Friday, March 11, 2005

Our first Sunday in Kenya

Our first Sunday in Kenya Ted drove us over some of the roughest roads I've ever been on to one of the few truly "multicultural" churches in Kenya. Like in the U.S., most churches tend to reach out to specific cultural groups; in Kenya those groups are tribes. But this church, remarkably enough, members from both the Masai and Kikuyu tribes (the two largest tribes in Kenya) in addition to members from other tribes as well. This is difficult for them when hostility erupts between the tribes (as it did the last week we were there) but gives the church a special ability to reach out as mediators when such hostility arises.

We enjoyed over three hours of worship with the congregation in their little corrugated steel sanctuary which they packed to the walls. There was lots of singing, in all the represented languages, tribes and generational groups. The sermon was given by Ted in English for our sake (he usually preaches in Swahili there, which he knows well enough to correct his translator if needed) and communion was served. Everyone formally greeted everyone else, time was taken to specially acknowledge the presence of a number of visitors including ourselves, and a gift of a Masai bracelet was given to each visitor there. After the service, Alli played a game like jacks with the children (instantly attracting a crowd), and we had lunch together. All in all, it was a beautiful time of truly cross-cultural fellowship among believers.

The church is slowly building a new sanctuary for itself. The speed is limited by both a lack of funds and a shortage of labor. Since people have to walk miles in many cases to come to church, the time is limited that they can give to the work, and the work proceeds slowly since they have to shape each beam by hand for the construction. But the need is real and progress is being made, and one day, God willing, they'll have a new larger sanctuary to accommodate the growing congregation there.


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