Tuesday, November 25, 2014

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2014 and a GOH Update

The theme of the 2014 World AIDS Day is 
“Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation"

As Canadian Baptists, this is our tenth anniversary of the Guardians of Hope (GOH) program, our international response to HIV and AIDS. Since the program began in 2004, thousands of orphans and vulnerable children affected and infected by HIV and AIDS have experienced love and support from families and local churches that believe that faith in Christ calls us to be a part of bringing hope and healing into a broken world.

HIV and AIDS is more than a medical crisis. It is also a social and emotional experience that profoundly affects the lives and futures of millions of people.Over the past thirty years, UNAIDS is estimates that 17 million children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS -- 90 percent of these children live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, today in Africa 3.4 million children under the age of 15 years are living with HIV.

Over the past few years, AIDS seems to be falling off the radar of world media, but the reality is that the crisis isn’t over. According to a recent report of PEPFAR: "The social effects of HIV and AIDS make the millions of HIV-affected children highly vulnerable, as they are more likely to be victims of abuse, live in institutional care or on the street, and engage in hazardous and/or exploitive labor.” 

These children live with high risk of abuse, school-drop-out, and psychosocial distress. Adolescent girls affected by AIDS orphanhood, for example, are six times more likely of entering prostitution than peers in healthy families.

Erica introducing Faith Holwyn and Brenda Halk 
in the opening session of the CBM 
Guardians of Hope Leadership Conference 

The response of Canadian Baptist Ministries and our Church partners in Kenya, Rwanda, Angola and India has been to help families and caregivers enfold HIV and AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Much of the past decades ministry has been to support and help thousands of these caregivers as they love, protect and nurture OVC in their communities. 

It is now widely recognized by government and non-governmental agencies that this approach works and is in the best interest of children: “Nurturing families are critical to children’s lifelong health and wellbeing, including their prospects for living HIV-free, or positively with HIV”. Families are the first line of support and defines for children.

Along with nutritional support, education support, and household income strengthening, the Guardians of Hope program has been helping churches invest in caregivers themselves. 

This year, as we mark our tenth anniversary of the Guardians of Hope, Canadian Baptist Ministries is introducing new initiatives to strengthen the spiritual, emotional, and social support of the Guardians and the children they are caring for.

This week, Guardians of Hope leaders from across our African partners, have been training on the “Groups of Hope” approach, an Eight Session program that helps people walk with God through times of distress and anxiety. Author and facilitator Faith Holwyn has been with us the past few days training our team on facilitating groups of hope sessions within the Guardians of Hope projects. We believe this will be a valuable tool in deepening faith and healing among caregivers and children alike.

 Faith and Brenda facilitating a Groups of Hope Session

In addition to the "Group of Hope" initiative, we are excited to launch Kamp Tumaini (Camp Hope). The first four camps will be in August 2015. 

This initiative is training Kenyan youth mentors to serve as peer counsellors and support to GOH children within our two Kenyan partners, the Africa Brotherhood Church and African Christian Church and Schools.

The camps themselves will be a fun time of learning together and supporting one another as Canadian and Kenyan volunteers serve GOH Kids in a Summer Camp environment.

We have had a good response from volunteers in Canada who are registering for the first camps, but there are still a few more vacancies for 2015. Anyone can still apply in the next few weeks!

We are in special need of a few good men to volunteer as camp counsellors in Kenya for 14 days next August.

Phyllis and Patrick

We are very excited to be welcoming a new member to the Guardians of Hope leadership: Phyllis Wambui has just begun as the new project officer with the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) Guardians of Hope project. Phyllis will be coordinating the ministry of the GOH throughout the nine regions of her church. 

Physllis follows our good friend Patrick Maina who has been serving with the ACC&S GOH since we became a part of the program five years ago. Patrick is now taking on some new hats with ACC&S food security projects with CBM and Canada Food Grains Bank in Kenya.

Faith Holwyn reading from the Groups of Hope leader’s manual

You can learn more about the “Groups of Hope”
Approach through the website

CBM/ACC&S Urban Ministry: John Njihia

John Njihia, Project Officer
CBM/ACC&S Urban Ministry Program

Over the past year, our colleagues Wayne and Maureen Morgan have been launching an urban ministry self help group program in the Dandora and Mali Saba areas of Nairobi, Kenya. This is a joint project of the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) and Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM).

Earlier this week, we sat down with John under a tree and asked him about the work in which he is giving leadership. Here is a part of that conversation:

“Currently we are implementing the project, helping the community come up with self help groups as a way of empowering people politically, economically and socially. So since we started early in 2014,  we have been able to form twelve groups... 

