Behold I make all things new

Kenya_2015b Posted by Kenya META 2015 on Thu, 30 Jul 2015 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Being Anglican has its advantages, no really it does! Going to church in the Diocese of Kajiado is certainly different to going to church in Ireland but there is much that is familiar, as you listen carefully to the Swahili and Ki-Masai words you can work out where you are in a service, even if you haven’t a clue what is being said or sung. Today’s blog is a snapshot of five very different experiences of worship during our visit.

The Diocesan Cathedral in Kajiado
This was more structured and familiar than the other experiences although I have to say that ‘Nearer my God to Thee", a familiar funeral hymn at home was literally brought to life as it was sung with such passion and lead by the Bishop! The service timetable is very full on Sundays in the Cathedral but we were enthralled by the contrast of powerpoint and rousing African singing. The commissioning of the Joint Team by Bishop Gaddiel Lenini was very moving as was his sermon. A personal favourite for the two Rev’s was the cup of chai before the service and the food served immediately after, definitely going to bring this in when I get home! Avril and I stayed behind after the service for the beginning of the Swahili service which was led by a Girl’s school choir, the worship was beautiful, full of life and all the more poignant when we were told that many of the girls singing with sheer devotion to Jesus etched on their faces were rescued from very difficult situations.

St Paul’s Imberikani
We were invited to visit with an outlying community of the hugely spread out Parish of Imberikani, our arrival at the “Tree” was very moving with the wonderful Masaai singing and costumes greeting us as we got out of the jeep. Many of the church communities have mostly women as their members, and to hear God worshipped in beautiful sound and colour under a tree was truly memorable.

Be there by 10.15 they said, the church building is over 40 years old, and there were four children waiting for us when we arrived, an hour later we started the service with only 3 more adults joining us by then. I have to confess to being a little frustrated as I saw a number of people passing by, ‘Why aren’t they coming in?’ I asked myself, wondering had they already heard about my preaching. But for those who were late it was the fact that they were coming from work, had to collect their families from home and walk back, for some it was that they had a very steep hill to climb to get there. I was half way through the sermon when a surge of people arrived, by that stage Archdeacon Naftaly and I were well into our stride, me preaching and he translating. Preaching with a translator can be tricky especially when you say a short pithy statement only for the translator to spend 2-3 minutes explaining or expounding your point, but with Naftaly there was an instant connection of trust and fun as we acted out the stories together, it was a real joy to see this amazing man of God in action.

Somewhere outside Kajiado
Having spent the day before driving home from Amboseli Park along what can only be called ‘bone-shaking’ roads, we were delighted to hear our final church service was was only a short drive over the nearby hills. You should always be nervous when anyone in Kenya tells you it will be a short journey, time and space work differently over here. As the roads quickly deteriorated I began to fear the worst, but actually we arrived quite quickly at a beautiful wind swept hill to an almost-completed stone church. It was wonderful, vibrant, all ages, many smiles and laughter, especially when the two dramas were performed by young people, and the dancing, it was stunning, graceful movement turning to lively and passionate surrender to the rhythm, we were swept up in it. This is a church of Masaai farmers and herdsmen, supported and led by some members of the Kajiado Cathedral community, it was in so may ways what church is meant to be Sunday by Sunday. It was completed by the traditional leaving of the church during the final hymn to greet one another in a giant circle of fellowship, definitely another idea to bring home.

Oltiasika Primary school
Think of an average classroom in one of our schools, now, take out the carpet, Inter-active-whiteboards, tables, desks are few and shaky, take out the windows and the plaster and and remove the paint off the walls, add a stone floor and over two hundred children and you have one of the most intense experiences of worship I have ever been part of. We were there to lead the Friday assembly, but the sheer number of children crammed into the room made us wonder would we even be heard. Silence, once called for was instant, the children herded back to allow space for the wooden chairs for the guests, and then the singing started, and then the dancing! One little girl had to be rescued from the surge but it was absolutely awesome to see and to hear, children singing and dancing without shyness of self consciousness, drumbeats beaten out on those shaky desks, smiles and laughter and God-centred-Joy, it was the stuff of memories.
‘O Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’, we did, it was amazing.


Rev Baden Stanley has been part of a CMSI Mission Experience Team Abroad, who have been visiting Kenya in July 2015. You can read their other blogs here

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