anything other than a day of rest for the archdeacon and his family. Everyone was immaculately turned out and ready to leave by 7am. We dropped Nick off at a petrol station and hotel owned by Revd Solomon. This kind of arrangement is not unusual in Kenya  where most vicars find some way of supplementing their income.

I arrived once again at the archdeacon’s parish of Kenyatta Road to await my lift. Ven David had been hard at work the day before sorting which member was going to pledge what amount for the gift day. This sort of gift day is a usual occurrence in the church here. Today, as Ven David explained later, this particular church raised 5 million shillings which will go a long way towards the building of a new church on that site.

But my focus was on Ruiru parish. The vicar’s warden Johnny picked me up in time for me to witness the end of KiSwahili service. Of course I couldn’t just slip in as an observer. I was invited to introduce myself and later on to bless the tithes individual worshippers brought kneeling at the communion rail. I discovered that I was also meant to bless each giver and shake their hand.

Joel the catechist then began to preach so I slipped out into the vestry and wait for the rest of the Devonport team. I don’t preach without notes as a rule but I had preached on Colossians 1:1-14 a couple of months ago and it seemed a very appropriate passage for the morning.

The English speaking service was in some ways a curious affair. The clergy processed in with a robed choir. It was due to kick off at 9.30am but there were only a handful of people present. The start of the service followed the prayer book rigidly and the songs were either Victorian hymns or 1970s choruses. Once the formal liturgy finished however the church quickly filled and there were upwards of 200 there. It was a great honour to preach and after a good 30 minutes I received a round of applause. I can only hope this meant my words really had been God’s word to them.

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The end of the English speaking service

The sermon almost marked a change in the service as from that point the songs and prayers seemed far less inhibited. Again during the service I had to bless the tithe givers, and if anyone arrived too late for this a box on either side of the door marked “late tithes and offerings” indicated that giving was still expected. The offering itself was presented almost at the end during the singing of another oldie “Bringing in the sheaves.”

I pronounced the final blessing and we recessed to another Victorian hymn. After a vestry prayer and photos with the choir Jay, Pam and myself went to the old 1933 church next door for the Kikuyu service. That is when the morning really took off. This older church is smaller than the new but it was heaving. We were told yesterday the congregation was elderly but it seemed all ages were there, and the singing as we entered was filled with the Holy Spirit so that we couldn’t help raise our hands and voices in worship even if we were speaking a different language. That kind of difficulty, after all, presents no problem to the Holy Spirit. Beth joined us halfway through from the Sunday School where she had had a great time with the children and she too was caught up in the Spirit.

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Worship Kikuyu style

As in the English service we presented the scrapbook Pam had put together but the whole ceremony was so much more relaxed and full of humour. Perhaps it was the small size of the church, perhaps it was the fact everyone was speaking their native language. Either way the atmosphere was electric. We then witnessed a thanksgiving service for an elderly lady who came to church with several generations of her family to celebrate her recovery after six months of illness. They came to the front where this elderly lady gave her testimony and introduced each family member.

Once that finished it was the turn of Joel the catechist to preach again. Most people hereabouts are fluent in at least three languages, so it was no difficulty to preach the same sermon he had delivered in KiSwahili earlier in Kikuyu and he did so with great passion and fervour. Only he slightly deviated off script by first trying to marry Beth off with the youth worker Peter. Fortunately everyone appreciated the humour of the situation and I did say before the blessing that her Nan wanted a word with him!

We then dutifully shook the hands of every worshipper leaving the church, aware that in that gathering each of us had our own foretaste of heaven. We eventually made it to lunch in the vestry at 1.30pm. It had been a long time since breakfast and I was extremely hungry! However as always the hospitality shown to us was so warm and friendly. There is a local saying that no one will talk when they are hungry or thirsty and the generosity we have been showing has been overwhelming. Such practical acts of love and kindness show these wonderful people really are gospel folk and I can only hope that when they next visit us they will discover such hospitality on our part. They truly are our brothers and sisters in Christ and it has been privilege indeed to meet them and worship with them.

