AIU Leadership Development class, downtown Nairobi class
My Leadership Development class met at AIU’s downtown location evening class. Therefore 16 Kenyans and one Nigerian. Great group of mostly pastors (some over multiple churches), plus school principles, administrators, and people who have retired from other careers like Parliament to do something new. May God help us all to be more Christ-like developers of leaders who develop leaders who develop leaders. Banana not Banyan tree leaders. Now the fun work of class moves to the necessary work of grading, but I still learn a lot from some student papers.
Nairobi, near downtown AIU extension site
Thank you for your prayers for the research workshop on “The Church and Witchcraft / Witch Accusations!” God enabled people to safely come and go from 9 countries in the week after the elections. They received no pay, only learning. Since people come from such diverse experiences and perspectives on this topic, I was not sure that people would be able to listen and respect each other deeply. However, the participants were moved by the suffering of those accused of being witches, especially those the Bible tells us to protect and provide for: widows, orphans, grandparents, and strangers.
I was especially proud of my students and how much they have learned. They presented well their research and experience on this to these 50 scholars. There were also excellent presentations from others. For example, Opoku Onyinah presented from his pastoral experience and excellent research how local and global influences have combined to create a new “witchdemonology,” often with negative effects of accusations. I appreciated his humble, pastoral heart even though the Church of Pentecost which he leads is the largest protestant denomination in Ghana with over a million members as well as being in 80 other countries. The USA faculty also did well listening to the Africans as well as giving short presentations related to the witch accusations from expertise in Anthropology, Church History, and Bible.
Jan and I are relieved and grateful that this went so well since we did almost all of the preparations for the conference and hosting people on this side of the ocean (while Dr. Bob Priest did most of the rest). Please pray for the participants to be able to do research, writing, curriculum design, teaching, and networking to address witchcraft and witch accusations as a result of this conference.
Kenyans wait to vote March 4th, 2013
People were out on the street not rioting, but waiting in line to vote, sometimes for more than 6 hours. More than 80% of registered voters voted. Many churches have been praying, preaching, and preparing for peace, so we must thank God. God has given considerable progress in the new constitution in which power has been distributed away from the President. We now have independent institutions like courts, electoral commission, police, etc. So even with very close elections, this time people have trusted the legal system to process the challenges.
Professor Kibwana, one of my students who graduated last year from our missions program has been elected governor of Makueni county. You can pray for increased justice, shalom, and prosperity there and throughout Kenya. You can even pray Kenya’s national anthem with us…
O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.
Woman accused of witchcraft
Research consultation on “The church and witchcraft / witch accusations” March 6-9 at AIU
In my research in Tanzania the issue of witchcraft and witch accusations emerged as extremely important. Every year, just in NW Tanzania about 300,000 people are accused by diviners of being witches. The woman pictured above was accused and attacked with a machete. Many are victimized including 100-250 being killed by relatives. In other parts of Africa, some pastors take the place of diviners in prophesying who the witch is that caused your suffering. Yet the church has little guidance on how to address this in Africa or the world. Partially as a result of reading my PhD dissertation, two of my professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School – TEDS (Bob Priest and Tite Tienou, dean) pursued a research consultation here at NEGST – AIU in partnership with TEDS. I have been working hard with Bob to prepare for the conference, invite key participants and host the 28 arriving from the outside.
The workshop will bring together 52 Christian scholars from Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Central African Republic, Kenya and USA. I am excited to learn together with these participants. Some of the participants are not only great Christian scholars, but also top church leaders. For example, J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu (Professor of African Christianity and Pentecostal Theology from Ghana), Timothy Nyasulu (head of the 1.3 million member Presbyterian church in Malawi) and both the current (Samuel Kunhiyop) and former (Yusufu Turaki) general secretaries of ECWA in Nigeria (with 5000 churches, 5,000,000 attenders and 1600 missionaries). Opoku Onyinah (PhD) is the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost worldwide.
Pray for safe travel (in the last elections travel from the airport was not possible the day after elections, when most are arriving). Pray especially that we would listen deeply to each other and the Holy Spirit and make plans that will bless and protect many through the church in Africa.
Post-election violence in Nairobi after 2007 elections
Kenya’s national elections March 4th
5 years ago, Kenya’s elections were so close and so problematic that some people took to the streets to protest and to riot (see above). Some began to kill. In the end, 1300 people died and 500,000 people were evicted by other ethnic groups. Kenyans were shocked and ashamed that this would happen when they have been quite peaceful and stable for nearly 50 years. No one knows what will happen this time, but there is fear in the atmosphere. No one has been convicted of any crimes from that time and machetes have been selling rapidly. However, we have a much improved constitution and Christians have been fasting and praying for peace and for a just government.
Our own church here is just completing 40 days of fasting and prayer for the elections as well as preaching addressing it. Americans might benefit from Pastor Oscar’s sermon last week that began “what will you do when your candidate loses and you think the worst person is elected?” Will you trust that God is still in control and working out his purposes for our country in his time?” (see www.nairobichapel.org if you want to hear more.) Many people will be staying home and most schools, including our children’s, will be closed for a few days.
Will you pray with us for the elections and results this Monday, March 4th?