Monday, May 10, 2010

Greetings from Kenya: Part 1

Student preacher--Murang'a, KE Here comes the bride! Murang'a, KE

Kenya's EPI national leadership group--Thika, KE

I just returned from a month in Kenya. The following report from the field was sent to those on my email list while I was there. If you would like to be included on my email list, please email me at and request to be included:

Dear Friends and Supporters,

This is proving to be a very busy but fruitful time in Kenya. I began by having a Biblical Stewardship TOT (training of trainers) session in Thika, KE with 15 people who are leading EPI's work here. The Kenyans have done a tremendous job of organizing themselves to coordinate EPI's work here. They have elected a national coordinator and regional coordinators for the 8 regions of the country. Thus, the continuity of our work here does not depend just upon one man. Further, they all share the vision and are passionate about equipping the Kenyan pastors themselves. This is very encouraging to me. Kenya has come a long way since I began working here 3 years ago. The short-term and long-term prospects are very positive.

From Thika I traveled to Murang'a, in the Central Region. I was honored to preach at a wedding, and then again at the Easter Sunday church service. Kenyan weddings are social occasions where many people come, whether invited or not. Like funerals, they provide a good opportunity to present the gospel. Thus, I preached for about 40 minutes at he wedding and for an hour on Sunday. No one considers that a long time here.

We then conducted our first Expository Preaching conference in Murang'a. Much of preaching over here is the pastor taking a verse and using it to say whatever he wants to for about an hour on Sunday mornings. Consequently, we selected a group of just over 30 pastors who are fluent in English. The reason is that, after teaching about the nature of expository preaching, principles of effective sermons, reading and preaching in context, sermon organization, etc., we divided the participants into 3 small groups. Each group was assigned a passage of Scripture to preach (approximately 1/2 to 1 chapter). The small groups had a number of sessions during the conference to analyze the passage and work or preparing a sermon. On the final day, one representative from each group was given approximately 40 minutes to preach a sermon based on the passage, and apply what we had been talking about. The entire group then critiqued the sermons, both the good and the bad (and I, of course, had plenty to add).

The participants obviously learned much. Such things as employing a problem or issue-based introduction, a "proposition," and "organizational sentence," and specificity of application were largely new to most of them. The three sermons all showed promise. You may be interested to know that I would rank the woman preacher ahead of the two male preachers, if I were ranking them. All in all, I think the church will be deepened as a result of this. George Kariuki, my host (and EPI's Kenya national coordinator) demonstrated his understanding of good preaching by the comments he made to me while the others were preaching. They mirrored many of my own comments which I had written. That is heartening to me. Despite various cultural differences, there are some cross-cultural principles that, as they are applied, will lead to better Bible teaching and preaching--and thereby to a strengthening of the churches in East Africa.

I am now in Karatina where we are doing a conference on Biblical Stewardship. This conference is a first in that 5 African leaders (George Kariuki and 4 of the regional leaders who had gone through Stewardship TOT) will be teaching with me. That is exactly what I want to see happen: the Africans themselves doing more and more of the teaching. In George's session, he was able to stimulate a lot of Q&A and discussion. That, again, is "music to my ears."

After Karatina comes a week in Nairobi for Expository Preaching and Stewardship, and then to the Rift Valley and Western Kenya for Biblical Marriage and Parenting and 1 Timothy. Thank you for your prayers and support. Your prayers and financial support make this all possible. In that regard, I just got an email that the Kiswahili translation of the Expository Preaching course materials is now being finalized!

Best regards to you all, Jonathan

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