- Roger Thompson
Small Beginnings – Huge Impacts
A wonderful "Reading Room" cross-cultural bible study took place last Saturday with 10 members of St Mark's, Dundela and 7 partners in Kayole, Nairobi from the Urban Development Programme (UDP) and Tumaini African Foundation (TAF), facilitated by myself and my colleague at CMSI, Linda Abwa.
This idea arose out of a 20 year partnership involving all 3 parties which has centred on mutual friendships, prayer and exchange visits. One aspect of this partnership has been financial support for the ministry of free school meals provided year on year for the 350 children of Tujisaidie Community Centre School, many of whom belong to marginalised families with high levels of food insecurity. Since the global pandemic hit a year ago, the school has suffered a long period of closure, and the planned-for visit of a team from St Mark’s was put on hold. With the help of zoom technology (and a lot of hard work by Antony installing Wi-Fi) we were able to overcome these challenges and keep the connection active.
After a time of greeting, Rev Helene Steed (Rector of St Mark’s) and Antony Njoroge (leader of TAF) opened in prayer. We then read together the passage from Matthew 14 (the feeding of the 5,000) and spent about 15 minutes studying the passage in our respective groups. Coming back into one group we then shared our various insights from the point of view of each context, finding that the perspectives shared by the other group had a big impact.
Antony commented that he noticed the disciples were like a bridge, having a good relationship both with Christ and with the crowd, which enabled the miracle to take place. In the same way, he felt, it’s important for the team at Tumaini that they have a good relationship with God, and with the community – both a horizontal and a vertical relationship. Isabelle Prondzynski (CMSI Mission Associate and founder member of UDP) then reflected that CMSI was also like a bridge, and that our annual theme in 2017 had been “crossing bridges” reflecting our emphasis on building relationships, rather than projects.
“Who dares despise the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10)
Isabelle also noticed that the TAF leaders were like the disciples, who were able to achieve a huge amount with the few resources that they had to hand. This encouraged Lynn, who reflected,
“Often in St Mark’s we wonder if the small things we do are making an impact - like our little tin that we collect money in when we’re able to at church - is that really making a difference? But just knowing that you have to make a start, and try small things, and that God will amplify those and multiply them, that’s just such a powerful message to remember.”
Making a connection with Zechariah 4:10, Louise Githire (UDP Programme manager), commented
“We should not despise those little things we have …the bible study group at St Mark’s, they are not a big group, but a small one, but the transformation they have made in Kayole is tremendous! They have really transformed the lives of many children who would have not gone to school, but now they have gone through school, and have now joined college, and are now self-sufficient, and that’s something great - thank you!”
Helene summed it up in a similar way, commenting:
“the powerful thing to me in this bible passage is the crumbs, that even a little crumb is of huge value, and that it’s so easy to underestimate our contribution to life and to faith, crumbs matter! It’s not always the big grand events or projects, it’s the crumbs….”
The meeting was closed in prayer and with a blessing, followed by some more moments of relaxed chat. The wish to meet again was expressed with gratitude.