Mutually Encouraged: A Report from the 2023 Kenya Mission Conference
Mutually Encouraged: 2023 Kenya Mission Conference, Nairobi (February 1 – 4)
by Rev. Dr. Johnson K. Kinyua
With the support of the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, I had the privilege to join a few others at the PCEA Milele Nairobi to reflect and share on mission partnership in Kenya.
The theme of the conference came from Romans 1:8–13. The passage describes Paul’s desire to visit Rome and his longing to give the local Christians a spiritual gift while being mutually inspired by their faith. Notwithstanding the difficulties he encountered on the way to Rome, Paul recognized his humanity and the value of his connections with other believers. He understood that sharing of the faith might be beneficial in both directions. A key component of partnership and mission work is the notion of reciprocal support and encouragement.
Many churches, groups, and individuals continue partnering with the locals in Kenya for various mission activities. These alliances seek to strengthen vulnerable communities while fostering cooperation and respect among partners. One such group that works with the underprivileged is Kasisi Global Institute of Leadership and Mission. We continue working with Milele college, Pamoja Mission Africa, Naivasha prison, P.C.E.A Marsabit, and L.I.S.H. vocational training to support local communities and promote education among the youth. We are working towards sustainability and enduring structures to ensure a long-lasting impact.
In the conference, we were reminded that there are some ideals that must be kept in order to work with vulnerable communities in a way that is empowering and that acknowledges the gifts that various communities bring to the table. Such ideals are respect for people, listening, understanding them and their context, affirming them as equal and engaging from a point of equality, using education as an empowerment, close monitoring and evaluation of projects.
It is essential to be God’s witnesses through mutuality and respect. We learned from various partners how they have succeeded by being intentional in listening, understanding culture, understanding needs, appreciating context, witnessing progress, and avoiding situations where people misunderstand other peoples’ cultures. We heard how others have allowed the Word of God to lead them instead of mere impositions. In practicing mutual respect and trust, mutually sharing and journeying together, they have found opportunities to be a blessing to each other.
Towards the end of the conference, I sat down for an interview with one of the mission partners, Sharon Secor. I invite you to take time to watch the full interview after reading this reflection. Secor shared insights in mission partnerships as a fulfillment to the Great Commission and a commitment to koinonia in fellowship. Through her story, we are immersed into the many Pentecost moments of learning, of trust, of the outsider’s perspective, of commitment to love, while avoiding toxic charity.
Secor’s 25 years of mission experience and partnerships, offer insight into some of the important aspects of partnership. They include developing a comprehensive memorandum of understanding, establishing a clear entry and exit route, continued evaluation, submission of progress reports, developing well-established structures of governance, auditing of resources, making efforts to visit sites, synergy in collaboration, updates on progress and challenges during the process, and inclusivity.
In conclusion, mission work in Kenya has come a long way. Many have embraced partnership as a vital tool in fulfilling the Great Commission and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such partnership must uphold respect, equality, dignity of the human person, solidarity, and mutual support while working towards empowering vulnerable communities and recognizing their gifts. With a commitment to love and a dedication to excellence, mission work and partnerships continue to make significant impact in the lives of people in Kenya and around the world.
Johnson Kinyua is the pastor of Church of Amazing Grace International, Fullerton. He is also the founder & CEO of Kasisi Global Institute and the online Kiriaku Waves Radio (KWR).