Kenya Calling...

Posted by Colin Corbridge on Wed, 14 May 2008 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Two of CMS Ireland’s longest serving Mission Partners, Ronnie and Maggie Briggs, are preparing to return to Kajiado Diocese, Kenya at the end of May 2008.

Earlier this year Neil Brittain interviewed Ronnie to try and work out why he and Maggie were once again uprooting their lives to follow God’s call.

The beginning of 2008 saw Kenya gripped by tribal violence in the wake of disputed Presidential elections. At least nine hundred people were killed and more than a quarter of a million have been displaced by tribal rivalries and mistrust. Why would anyone choose to go and live there? “Well”, say CMS Ireland Mission Partners Ronnie and Maggie Briggs, “because it’s home.”

The Briggs first went to Kenya in 1980, only a few months after their marriage. “We went out for a twelve year stretch. We had our children in Kenya, we raised our family on Kenyan values”, explains Ronnie.

They returned to the UK in 1992. Ronnie worked as Development Coordinator for CMS Ireland but ten years after returning from East Africa, God called them back.

“We were at a meeting. We heard Bishop Jeremiah Taama share his vision for his diocese. We listened and became more and more excited as he went on and thought, ‘we could do that!’ It was a message that we had heard many times, but on this occasion something stirred in us. Once it started there was no stopping it. We believe that it was the Spirit prompting us. Maggie and I believed that being involved in what was going on in Kajiado was what God wanted us to do.”

They signed up for another six years. Ronnie took up a role as Planning and Development Coordinator in Kajiado, while Maggie worked as an Office Manager and administrator.

In conjunction with Bishop Jeremiah Taama and the local Church they helped to draw up a five-year strategic plan for the area. Evangelism, outreach, training, educational and development activities were at the heart of the new initiative.

But after two years into their work they had to come home. Their youngest daughter, Naomi, was diagnosed with Brucellosis, a condition that causes pain, fever and weakness.

With the effects of the illness leaving Naomi exhausted and without energy, they returned to Northern Ireland.

“The doctor recently told Naomi that she would need a period of treatment for about one year. That year finishes in May 2008. She is clinically improving but she still needs to build up her energy levels. She hopes to return to education soon.”

It was a message that we had heard many times, but on this occasion something stirred in us

With Naomi feeling much better the Briggs feel it’s time to go back. “As regards Kenya, we genuinely feel called to go back out and get involved again. Everything that we have been doing in the past three years has been great (Ronnie worked as CMS Ireland’s Regional Mission Partner for East and Southern Africa) but we have been waiting for the chance to return.”

For Ronnie and Maggie that means implementing the strategic plan for the area that they helped to draw up. “Our main task is to implement it and develop it and make sure the structures are in place to make it work.

“It is exciting. We feel that we have crossed a critical point – by giving up our jobs and now training as Mission Partners again. Preparations for us leaving in May have been positive and lots of things have fallen into place.”

“It is an amazing job. Out there you can see the difference straight away. Helping to supply water somewhere where it has never been before is a wonderful experience.”

It is an exciting time for both Ronnie and Maggie. The next few months will be a period of change – saying goodbye to Northern Ireland and hello to Kenya once again. But what does Ronnie hope will have been achieved three years from now?

“Well, I hope in those three years that Naomi will be fully recovered and leading a normal life. For Kenya I hope that the country will settle well and that a constitutional settlement will be put in place to end the ethnic divisions. For our job I hope we can implement the strategic plan, put a lot of staff in place and make progress on all fronts.”

“In addition, I want to see a stream of people from all over Ireland coming out to Kajiado to see the work that is going on – because seeing it for themselves makes a real difference to the support coming from all linked Churches. To achieve what we want to achieve we need help from Ireland. So come out and get involved…”

While in Kenya the Briggs will be in regular contact with Link Parishes and supporters in Ireland. They will have a blog on the CMS Ireland website and you can sign up for their mailing list which will keep you up to date with all their news.

Neil Brittain

This article was originally printed in the Spring 2008 edition of inMission magazine.

Ronnie and Maggie Briggs will be commissioned at 3pm on Sunday 18th May in Magherally Parish Church, all welcome.