Monday, May 27, 2013

2nd Commissioning and an Animal Orphanage

ATS Dean of Theology, Alfred Rutto, giving certificates.
House of Hope Marketplace Ministers
Yesterday we were able to have our second commissioning service, at the House of Hope Church in Kitale.  The pastor is Dorcas Kibathi, the only female pastor that I have had in my classes yet.  I have attached a brief video of their worship time - Pastor Kibathi is in the front, dancing, in the blue.  She has a pretty amazing life story and it is a blessing to watch her love her church.  This is a small church, located in a very poor section of Kitale, with mostly micro-business persons and hawkers (people who walk the streets selling their wares).  We commissioned eighteen persons and gave sixteen certificates from the business training.  This was the more challenging group of the three for me, as the literacy rate was very low, as was the ability to speak English.  I was unsure that there had been much impact until I heard the testimonies as well as heard the pastor tell of the difference it was making and the questions that she has been fielding, showing that there was a thought process going on behind the scenes.  One woman said that she had just been playing with the business up until now - not recognizing God as the owner and having a purpose for the business.  She has now recognized Him as owner, and is taking her role as manager much more seriously, setting up boundaries to protect the business.  Last week, a couple of young men who hawk brought a couple of their friends to Church, and they gave their lives to Christ that day.  Marketplace Ministers walking the streets of Kitale.  Praise God!

A little of the joyful celebration at the House of Hope service.

L to R:  Joy, Ray, Pastor Ashivaga, Abigail
On Saturday, I had an opportunity to go to a nearby Animal Orphanage with Pastor Ashivaga from the Friends Church, along with three of his children (Abigail, Joy, and Ray).  It was a very nice environment with lots of scenes set up from the Bible and statues everywhere.  The goal of the orphanage is to take in animals with genetic defects and give them a safe refuge.  Typically, animals born with some sort of genetic defect were seen as curses and this Kenyan man wanted to change that mindset and set up this orphanage.  There were two schools visiting when we were there (on a Saturday) so it seems to get good traffic.  But it was not an easy place to visit.  Seeing these animals with these significant defects struggling to live and survive was difficult.  It made me wonder about the humanity of it, while all the while appreciating the intention of the place. I will share a few pictures from that place.  It's not a place I will probably visit again too quickly.  But the kids had a great time and enjoyed the playground.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Week of Blessings

This has been a very busy week...but a week of blessings indeed.

Let me start however by picking up on a picture from last week - the mystery picture.  Thanks to all of you who made guesses!  The most popular guess by far was some sort of animal dung to be used for burning.  One person did come up with the right answer but confessed that she had consulted a Kenyan to find out, so that didn't count.

The picture is of sugar molasses, which people can eat in small amounts or it can be used for animal feed.  Some people put it in their tea.  To be honest, I have not sampled the one I bought.  What was surprising to me was that these were not covered in flies or ants...there were some bees that had made holes and were inside...but sugar molasses out in the open air, no plastic to protect...hmmm. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 pm - 12:30 am, we were privileged to join a training by the Marketplace Chaplains USA.  This is an organization that I came in contact through fellow Madison Square Church member, JoAnn Swart.  They have over 2500 Chaplains in four countries that are sent into various businesses to work with the employees.  I was able to attend their training in January and have remained in contact with them since then.  This is an option of Marketplace Ministry that I have presented to the pastors in my classes - to reach out to businesses in their areas that may not be engaged with their church - for encouragement and prayer.  The pastors that were invited to attend this training were those who indicated interest in this ministry for their own church.  From right to left, Pastor Leonard Ashivaga, Pastor Alfred Kibiaru, Pastor Manasseh Lumwagi, and Pastor John Matui.  It was a late couple of nights for us, but a very good discussion about the potential for this ministry in Kenya.

