Monday, April 11, 2016

Transforming Mission: BECOMING (An Update on South Sudan)

Transforming Mission: BECOMING
Aluel Abraham attending worship with her family
at the Faith Evangelical Baptist Church, Saika

Since the outbreak of civil war and conflict in December 2013, the people of South Sudan have been struggling for survival. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are now living in refugee camps near the borders of Kenya and Uganda, and in urban slum areas like Saika, Nairobi. 

This past Sunday, we had the privilege of being invited to celebrate worship with our South Sudanese partner church in one of the South Sudanese congregations living in Saika. 

We reflected together on how God is always calling his people to follow Him through journeys of change. That to be a follower of Jesus involves a continual process of "becoming". All through the scriptures, we see God calling people to leave home, to step away from the known, and the safe, and to walk by faith into a strange land, a new people, and an unknown reality.

Being transplanted into a new land is a difficult and often confusing experience. The refugee communities that have fled South Sudan are thankful to be free from the conflict and insecurity of war, but what this means for the future of their family, friends and nation is a deep and distressing concern. 

As we spoke together about how God uses such transitions to shape his people, we noticed a single sprout in the mud floor of the sanctuary. Like the three hundred worshipers gathered in that structure, this little sprout was brought in from the outside. A seed carried by rain, a bird, or perhaps the sandals of the people themselves. It was once small, insignificant and unnoticed. But the little seed survived. It took hold of the soil. It broke through the surface, and is growing. It is the miracle of life.

This is the story of the South Sudanese refugee churches. 

Pastor Philip Thon Giving Thanks to God

Every person worshipping in Saika church has a story to tell of God's miraculous hand. Pastor Philip Thon was dying in the Upper Nile district of South Sudan. Cut off from medical support and the surgery needed to save his life, he and the church prayed for God's intervention. 

Through the aid of an anonymous gift from Canada, Philip was brought to Juba and later Nairobi with just enough time for the doctors to operate. By God's grace he lived.

On Sunday, Philip shared and prayed with the Saika Church. He is returning to South Sudan to join his wife and their three children in the ministry among the hundreds of thousands of other internally displaced people living in camps in places like Narus.

Pastor Jeremiah Deng Akoi leading a hymn in Dinka

Pastor Jeremiah leads the Saika congregation which he helped to establish in 2013 when many families had first come to Nairobi. At that time Jeremiah had received a scholarship from Canadian Baptist Ministries to study theology and pastoral ministry here in Kenya. He credits this training as what God used to help him minister to the families that had come to Kenya in desperation.

Today, Jeremiah's congregation is growing with almost two hundred children and youth in the Sunday school. A lack of land and finances has pushed Jeremiah and his congregation to be creative. They worship on Sunday's in a borrowed building on the edge of the community where many of the congregation lives.  The worship services are led in Dinka, Arabic, and English as everyone participates in music, dance, scripture reading, and sharing.

Rev. Saphano Riak Chol, General Secretary FEBAC

Rev. Saphano, the leader of the Faith Evangelical Baptists Churches also visited the Saika congregation on Sunday. He had just returned from South Sudan where he participated in a joint relief effort of FEBAC and CBM that distributed beans and maize to thousands of internally displaced families in the community of Narus.

With great appreciation, Rev. Saphano thanked the Canadian Baptist Churches who have been supporting not only the training and education of key leaders in the denomination, but faithfully contributing to the vital emergency relief efforts in South Sudan.

Food aid being stored and distributed 
by the FEBAC churches in South Sudan

2016 Food Relief

The journey of becoming the people of God is a daily step of faith that moves us beyond what we know and understand. As Canadian Baptists, we are keenly aware that no one makes this journey alone. As the Church, we are called to walk together. The story of the church in Saika is our story, as we participate in the great redemptive movement of God in the world. Even in the hardest of places, in the most desperate of times, God continues to work in the lives of those who call out to him.

Aaron with Pastor Philip and Rev. Saphano

In Prayer

Please join us in praying for the church of South Sudan. We continue to pray for the FEBAC churches in Upper Nile, Narus, Kakuma Refugee Camp, and Saika. May God continue to strengthen his people in becoming firmly rooted in the communities where he has placed them. We pray that the church would continue to grow and bear fruit in the lives of many.

Please pray for leaders like Pastor Thon, Pastor Jeremiah and Reverend Saphano. May they continue to lead with humility and courage as they bear witness to the transforming love and truth of Christ.

