Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Praying for a New Year -- CBM Africa Prayer Update

Looking ahead to the beginning of a New Year, we are praying for our Canadian Baptist Ministries team and partners, and for the countries where we serve. 2016 has been a year of great conflict and humanitarian disaster in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan. Together we are praying for change and healing in the coming year.


For the past year and a half, since President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial decision to run for a third term of office, hundreds of people have died and thousands have been imprisoned in protests. Since Burundi has recently broken off relations with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, all human rights observers have been pushed out of the country. 

Please join us in praying for the people of Burundi, for an end to the conflict, and for our Baptist brethren working and serving in this country. Our CBM colleagues and partner in neighbouring Rwanda have been developing relationship and bonds of support with the Danish Baptist Union and their Burundian partner church. Over the past year, they have offered hospitality and encouragement to refugees that have fled the conflict.

Jonathan and Aaron with CBM National Field Staff
Rev. Andre Sibomana, earlier this month in Kigali, Rwanda


Just days before Christmas, we heard news of another twenty-two civilians massacred near the community of Beni in Northern Kivu, where our partners of the Central African Baptists Churches (CBCA) are ministering. This attack is being linked to Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a radical group from Uganda that has been terrorising this region in Northern Kivu.

We join our Christian sisters and brothers in praying for an end to this violence and for the families of the over 700 people who have been killed in ADF attacks over the past two years.

We also pray for the entire country of the Democratic Republic of Congo as unrest has been spreading over president Joseph Kabila's desire to remain in power after this his second term in office. Tensions are mounting through the country. We pray for calm and transparent elections in 2017 and an end to violence in DRC.

Dr. Kakule Molo with CBCA leaders graduating from the 
CBM Certificate of Integral Mission Program 
earlier this December in Kigali, Rwanda


The complex civil conflict in South Sudan has continued to fracture the young country throughout 2016. Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese are now living as refugees in Kenya, Uganda Ethiopia and Sudan, but the plight of millions more internally displaced people still living within the country is far worse.

The failure of the UN Security Council to pass an arms embargo on this past Friday, December 23, is another blow to the people of South Sudan as the opposing political powers battle for control of the country. 

As Human Rights Watch deputy director Akshaya Kumar put it, "The Security Council had an opportunity to show that it stands with the civilian vicitims of this conflict. Instead, this failure gives the warring parties in South Sudan a green light to buy more weapons and material that will end up being used against civilians" (Amnesty report, December 24, 2016).

Please join us in praying the people of South Sudan and for our local partner, the Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches, that is on the front lines ministering to the displaced families in their communities.

Our friend Pastor Jeremiah Deng, one of the leaders of the FEBAC churches 
and humanitarians responses in Juba, South Sudan

This is one of the most moving news stories that we've seen this year reporting on the conflict in South Sudan. If you are interested in learning more about the complexity of the conflicts along the Nile River where our Church partner ministers, Click Here


Finally, we are so thankful for the amazing team of colleagues and friends that we have the privilege of serving with here in Africa. As we pray for a New Year of peace and healing in areas of brokenness and division, we also pray for leaders in the Church who walk with their local communities.

CBM Kenya Team Members
Ruth, Andai, Laura, William, Pauline, Geofrey, Erica and Aaron

Laura Lee and Darrell Bustin serving in Rwanda

Jonathan and Janice Mills serving in Rwanda

Ken and Wendy Derksen serving in Rwanda

Thank you for joining us in prayer!

Christmas with the Kennys

Celebrating  Christmas  Eve  2016

After a busy week on the road, it was wonderful to come home on Friday just in time for Christmas.

We sent out our annual Christmas update letter on Christmas Eve, but due to a small formatting hiccup on our first attempt, we quickly sent out a revised version (see below). With our update sent, we closed our office for the holiday.

Tristan was one of the worship leaders at our church this year for the Christmas Eve carol service.  We are thankful for the rich community of faith and fellowship that we have here in Nairobi. Over the past month, our children have participated in concerts and recitals with their friends. Music is such a wonderful part of this season.