Today we forged a very special bond that I hope will continue for years to come.


Blog: Day seven – to Ruiru

October 13, 2018

Today we were finally able to travel to our link parish: St Michael’s and All Angels, Ruiru with Emmanuel, Karoa.

Ruiru is the second largest town in Thika diocese with a population of about 100,000. It is a bustling industrial town that is known as the bedroom of Nairobi. The roads were busy that Saturday morning because many people live in the capital during the week and move out to Ruiru and beyond for the weekend. This also means that St Michael’s and All Angels hosts many of its activities on a Sunday as folk may be living away during the week.

I arrived before the others which gave me opportunity to look at the church site. It is a massive area of 2 acres. It has an original stone missionary church built in 1933 and right next door a spacious modern church dedicated in 2003. Opposite these churches stand the Sunday school rooms and to the left behind a hedge the vicarage. This is currently empty since Ven John retired earlier in the year. This is why Ven Joseph is currently overseeing the parish even though he is also an archdeacon and has a neighbouring parish with three churches and five Sunday services. He was one of our guides for the day along with one of the curates Revd Paul (the other curate Revd Erastus was on leave.) We need to pray for the right person to be appointed in the long term to take on the responsibilities for Ruiru.

Also on site stands a former primary school that used to belong to the church. It is now leased to a Roman Catholic hospital to serve the local community. Apparently somewhere else stand two houses leased for free to the local administrative police and there are plans to develop the rest of the space. All this was explained to me by Johnny, the vicar’s warden who spent a year doing a masters degree in education at York University while his wife was doing a PhD in Huddersfield. There was no trace of a Yorkshire accent however!

But further exploration of the church at Ruiru had to wait. When the others arrived we went off to the sister church of Emmanuel, Karoa. Ven Joseph, who was my driver, explained that Karoa used to be separate parish but could no longer pay its way. We travelled gingerly along a new road under construction thanks to Chinese money. On either side the scrubland had been subdivided into plots ready for the road to be finished. Ven Joseph explained the need for the church to acquire a plot of land before this new development was finished.

Eventually we turned off this road and we began to find ourselves in coffee plantations. We were approaching KAIRO the Kenyan Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation. We passed through the gates and followed the track through the estate out into quiet, peaceful country. Just as the lane ended we found Emmanuel Church. We were entertained with the inevitable arrowroot, sweet potato, boiled eggs and water melon in the unfinished hall just above the church that serves as a meeting place for the children. Most of the congregation is drawn from the staff and labourers of KAIRO – it is not the sort of place you would easily find on your own!

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Emmanuel Church, Karoa

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Inside the church

The church was built on land donated by a lady called Ruth who celebrated her 90th birthday recently. The adult congregation is small, about 40 with 30 young people and 30 children. We were warmly welcomed by various church members including Joel the parish catechist – the diocesan term for an evangelist, Dan the churchwarden and Ruth the secretary. They were clearly proud of their church and keen to keep it going. We were joined by about six children who sang a lovely song for us. We showed them Pam’s scrapbook with which they were delighted and it was agreed we would then take it over to Ruiru. They wanted to send their love to us and we bade a fond farewell after I had blessed them.

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Some of the Karoa church family

We then took the longer road back through more beautiful farmland which gradually turned into bush as we approached a nearby town, again being subdivided into plots, before turning back into Ruiru. Ruiru town centre is a busy, bustling place with the usual impossible traffic jams. The church stands a little way out. We were greeted by a group of elders. There would have been more but the KAME group which serves the men were out playing sport.

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Ruiru church

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Inside Ruiru church

Ven Joseph and Revd Paul introduced the rest of the group. Joel the catechist had come over with us from Karoa. We also met two elderly readers called Agnes and Joshaphat, Peter the youth worker and Simon who is a reader in training. With the two church buildings there are three services in the morning, an 8am service in Swahili in the 1933 Church with about 70-80 people, a 9.30am service in English with about 180-300 people and a 10.30am service in the 1933 Church, mostly elderly, with about 110-120 people. There is also a parallel Sunday school service from 9 to 11 with about 200 children, and a teen service of about 30-50 at about the same time. Holy Communion is celebrated once a month.