Within the groups we always encourage them to carry out weekly savings, even 20 Kenyan Shillings a person each week, that is about twenty-five cents in Canada. So they meet, they save and then they can borrow from the savings. We practice what is commonly called in Kenya “Table Banking”: You don’t take your money to the bank, you save and loan to the members.

We have many challenges introducing this new kind of project in the community. Creating linkages with local institutions and government has not been very successful yet. Helping groups manage  small loans is also a challenge...

We are working in an informal settlement, widely known as a “slum”. Within the slum we have a lot of thugs, drug dealers, and at times they disrupt our meetings or harass people. I would appreciate the prayers of Canadian Baptists and anyone interested in this ministry. Prayers for protection and God’s strength to keep me going!”

You can learn more about the ACC&S and CBM Urban Ministry Project on the "Morgans in Kenya” blog and you can learn more about the ministry of CBM in Africa and around the world on our website at www.cbmin.org 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

CBM Africa Team: Brenda Halk

Erica and Brenda Halk at Heart Lodge, Nairobi

This was a very special weekend, as we celebrated ten-years since Erica first visited Kenya with past CBM General Secretary, Gary Nelson, and a short term mission team that assisted in the Kenyan Certificate  of Ministry (CMin) course in Urban Ministry. 

We had several friends on that team, including: Brenda Halk, Lois Mitchell, Andrew Myers, Barbara Sherwood, Wendy Jones, Jennifer Sanderson, Laurie Barber, Brian Taylor, and Mark Buchanan. 

Together, the team worked with emerging leaders from the Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC) and the Africa Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) as they learned about the theory and practice of urban ministry. 

An important part of the CMin training was time spent in the urban slum areas of Mathare Valley and Kibera, the two largest slum areas of Nairobi, Kenya. This experience of encountering poverty had a deep and lasting impact upon everyone on the team.

This evening, we dropped Brenda off at Heart Lodge (formerly Heart House) the same guesthouse where Erica and Brenda stayed ten years ago. Tomorrow, leaders from across the African Guardians of Hope program of Canadian Baptist Ministries will arrive and take part in a leadership conference that Erica and I will be facilitating with guest instructors Brenda Halk and Faith Holwyn, the author of the "Groups of Hope” program.

2014 is also the celebration of ten-years of the Guardians of Hope (GOH) program, CBM’s international response to HIV and AIDS. Over the past decade thousands of AIDs orphans and vulnerable children have been helped through the intervention of local church churches within the GOH program in Kenya, Rwanda, Angola, and India.

We are very excited to be introducing two new initiatives into the GOH on this anniversary year, namely: the "groups of hope" support program for caregivers, and the "Kamp Tumaini" program for orphans and vulnerable children.

Beth and Brenda at the ACC&S Bible School

During that trip back in 2004, Mark Buchanan had prophetically declared that one of the group would return to serve in Kenya. Little did he know that two year’s later our family would arrive in Nairobi in 2006, and, ten years later, a second member of that team would return as a staff member of CBM. 

Earlier this year, Brenda Halk joined Canadian Baptist Ministries as a strategic associate focused on women’s initiatives and business. 

Since beginning her new role with CBM, Brenda has had two visits to Kenya where she is helping Erica and I assess current women’s initiatives and economic development initiatives within our community development projects.

Meeting with the ACC&S Executive, Thika

Aaron, Erica, Jeremiah Ngumo Kiguru (General Secretary), Luka Kuria Wachira (Vice Moderator), Wayne and Maureen Morgan, Brenda, Joseph Maina Macharia (Moderator), Julius Kimani Kinuthia (Deputy General Secretary), and Elijah Wainaina Karanu (National Treasurer).

Earlier in the week, we had an opportunity to meet with the leadership of the African Christian Church and Schools. It was wonderful to see Julius Kimani as a member of the ACC&S executive leadership: Julius had been a student within the CMin cohort that Erica and Brenda were a part of in 2004.

It was a blessing to learn about all that God is doing among the people of the ACC&S.

Wayne and Maureen Morgan with 
ACC&S Moderator Joseph Maina Macharia

Our team mates Wayne and Maureen Morgan are embedded CBM global field staff with the ACC&S. The Morgans have been very involved in the leadership of the ACC&S urban ministry program in Nairobi. In addition, Wayne teaches at the ACC&S Bible School and Maureen coordinated short term missions in Kenya.

Erica and Jeremiah

Beth and Aaron

Ester and Brenda

Brenda’s experience in mobilizing women’s initiatives and her leadership with CBM as past board president, and past president of Canadian Baptist Women brings perspective to our African partners.

It was great to meet with Ester, the leader of the ACC&S national Women in Action program.

Erica and Brenda meeting with Eastleigh SHG Leaders
at our home in Nairobi, Kenya

Please uphold Brenda and our CBM Africa Team as we serve our church partners in fulfilling God’s great mission. We pray that the Church in Africa will continue to grow in its understanding and response to the serious concerns facing women throughout the world.

