Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Update from Garissa

The Cross and the Crescent 
Garissa Conference on Integral Mission in Muslim Communities

This past week, Erica and I travelled with our friend Willem Jansen to the North Eastern Province (NEP) of Kenya. Crossing the mud-red Tana River was never more significant for us than on this trip, as we were returning to the town of Garissa for the first time since the beginnings of targetted kidnappings and violent attacks that erupted in November 2011. The past two-years have been a season of intense religious persecution and unrest for the people of this community. We were eager to join our colleagues Yattani Gollo, William Wako and Geoffery Mwita who are serving as part of the CBM Muslim Ministries team in Kenya, and to be able to fellowship with our friends and partners once again in the arid lands of NEP. 

Along with some wonderful times of visiting, we came for a two-day training for local Christian leaders and laity. Over the past two-years, the CBM Muslim Ministries team has been very active in providing emergency relief and recovery interventions such as food for work projects, food security training, and medical support for Muslim villages directly affected by the famine of 2011. Change is happening as communities establish farms, irrigation systems, schools, improved latrines and open roadways. Along with these relief efforts, our food security team is training congregations in sustainable dry-land agricultural practices through an approach called “Farming God’s Way” (FGW). The success has been  phenomenal as once sandy tracks of scrub bush are being transformed into prosperous gardens and small farms. This month, five of the local churches have begun to share their experiences with Muslim neighbours living in villages in and around Garissa. Together they are establishing demonstration FGW plots for the whole community! 

Growing vegetables in the desert

But farming is only one side of food security. Through the Self Help Group (SHG) approach we are seeing local churches draw together their Muslim neighbours and friends for emotional and spiritual support, livelihoods trainings, financial training and micro-enterprize development. Erica, and our colleague Laura Muema, have been training community facilitators in Garissa over the past two years. Today there are more than seven groups that have been formed and are active in Garissa as Christian women are reaching out to their Muslim neighbours.

Community facilitator Josephine training self help groups on record keeping

Participants from 26 local churches and three local mission agencies
at the Catholic Guest House, Garissa

Perhaps one of the greatest signs of God’s Spirit at work has been the deepening unity and harmony among the local churches of Garissa. Since our first conference in January 2012, we have been blessed,  time and time again, as we gather with these churches from different Christian traditions and denomination in solidarity, worship and common witness. 

Aaron with our colleague William Wako,
who coordinates the CBM food security ministries in Garissa

Willem Jensen speaking to the participants 
on the Islamic understanding of faith

On Thursday, Erica and I opened a two-day training event entitled “The Cross and the Crescent in Garissa” with guest speaker Willem Jensen from St. Paul’s University’s department of Islamics and Christian/Muslim Relations. Willem is a good friend and has been an advocate for deepening Muslim and Christian dialogue in Eastleigh where he provides leadership for the Centre of Muslim and Christian Relations at the Eastleigh Fellowship Centre.

 Willem speaking with participants at the tea break

Yattani and Erica at the Catholic Guest House

For the first time in our journey with the Garissa Interdenominational Fellowship, we were delighted to have members of the Garissa Catholic Dioceses participate in the training and discussion gathering.

Erica visiting with women leaders participating in the conference

In Prayer:

* Please pray that the peace in Garissa continues to grow and that God’s Spirit will heal those who have suffered pain and loss during this time of conflict and terrorism.

* We pray for the Christian and Muslim leaders in Garissa that they will demonstrate mutual respect and appreciation for one another and for the people of Garissa.

* We pray for couregeous faith that lives in the reality of Christ victorious love.

Erica with CBM alumni Joan Ward at her home in Garissa

Monday, February 17, 2014

Emma’s Middle School Masquerade Banquet

Rosslyn Academy Middle School Banquet
Emma and Diana

On Saturday evening, we had a lot of fun with Emma and her friends as they enjoyed "A Masquerade in Venice” for their Middle School banquet. The Middle School student council did a fantastic job decorating the gymnasium for the big event.

Valentine’s Day was also the Sadie Hawkings dance for the Rosslyn High School. Tristan had a fun evening with his friends jumping to the music.

No Valentine dances for Ava, although she did have fun exchanging cards with her classmates. It won’t be long the though before she is getting glammed up herself!

Caroline, Emma, In-Ae, and Diana


Rebecca, Jordan, Kendra and Clayton
visiting from Brownfield, Alberta

Over the past two weeks, our Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) Kenya team has been hosting four leaders from the Grow Project in Brownfield Alberta. Jordan & Becky Webber and Clayton & Kendra Price were able to visit with the CFGB food security projects of CBM and the ACC&S in the Rift Valley, where over the past four years we have seen a dramatic transformation in the lives of thousands of people who have become food secure. They also had an opportunity to visit the community of Embu where CBM will be launching its newest Food Security efforts.