There are also 9 cell groups which meet at 4pm on Sunday each with three leaders. They sing, pray, read God’s word and pray for individual needs. There is also a 6pm fellowship group. The choir meets for practice on Saturdays and Sundays and the men’s group on Saturday. Finally there is a ladies fellowship on Thursday morning from 8am to 9.30am.

We asked about links with the wider community. We were told that Ruiru has a university (plus a private one), a college and numerous schools but the church has at present no direct connection. Later in a private conversation Ven Joseph explained that the Bishop was looking for a younger, more dynamic Vicar who would build links and develop the potential of the church which is so strategically situated in a fast growing city.

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The Ruiru leadership team

We then had a no holds barred conversation about the state of the church. Our Kenyan brethren wanted to know why the church in the west was in such a state. Jay and I suggested a number of reasons: the church failing to value its freedom to share its faith, being more interested in rules and ceremonies than outreach, moving away from the teachings of the Bible in order to fit in with the world. I firmly stated my evangelical credentials and I think my position was appreciated. Beth’s perspective as a young believer was also helpful and we did stress we needed young people to come over on the link while Pam effectively challenged them about the inclusion of young people with disabilities.

By now we were as usual well behind schedule and my tiredness was starting to catch up with me. I had a brief sleep before the whole family went out to the bishop’s house for dinner. The food was the standard fare of white or pilau rice, chapatti, goat stew, chicken, cabbage and a few extras. There were plenty of thank yous and speeches which on another occasion I would have appreciated better. Certainly the link committees of both dioceses deserve enormous thanks and credit for working so hard and so efficiently to make this link work and I sincerely hope that others will come out to Thika in the future. There is so much learn, and a visit here really does reignite and refresh your faith.


Blog: Day six – a trip to Nairobi

October 12, 2018

Today was a long day, but an easier one.

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Scaffolding on Thika memorial church

We took the bus from our rendezvous point at Thika Memorial church to Nairobi. We had on board a professional tour guide called John who is a member of the diocese. He explained the colonial past of the country, both its good and not so good aspects, and referred to films and books written about Kenya. He was also very knowledge about the flora and fauna. For example, 80% of trees in the country are non-native. The eucalyptus was brought over from Australia as it was good for powering steam engines. But it matures fast in 10 years and can often present a threat by drying out marshland where it grows. The giraffes are only able to eat the indigenous trees so they cannot deal with the problem.

The name Nairobi itself means “cool water” and that was one reason why it became the capital city. It was also the head of the railroad which started to be built in 1896. In 1963 the population of the city was only 350000 because the colonial authorities controlled the movement of people through permits. Since independence the population has risen to 4.5 million.

We had plenty of opportunity to see Nairobi because the bus broke down. After 45 minutes of inactivity a minibus appeared and we all squeezed inside. But no sooner had we got going then the traffic was at a standstill – Melania Trump was on her way to the airport and everything stopped for the first lady.

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An orphaned elephant

We eventually arrived at the elephant sanctuary for an all too brief visit before heading onto the wildlife park. I think I have probably been spoilt by my wildlife experiences elsewhere in the world but we still had an enjoyable time getting up close and personal with tortoises, chameleons and cockatiels and watching the lions and cheetahs being fed. We also enjoyed a lovely platter of food at the floating restaurant and over a leisurely lunch caught up with folk back home.

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Beth with chameleon

6 Pam with tortoise

Pam with tortoise

Then onto the shopping – I think everyone else was better finding the right souvenirs and haggling but eventually it was time to get on the bus (now repaired) for the hot ride home. On the way out of Nairobi I was struck by the tremendous contrast between rich and poor. On the one hand state of the art skyscrapers graced the skyline and we passed a Porsche dealership: on the other we saw wider and more abject poverty than seen so far in Thika.