Ava the Brave!

A v a

Ava is having a great year in second grade. She is loving her teacher, Miss Idsardi, and having great fun after school in dance class with Miss Lane. Ava is growing up so quickly. She loves reading and is quite the storyteller.

This past weekend started off with Ava’s Elementary School Fall Concert at Rosslyn Academy. It was a wonderful evening of “Thanksgiving" as the elementary school music classes sang and played songs of gratitude and praise. Being an American-based school, Rosslyn celebrates "American Thanksgiving" each November. This was the first year that the annual fall concert focused on Thanksgiving, in the past it was a Christmas theme. Mrs. Grafe, the elementary music teacher, did an outstanding job as she led the children through beautiful songs, poems and drama on the theme of thankfulness. The concert ended with a beautiful “Shukrani Medley” in Kiswahili. 

Ava and Emma on the way to Mistletoe Market 

On Saturday, we took all three of our children to Mistletoe Market with our colleague Brenda Halk. Mistletoe is an annual flee market and craft sale held by Rosslyn Academy’s PTF. Always a lot of fun. This year was one of the few that was actually sunny -- November is rainy season in Kenya. 

Ava found a traditional Kenyan bow and arrow at the market

She is a natural!

Shukrani -- A Kenyan Thanksgiving
November 21, 2014

We are so proud of our little girl. She sang and danced throughout her concert and even played the xylophone. As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and fellow Rosslyn parents, we are deeply thankful for our family.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Whole Church Bringing the Whole Gospel for the Whole World

Crossing Paths

 Canadian Baptist Ministries’ Executive Director, Sam Chaise,
 preaching at the Africa Brotherhood Church, Starehe, Nairobi

This past week, we had the pleasure of hosting our friends and colleagues Sam and Cindie Chaise, who travelled to Kenya to participate in the Bridge program with our Garissa Church partners. Over the weekend, Sam and Cindie had time to connect with our team mates Wayne and Maureen Morgan, and join Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki for a worship service and fellowship time in Nairobi.

Over the past month, our paths continue to cross with many of our Canadian Baptist family. It is encouraging to hear how God is at work among our fellow church partners in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

The Chaises had spent several days with our Middle East team based in Beirut, Lebanon, prior to arriving in Nairobi. Today there are now 30 local churches within the Lebanese Baptist Union that are  working together in meeting the overwhelming needs of the Syrian refugee crisis. Since the war broke out in Syria, the refugee numbers in Lebanon has ballooned to almost 2,000,000, that is one third of the entire country’s population.

Please join us in praying for the Lebanese Baptist Churches as they with CBM are on the front lines of refugee support within their country.

 Members of the Starehe ABC Church sharing tea with our 
friends Nancy Wagner, Val Fenn, and Cindie Chaise

Back in Africa, we had some nostalgia this week as our friend and CBM Strategic Associate, Brenda Halk arrived. She and Erica will be spending the next week looking at our women’s initiates in Kenya as well as economic empowerment components of our self help group projects.

In 2004, Brenda and Erica made their first trips to Africa together as they were participants in the CBM Certificate of Ministry program with Gary Nelson. Beyond frequent stops at Java House, the group spent most of their time between the ABC Starehe Church and the slums areas of Nairobi. It just so happened that on Sunday, we spent the day at the Starehe Church with Sam and Cindie Chaise.

The ABC, or Africa Brotherhood Church, is our second national church partner in Kenya. For almost 35 years, Canadian Baptist Ministries has been serving in partnership with the ABC in the areas of education, theological training, community health, and sustainable development.

It was amazing on Sunday to witness the change within is ABC urban church. Since moving to Kenya in 2006, Erica and I have worshipped at Starehe on a number of occasions, but none since 2009. At that time the church services were completely in Kiswahili. We had not anticipated how, in the past few years, the church has completely embraced English. Everything from the five choirs to the scripture reading and prayers,.. even the hymnal was in English which is being used by the young and the old alike.

It was also great to see how every part of the congregation participated in the service, from children with tambourines to youth with guitars and contemporary chorus music.

One highlight was seeing the traditional choirs sing and dance. Whether with instruments or with stamping feet, it was a community of praise!

Sam Chaise making friendly with a couple of warthogs

We are very thankful for Sam and Cindie, for their leadership and their support. After a whirl wind visit, the Chaises returned to Canada on Monday evening. Over the years, Sam has been encouraging us, and our team, in our efforts to strengthen Integral Mission within local churches. Since Sam began his role as CBM executive director in 2010, we have seen major shifts within Africa.

You can read Sam’s regular reflections about Christian life and witness in his blog “Cut to the Chaise”.

