Friday, May 25, 2018

CBM Prayer Update: Resiliency

The rains continue to fall in Kariobangi Estate, Nairobi.

It has been an extraordinarily long rainy season here in East Africa. 

Kenya is taking proactive measures to release dams in parts of the country in hopes of avoiding further tragedies like the one that killed 47 people near Nakuru earlier this month. 

People living at the margins of the city always struggle the most when environmental calamity strikes. Their homes and livelihoods are at greater risk. Their resources are already stretched thin.

A view of Kariobangi from the Ark School

A lot of what Erica and her urban team do is cultivate resiliency. Helping groups establish a foundation of trust and loyalty. Working together with them through problems. Building capacity to weather storms and raise the level of wellness in their families. These groups create an important source of identity and support for the members. It is empowering to know that no one needs to face adversity alone. 

Earlier this week, we visited the community of Kariobangi with friends from CBM. We met with the Ark Sisters, one of the many self help groups that the CBM urban ministry team has helped to form and train in Nairobi. As a group of Muslim and Christian women the Ark Sisters have come to share their lives with one another. They save money together. Learn new skills together. Support one another during times distress and celebrate each success. As a group they have formed a sewing business selling in local markets and exporting to Canada.

By using a faith-based approach to community development, the SHG program is building a depth of love and spiritual strength that is integral to the health and vitality of the group members and their families. 

The source of our resiliency is knowing that we have a God who is worthy of our trust. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright." Psalm 20:7-8

"Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. 
Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive."
J. Cascio 

Erica with Ark Sister, Aisha

In Prayer

Please join us in praying for the members of the Ark Sisters and the CBM self help groups throughout Nairobi. We pray that these groups continue to grow strong and resilient.

We pray for the people of Kenya and Rwanda who are working to safe guard against further fatalities from the heavy rains and flooding. We pray for the families who are grieving from the loss of homes and loved ones.

Please pray for us and our colleague John Chan, who will be joining us over the coming week to review CBM partnerships and programming in Africa. We pray that these will be fruitful meetings that will help our partner churches to thrive.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Celebrating 40 Years of Partnership

Celebrating 40 Years of Partnership in Kenya
between Canadian Baptist Ministries and the Africa Brotherhood Church.

ABC Katelembo Church Choir performing traditional Akamba folksongs
at the ABC headquarters in Machakos, Kenya
Over the weekend, we travelled to the green hills of Ukambani, in Eastern Kenya, to participate in a time of celebration and worship as we remembered God's blessings throughout this journey of partnership. 

The partnership was born out of a strong friendship formed between Dr. John F. Keith (former general secretary of CBOMB) and the late Bishop Nathan Ngala (former ABC Bishop) in 1978. Their mutual trust and respect opened a door for Christians from the Canadian Baptists Churches and the Africa Brotherhood Churches to work together in education, evangelism, agriculture, and in response to health issues like a lack of clean water and HIV/AIDS.
"This journey we are celebrating," shared Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki during his closing sermon, "is a moment to reflect back and see what our forefathers did in laying a foundation for our generation to build upon... Their long-term goals have been fulfilled today through a spirit of unity and the sustainability of the church."

Erica, Carla, and Mary dancing with the ABC Mutituni Choir

Kamba Cultural dancing
Under the leadership of Ndambuki, the ABC has been intentional to reclaim its Akamba heritage and to strengthen its identity as an indigenous African Church. Reclaiming Akamba traditional music, oral history, and values is bringing great pride to the church.
CBM executive director Rev. Dr. Terry Smith presenting a stained glass maple leaf to Archbishop Ndambuki and his wife Mary Nzyoki during the 40th Anniversary Celebration.
Bishop Mishack Mikwilu leading the singing of Kiswahili Hymns
CBM executive director, Rev. Dr. Terry Smith addressing the gathering.
During the celebration, CBM board president Rev. Dr. Malcolm Card and executive director Terry Smith shared about the value of the partnership, recounted the work and sacrifice offered by so many people in the course of 40 years, and shone a light on the transformation that has happened in the lives of countless people through the shared ministries our two communities of faith.

