Monday, March 9, 2015

Updates from Kenya

I have been back in Kenya for a little over a week and much has happened.  After a very stressful process, we have hired two new staff persons for the Discipling Marketplace Leaders Kenya office.  I had been praying about this process for months and I am thankful to say that despite the stress and challenges, the Holy Spirit seemed to be present and showed up in the unity of decisions.  Now begins the challenges of orientation and turning over this office, as we formally close the pilot phase of this project at the end of March.

Due to some of the complications, I have had to extend my trip for an additional week, making it a full month that I will be in Kenya.  Delta happily charged me $619 for that decision (the round trip flight was $934, so quite a penalty) but so it goes.  That means I will miss the chance to be home when my children have spring break - something I was looking forward to finally being around for- but there were not many other options.

The good news is that I will get to be here for the Africa Theological Seminary graduation on March 21 and I will be able to meet some members of an organization called African Leadership, who may be a potential ICM partner.

A joy in this last week was the Marketplace Chaplaincy class, taught by fellow Madison member, JoAnn Swart.  In each of the Business as Mission classes that I teach to pastors, we talk about different ways of reaching the Marketplace.  The key area I promote is Church-based Business as Mission, in which they start a Marketplace Ministry program in their church.  But another way is for the pastor to get actively involved with an area business - a business that may or may not have any members from the church - that he/she can initiate a relationship with and provide support for the employees.  There has always been enthusiasm for this in the past and several pastors have attempted to do this.  However, without full training in how to be a chaplain, pastors tend to revert back into being a pastor.  One of those who attempted this at a local hotel which employs thirty people was not meeting individually with the employees and getting to know and care for them, but was rather going in twice a week, gathering them all together (with the permission of the manager) and preaching to them.  So further training was needed.  JoAnn Swart works for Marketplace Chaplains USA which places over 2000 chaplains in businesses around the US.  The businesses hire chaplains (not just because the owners are Christian, though many are) because they see that productivity, attendance, and company loyalty increases when this benefit is provided to their employees.

This is what JoAnn wrote to Pastor Joy Bonnema to share with Madison Square Church North regarding the class:

Hello Joy, will you thank the church for their prayers for me while I am in Kenya?  So much fruit already is being seen through this class.  I have 12 in my class, 11 male pastors and 1 female school headmaster and business owner.  After the 2nd day of training, one of my students Steven Njihja, who is a Bishop in the Presbyterian Church of Kenya went to the school of 300 students that his wife heads, and appointed himself their chaplain.  It has been wonderful this week to hear his stories of the "cases" he has already been sent by the Lord.  After three days, another pastor, John Mburu, did a similar thing and has asked my advice this week on some specific "cases"  It has been a joy and blessing to work with these deeply committed servants of Christ. 

My students have been asked to change their thinking about ministry to implement the role of workplace chaplain.  From them I have heard often this wonderful phrase: "We need to change our thinking! Pastors tell folks what to do.  Chaplains listen and ask."  One other beautiful thing I have heard is: "We need to look at each face and get to know each person, and what is in their heart."  They are so willing to be challenged with new kinds of ministry and the folks in my class are already organizing themselves into a chaplain team, which will begin building from the ground up, a workplace chaplaincy here in Kitale.

God has been so good, his presence so real  with us as we have worshiped, shared the Word and learned from each other.  My heart is full.  Blessings to all at Mad North.
Please join me in prayer for this new effort of Marketplace Chaplaincy as these pastors consider how to move from the classroom to the field.  Please also join me in prayer for the new staff members for Discipling Marketplace Leaders.  I will update you with more specifics on these leaders in the near future.

Thank you for your faithful partnership!