Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Finding peace in unsettling times

As word of the terrorist attack in the Riverside community of Nairobi reached us yesterday afternoon, we began to check in with family, friends, and staff members in the city.

Many here in Nairobi have had an unsettling feeling that another terror attack was coming. The tension has been there -- quiet, raw, and strained. The El Shabab network has been active in Somalia, we've heard story after story of the terror and conflict that have continued to boil in our neighboring country. The rhetoric of vengeance and death has not stopped.

I was up early this morning reading and praying in the quiet of our home. You can hear helicopters and low flying planes circle the city. People are alert.

The attack in Riverside is not yet over. Families are still desperate for news of loved ones still inside. People are giving blood, praying, and standing watch.

I am thankful for the beauty of Africa, for the resilient faith and kind-hearted people whom we have come to know and love. And the more I think about friends whom we have come to know and serve within Kenya and throughout this region, the more I am reminded that their hopes and aspirations are not unlike my own. They are tired of conflict, they are weary from violence, and they yearn for peace.

And yet here we are once again. Another attack. Another senseless loss of lives. More black smoke staining the sky above us.

As we live in the brokenness of this world, the good news of our faith is not that we get to escape the suffering and unrest. The good news is that God enters the brokenness to bring redemption, life, and hope. These unsettling feelings are a sign that the world is not yet as it should be. That we were created for a life that in Christ is now and not yet.

Our friend Sam Chaise shared a wonderful article this morning that quoted author and pastor Erwin McManus who expresses this idea in a profound way:
"Why is it that we long for a world without violence? We have never known a world without it. Why do we yearn for a world where there is no hunger? We have never known such a world, Why are we desperate for a world with no death and suffering? We have only ever known pain. Our ideals are the phantom pain of the soul."

Please join us in praying for Kenya. For the first responders, the security forces, the doctors, the nurses, and the countless families who did not sleep last night for the concern for loved ones. We pray for peace that comes from Christ alone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 A Year of Bridging

The Standard Gauge Railway 
stretching from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya

We begin 2019 with great anticipation for all that the Lord is doing among our colleagues, partners, and our family. This will be a year of great change for us all.

Over the past weekend, we traveled by train to the coast with our family. The five-hour journey cuts through the Nairobi National Park and the massive Tsavo National Park. Along the way, we saw hundreds of elephants coated in the red clay of Tsavo. It was our last opportunity to visit the Bahari Beach Hotel where we have been vacationing since Ava was only a baby. Over the years the Bahari staff have come to know our children by name, watching them grow up as they played in the pool and build castles on the beach. Living in Africa has provided us so many wonderful opportunities to explore and share in adventures with our kids, but there are also traditions and places that we have continued to return to over and over again.

Such shared experiences, people, and places are among the anchors that we have established in our lives. In order for a bridge to work, there need to be anchor points that allow the bridge to connect people from one place to another. 

We are thankful for the anchor points that God has blessed us with here in Kenya: Our family, good friends, an amazing school, a church fellowship, our pets, special places that we keep returning to, our campfire... And as we prepare to cross the bridge of 2019 we are grateful for the new anchor points that are being formed already as we prepare for our new life and ministry in Nova Scotia.

In the same way, God is at work here among our CBM Africa team and partners. Even though we cannot see the end of the road before us, we trust in the fact that God is already there. He is at the beginning and the destination of all things. Or in the words of the book of Hebrews:

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure..." Hebrews 6:19

A giraffe joins the skyline of Nairobi, seen from the National Park.

In Prayer

Please join us in praying for this year of bridging, for our family, for the ministry of CBM in Africa, and for the people we work with.

For our Family

We certainly appreciate you remembering our children as they enter their final semester at Rosslyn Academy and prepare for the transition to Canada.

We especially think of Emma and her friends that will be graduating from high school in May. These next months are a time of final decisions for those who are awaiting acceptance and scholarships for colleges and universities.

We pray for good homes for two of our three pets that will be remaining in Kenya.