We continue to pray for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan. The strain of conflict, and the burning of farm lands and property by armed groups has contributed to great food insecurity. We pray that God will continue to use the church to bring much needed hope and help. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Episode 3 - Co-Mission with John and Ruth Chan

In February this year, we had the great joy of spending a week with John, Ruth and the other global leaders coordinating CBM's work around the world. In this interview, our executive director, Rev. Dr. Terry Smith, talks with John and Ruth about the vibrant ministry of evangelism and discipleship that they are leading in Germany and throughout Asia with their team and partners.

Please join us in praying for CBM's global Chinese ministries.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Doctoral Graduation

CBM/Carey Theological College Africa Doctoral Program
March 16, 2016 Commencement Service
Brackenhurst, Limuru, Kenya

In March, we celebrated the graduation of the Carey Theological College doctor of ministry program.  The graduation was held on the beautiful grounds of the Brackenhurst Conference Centre in Limuru, Kenya, with students and guests coming from South Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Canada.

Leadership development and education has been a priority for Canadian Baptist Ministries in Africa since we began partnership in Angola in 1957. We are thrilled that so many of our African partner churches have benefitted from this program.

 Rev. Dr. Brian Stelck addressing the doctoral graduates

A driving force behind the Carey certificate, Bachelors, Master, and Doctoral degree programs in Africa has been Rev. Dr. Brian Stelck, who has championed the partnership between Carey, CBM, and our African partner churches. We are deeply thankful to Brian and Caryn for their commitment to the development of leadership among our partner churches.

 Aaron receiving his doctoral degree from Terry Smith

Over the past six years, Aaron has been study with sixteen other denominational leaders from across Africa and India in this program. For his final doctoral research project, he reviewed documentary sources and interviewed forty people involved in Canadian Baptist Ministries four decades of ministry in Garissa among Muslim communities. His final project shares this story and identifies lessons for fruitful ministry.

Carey Theological College President, Rev. Dr. Colin Godwin hooding Aaron

Aaron greeting Carey Alumni, Dr. Julius Karanja Kimani

 Rev. Dr. Terry Smith, Executive Director of Canadian Baptist Ministries
sharing an exhortation for the graduates
In 1957, Canadian Baptist Ministries began partnering with the Evangelical Church in Angola. From those early days, our partnerships have grown across Africa into many different countries with multiple indigenous African church families and NGOs. Several years ago, leaders from CBM and church partners from Angola, Rwanda and Kenya met together in Mombasa, Kenya, to explore a new approach to joint mission. One of the outcomes of that meeting was an invitation to build the capacity of the senior leaders of our partners and enable them to achieve the highest academic qualifications. New partners in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo joined. CBM reached out to Carey Theological College to deliver a joint Carey / CBM Education programme with a Masters and a Doctoral cohort.
 We congratulate the graduates who have successfully completed the programme and look forward to the leadership you will offer to God and his mission in the World.Sola Dei Gloria 
Rev. Dr. Terry Smith, Executive Director of Canadian Baptist Ministries

 Tristan the official photographer of the graduation

 Celebrating with some of our Kenyan colleagues

 Andai and Aaron

Colin and Aaron 
In 1987, Dr. Paul Stevens from Vancouver, Canada volunteered to give four weeks of teaching in Kenya. At that time, Caryn & Brian Stelck (future President of Carey) were CBM Missionaries in Kenya and during a long trip to Lake Victoria with several African leaders a format was discussed that became the Certificate in Ministry, a joint project of Carey, Canadian Baptist Ministries and CBM's African partners. Through this partnership, Carey has graduated more than 500 leaders from CBM’s African Partners:  Certificate in Ministry (176), Bachelor of Ministry (92), Master of Arts (43), and Doctor of Ministry(8). In addition, there were 198 graduates of the Christian Teacher Education & Counselling program and one award of an honorary Doctor of Divinity. Finally, community development personnel from both CBM and its African partners were trained through the Diploma in Integral Mission. Each of these initiatives, stretching out over almost thirty years, was made possible by many gifts of time, study, service and funds from both Africa and Canada and by a Christian fellowship that has been deeper and stronger than the challenges brought by language, culture, country and tribe.

We rejoice in this true Christian partnership and we give thanks to God for the graduating class in the Doctor of Ministry programme.
Bwana safiwe!

Rev. Dr. Colin Godwin, President of Carey Theological College

 Aaron with his parents, Cecil and Marie Kenny
visiting from Prince Edward Island

Our family is so proud of Aaron!