Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sunday in Eldoret

On Sunday, I stayed at the Adventist Guest House and my work came to me. The rest of the Education Care Projects Kenya team headed out to Hands of Hope Academy.

GRV Children's Ministry Training Day


Pr Abigail Gichaba, the Children’s Ministry Director for this conference - the Greater Rift Valley Conference - and I worked together to put together a special day of training for her regional children’s ministry leaders.

When I headed to breakfast at the Adventist Guest House, I noticed a flurry of busyness in the hall where I was meant to take the meetings. I popped my head in and said, “Wow! This looks great, what’s happening in here today?” I was told there was to be a wedding. “Have you ever seen an African wedding?” One of the florists asked. I told her, “Yes, on television.” She laughed.

I then went to the front desk and inquired about today’s venue for the Children’s Ministry training. A few minutes later the receptionist brought me a piece of paper with the name of the church on the other side of Eldoret where the meeting was happening. By this time, Leon was with me and he called Carole in their hotel room to get more details. Pr Gichaba had said it would be here, at the Adventist Guest House. Carole came to the dining room and gave me Pr Gichaba’s business card. I rang the number and she said, “I am just driving into the compound. I will see you shortly.”

When Pr Abigail walked in she listened to the story of our dilemma and said, “I am here now, everything will be fine!” As she walked out of the dining room to arrange things, I looked at Leon and said, “Now that’s leadership!” He laughed and said, “Especially in Africa!”

There’s a phrase “TIA - This Is Africa” used by locals and travellers alike to describe the “anything can happen” attitude and reality of the African people. Pr Abigail was right. Not only was everything fine - it was amazing. She arranged the most beautiful setting imaginable - outside, under the big tents, on a mild sunny day with a gentle breeze. Pure magic.

Pr Abigail and I shared the teaching load and presented material on Sabbath School, Gracelink, Vacation Bible School, children’s choirs and storytelling. The theme for the day was TCI - Total Child Involvement. TCI is Pr Gichaba’s mission for the churches in this conference.

Nearly 100 people listened as we spoke. My words were repeated by a translator for those who do not understand English. It is always fun working with a translator when the audience is adult. They all help the translator with words they struggle with - and sometimes words they did just fine with. Then a discussion ensues as to the correct word. It certainly keeps people listening!

Pr Abigail started the day with introductions and then I presented worship - my favourite sermon, God's Storytellers which demonstrates that both Children’s Ministry and Storytelling are at the heart of the end time mission of God’s people. The next segment I did was about building and telling stories that teach a key point. In the next section I taught them how to plan and present a narrative sermon which will keep people listening for the entire time. My final section was on Sabbath School. I taught the four purposes of Sabbath School, the NEW Church core material and I demonstrated a workshop they can run in their churches.

It was a full day and finished with a photo taking session in which nearly every participant wanted a selfie with the Mzungu. I’m glad I wore my new Maasai shirt. It was well received by the guests and made me look the part in the photos!

Parents Day at Hands of Hope Academy


While I was participating with the GRV Children’s Ministry Training Day, the rest of the team from ECPK were out at Hands of Hope Academy. Courtney Tyler ran a special program for the older girls looking at their health, wellbeing and self-esteem. Leon ran a program for the older boys called ‘Valiant Men’ in which they explored what it means to be men of God. Carole hosted a beautiful experience for the new families.

A Matatu (mini bus) was sent to pick up all the parents and they were brought to the school to spend a day seeing the new environment where their children were being educated.

Each parent of the six children came along and sat together. They all greeted their children and watched with joy as their little ones played with the 60 other students. Carole told me it was a beautiful experience and the parents showed their appreciation many times during the day.

It was important to Leon and Carole that the families of these new children understand they are always welcome at Hands of Hope Academy and their family is still intact. Their children are being educated to bring a better life to their families, not taken away from them.

I was very moved by this gesture. I spend my working life with children as a state-school primary chaplain. My goal, everyday, is to empower the children to return home and honour their parents through compassion and cooperation. To see these Kenyan children separated from their families was very hard for me as it goes against my daily practice.

The integration of the family into the Hands of Hope experience is exactly what my aching soul needed for these families. I too went to boarding school and know that it can seperate or strengthen families based on the way the school connects with the parents. I believe Hands of Hope Academy is on a very healthy track.