Snapshot: Witness in Kenyan Methodism
My full name is Kimberly; but most people call me Kim. When you have a name like Kim, surprising things can happen:
Questionable spam occasionally arrives in my inbox and it’s clear the spam bot thought I was a Korean man.
I’m scheduled to preach in a faraway country and I watch as a young pastor searches the hotel lobby nervously for the man he thinks he is supposed to accompany to the church.
Silly, surprising, sometimes embarrassing (not just for me) things. Who knew?
Wonderful things have also happened, God-inspired moments of kindness and meaning.
I’m the honored guest of a family in Kenya – the first white woman to ever spend the night in their home. I’m preaching at their church the next morning and they have invited the young pastor and her family, along with several of the lay leadership to join us for an evening of food and conversation.
We talk of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute’s East Africa regional seminar that has been taking place at Kenya Methodist University in Meru and where I have been teaching. They share their excitement about what WME is doing and how this is the first time that the “whole family” has been together – ever.
The whole Wesleyan Methodist family together – young leaders from the Methodist Church of Kenya, Nazarenes, United Methodists, Wesleyans, Free Methodists, and AME’s – from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan. Worshiping together. Learning together. Building relationships in order to work together.
What a witness for Christ to our Muslim neighbors! they say. We are not divided, we are not competing, we are one in Jesus Christ.
As the evening draws to a close, the lay leader stands and says to me, “Your name may be Kim, but I believe it should be Kimathi,” which in Kimeru means one who draws in and gives out for the benefit of others. He apologizes that this is a masculine word (there is a feminine version – kamathi), but hopes I will accept this name anyway.
I do. With tears in my eyes.
The Methodist Wesleyan family is alive and well in East Africa! God is calling young women and men to minister through word, deed and sign – evangelists, church planters, teachers, pastors, doctors, lawyers, government officials – all Holy Spirit-inspired and ready to go where God leads them. Their witness, which crosses denominational, geographical, economic, and language barriers is awe-inspiring. For some, it’s a public witness, free from danger. For others that witness is made in secret, at great risk to life and limb.
Some have grown up in the church. Others were Muslim before accepting Christ, which often has resulted in rejection by family and friends. Some are pastors, others are not.
Some pastor or worship in places that are established and growing. Others pastor and worship in places that are more tenuous – but still growing.
The Huruma Tent of Prayer is in that last category. It began as a house church with four couples. These young people started with prayer and chose an impoverished area of Nairobi that had been overlooked by others. Now with 270 members they’ve outgrown the temporary space they created with sheets of tin and fabric. They’ve started a school for neighborhood children whose families can’t afford fees and each member has committed to reaching out to 11 others over the next 11 months.
Reaching out, connecting with others in order that they might connect with Jesus Christ. Drawing in and giving out. Kimathi’s.
The Holy Spirit is moving in East Africa. The Holy Spirit is moving everywhere; we just need eyes to see. Where is the Holy Spirit moving in your area? Do you have eyes to see? How might you become a Kimathi?