Our Turkey and fixings prepared and Erica's Christmas cookies ready, we settled in for a peaceful Christmas at home. We are a gaming family and under our tree this Christmas were a selection of puzzles and board games that we are playing throughout the holiday. Sherriff of Nottingham and Sushi Go are the big hits this year!

We hope that you have had wonderful Christmas. 
The Kennys

To read our 2016 Christmas Update Letter

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Transforming Mission: Sharing

Canadian Baptist Ministries' Self Help Group Program
Eastleigh, Nairobi

We gathered in Eastleigh today with over one-hundred and thirty men and women representing eighteen self-help groups in the Eastern section of Nairobi. Erica and her team discussed successes and challenges of the year with the groups, as well as answering questions.

Self help groups are a participatory approach to sustainable community development. Over the past nine years, Canadian Baptists Ministries has been using this approach throughout urban work in Africa.

Self Help Groups (SHGs) are formed through mobilizing groups of ten to twelve community members, most often groups of women. They meet each week building trust, sharing their concerns, their hopes, and praying for each other. In addition, they develop weekly savings together. Often women, who have been voiceless and powerless, soon realize that they are no longer alone. The groups come to appreciate the strength of walking together for economic, social and spiritual change. They start sharing their problems in the group, social issues are discussed and solutions are sought together.

We often write about the importance building bonds of trust and mutual concern within self help groups. Over the years, we continue to see how the group members need to experience love and concern. Healthy SHGs often become second families for the members. 

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove 
than the hunger for bread." Mother Teresa

It was wonderful to hear stories of success as members of the SHG program shared their experiences from 2016. Many of the groups have started small businesses in the communities of Eastleigh and Kariobangi. These enterprises are increasing the household income of families who are making education for both their girl and boy children a priority.

Self Help Group Members

Sisters in Solidarity

Over the past year, Kenya's new policy of Somali refugee repatriation has caused great stress in communities like Eastleigh (Click here to read more). Fear and uncertainty has led many women to flee Eastleigh as their families worry about forced deportation. 

Insecurity, increased cost of living, and harassment are common challenges faced by the SHG members. Please remember these groups in your prayers. Each man and woman in the groups shares these concerns for their family and community.

Having a trusted group of friends that you can share your burdens and struggles is one of the most important aspects of the SHG approach. Together the groups are seeing change in the lives of their members. 
Community facilitator, Aisha, speaking with SHG members
"Before being involved in the project", shared a group member named Ubah, “It was hard for me to pay school fees for all the children but now I thank God for sending people like you to help me with my child’s education... before, my children used to drink dirty water and get stomach aches all the time but now we drink clean water from the water filters given to us by CBM.”

“In my group, I have found a second family,” shared Ailo. “I am no longer alone.  I have friends that I  can count on for support and even prayers in good and tough times… through my group I am saving money and using loans wisely in my small business. My group helps me to stay encouraged. I have a place to share my problems and concerns and also have people I trusts to save money with together. My hope for the future is to own a house for my family and educate my children to university.”
"Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life." 
  — Nelson Mandela

As 2016 comes to an end, we are thankful for the gift of journeying with these amazing groups.

"By love serve one another." Galatians 5:13

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our family and ministry in Kenya. You can learn more about the work of Canadian Baptist Ministries by visiting our website at www.cbmin.org

Monday, December 12, 2016

Advent and the Gift of Friendship

The Third Sunday of Advent 2016

"Out of His fullness, we have received grace upon grace." John 1:16

As Christmas approaches, we are thankful for the joy and light of friendship in our lives. 

This coming week wraps up the fall semester at Rosslyn Academy. We have been looking forward to Christmas break with our family and time with good friends. 

Tristan and Emma both had a busy semester with classes and extracurricular activities. Most days after school have been filled with the preparation and production of Twelve Angry Men and then rehearsals for the April performance of Annie. Ava has also had a full fall with gymnastics and intramural sports. Fourth grade has been an exciting time as she has made new friends and is getting more involved in music -- Fourth grade is the year of the recorder at Rosslyn. 

But in all the busyness, we are most thankful for the gift of friendship. 