We also covet your prayers as we seek to purchase a home, car, and all the practical necessities of life that we'll need in our new roles at the Bridgewater Baptist Church. We are very excited to join this community where we will begin to serve on July 1, 2019. We continue to pray for our congregation and for the people of Lunenburg County.

For our CBM Africa Team and Partners

We give thanks that our colleagues Gato and Anne Marie successfully moved to Uganda this past week with their children and that they have found a safe and comfortable rental home in Kampala. We pray that they are able to form new friendships and that the Lord will lead them to a welcoming church family in their area.

Erica is currently working with the ACC&S that will be assuming the administrative work in Kenya that we have been coordinating through the Wordeed International NGO that we had established several years ago. Please remember her in your prayers as she completes the requirements for closing down the NGO and helping CBM to transition the operations here to our team and partners.

We pray for the upcoming Africa Leadership Exchange that we will be hosting in Nairobi with leaders from four of our partners. Please join us in praying for the faculty of the next ALE including Dr. Ken Bellous, Dr. Carla Nelson, Dr. Julius Karanja Kimani, Dr. Darrell Bustin, Dr. Jonathan Mills, and Aaron. We pray for the preparations that are already well underway in this important capacity building initiative. We also continue to remember Jonathan who is coordinating this project. We are so thankful for his passion and expertise in the area of governance.

For the People with whom we Work

Please continue to pray for the Democratic Republic of Congo as they struggle through the aftermath of the December 2018 national election. We pray for peace as other countries are putting pressure for the political parties to come to a power-sharing agreement out of the contested election.

We especially remember the people of North Kivu who continue to be gripped by the Ebola outbreak and insecurity. We uphold our church partners and friends that are ministering at this crucial time.

Finally, please join us in continued prays for South Sudan. The UNHCR is currently concerned for 4.66 million people both internally displaced and living as refugees in the region. The map below is the most recent published figures of the displacement of people from South Sudan after five years of civil war and conflict which has taken the lives of 400,000 people.

We pray for our partner church that CBM is helping to deliver relief and minister to people who are turning to their churches for support and spiritual care.

To learn more about the situation in South Sudan, please see this in-depth report by IRIN.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Celebrating a journey of partnership

Reverends Aaron and Erica Kenny

On Sunday, December 30th, we had the great joy of participating in the 70th Anniversary service of the African Christian Church and Schools, CBM's longest continuous partnership in Africa. It was an especially wonderful day for our family as we celebrated the ordination of Erica by the denomination.

It was such a high honor to have the ACC&S recognize Erica's gifts and call to ministry and for her to be invited to join the other 25 women being ordained. This was a historic day for the ACC&S and for CBM, as Erica is the first woman global field staff to have been ordained by a local partner in Africa.
Emma, Ava, and Tristan joining Erica at the ACC&S headquarters in Thika
Moderator Ngumo praying for the people of the ACC&S 
to fulfill God's mission in Kenya
Aaron bringing greetings from CBM and sharing 
about the rich history of our 48-year partnership
Erica with her fellow ordination candidates. In all 88 men and women were ordained to Christian ministry, the highest number ever ordained in a single ceremony by the ACC&S
Reverend Erica Nicole Kenny

Since Erica first came to Kenya in 2004 for the certificate of ministry program, she has had a close affinity with the ACC&S. That relationship deepened in 2006 when we moved as a family to Kenya and began to work with the denomination which had begun joint pioneer outreach among the Muslim people of Northeastern Kenya with Canadian Baptist missionaries in the early 1980s.

When Erica began to serve as CBM's coordinator for the Guardians of Hope HIV/AIDS ministry in 2009, she became very involved with the ACC&S and benefitted from the opportunity of working alongside dedicated leaders like Henry Mwangi and Patrick Maina who continue to give leadership to the outreach projects of the ACC&S.