Erica and Val visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Also visiting this week was our friend and CBM board member, Val Fenn, from Penticton, British Columbia. Val had hosted Erica and Tristan this past June when they were participating in a Baptist Women’s conference where Erica had been speaking about the Guardians of Hope HIV and AIDS ministry in Africa.

Val stopped in to stay with our family for a few days after having volunteered with CBM in Rwanda as part of a short term missions group working with women’s support groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Enjoying Ethiopian Night with the Chaises and the Kennys

We want to thank you for reading our blog and for your continued prayers and support. May God bless you this week, and may your path lead you into wonderful and unexpected conversations and encounters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Update: CBM Bridge Program (Garissa)

The CBM Bridge Certificate Program
A Certificate in Integral Mission in a Majority Islamic Context

This past week, we launched the first course in Canadian Baptist Ministries’ Integral Mission certificate program for our ministry partners in Kenya’s North Eastern Province. 

Our team has been calling the certificate “Bridge”, as in essence it is about strengthening the effectiveness of local churches in establishing genuine relationships and fruitful patterns of living their Christian faith among their Muslim neighbours -- Are you becoming a wall, or a bridge?

It was a joy to have Sam Chaise and Wayne Morgan join our team as guest lecturers as we studied the Biblical and theological foundations of Integral Mission. 

The objective of this course was for every student be able to understand and articulate Integral Mission and for them to evaluate their ministry based on principles of Integral Mission. But this is just the beginning...

Together over the next two years, pastors and lay leadership representing the 30 churches and ministries of the Garissa Church Fellowship will be completing this applied missiology training that focuses on the why, the where and the how of Christian mission in an Islamic majority context. 

Aaron and Sam team-teaching this past Friday

A small group working in one of the breakout sessions 
earlier in the week. We were blessed to have a beautiful 
facility at SACDEP in Thika

It was wonderful to experience a spirit of unity and camaraderie among the students as they shared their struggles and insights. Together they wrestled with what it means for the whole Church to bring the whole Gospel to the whole world.

Sam leading the class through an exercise 
of evaluating series of case studies

A Great Group of Scholars!

Please pray for the 35 leaders within the "Bridge Program" as they seek to apply their training within their ministries. The program is designed to help churches embrace the principles and practice of Integral Mission, please remember our students as they begin working through their first assignments in their ministry context.

“...and this is what the Lord requires of you, 
to do what is right, to love mercy, 
and to walk humbly with your God.” 
Micah 6:8

Our Town

Rosslyn Academy High School Theatre Presents
O u r   T o w n
By Thornton Wilder

November 13, 14 and 15, 2014

Mr. Webb (Tristan Kenny) introduces Grover’s Corners 
with Stage Manager (Emmanuel Undie)

This past weekend, we had the joy of seeing Tristan and several of his friends in their theatrical fall production of Our Town. This was the first Rosslyn play directed by Mr. Steven Slaughter, who did an incredible job helping the students refine their acting skills in this minimalist staged play that stripped away sets and props and focused on the actors who had to mime actions and create for the audience the town and life of the fictional Grovers Corner’s, New Hampshire.

The entire cast and crew did an fabulous job in the most moving and beautiful performance that we’ve experienced. Here are a few snap shots of the play thanks to Carey Wagner who volunteered as the photographer.

Act 1: The Daily Life

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure!"

Emily Webb (Emerson Slaughter) gives her dad a peck on the cheek

George Gibbs (Jon Michael Halvorson) with eyes for Emily Webb

Mrs. Gibbs (Abigail Kroening) fixing breakfast

Our Town focuses on a non-linear narrative of two families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, as we experience life at the turn of the century.

George Gibbs with Dr. Gibbs (Josh Hravatic)

George and his sister Rebecca Gibbs (Caeli Kean) 
admiring a moonlit evening from their bedroom window

Act 2: Love and Marriage

"People are meant to go through life two by two. 
’Tain’t natural to be lonesome"

Mrs. Webb (Janet Lee) keeping George 
from seeing the bride on their wedding day

Mr. Webb giving George some marriage advice

George taking it well

George and Emily at the Malt Shop

 Mrs. Webb reflecting on marriage

Act 3: Death and Eternity

“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?
--every, every minute?"

One of the dead (Chris Adewole)

The Psalm Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

Let us, then, be up and doing
With a heart for any fate
Still achieving, still pursuing 
Learn to labor and to wait.

Celebrating the final show!
Huram, Tristan, Chris, Katie, Caeli, and Ezra

Erica and I had the pleasure of hosting the cast party at our home on Saturday evening. We are so grateful for the wonderful teachers and friends that make up this community!

Drama Mamas at the cast party

Tristan, Brian, Rachel and Abi