For about forty years, the Brownfield Baptist Church has been donating grain for international relief and development with CBM and Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB). You can learn more about the ministry of Brownfield and their "Grow Project” through this great video. We are so thankful for such great ministry partners!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Faith Evangelical Baptist Church - South Sudan

The attempted military coup in South Sudan has led to wide spread violence. The unrest in South Sudan has had a devastating impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people who have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods as warring troops have burned entire villages to the ground in Khorfulus and Baliet counties of Upper Nile State. 

In the past month, more than 600,000 people have been internally displaced in Upper Nile where fighting continues around the town of Malakal. “As a church,” shares Saphano Riak of Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches (FEBAC), “we are deeply concerned and worried that if the situation is not contained it will lead to chaos which will be uncontrollable.” Fears that the conflict may escalate into further ethnic violence and even genocide grip the church that is struggling to do its best to promote peace and alleviate the suffering which surrounds them. “Entire villages have lost everything. People are sleeping in the tall grasses with only the clothes they are wearing. Many have no blankets, no shoes, no food, and not even nets to catch fish in the river.”

While the homes, shops and church in these villages were reduced to ash, the “Church” itself stands united together in faith.  Canadian Baptist Ministries and FEBAC are mobilizing resources to come to the aid of the most vulnerable in this community. Currently 660 families are being reached with blankets, plastic sheets, cooking utensils, mosquito nets, fishing nets and hooks, and clothing, but we need your help.

You can find out more about this emergency relief effort and donate through our website at or by following the link below:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

African Christian Church and Schools

African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) moderator, Rt. Rev. Joseph Maina Macharia, and General Secretary, Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo, welcoming Sam Chaise, Canadian Baptist Ministries' Executive Director.


This past week, we had the pleasure of visiting with the newly elected executive leadership of the ACC&S at their denominational headquarters in Thika, Kenya, with Sam Chaise, CBM’s executive director, our friend Brenda Halk, past-president of the CBM board, and Wayne Morgan, CBM global field staff serving with the ACC&S. 

The past decade has been a time of steady growth in the ACC&S as the church has increased the number of trained clergy from 12 to nearly 120: “We are so thankful for the help of CBM and the Carey Theological College who have brought us from the certificate level training to bachelors, masters and now several doctoral degrees. This investment in our clergy has helped the church to grow,” shared the moderator. “Partnership with CBM has helped us move further as a church!” Since 1990, the church has grown from about 60 congregations to almost 200, moving from the rural hill country of Kenya’s central province to urban centres like Nairobi, Mombasa, and Nakuru.

One dramatic development is how the ACC&S is currently positioning its emerging Christian workers to spread out into non-Kikuyu areas for church planting. Helping the church move beyond its traditional mono-ethnic emphasis on the Kikuyu tribe will be a great challenge, but a vital step in the developing mission of the ACC&S.

Erica, Brenda and Sam at Blue Post, Thika

Walking the grounds of the ACC&S compound in Thika is a wonderful picture of the development of the church. The cathedral which was the lone construction project of the church in 2004 when Erica and Brenda first visited the ACC&S as part of the CBM/Carey Certificate of Ministry program, is now surrounded by the ACC&S public library, theological school, development office, women’s hostel, and a new five storey Women’s dormitory that is scheduled to be completed by this summer. “This project will provide affordable housing for women attending Mt. Kenya University, which is positioned directly next to the church, as well as housing for women studying at other nearby colleges. It will help these students and provide a monthly income for the church,” shared the moderator. "There is tremendous need for this, as women are already coming to the church and requesting rooms. We already have plans for the next dormitory that will be started once this one completed.”

 The ACC&S moderator giving us a tour of the ground

Visiting the Bible School with Wayne Morgan

The ACC&S Bible School principal, Beth Kimathi, welcomed us into one of her classes to introduce us to some of the students currently in the theology program in Thika. Wayne Morgan is currently working with principal Kimathi and the faculty who are preparing to implement a new curriculum for an accredited bachelor of ministry program that the ACC&S intends to launch this year. Please remember the Bible School and the students in your prayers as they seek to equip local churches for effective ministry.

Rev. Jeremiah, Rev. Luca, Rt. Rev. Macharia, Rt. Rev. Karanja, 
Brenda, Sam, Erica, Aaron and Rev. Kimani

Sam and Wayne

Please also remember our friends and colleagues, Wayne and Maureen Morgan, who are the CBM global field staff embedded with the ACC&S. Among their responsibilities, the Morgan’s are helping the ACC&S strengthen urban ministry. They will be returning to Canada for their first home assignment this March.