As we move into the future, CBM and ABC will continue to seek to encourage and invest in other African denominations that are struggling in areas of great need. God has blessed our two Christian communities with the resources and experience to bring hope and healing to people impacted by war, insecurity, and poverty. 

We are so thankful for the journey of the past decades and the knowledge that God will be faithful as we seek the good of others. 
Erica with ABC director of community development Geraldine Nduku
Over the past year, Erica and Geraldine have worked together with our friend Peter (The assistant to the Archbishop) in planning and organizing this event. Beyond the celebration, we are so thankful for the opportunity to visit with beneficiaries from several of the activities from the past four decades.
Patty Card with members of the Guardians of Hope
One of the most successful community development projects of CBM and the ABC has been the Guardians of Hope that has assisted local churches in responding to HIV and AIDS in their congregations and communities. Patty Card was instrumental in launching this program across Africa in 2004 and managing the GOH until returning to Canada in 2009. In recent years has Erica has built on the GOH program by establishing Kamp Tumaini a program for the children of the GOH.
Dr. Carla Nelson with a beneficiary of the CBM/ABC Teachers Program
In the early 2000s, Carla Nelson worked with CBM and ABC to develop a teachers training program that has had an immense impact on the denomination and the schools of Kenya. The counselling component of the program has now become a standard for educational training in Kenya. The counselling training for teachers was later used to strengthen pastoral counselling in the church. During the celebration, pastors who had completed this program were asked to stand. Immediately hundreds of pastors rose to their feet applauding the work of Carla and leaders of the teaching program.
EKIC President Mary Nzyoki giving us a tour of the 
Eastern Kenya Integrated college in Mitaboni.
The greatest investment of CBM with the ABC has been in the area of education and leadership development. It is inspiring to see the ABC continue to build on this legacy by working to build up young people in faith and professionalism.
Rev. Dr. Gary Nelson dancing with the Katelembo choir
Photo Credit: Garrett Bruinsma May  19, 2018
Over the forty-years of partnership, there had been many CBM staff who were embedded with or worked closely with the Africa Brotherhood ChurchSome came for a year or more, others remained for over a decade, and some continued to return to guide and support key initiatives that stretched over many years. 

We certainly do not want to forget any of their names, so please send us a note if you know of any people whom we may have accidentally missed. 

Included in this list are general secretaries who have dedicated time to encourage and mentor the leadership of the ABC in many different ways. As we look back on key people that have walked with the ABC, we want to recognize and honour each of the following people.
John and Virginia Keith, Randy and Elizabeth Legassie, Hans and Alison Van Nie, Judy Webb, Marilyn Smith, Bob and Grace Berry, Elwood and Myrtle Bannister, Bryan Hagerman, Brian and Caryn Stelck, Gordon and Nancy Patterson, Aubrey and Diane Trail, Patricia Smith, Robert and Ann Swan, David and Cathie Phillips, Gary and Carla Nelson, Anne Drost, Robert and Sarah Patterson, Alden and Tracy Crain, Gordon King, Sam Mutisya, Malcolm and Patty Card, Timothy and Diane Bannister, Aaron and Erica Kenny, Sam and Cindie Chaise, Ruth Munyao, Pauline Kariuki, and Terry and Heather Smith.
Beyond this group, there have been hundreds of short-term volunteers who have come to assist in the dozens of ministries, projects, and training programs that the ABC has been a part of over these many years. 

These include pastoral training, the certificate of ministry program, teacher’s training programs, agronomist exchanges, food security projects, the diploma of integral mission, the Carey Masters of Divinity program, the Carey Doctor of Divinity program, the certificate of integral mission, Guardians of Hope, Praxis, Kamp Tumaini, Women in Focus, and many others.

Aaron, Gary, and Terry with Reverend Emeritus Dr. Julius Karanja Kimani 
of the African Christian Church and Schools.
We are very thankful for members of the ACC&S and the NCCK, that also participated in this celebration. We pray that God continues to bless and strengthen the witness of the Church in Kenya as denominations work together to further the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Celebrating the Fruit of Partnership

Dr. Gary Nelson, Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo, and Dr. Malcolm Card.

