I just got back from a leadership conference for training pastors in Western Kenya – see previous post. I did a couple of sessions on biblical interpretation – just the basics, leadership – character and skills, sermon preparation, and marriage and the family.
It was a great experience! These pastors are hungry for any kind of training they can get. A couple of the pastors had finished secondary school (high school); a few had done some high school; many never made it that far. Everything was either done in Kiswahili or translated into Kishwahili. There was usually enough of an outcry when the translator mistranslated something to show that at least a third were following in both languages.
FAST FACTS: ALARM – Africa Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry.
Carol Makanda – Acting country director for ALARM; she is a NEGST grad. She organized the whole conference and was simultaneously leading a team of about 20 Americans (many of them high schoolers), who were doing a vacation bible school in a different village as part of the same trip.
Erick Arowo – recent (last month) NEGST graduate, and new coordinator of Youth Programs for ALARM. (Look for him to be doing a PhD in the near future.)
One of the big highlights for me was just spending time with the Nelson and Carol, and getting to know Erick a little bit better. They are all phenomenal people, and were a great team to work with. If one of us was stumbling, another person could step in, offer encouragement, clarification. We. were really able to capitalize on each person’s gifts and abilities
About 48 pastors – 50 was the cap – from around Kimilili at the foot of Mt. Elgon in Western Kenya not far from the Uganda border.
Names of the Pastor’s churches:
All the introductions were done in KiSwahili with a few of these words sprinkled in, so this is what I wrote down (I’ll have to get a fuller list from Nelson or Carol):
· Baptist (at least one had a long name with Baptist in it; seemed more Pentecostal than Baptist, but I guess he grew up Baptist.)
· Christ Victory Ministries
· Christian Glory Center
· KAG – Kenya Assemblies of God
· King Jesus Faith Ministries
· New Apostolic
· New Pentecostal Universal Church
· PEFA – Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship Association? (Pentecostal is the only one I’m sure of)
· TACK – Traditional Anglican Church Kenya (A break off of the ACK; not exactly “traditional”) – several pastors came from this church.
· One Roman Catholic
· A couple of African Initiated Churches
When asked what preachers were popular around the area – Benny Hinn’s was one of the first names to come up.
Some seemed to be associate pastors in their churches, or had been commissioned to start new satellite churches of their denominations.
Notwithstanding the names of their churches and some first impressions, I found that most of them had well-worn bibles, genuinely cared about their people, and were eager to learn.
They are working with almost no training: they have their Bibles and what they’ve seen from other pastors – including TV evangelists. Yet, when we had them work together on a description of the pastor and his roles, they came up with a limited list that was almost as good as the course outline I had gotten in seminary.
True, some who are in it for money and prestige. The organizing committee chairman seemed especially of this ilk. He introduced himself as the town’s “Servant.” We came to discover that for him, “Servant” meant well-respected and waited-on “Bishop.” He and a few others had picked up on the buzzwords for “servant leadership” and co-opted them for their own interests. Just goes to show you, you have to constantly be rearticulating the message so as to keep them fresh, relevant, and meaningful.
Each morning, Nelson or Erick started with an exposition of Scripture centered around the leadership examples of John the Baptist, Jesus, and Joshua. Wednesday, Erick’s message of leadership Jesus style caused quite a buzz and elicited a lot of questions. What should we do about titles? There’s a lot of pressure to call yourself “Bishop.” People have told us not to get too close to our people, what do you think about that?
It was also just nice to get out into rural Kenya again just to remind me about what real life in the non-urban part of Africa is like. It’s beautiful
I’ll be post a couple of extra reflection in the next couple of days including the highlight of the conference for me – the marriage discussion.