On Saturday, I traveled to Mosoriot, about 2.5 hours from Kitale, on the other side of Eldoret.  I went with a pastor from my second class, Pastor Stephen Barchok, to the Community Baptist Church.  We had a training for 54 business people, addressing Business as Mission and then spending some time on Basic Business Principles.  It was a good day, made better by an energetic and engaging group.  They would like me to come back in September and begin a full training with them, making Mosoriot one of the twelve cities we hope to impact.  Additionally, a pastor traveled to this training from Kericho, Kenya, about five hours away.  Interestingly, I have never heard of this city before, but in three days, I heard about it three times from different people.  So, I may go there in September as well for some exploration.  September seems to be getting pretty busy already!
Pastor Stephen Barchok on the left of me - everyone drinking Chai.
They gathered outside in a big circle and I had to around and greet everyone.  They then "dressed" me in some Kenyan dress and gifts, which was fun. 
On Sunday, May 19, 2013, the Marketplace Minister Commissioning was held in Butere Miracle Center Marketplace.  This is the first of three commissioning services in a row in different churches.  While I have taken part of many such services over the years, this is the first time that we did it from within the Church.  It was a holy and beautiful service.  I will tell the story in the pictures below.
The Pastor led the responsive reading, with portions for the congregants and other portions for the Marketplace Ministers.
The sixty Marketplace Ministers Commisioned, making their commitment with the support of the Church.
Each person was anointed with oil, being told, as Jesus said, " the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  Many wept as they were anointed.  Being affirmed in their calling is a powerful thing.
We then offered communion to the Marketplace Ministers.  I am serving with "Mama Bishop."  The person we are serving is Moses, an amazing worship leader who has ministered to me, and is the owner of a small provision shop.
Those who met the requirements were given a certificate - forty businesses in total.

Testimonies of the impact of the Business Training on their businesses, by five members, selected by the class.
I had the privilege of bringing the Word at both of the morning services. 
I like this picture - I was giving the certificate to the Pastor of the church, Rev. Samson Ibrahim Makokha.  We have enjoyed working with each other and have become friends.  This picture captures the warmth of welcome that I receive when I arrive in Butere.  I call Butere my second home in Kenya...and the Butere Miracle Center my first church in Kenya. 
The group picture - a fun and happy group.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Marketplace Ministers Commissioning

Some of the ICM/ATS team
This past week has been a busy week, with catching up after a two week absence from Kenya, as well as with the graduations at the Africa Theological Seminary.  Unfortunately, I missed the graduations, due to travel as well as trainings in other cities, but it has been nice to have the ICM USA team around Kitale.  We have shared meals, conversations, processed challenges, and gotten to know each other better.  One of the great things that ICM has been able to do is to give out motorcycles each year at the graduation.  Someone donated 30 motorcycles again this year, and current students and alumni are able to apply for one of these motorcycles.  They received hundreds of applications, and I'm so happy that three of the pastors with whom I am working were given a motorcycle!  I know that their work in the Marketplace Ministry was one of the factors that allowed for them to be a recipient, so I am grateful as well.  This will greatly aid them in moving about to visit with the business owners in their church, and encourage this ministry to move forward.
Motorcycles given away at graduation.  They were all dedicated to the two ATS students who lost their lives in ministry this past year.
Mary, and her prayer partner, Sheryl
Sheryl Giesbrecht, the Executive Director of ICM USA, is also visiting and sharing my room.  Sheryl is a widow as well - she lost her husband in a motorcycle accident just six months before Bob died.  So we have a lot to talk about when we are together as we share and process our loss, as well as our recovery.  Sheryl is also one of the prayer partners for two of the businesses in my Kitale class.  She went to visit them with me and pray for them in person, which was a great blessing. 

Next week Sunday begins the first of three Sundays in a row where we will be commissioning Marketplace Ministers in three different churches.  For the first time in my experience, this will take place in the church, during the worship services.  This is the main reason for my transfer to ICM - to be able to send out Marketplace Ministers with the support and accountability structure from the church.  The Church now will have the opportunity for partnership between pulpit pastors and marketplace ministers to impact the Marketplace for Christ.  Those who accept this calling will be held accountable by the church, as any minister would be, and will be encouraged, discipled, mentored, and prayed for by the church.  This is an exciting time!  Marketplace Ministers have been taught the principles of Business as Mission, and are encouraged to have a quadruple bottom line:  economic, spiritual, social, and environmental. They have also gone through the Basic Business Training, covering Ethics, Book-keeping, Marketing, Pricing, Cost Analysis, and a host of other topics.
Agnes and her "ground nut" (peanut) business.

Next Sunday will be the first Commissioning in Butere, with 70 Marketplace Ministers.  At this service, following the commissioning and prayer, we will be anointing each Marketplace Minister with oil, followed by celebrating communion with them.  Those who qualify will then receive their certificates (based on attendance and performance) and have a chance to share some of their thoughts with the church.  I will be sharing the Word at both of the services.  The following Sunday, May 26, will be the second Commissioning service with a church called House of Hope, in Kitale, with 22 Marketplace Ministers.  And the last service will be with the pilot project - the focal point of my work for the past two months - in the Friends (Quakers) Church, on June 2, with 50  Marketplace Ministers.  I am looking forward to these services and to see how God continues to use these business person to bless their communities, their churches, and the Kingdom of God.  Please pray with us for blessings on these new Marketplace Ministers as they seek to change the Marketplace in their cities and throughout the nation of Kenya.
Picture of the week:  What is this?  I saw this item in the Butere market this morning - it is something I have never seen before.  Each piece is about five inches tall, two inch diameter at the bottom, one inch at the top, and weighs close to two pounds.  Whoever guess correctly will be given a Kenyan gift when I return to the US!  Email me at if you want to guess.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Has Africa Outgrown Dependence on Aid?