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The struggle for existence

Yes, we had seen plenty of single room shacks and tumbledown businesses offering all kinds of services. We had seen people carrying heavy loads of firewood or cattle food gathered from the wild, either carried in their hands or balanced precariously on the back of cycles or motorbikes. But here was one of the largest slums in Africa: disabled adults and children begging in the dirt: plastic waste forming a sort of topsoil amid wrecks of vehicles and every range of wares laid out in the sun, from teddy bears to bras. At one point we passed the rubble of a demolition site where men worked amongst the piles of stones seeking anything of value. There were also small independent churches and chapels with some improbable names offering salvation – I can only pray the hope they offer is genuine.

As usual Ven David had a meeting after the day was over. We initially arrived in the middle of a power cut, not unusual in these parts. But at last power was restored and the committee gathered in the church to sort out the final details of the fundraising campaign being launched on Sunday at his church in Kenyatta Road. Nick and I adjourned to the office for another session with the WiFi. We were glad to finally get home for supper.

There we met Ven David’s sister, Rosemary, who works for the Anglican Development Society advising farmers in a very dry region how to farm sustainably – by diversification, by mulching, by crop rotation. In the course of the conversation I also learnt about Tearfund’s role in the diocese. In essence they are pulling out of CCMP because the churches are doing such a good work. This is how aid should work, by enabling and empowering local people to take responsibility, and helping them to move from receivers to givers, which is what CCMP is all about. Still can’t help thinking about those slums in Nairobi, though.


Blog: Day 5 – into the highlands

October 11, 2018

Thika Town is situated between the plain and the highlands. Today we went up into the highlands.

Terraces

Terraces with passionfruit, arrowroot and macadamia trees

We drove up through lush green forests and arable plantations on the side of steep valleys. We passed one holding where passionfruit grew on wires along steep terraces leading down to the river. These were interspersed with macadamia trees while on the banks below plantings of arrowroot took advantage of the water on offer. Incidentally I have discovered that sweet potato grows wild in these parts. There is some just outside our hosts’ house which has been recently dug up.

So we climbed slowly but surely. Our first goal was Chomo parish who were just starting the CCMP process. We were welcomed with the inevitable boiled sweet potato and arrowroot but there was also the option of eggs or watermelon. We were then treated to some enthusiastic singing by members of the congregation. In every parish we visited we tried to reciprocate with a song of our own but in every case we were second best.

So what is the first stage of CCMP. It is to study the Bible and ask: what vision for the future does the church have? Chomo church saw themselves as a sleeping elephant. They had the potential to be powerful but at the moment there was a low rate of giving, people were late for services and home groups not well attended. I think we could identify with these signs of spiritual sleepiness!

How was the situation to be addressed? The Bible study on God’s purpose for humankind from Gen 1-3 showed that God has provided all that we need and it opened the church’s eyes to God’s blessings. The next stage in the process would be to look out to community and see how to impact on them. But already changes have happened in the church. The women are starting to beautify the church, and there is a new pulpit etc. They are looking after their natural resources better such as trees, rivers etc.

“I am a person of great potential and God wants me to use this potential” (Mama Eunice)

James the church secretary explained how the church has moved from one level to another. There were very few men in the church and they filled only two benches. So they started a men’s fellowship. After looking for men and praying for them their number increased from 10 to 17. Men worked together to construct new fence because the church open to wild animals. Each man contributed 1000Ksh to chain link. Also they started to save money together. The aim is to start income generating projects. Six months into project, loans will soon be available.

The Church is aware it needs to tackle alcoholism and drug abuse in the community and also that its members need to better manage their businesses and projects. So every church member has a Bible marker with the church vision. On the back image of a running elephant beneath the cross!

After we heard from the vicar we briefly visited a tea plantation. We were shown how to pick tea and then Pam was given a basket to strap to her back and actually try picking!

Tea picking

A professional tea picker!