Beyond church-based development and outreach programming, Erica became the embedded field staff working closely with the ACC&S within her role as co-Africa team leader. Over the past decade, she has fostered lasting bonds of trust, mutual learning, and cooperation with key executive leaders like Rev. Julius Karanja, Rev. Joseph Maina, Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo, and the current executive.
Erica with CBM executive director Rev. Dr. Terry Smith
visiting ACC&S congregations earlier this year

For almost five of these seven decades of ministry, the ACC&S has walked in partnership with CBM. Together we have worked to bear witness to the transforming love and hope of the Gospel through word and deed. In collaboration together we have sought to strengthen education, pastoral training, youth ministry, and women’s ministry. Together we have undertaken new ventures in urban ministry, joint pioneer outreach among Muslims, and responded to the needs of people affected and infected by HIV and AIDs. We continue today in joint efforts to increase food security and develop strong leaders for the future.
Aaron with past ACC&S moderator Rev. Samuel Mogo

It was through the invitation of the ACC&S that Canadian missionaries first came to Kenya. Unlike previous missions, the relationship with the ACC&S changed the way that Canadian Baptists came to understand and structure our international ministries by working in true partnerships of mutual learning and interdependence. 

In 1967, that ACC&S leaders approached NCCK general secretary Rev. John Kamau and PCEA moderator Rev. John Gatu to help them to find an international church organization that might assist the ACC&S in achieving “our dreams and vision to accomplish the task of the great commission of our Lord.”  

Gatu first recognized the potential compatibility between the Canadian Baptists and the ACC&S and made the initiative to engage the Canadian Baptist Overseas Mission Board. From 1968 to 1970, exploratory visits were arranged for Canadian leaders such as Orville Daniel, Abner Langley, and John Keith to meet with ACC&S representatives under the leadership of Rev. Samuel Mogo Mwangi (pictured above). During those three visits, the framework for a partnership of mutuality and equality was forged.

In December 1970, the first Canadian missionaries arrived in Kenya to serve under the framework of the new ACC&S/CBM task force. Among this group were Rev. Bill & Barbara Lewis, George & Eileen Johnston, Rev. Ronald & Joan Ward, Carol Oldstad, and Shirley Freckleton. The bonds of friendship that were formed during those early years have continued to this day.

In the 48 years that followed, many more Canadians came to serve among the ACC&S in various capacities from executive leaders and embedded field staff, to long-term volunteers and development specialists. 

In speaking with CBM colleagues and the ACC&S there is a long list of Canadians who have played a significant part of this journey, including:
Rev. Dr. John & Virginia Keith, Ella Walker, Rev. Ian & Iona Hind, Rev. Ron & Marion Noble, Marilyn Lemon, Rev. Dr. Robert & Grace Berry, Rev. Bob & Ann Swann, Rev. Dr. Brian & Dr. Caryn Stelck, Rev. Anne Drost, Alan & Jane Ann Sears, Rev. Bryan Hagerman, Rev. Frank & Vera Burnham, Brock Carleton, Pamela Steeves, Jacques & Michele Godbout, Dr. Daniel Steeves, Rev. Hans and Graciela Ellen, David & Sandra Rempel, Jeff McCarrell, Nino & Esther De Luca, Rev. Eric & Merle MacKenzie, Jeanne Ratzlaff, Evelyn Ginson, Miss McCarthy, Mr. Dan & Doris Weibe, Rev. Rudy & Marny Pohl, Patrick Reid, Tim Ward, Donald & Peggy Bustin, Rev. Dr. Charles & Peggy French, Rev. Phil & Debbie Edwards, Dr. Gordon & Rolanda Barss, Margo Beaven, Rev. Bill & Joanne Morphett, Rev. Jim & Ruby Shephard, Rev. Dr. Paul & Mary Beckingham, Rev. Dr. Rob & Sarah Patterson, Rev. Paul & Kelly Carline, Brian & Lynda Malcolm, Rev. Dr. Doug & Cathie Loden, Mr. Eddie Chee, Rev. Phil & Ruth Brown, Muriel Bent, Marilyn Smith, Rev. Dr. Gary & Dr. Carla Nelson, Rev. Alden & Tracy Crain, Sam Mutisya, Dr. Ken & Diane Morgan, Rev. Andrew & Rebeccah DesRoches, Rev. Dr. Malcolm & Patricia Card, Timothy & Diane Bannister, Rev. Dr. Aaron & Erica Kenny, Mr. Yattani Gollo, Mrs. Ruth Munyao, Rev. Dr. Sam & Cindie Chase, Rev. Dr. Colin & Karen Godwin, Rev. Wayne & Maureen Morgan, Pauline Kariyuki, Rev. Dr. Terry & Heather Smith, and Rev. Andre Sibomana. 
Beyond this list, there were hundreds of short-term volunteers, teachers, and development workers who have served among you as part of this partnership. If we have missed anyone, it is completely unintentional. If you have notice a name that is missing, please comment on this post and we will be sure to update the list.