On Sunday, we welcomed past CBM General Secretaries Gary & Carla Nelson and Malcolm & Patricia Card as they returned to Kenya to join us for partnership gatherings and the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the partnership between CBM and the Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC) this coming weekend.

We are so thankful for the impact that these two couples have had upon our lives. Without question, God used Gary and Carla to bring us into Canadian Baptist Ministries and the work in Africa that has defined the past thirteen years of our lives. From our days together at Acadia Divinity College to Erica's first visit to Nairobi during the Certificate of Ministry program, Gary has been a mentor and friend. In the years since he and Carla have been close friends and sources of wisdom and encouragement.

Malcolm and Patty have served with CBM since their days in Indonesia throughout the 1970s, but we only came to know them during their years as the Africa team leaders from 2004 until 2010. After returning to Canada, Malcolm served as the interim General Secretary of CBM and most recently the CBM board president. Both he and Patty have been among our dearest friends and a part of our family. 

CBM and ACC&S Leaders:
Carla Nelson, Elijah, Aaron, Erica, Luka, Patty, 
Malcolm, Julius, Gary, Jeremiah, and David

Today, we traveled to Thika to visit with the leadership of the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S), CBM's longest continuous partnership in Africa.

It was uplifting to hear about the progress that the new leadership has made over the past eighteen months strengthening the life and outreach of the denomination which has expanded into eight new areas of church planting, expanded its theological education program, recruited forty new pastors, and for the first time fully ordained a woman as a reverend.

It was also exciting to realize that both the Cards and the Nelsons were teachers and mentors for many of the new emerging leaders of the ACC&S. 

Erica, Patty, and Gary chatting at the Blue Post Hotel, Thika

The Nelson's grandson, Garrett, watching the torrent 
of flood waters crashing over the Chania Falls, Thika. 

Checking out the giraffe in Karen, Nairobi

Along with our official partner visits, we have had some fun enjoying the company of the Cards and Nelson's who are sharing this experience with their grandson.

After tomorrow's trip to meet with Ruth Munyao and the food security team in Embu, we will travel with the team to Ukambani to being our time with the ABC. We pray that these celebrations will bring glory to God and encouragement to the local churches that have been at the heart of these four decades of ministry. 

We recognize that the partnership with the ABC is such a rich story with the contribution of hundreds of Canadian missionaries, volunteers, and contributors. We look forward to sharing more about the fruit of this partnership in the coming days.

Aaron and Malcolm being photo-bombed in Nairobi

Thursday, May 10, 2018

CBM Prayer Update: Kenya

Erica meeting with the CBM Urban Ministry Team in Nairobi

Celebrations with the Africa Brotherhood Church
2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of CBM's partnership with the Africa Brotherhood Church. This coming week, we will be hosting past and present general secretaries/executive directors Gary and Carla Nelson, Malcolm and Patty Card, and Terry Smith who are coming for the event. 
Please join us in praying for their safe journey and for the hundreds of ABC members that will be travelling to participate in this time of celebration. 
We give thanks for the blessing of the partnership with the ABC for these many years.
Urban Ministry in Nairobi
May is the beginning of a new school term for the students receiving scholarships through CBM's urban ministry project. Please pray for these boys and girls and for their families. 
We also pray for the urban ministry team as they assist self help groups in navigating challenges, especially those working at establishing new income generating activities.
Flooding in Kenya
Heavy rains have been pounding Kenya, since March of this year. The rains have caused flooding and mudslides that have taken more than 130 lives and displaced approximately 225,000 people from their homes. 
Last night's rains in Nukuru, west of Nairobi, burst a dam in the community of Solai and washed away hundreds of homes. 32 people are now confirmed dead and 41 injured. 
Please join us in praying for the families affected by flooding in Kenya and neighbouring Rwanda. We pray for the families devastated by these disasters and for the churches and groups that are responding. 
To read more about this tragedy click HERE

CBM Field Notes: Finding Hope in South Sudan

Children welcoming our CBM Colleague Willian Wako into
their home in the Mangaten IDP Camp near Juba, South Sudan.
"William" Wako Guyo Galgallo in Nairobi, Kenya

Earlier this week we sat down with our friend William, who has just returned from working with a relief project with Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) and the Faith Evangelical Baptist Churches (FEBAC) in South Sudan. 