We then moved on to Gakui parish. Our first stop was a coffee processing plant. Soon the coffee cherries will be ripe. The best red ones will be separated from the inferior ones that will produce type 2 coffee. This happens in the weighing room where the two types go into separate hoppers. They are then pulped and the husks are discarded for compost. Then the sugar is removed in the fermentation tanks over a period of two days before drying in the sun for period of up to two weeks. The factory then takes the processed coffee and removes another layer of husks. At the moment the price for Kenyan coffee is low not only because of competition from other countries but because coffee beans are exported as a raw product with value added elsewhere.

Also in Gakui is the largest poultry business in Kenya with 350000 hens spread over three farms. The manager was proud of the free range nature of the hen rearing. In reality the hens are confined in pens with their beaks clipped and while we were there they were waiting for their feeders to be filled up in the afternoon. It left me pondering the balance between supplying mass markets and the welfare of animals.

Eggs

Eggs

The church itself in Gakui was very hospitable and was a chance for an excellent lunch. I am definitely developing a taste for Kenyan stew with chapattis, rice and potatoes and sides of cabbage and kale. The fresh watermelon was also delicious. There was much to discuss and ponder from all we had learnt in the morning.

We then briefly stopped at a smallholding with a very photogenic goat before going on to Kairi parish. I am sure the vicar wanted to give a good impression but his speech gave the impression this somewhat older church had seen better days. Apart from the 400 boys from the high school who attended the English services there were 250 members but only 120 came regularly and the weekly offering was only 6000 Ksh.

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A photogenic goat

We drove back to Thika memorial church to meet our lifts. Nick and myself used the occasion to stay in the vestry for a while and connect with home. Ven David then took us into Thika Town for a coffee. This gave us our first experience of walking across a Kenyan dual carriageway – rather like crossing Alma Road in rush hour. Then into Juja where he had generously arranged for a gift of tea for us. The three lanes of traffic that probably were competing for a single lane produced the most horrendous jam with a lorry even reversing into a pickup. We were glad to get back on the move home.

It was good to catch up with Ven David and his wife Laura over dinner. Ven David is enjoying the return to parish life. He was diocesan secretary for five years. This meant long hours away from the family and also Sundays in many different churches. Laura is like Lynda an involved clergy wife and simply wouldn’t have the time to work.

At the moment their big project on the holding is to dig a well. They are paying contractors by the foot to excavate and so far they have gone down 45 feet. The ground is very stony. We pass by several quarries each day with lorries queuing by the entrance and men going to and from work. Ven David and Laura reckon the stone is only about 7ft under the soil. As more and more plots are developed so the demand for this stone is increasing.

Tomorrow we are off to see some wildlife and go shopping. I think we have absorbed about as much as we can about church life for now! Clearly there is so much we can learn and I very much pray we can apply the lessons to our own church life.


Blog: Day 4 – a day in and around Thika

October 10, 2018

 

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The cathedral in Thika

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The foundation stone

We arrived early for a fairly formal service of Holy Communion at the cathedral although Bishop Nick spoke very well about the power of God. Once a month, on the first Wednesday, Bishop Julius gathers the 100 or so clergy of the diocese for teaching. There are usually two guest speakers and the input lasts the whole day. The second speaker who was addressing the issue of climate change couldn’t make it which made the load lighter today.

The speaker who did arrive was excellent, a Ugandan lady speaking on truth centred transformation. This is a five year course similar to CCMP which enables churches to impact their local communities. It consists of seven stages, and the first two really spoke to us.

First of all, to make any change, we need to depend utterly on God. She took as her text 2 Chronicles 20 and then quoted the example of a church who devoted the day in prayer in order to work out how they could dig a well. They then found a church member who worked for the local government and could provide materials. She then posed the question: what if the church wanted to dig a second well? It might seem logical to go straight back to the church member. But actually there is still the same need to pray first and seek God’s will.

She then talked about the lies we need to confront. She quoted an example from the Dominican Republic where in the valley are poor farmers and on the hills above houses of prosperous Japanese immigrants. These came after the second World War and arrived with nothing. But they believed there was a point to work and they could change their situation. They grew rich while their Dominican neighbours remained poor. The difference was the way they saw themselves.

