I just spent the last week and a half in Kenya for Christian Reformed World Missions at the Theological Education in Africa conference. On Sunday, August 15, I preached in Machakos at the Africa Brotherhood Church Bomani (ABC Bomani), which ordained a Deaf pastor two months ago, Simon Njoroge Kamau, to lead their Deaf congregation of about 30 or 40 people. Pastor Kamau is also leading Bible studies and teaching other Deaf to become Bible study leaders. Sunday afternoon I toured their school for the Deaf and an agricultural project the church has started.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I led a three-session workshop. I asked a man who is blind, James, to attend my workshops, and to feel free to speak up which he was pleased to do and did well. At the Wednesday session, we also had Pastor Kamau and several members of congregation (all Deaf) at the workshop session. That was very helpful for all participants to hear from people who live with disabilities. The Deaf who were there also sang (signed in rhythm) at the morning and afternoon praise times of the TEA conference to the great blessing of all.
On Wednesday evening, before my final workshop session on Thursday, James and I processed the first two sessions. He said to me that participating in this workshop has changed his life, and he is convinced that it will change many other lives too. I take no credit for it; it's God's work. I just opened the opporutnity for participants to see some basic principles from God's word and to apply it to their own situations.
At my final session on Thursday, the discussion became more and more passionate. At one point, I said, "It seems that most of you have never had the opportunity to discuss this before. Is that correct?" And it was true. A little later, one of the pastors stood up and said with great passion, "Brothers and sisters, we must do something about this. The time to act is now." Everyone then applauded! (I have never seen that kind of passion at workshops in North America.) Another said, "We must not leave here and have this just be a lot of good ideas. We must put together our own action plans and put them into practice." After everyone left and the "theatre" where I was teaching was quiet, I stood and thanked God and asked his blessing on all who had attended the workshops, and on their churches. As I prayed, I was so full of emotion, I shed a few tears (very unusual for me). I encouraged them to use whatever materials I gave them and use them to teach others.
On Sunday, one of the participants at TEA who also attended my workshop, David Mwangi N. Kahoro, posted on Facebook, "Christian Reformed Church in North America - CRCNA: May God bless you for such wonderful ministry. Thanks to Dr. Mwaya kitavi for organising the T.E.A conference at st paul's university aj limuru kenya."
Items for prayer:
- Praise God for the zeal among these African pastors and church leaders for the inclusion of people with disabilities in their churches.
- Pray that God will give them the discipline to write and implement action plans, and that they will find many allies as they go about this work.
- Pray that Christians throughout the world will capture this same passion for the church to become a more complete body of Christ, and that we will put that passion into action.
Here are some pictures.
I'm delighted for the privilege of participating in TEA and meeting many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who live and work in several countries in eastern Africa.