For several years now, CBM has been working in South Sudan with our local partner in areas of relief and development. Together we seek to share the love and hope of Christ as we respond to the humanitarian crisis, relieve poverty, promote access to education, and improve food security among the poor and vulnerable communities.
Since November 2017, CBM and FEBAC have been providing monthly rations to 570 vulnerable households recently returned to the community of Melut in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. As we help these returnees establish themselves, we recognize that many more internally displaced people are desperate for peace and an opportunity to return to their farms and homes.

The newest area of this work is located on the edge of Juba in the Mangaten Internally Displaced Person's (IDP) Camp. In this blog post, we share a bit of the conversation Aaron had with William as they discussed this work.

Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba, South Sudan
Aaron: "Welcome back, William. You have been in our prayers as you travelled so far away from your family to join the project in Mangaten. Many Churches in Canada have been praying for you, for peace in South Sudan, and for the relief work with FEBAC."
William: "Thank you, I appreciate the prayers. It was my first time to travel to Juba, but all went along well. I was very grateful for Rev. Jeremiah Deng and the FEBAC team that welcomed me. Unlike Nairobi, there has not been too much rain in Juba. We had good days with the people in the camp."
A refugee family sharing their experience in Mangaten.
Aaron: "Over the years, Erica and I have visited many refugee camps and we know that everyone is different. I've been to Juba, but not to Mangaten. Can you tell me about the place and the people you met?" 
William: "The camp is located Northwest of the city of Juba. I understand that the land there was vacated during fighting near the airport, and as returnees started to gather in Juba, the vacant land became one of the many IDP centres that were formed. 
It is a very loud place as airplanes are always overhead. The government and Red Cross provided tents that the people are living in. In my visits, I learned that every tent is divided into two homes by a tarp hung in the middle. On each side of the tarp lives a different family."
Aaron: "It sounds crowded."
William: "Yes, in a way. I mean compared to the large camps like you've seen in Kakuma or Dadaab, Mangaten is small, about 1200 households. But the land is also squeezed. They have tents, but no place to grow food or have a livelihood. The tents are in sections, but there is only a single borehole that provides water for everyone. The borehole is located at an old school that is within the camp. The people really need better access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation."
 Heads of households gathering for the supplementary ration distribution
Aaron: "What were your meetings like with the IDPs?"
William: "The people were very grateful for the help received from FEBAC and CBM. Everyone I met had been destined for Central Upper Nile State, or other states, but never made it there.
Most had fled during the conflict in early 2014, but had thought that peace would return and in late 2015, they were moving in family groups back towards the North when violence erupted again.  
That is when the people were stranded in the camp. There were more, but the others turned back and fled to refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda. The families that stayed either had small children, elderly parents, or disabled family members that could not make the journey."
Aaron:  "And so these people were trapped. They couldn't travel home to the North because of the conflict, but they couldn't make the dangerous trek out of South Sudan either."
William: "Exactly. They were stuck in between. But life has not been very good in Mangaten. They face hunger and harsh economic conditions. The escalation of the price of basic commodities and lack of government support is making the situation worse. I found a high level of vulnerability, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and diseases among them; with women, children, youth, and those with special needs leading the list."
Relief beneficiaries at the Mangeten school.
Aaron: "How is the local FEBAC Church trying to help?"
William: "I was very impressed by the compassion and the care that I saw as the pastors and volunteers from FEBAC worked with the relief beneficaries. You know that most of the FEBAC team are from the Dinka ethnic group, and so are most of the IDPs living in Mangaten. In the relief project, we targetted the 400 most vulnerable households. These households were often made up of seven or more people. It is only a third of the camp, but it was the camp leaders that helped to identify who was most in need of assistance. 
What impressed me most was that the FEBAC leaders insisted that the minority Nuer ethnic group be included. Not just included, but the very first one hundred beneficiaries were Nuer heads of households. They were the first group to be called into the secure compound to receive food."
Aaron: "Wow! So in the camp where everyone is struggling to survive, the Dinka Christians from  FEBAC wanted to make sure that the minority Nuer group went first. That must have been a significant moment."
William: "It was a great act of Christian love. The Gospel was being lived out in a powerful way."
Nuur Women bringing rations back to their families.