There is a link with the gospel. John calls the devil the father of lies and tells how Jesus came to set us free by His truth. The poor and vulnerable often believe untruths about themselves, that their situation will never change, that work doesn’t pay, that they have nothing to give.

At this point it was time for a teabreak. When we spoke to our speaker she was shocked to hear how directly relevant was this teaching to our own situation in England. We need to start changing the situation by making sure every church member understands through the gospel the truth about themselves. Only then can we hope to impact on the local area.

Then because there was time before lunch Bishop Julius divided the clergy into groups depending on how long they had been ordained. It was a real privilege to join the 15-20 year group. We held hands as we prayed and sang, and finished with the grace.

Lunch was served outside the cathedral and it was a good opportunity to meet more of my Kenyan brethren. The rest of the English party stayed on but Nick and myself accompanied our host Ven David for the afternoon: visiting a church member at home, dropping into a Kenyan supermarket and visiting Kenyatta Road school where Nick handed over some books donated by the children of a parish in Devon. Later on Ven David drove right into the centre of Thika to pick up sacks of feed for his small dairy herd. We managed to avoid the roller skaters who were travelling downhill on the other side of the road amid the tuk-tuks, lorries, cars, motorbikes and bicycles all competing for the same piece of tarmac.

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The waterfalls at the Blue Post Hotel

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Presenting books at Kenyatta Road church

In between we visited the Blue Post Hotel made famous by the book the Flame Trees of Thika and boasting to be the only hotel in the world between two waterfalls. Even though in a spectacular setting and owned by the presidential family, it has clearly seen better days. The souvenirs are predictable, the wildlife park a fairly sad place for the animals and there is a general state of disrepair. The only thing going for it were the samosas. It was good to sit and take a break from a busy week.


Blog: Day three – Swani parish

October 10, 2018

Travel in Kenya is an experience. Many of the roads are rutted dirt tracks which in rainy season become impassable. It is also hard to determine what precisely are the rules for using the highway. It is little wonder Kenyans pray before travelling!

Today we travelled by a variety of roads to Swani parish to see a church programme called CCMP in operation – Church Community Mobilisation Programme. We wanted to see how this programme had helped and empowered people in this area.

Our guide for the day was the vicar Benson assisted by the vicar of the local parish Samuel and the cathecist Jackson. We saw four examples of the effects of CCMP in action: first we met a lady called Lucy who has now a water pump and is hoping to erect a tank. She has identified pumpkins as a good crop to grow as these aren’t generally produced in the area.

Then we met a lady called Gillian whose water pump has increased her crops of bananas and avocados and sweet potato and any water that runs from the well waters a crop of arrowroot. The money she has generated has enabled her to have 7 rooms to rent out to families and the availability of running water makes her rooms all the more attractive.

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A banana tree at Gillian’s farm

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An acre of healthy tomatoes at Peter’s farm

Our next two examples featured some older couples. The first, Peter, had been in a bad way with no opportunity to buy even seed. But thanks to CCMP he was able to pump water from the river and expand his holding to 2.5 acres. He now harvests all kinds of crops and hopes to produce about 45 crates of tomatoes this year – not a bad yield from a single acre. He also has a poultry farm, and indeed almost everywhere you go in Thika there are chickens. The second couple had been enabled to harvest rainwater from the roofs of their family buildings and store it – an immense advantage in the dry season.

So how does CCMP work? It involves church moving away from depending on others and recognising the resources with which God has already blessed them. We went to Swani parish where this was explained further. The first part of programme involves Bible study and bringing church together. In Swani this at first involved only 12 men. They used only to meet at church, but through the programme realised they needed to visit each other’s homesteads.

From this decision sprang the idea of “merry go round financing”. Each visitor to a homestead brought 1000Ksh for the merry ground and 200Ksh for the kitty. Each month a grant of 20000KSh was made – not to be spent on consumables but of things that would bring long term benefit such as a water pump or storage tank.