In John's Gospel, we are told of the coming of Jesus as the light of the world. Through His relationship, we are brought into new relationship with God and one another. The way we love one another is an expression of our love for God. 

Making room for others in our lives is at the heart of the story. Advent and Christmas call us to be generous with our lives. To see others as a gift from God.

All three of our children are blessed with such a rich group of friends. Nairobi is not the most secure place to travel at night, so often our kids are sleeping over with friends (at our home or their friends). December is the end of our short rainy season and so returns our tradition of evening campfires and yard games. We are so thankful for the intimacy that living here creates.

Celebrating Advent under the stars

Last evening, we shared in an advent potluck with the families of some of our children's closest friends. Soon a guitar appeared and the teenagers started leading songs around the fire. Carols, Christmas songs, Disney themes, and even a little John Mellencamp. 

As the years go by, we are so thankful for the friendships that have blessed our family. Along with our wonderful Canadian Baptist Ministries colleagues and relationships with our national partners, our family has been enriched through the international community living here. Nairobi is a very transient place as people come and go with Christian missions, non-governmental organizations, and the diplomatic service, but God has continually brought such amazing people into our lives.

We pray that you too will experience the joy of community this advent. That God will bless you with dear companions on the journey of life. 

Sally, Emmy, Ezra, Tristan and Reid
leading songs around the campfire
"Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of friends by a good fire." C.S. Lewis
Fun and Games with Raelyn, Liesl, Josh, Carson, 
Emma, Isaiah, and Karissa

Ava and her friends watching The Polar Express

The parents enjoying some of the 
Polar Express Hot Chocolate as well!

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season
filled with music and laughter!

"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you;
spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life."
Amy Poehler

Friday, December 9, 2016

Graduation Days!

Certificate of Integral Mission East African Cohort
2016 Graduation, Thika, Kenya

Unlike Canada, the Kenyan school year runs from January to November. That means that December is graduation season for schools, colleges, and universities. You know a graduation is happening when you see street vendors selling tinsel garlands and wreaths made of artificial flower that proud friends and families will buy to adorn their graduates.

This December also marks the end of the certificate of integral mission program that our Canadian Baptist Ministries colleagues and partners have been working on over the past two years. With graduations in Kigali and Thika, we have had much to celebrate.

CIM Graduates singing "Bind Us Together" 
during this week's graduation service in Thika

Darrell Bustin teaching on Spiritual Formation 
in the context of Integral Mission

As in past CIM modules, we were privileged to have many of our colleagues participate as lecturers and facilitators. In Module four, Darrell Bustin, Jonathan Mills, Pauline Kariuki, Lenny Mbogo, Esperance Niyigena, Aaron Kenny, and Saphano Riak formed the faculty.

Below are a few pictures from these past two weeks. 

Thank you for your prayers and support that made this program possible. We have witnessed a great impact on the students as their confidence and competency in designing and leading church-based initiatives has blossomed. Together we desire to participate in God's great mission in the world bringing hope and healing into every dimension of life!

Students participating in an exercise with Darrell

Break time at the Eton Hotel, Thika

Studying together

Laura Lee Bustin sharing during an early morning devotion

Rev. Saphano and Geraldine Nduku

The East Africa Cohort

The Central Africa Cohort, graduation day in Kigali

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rosslyn High School Christmas Banquet 2016

Rosslyn Christmas Banquet
Nairobi, Kenya

Last night, Tristan and Emma celebrated with their friends during the annual festive banquet and dance for Rosslyn's High School. They partied at Mediterraneo Ristorante, a local Italian restaurant. 

Here are few pictures of the kids getting ready to go.

Emma and Erin braving the rain

Emma and her date, Carson Slaughter

Tristan and his date, Sally Lee

Tristan, Enoch, Ezra, and Michael

Karisa, Erin, Raelyn, and Emma

Emma and Isaiah

Rae, Erin, Emma, Karisa, and Caroline

On their way to the ball!

Reid, Tristan, Sally, Enoch, Katie, Ezra, Caeli, Michael, and Sarah

For the seniors, this marks the midway point in their final
year at Rosslyn. Looking back on these years, we are so
thankful for the great friends and memories have blessed our family.