Aaron presenting Dr. Julius Karanja a gift of appreciation from Dr. Sam Chaise and the CBM family. Dr. Karanja has completed over twenty years of executive leadership in the ACC&S.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Zanzibar Exchange

Canadian Baptist Ministries African Partnership Summit, Zanzibar 2014

(Back) Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo (ACC&S), Erica Kenny (CBM), Bishop Mishack Mukwilu (ABC), Rt. Rev. Dr. Julius Karanja (ACC&S), Rev. Gato Munyamasoko (AEBR), Rev. Andre Sibomana (AEBR), Rev. Gabriel Abiel Kuol (FEBAC), Dr. Terry Smith (CBM) 
(Front) Rt. Rev. Joseph Maina Macharia (ACC&S), Dr. Samuel Ngayihembako (CBCA), Brenda Halk (CBM), Rev. Aaron Kenny (CBM), Rev. Saphano Riak Chol (FEBAC), Dr. Sam Chaise (CBM), Dr. Kakule Molo (CBCA), and Archbishop Timothy Nzyoki Ndambuki (ABC).


This past week, Erica and I travelled to the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, with CBM executive director, Sam Chaise, and deputy director, Terry Smith, for leadership meetings with our partner churches in Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was a fruitful time of praying, sharing and visioning for our journey together. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment for multilateral collaboration and support across partnerships and they began to identify practical ways for their churches to deepen their fellowship and cooperation with each other. From organizing joint training and capacity building, to hosting exposure visits and exchanging personnel to share areas of speciality and expertise, the summit looked at ways for the churches to strengthen one another.

Perhaps the greatest outcome of the gathering was the rich fellowship and personal support experienced among the leaders themselves. We were moved by the vulnerability, openness, and genuine concern that characterized the entire time together. Executive leadership is demanding, immensely challenging and often very lonely. We were impressed by how the pastors reached out to one another in mutual respect and compassion.

The shackles on the Stone Town monument are actual chains used to bind slaves that were bought and sold on the island.

Confronting Brokenness

Zanzibar was more than a neutral ground for CBM and our partners to gather. It represents significant points in the history of Africa as the starting point of David Livingston's exploration and missionary efforts in Africa, to the ending of the slave trade in East Africa. With the pastors, we visited East Africa’s first Anglican Cathedral, which was built on the site of the Stone Town slave market that had dominated commerce on the island long before the spice markets. The cramped slave chambers remain like empty tombs beneath the churches St. Monica’s Hostel, and the cathedral itself has its altar set on the very spot of the whipping post: a dramatic statement for the redeeming power of Christ -- Human brutality and brokenness does not get the final word!

Throughout the gathering, our partner churches shared stories of the challenges gripping their churches, as well as the signs of God at work among their people.  

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, our partners in the Central African Baptist  Churches (CBCA) are struggling to rebuild their communities after decades of conflict and war. Please pray for these dear friends as insecurity persists in the North from Ugandan rebel groups. Pray for churches that are actively reaching out to survivors in their communities through counseling and support for children, young people and rape victims. The scars of war are fresh, but God is using the Church to bring healing and reconciliation.  

Terry Smith leading a time of introduction for the leaders gathered for the summit.

Erica creating a head covering for Sam on the way to visit Zanzibar's Stone Town.

Being together with such a group is also a lot of fun. We appreciate the great laughter, the readiness to tell stories and share songs. Such relationships are at the heart of partnership.

Erica with Bishop Mukwilu and Archbishop Ndambuki of the Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC)

Julius Karanja and Andre Sibomana

Erica with Kakule Molo of CBCA

"Short Pants in Stone Town"
Aaron and Julius with the new African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) general secretary, Jeremiah Ngumo, and moderator, Joseph Macharia.

Terry Smith speaking during one of the sessions on Strengthening Partnership.

Saphano Chol, general secretary of the Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches of South Sudan (FEBAC) with Bishop Mukwilu of the ABC.


One of the immediate areas of crisis facing our partner churches is the political conflict in South Sudan that has directly affected the people of FEBAC. In the area of Malacal, entire villages have been burned to the ground during the conflict of the past two months. As a sign of solidarity, the Africa churches are beginning to raise money to send to help the churches of South Sudan to rebuild: "People need food, they need plastic sheets for shelter, they need shoes and clothes, they need nets to catch fish in the river," shared Rev. Saphano. "Everything was lost when the soldiers burned our villages. People are sleeping in the open among the bushes. Without nets for fishing they have no livelihoods to go back to. We need your help!"

Please pray for our African Partner Churches. Remember the Church in South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo that is struggling to care for people ravaged by war and violence. Pray for the Church in Kenya and Rwanda that is seeking to help broken communities struggling with food insecurity. People are praying for rain, especially the March rains that are needed critically.

To learn more about CBM's work in Africa and to contribute to the needs of our partner churches, please visit our webpage or contact CBM at