Kenya Snapshots

Staff_team_2015 Posted by Roger Cooke, 19 days ago | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

It was an immense privilege to spend time in Kenya at the beginning of September. Thanks to CMSI, what began as an embryonic idea of CITI trying to partner with a struggling Anglican Theological College in Mombasa ended with not only that opportunity, but also the chance to experience at first-hand the remarkable Diocese of Kajiado.

With my own background in Lisburn Cathedral during the 1980s and early 1990s, the names of Ronnie and Maggie Briggs, the visits of Bishop Jeremiah Taama and the previous involvement of John and Margaret McCammon in Kajiado were all familiar. None of that, however, prepared me for the impressive sense I now have of the ministry at the MRTC (Maasai Rural Training College) in Isinya, which is supported by CMSI, and the joy of meeting Bishop Gaddiel and his clergy in Kajiado itself.

My primary purpose was to offer a two-day teaching seminar for the 80 or so diocesan clergy at the invitation of the bishop, and then to preach in the cathedral at its two morning services. Together, we invested time in study, worship, prayer and genuinely Spirit-filled fellowship. The areas considered during the conference included the renewal of personal discipleship, a deeper theological engagement with the task of preaching, the importance of a servant-heart in Christian leadership and the centrality of the cross for everything in both ministry and mission.

All of the sessions involved simultaneous translation into Swahili (I think I have even learned some words myself!) and, thanks to Ronnie’s diligent organising, each delegate was presented with a resource book of further reading material to underscore the various topics. On such occasions, it is true that one gives of one’s ability and then trusts that the Lord will enrich and empower, but I have to say that this visit was one where, in giving, I undoubtedly received.

It is moving to have a real sense of the life circumstances for many of these dear brothers and sisters, and humbling to see the commitment that they manage to maintain on behalf of themselves, their families and their parishes.

At a very practical level the entire region of Kajiado has had no rain since last November – picture everything which you would normally expect to look green having turned brown – and that is now putting significant pressure on crops and livestock. In particular I cannot speak highly enough of the leadership role which Ronnie and Maggie Briggs are taking through the ongoing witness and planned major overhaul of the MRTC. They mentored me with grace and good humour through my first encounter with Kenyan people and local culture. They are a couple of whom CMSI can be rightly proud and, more than that, they are superb ambassadors for Christ as they live out their own faith in a rich blend of personal spirituality and practical assistance to others.

Part two of the Kenyan trip then took me down to the coast at Mombasa and to the Bishop Hannington Institute. I had met the Principal, Revd Dr Martin Olando, at an Anglican Leadership conference last year and he was keen to have me address his group of approximately 30 students in training towards ordained ministry. Again here the spiritual enthusiasm of the people belies the reality of their personal circumstances. Many of the students struggle to find the requisite, and by our standards, modest annual fees. The College itself is bereft of resources and one of the projects to which we in CITI are now devoting energy is to see whether it may be possible to send books for the library.

I end this brief report by expressing my gratitude to CMSI for sponsoring the visit and for generating support in prayer. For CITI, each of these contacts carries the potential for deeper partnership and we are already praying in order to discern what that may begin to look like for the future.

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