Aaron: "Can you tell me more about the relief distribution itself? What did the beneficiaries receive and what is the intended impact?"
William: "CBM and FEBAC have been engaged in multiple relief projects over the past four years within South Sudan, but this was the first time that they have responded to the needs in this camp. It was actually the governor of the state where many of the IDPs were from who first reached out to FEBAC and asked for them to help. He had no resources himself, but he knew people were dying of starvation in these neglected camps.  
As I shared, we had resources to help only the 400 households that were most in need. The first preference was to assist families with pregnant mothers or children under the age of five. Next, there was preference given for those caring for the elderly and disabled. I can say that there is more need than we were able to satisfy. 
The households that were chosen each received food rations of 30 kilograms of beans, 25 kilograms of maize flour, and two litres of cooking oil.
The people were very grateful. One mother told me that here children would have had nothing to eat if it hadn't been for the food assistance. Another man told me, “This ration will take me and my six children for the next two weeks, for a very long time we will have food in our house!’"

William with the Mangaten Camp Leaders 
and members of the FEBAC Church
Aaron: "Is there anything else you would like to share as we update our friends and churches in Canada?" 

William: "Please share how thankful the people of the camp are for the support and generosity of Canadian Baptists. Rev. Jeremiah Deng [the leader of the FEBAC relief team] and his team also share their appreciation for the CBM/FEBAC partnership and for the opportunity to serve the needy people in this place.  

I would also like to add that these needs are not done with. We must continue to help the church bring food and hope to the people that have become refugees.  

Our partners in FEBAC are refugees themselves. They are experiencing the very same dangers and harms that have impacted the people in Mangaten. One could become focused on one's own needs and forget the needs of others, but that isn't what I saw.  

Instead, I witnessed them sharing the love of Christ through their words and deeds. At every wave of the food distribution, I observed Rev. Jeremiah sharing words of encouragement with the beneficiaries. Time and time again they stopped their work to pray with the people.  

I can say that our brethren are demonstrating the love and kindness of Jesus by how they are willing to listen and offer help to the beneficiaries and the onlookers. The team was intentional to glorify God in their work."

FEBAC Church members praying with 
leaders and residents of the Mangaten IDP Camp.

If you would like to learn more about the work of CBM in South Sudan, or how to get involved, please visit our website at

Monday, May 7, 2018

Partnering in Mission: Rev. Emmanuel

Reverend Emmanuel Ndagijimana

Last month, the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR), our partner in Rwanda, held its general assembly to elect its new legal representative and leader of the denomination. We are happy to share that Rev. Emmanuel Ndagijimana was elected and will officially begin his new responsibilities next week on May 15th.

Rev. Emmanuel has served as a pastor and regional leader within the AEBR and has worked closely with many of our CBM colleagues serving in Rwanda. His integrity and servanthood will be a great blessing to the Church as it continues to strengthen its structures and ministries through this period of challenges facing local churches in Rwanda.

Over the past week, we have enjoyed getting to know Rev. Emmanuel who is quick to laugh and has engaged both our team and other partners with a desire to deepen his understanding and relationships within the partnerships. 

Please join us in praying for Rev. Emmanuel, his family, and the AEBR as they begin this period of transition in leadership.

We also lift up our friend Gato Munyamasoko as he will transition into new things. We are deeply thankful for the work that he has done over the past five years serving the Baptist churches in Rwanda and raising the profile of the denomination. 

We continue to pray for congregations in Rwanda that are struggling to meet new legislative requirements. Hundreds of Baptist churches remain closed as they work on improving their facilities to satisfy these recently introduced expectations.

Outgoing legal representative Rev. Gato Munyamasoko and AEBR Administrative director, Berthe Uwizeramariya with Rev. Emmanuel during the CBM Africa Leadership Exchange in Kenya.