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.

Our Kenyan Christmas 2018

Flamingo crossing
Lake Elementaita, Kenya.

Christmas week in Kenya has always included several traditions for our family. A Christmas Eve service and sibling sleepover, everyone watching Its a Wonderful Life, campfires, presents, candles, a turkey dinner, a power outage (Christmas Day once again this year), friends joining us for board games, a road trip, a puzzle, an encounter with at least one unexpected animal, phone calls with family, and lots of laughter.

This year we more than checked off all of the boxes enjoying great times with visiting friends, a getaway to Sunrise Acres with our friends the Loewer family, and a fun search for the great flamboyance of Flamingos in the Rift Valley's network of alkaline lakes.

Christmas Eve at our home in Runda, Nairobi

This year, we had the joy of having our friend Caeli Kean join us for Christmas Eve. Caeli and Tristan had graduated together from Rosslyn Academy in May 2017. Over the break, a large number of their friends also returned.
Caeli joining the Christmas Eve Sibling Sleepover
Games night with Sarah, Haram, Caeli, and Ezra
Tristan, Emma, and Ava leading worship 
at the ICF Sunday School Christmas party 
Sunrise Acres, Eldam Ravine
Koobs Tournament
Tristan and Michael

The resident Grey Parrot
Ava enjoying the farm life
Lake Elementaita
Hiking the shoreline
We wish you all a very happy New Years!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Peace on Earth

Holding on to God's Promises this Christmas

It was a great honour to be invited by Rev. Michael Fredericks to contribute to the Perth-Andover Baptist online Advent calendar.

You can view the congregations short nativity videos throughout their website -- they are a lot of fun and feature reflections from many different contributors. Below is my reflection from this past week.

Perth-Andover Advent Calendar 2018
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Luke 2:13-14 (NLT)
Bisereo, Rwanda

The sun drops low as we near the top of the steep cliff-side memorial. Looking back, I watch the winding stone path below us weaving between the memorial houses of the Bisesero Genocide site in Western Rwanda. 
This once peaceful forested mountainside was the last stand of the genocide of the Tutsi people in 1994. Remote and inaccessible, this was the last refuge where Western Tutsis fled. Their hope was to hide in the old forest deep in these high hills. But even here, peace would be destroyed. In each of the houses below us rest their bones. Nearly 50,000 people died in this area, and here they lie.
We climb this path with Christian leaders from across Africa, men and women who hold on to the hope of the angels' song this Advent – “Peace on Earth!” They live in areas of conflict and division, desperate for peace.
The forest has largely vanished in Bisesero, but what remains are old pines that soar into the alpine sky. I whisper to a pastor next to me that these trees are a powerful symbol of Christmas in Canada -- "When the cold days of winter come to Canada their evergreen needles remind us that the promises of God never die."

The promise of the coming of the Prince of Peace is for now, it is for Africa, and it is for all of us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Prayer Update from CBM Africa

A rather festive looking waterbuck whom we encountered 
on the shores of Lake Naivasha, Kenya

As 2018 draws to a close, we give thanks to God for the partnerships, ministries, and our teammates serving with CBM throughout Africa. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo
We give thanks to God for the for renewed unity among the church. This past weekend, our colleague Rev. Gato Munyamasoko participated in the reunification celebration of the Community of Baptist Churches in Eastern Congo (CEBCE) which had been fractured into two groups since 1997. We pray for their new leader, Rev. Bizimana Mulera Gaston and for continued healing and restoration of the church.

We also hold the people of DRC in prayer this week as they prepare for national elections that are scheduled for December 23rd and for peace and solidarity as President Joseph Kabila completes his second and final term in office this week on December 20th.

Canadian Baptist Ministries' newest partnership is getting off to a great start as our colleague Gato Munyamasoko works with the Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF) in their new transitional justice program. Please pray for Gato as he builds strong relationships within the UCLF team and for the peacebuilding work that he is engaged within Uganda.

We also continue to pray for Gato, Anne Marie, and their children as they relocate from Kigali to Kampala this month.

Gato Munyamasoko with the UCLF team in Kampala, Uganda

We give thanks for the last decade of self-help group ministries that Erica has led in Kenya with our CBM Muslim ministry colleagues, both in the impoverished settlements of Nairobi and Garissa county.
This past week, hundreds of SHG members came together in closing rallies held in the communities of Eastleigh and Kariobangi. The group members shared their appreciation for the love and support shown to them by the Church and our urban ministry team. 

We give thanks for the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) who will be taking on this ministry in January 2019 as a joint project with CBM. Please pray for Laura Muema as she transitions to work more closely with the ACC&S.
Erica, Laura, and Aisha
As the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR) prepare for their celebration of Christmas, we give thanks for the progress that has been taking place within the denomination. Our colleagues Ruth Munyao and Andre Sibomana have also been supporting the AEBR in their large food security ministry which is a part of the joint programming of CBM and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank in East and Central Africa. 

We pray for Ruth and Andre as they give leadership and support to this important area of ministry in Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, and the Democratic Repiblic of Congo.

Please join us in praying for our colleagues Rev. Dr. Darrell and Laura Lee Bustin, who are supporting the denomination in the areas of leadership development, pastoral training, and facilitating short-term volunteers. 

We give thanks to God for the ministry of CBM's partner church, the Evangelical Church of Angola (IEA). 2018 marked sixty years since the very first Canadian Baptist missionaries came to Africa. This inaugural group arrived in 1958 to serve among the IEA and they would eventually carry the work of CBM across Africa.

Today, the IEA is involved in its own pioneer mission outreach in Namibia and Portugal.

South Sudan
Due to security concerns and transportation challenges, our local partner has decided to postpone its annual general assembly to April 2019. They ask for prayer as the denomination prepares for the election of a new secretary general. 

We continue to pray with them for the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese people living in refugee camps and IDP settlements in South Sudan and in neighbouring countries.

On behalf of all of our team, we wish you a very happy Christmas!