As the fellowship has increased so every three months the men slaughter a goat together. There are now 22 members. The Merry go round has become an evangelistic tool. Particularly targeted have been the men whose wives come to church but who themselves don’t come. The next aim is to reach out to youth and slaughter a goat with them. There is also a desire to reach all men of the parish.

The parallel CCMP for women is run by the Mothers Union. The mothers now feel able to contribute and some of the money raised has enabled construction of a toilet in church. As a result of both programmes giving is up from 4000Ksh to 8000 to 12000Ksh per week and outsiders are seeing the joy.

How might anything of CCMP affect our church? We are already seeing the sharing of resources and talents but there is surely more we can do, and more people we should encourage to get involved by our discipleship of them. How we do this is something we need to think about at a later date.

It was somewhat ironic seeing the impact of CCMP when on the doorstep of Swani parish is a huge Del Monte plantation, a monoculture of pineapples that seems to stretch for miles. There are villages, schools even a church on the estate and Del Monte’s power seems pretty absolute.

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At Swani school

 

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View of the river Tana – Kenya’s longest river

We had lunch at Swani secondary school where the children sang for us and Bishop Nick spoke briefly. Then back on rutted roads for another sightseeing experience. We had seen a little of the countryside in the morning when we visited Peter’s holding and saw the weaver birds down by the river. This however was a long drive over more rutted roads to a hill called Kirama Korgi. It was a steep climb up to an outcrop of what I assumed were volcanic rocks. On a clear day you can apparently see Mount Kenya and as far as Somalia. Today however was not a clear day. Nonetheless looking down on the broad, green aim of the Tana river was an experience in itself and we all sang “O Lord my God” together.

Then eventually home to a meal of chicken killed today, matoke and kale with homegrown avocado. Ven David our host has chickens, geese, cows, goats, sheep and beehives as well as every kind of vegetable growing. It was a lovely feast after a tiring day.


Blog: Day two – the journey

October 9, 2018

My reading this morning was taken from Romans 4. I couldn’t help reflecting how Abraham undertook such a long journey without the preparations we take for granted today: vaccinations, passports, foreign currency etc. He simply went by faith and discovered at the end of the journey the Lord was there.

We were warmly welcomed at the airport by a group from ACK Thika. I was taken to my hosts by Ven Joseph who is the current acting vicar of St Michael’s Ruiru. The previous vice retired in July. Joseph looks after two churches there. He also has the neighbouring parish of St Paul’s and is also archdeacon. He visited our diocese back in 2012. We discussed something of the similarities and differences between ministry in Plymouth and in Thika. I have great expectations of what I might learn here but also recognise that every church in every culture faces its own challenges. When we were queueing at passport control in the airport I couldn’t help notice the three items on the news were water wars, fake money and land disputes. It will be fascinating to learn more.


Blog: Day one – looking back on our anniversary weekend

October 9, 2018

Photos will appear from day three onwards!

It has been a truly extraordinary weekend at St Michael and St Barnabas. I must thank and praise the whole church family who worked so hard with such good grace and in such harmony. Your dedication and effort was a tribute to the gospel.

Even more importantly I must thank and praise the living Lord who has brought His church into being and called us into His service.

For first of all He is a faithful God. To see so many people at our anniversary service going back so many years reminded me of how the Lord has been at work over so many years and remained the same through all the changes we have experienced.

Secondly our God is an active God. It was very special to have Bishop Robert come and confirm Sarah and Kelly in their faith. To see these two ladies publicly affirm their faith proved that God still changes lives today.

Thirdly our God is a global God. So often our vision of Him can be so small, so parochial. Tonight we joined in the worship of Jay and Pam’s former church in Bracknell. Tomorrow we are travelling to Thika. Wherever we go, He is already at work building His church.

So this evening on day one of our adventure I simply want to give Him the honour and glory that is due His name. To Him be praise forever and ever. Amen!