The Kenya Girls “Imagine” Experience
This ended season, CWC played host to an exchange class from Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. The exchange was an initiative of Diane Stinton, associate professor of Mission Studies at Regent. She is also one of our adjunct professors here at CWC. Diane has lived and taught in Kenya for many years, at Daystar University and Africa International University. When the Lord called her to Regent, she saw this as an opportunity to build partnerships between theological educators and Christian practitioners across the Atlantic.
In June 2013, Diane brought five ladies, fondly “The Kenya Girls” to join several of our PhD students for two weeks of classes and immersion into contextual ministry. Being very resourceful and widely networked, Diane marshaled theological educators of note as guest lecturers, including Professors Jesse Mugambi of University of Nairobi, Philomena Mwaura of Kenyatta University, Laurenti Magesa from Tanzania among others.
Diversity out of class
The experience was enriched by encounter with ministry practitioners from around Nairobi. Oscar Muriu, senior Pastor of Nairobi Chapel invited the group for a two hour session at his church office. Muriu spoke of contextual sensitivity that should guide ministry between western and Africans Christians. The students attended worship at Chapel and had an opportunity to volunteer among children. Chapel also treated the girls to a sumptuous welcome luncheon.
Another dynamic personality who gave an eye opening talk to the students was Rev Nicta Lubaale, head of Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC). AIC constituents are largely among the marginalized of society. Initially started as movements of protest, Lubaale pointed out that AICs have moved towards more mainstream (evangelical) theology; some resemble contemporary Pentecostals. Also significant is that AICs are running projects for civic education, poverty alleviation and sensitization on gender and HIV/AIDs.
Jesuit Priest and Catholic scholar E. Orobator talked about integrating his African heritage into his catholic faith and ministry. Bator shared how he is at home with the images and icons, church hierarchies, sacraments and celebrations among other historic practices of the Catholic Church because they correlate significantly with his Africa background. That talk pointed to the relevance of inculturation theology; in some African contexts, Christianity will only make sense if it connects with cultural realities.
The class had a lesson with Cosma Gateere, a market-place Christian who has led a number of successful positions in the corporate world for many years. He now works for a government parastatal. He gave a talked on how he applies his faith in the secular corporate space. Over the years Cosma has trained himself to have a holistic sense of professional calling and excellence. He reads widely both in his professional field and in Christian literature that guides him to combine God’s word, God’s work and the needs of the world into his daily work. This has enabled him to be witness and earn favor with his employers and corporate colleagues.
The girls also visited with churches, community centers, bookshops and publishers and even fit in a city tour. After the exchange, they stayed a few more weeks for independent immersion and volunteer experiences.
The students went away challenged by the encounter. Their perceptions of Africa are no longer those of a poverty stricken, conflict ridden and needy continent. Regardless of the challenges, they experienced an Africa determined to define a beautiful destiny for its people; Christians are leading the way in that renewal. As a center seeking to understand and give voice to what God is doing here, we came away from the experience deeply encouraged by the diversity of the work of the Holy Spirit here. It spills over into all kinds of spaces–in para church organizations, in the academy, in slums ministries, in middle-class churches, in government parastatals, everywhere. It is clear that God is working to establish his Shalom in 21st century Africa. Indeed, the giant sleeps no more, for the day is here, when “Princes shall come out of Egypt (Africa) bearing gifts unto our God, when Ethiopia (Africa) stretches out her hands unto God in prayer, saying, ‘Sing unto God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praises to the Lord’” (Psalm 68: 3).
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