Moderator Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo congratulating Erica on her ordination

Throughout these many years, we have grown in our understanding of God’s mission in the world because of our journey together. Thank you for the friendship and grace that has continued to foster a meaningful partnership between our people.

The ACC&S Making History: 70 Years of Ministry in Kenya

Celebrating 70 Years of God's Grace and Faithfulness

On Sunday, December 30, the African Christian Church and Schools commemorated 70 years of ministry which was founded in Kenya's central highlands in 1948. 
"We celebrate and recognize our founding fathers and mothers who were determined to move out of the AIM and start an independent Church that would address the issue of education to help their children move to higher levels of learning. They were mocked, frustrated, disliked, and their children expelled from the mission schools without notice... They walked to Fort Hall by foot without wavering and by God's grace, won the case on June 26, 1948."
Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo
Over 3000 people gathering at the grounds of the Thika Cathedral, December 30, 2018

Over the past two years, we have witnessed incredible progress within the ACC&S which has surpassed their own goal of planting ten new churches in three-years, by establishing eleven new congregations in less than half of that time.

Three other major milestones were reached in the past year. 

First, the denomination ordained 77 lay elders on November 4, 2018, a historical record for the church. Under the leadership of moderator Ngumo, the ACC&S has made major strides in empowering lay leadership and encouraging all of their members to utilize their gifts and talents for the mission of God in the world.

Second, the ACC&S ordained 88 full-time ministers on December 30, the largest ordination in their 70-year history. The denomination has three levels of pastoral ordination, namely, teaching elders, licentiates, and reverends.

Finally, for the first time in the history of the denomination, the ACC&S has acknowledged the gifting and calling of God for women to be recognized as full reverends. Their example will be a major contribution to other African denominations in and beyond Kenya.
Past ACC&S Moderators Rev. Samuel Mogo Mwangi, Rev. Joseph Maina, Rev. Jackson Mburu Njuguna, and Rev. Julius Karanja Kimani meeting in the office of Moderator Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo.
Moderator Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo Kiguru addressing the parade of the ACC&S Brigade during the 70th Anniversary Celebration
ACC&S General Secretary, Rev. Julius Kimani Kinuthia, leading in prayer
A historic day, as Moderator Ngumo ordains 26 women pastors
Erica participating in the service of ordination
For the first time ever in the history of Canadian Baptist Ministries, an African partner denomination ordained a female Canadian field staff. It was a great honour for Erica to have the ACC&S recognize her calling and gifts for ministry through this ordination, and for her to have the joy of standing with 25 other women, many of whom she has been working with over the past five years.

Reverend Erica Nicole Kenny being ordained by Moderator Ngumo 
and the general counsel of the African Christian Church and Schools
Aaron with Erica during her official robing
A historic day for the ACC&S
The laying on of hands
during the ordination of 28 licentiate pastors
The ACC&S executive members with the group recently ordained reverends
(Elder Elijah Wainanina Karanu, Rev. Julius Kimani, Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo, Rev. Luka Kuria Wachira, and Rev. David Kimemia Kamau)
Erica will fellow ordination candidate Rev. Martha Wairimu Kihika
Erica with her ordination group
Moderator Jeremiah Ngumo congratulating Erica
Thank you for keeping the ACC&S and the ministry of CBM in Kenya in your prayers.