I arrived safely back in Kitale on Sunday morning at 6 am, after a 36 hour travel time, and spent much of Sunday sleeping.  Due to this time shortage, I'm going to take this opportunity to pass on an article recently posted on the BBC, which is a very good read.  It shifts the way we think about Africa, and continues to lend credibility to the argument that in twenty years, Africa may become an economic world power.   This type of news about Africa still does not seem to get out much but it is a message that needs to be heard and considered moving forward.  We need to keep developing business leaders who view their business as a mission in this exciting time! 
This article is taken from
Written by Wolfgang Fengler, the lead economist for the World Bank in Nairobi.
Source: World Bank Blog

Africa's emergence is the new consensus. For the second time in a just few months, a major international journal has run a cover illustrating newfound optimism about the continent.

After The Economist's mea culpa (correcting its previous assessment of a "hopeless continent"), TIME magazine just re-ran an earlier title: "Africa rising".  This is no fluke: Africa's economies are growing and the continent is much wealthier today than it ever was - even though, collectively, it remains the poorest on the planet.  Many African nations (22 to be precise) have already reached Middle Income Country (so called "MIC") status and more will do so by 2025.

Today, Africa includes a diverse "mix" of countries, ranging from the poorest in the world to the fastest growing; from war-torn countries to vibrant democracies; from oil-rich economies to ICT champions, and the list goes on.  This has important implications for the "aid architecture". Until now, Africa was at the center of global aid attention. But what if Africa continues to grow strongly and steadily?  What will be the role of international partners (often called "donors") in this new configuration? Is aid becoming obsolete?

I don't think so, rather the opposite! Many Africans still experience deep poverty. The challenge is so huge that ten years of moderately strong growth are just a down-payment in the fight against poverty.  Today, some 400 million Africans (roughly 40% of the total population) still live on US$ 1.25 a day or less. Newfound wealth means little to them if it is not equitably spread out.

Some countries are becoming richer, often as a result of oil discoveries, with very little changes in the lives of average citizens.

Fundamentally, if the poor remain neglected, a country's development outlook has not changed. What is new, however, is that some of these MICs no longer need aid money to fill development gaps.  In principle, they have enough internal resources. Yet they still need assistance in designing programs that help them spend their new resources efficiently, especially if they wish to target the poor. Aid programs, if designed well, can help do precisely this.

Kenya is a perfect illustration of this new aid reality. Today, Kenya's budget is roughly US$ 12 billion, about 30 percent of the country's economy.  This share is one of the highest in Africa, making the state the biggest player in the economy. Donors are small players in comparison even though the amount of aid recovered over the last ten years after a sharp decline in the 1990s.  Today, aid to Kenya is around US$ 1.5 billion (amounting to a little over 10 percent of total expenditures) of which only half is reflected in the budget.  Bilateral partners like the USA and China still prefer to implement their programs outside of government systems; likewise new players, especially NGOs, typically choose to execute their programs directly (rather than through the administration).

So what needs to change in the way aid is being delivered? How can it be made not only relevant still but even more effective than in the past?

First, we need to acknowledge (and celebrate!) the demise of the old North-South paradigm. With Asia's emergence - and China's spectacular turnaround - former recipients of aid are now new donors.
The previous regime, with rich countries in the North supporting poor countries in the South through government-to-government and multilateral relationships, is changing rapidly. Today, relationships are much more complex and varied, and there is a host of new players on the pitch.

Second, aid will be increasingly about transferring knowledge rather than money. No matter how significantly some donors may scale-up their financial commitments, aid money will remain small compared to domestic resources in recipient countries. If current trends continue, most of today's stable low-income countries will reach MIC status by 2025.  Going forward "traditional aid" (of the brick-and-mortar type) will focus increasingly on emergencies and fragile states. In others, transferring know-how and skills will be the name of the game.

Third, innovation and support to country systems will drive the impact of future aid. By 2025, Africa will have a majority of MICs. But as countries climb up the income ladder, they will face new and more complex policy challenges.

In order not to stay stuck in the "Middle Income Trap", African countries will need to innovate, including in traditional sectors, such as education, health or transport.

The resources will be there but the challenge will be to make sure services are actually delivered and at good quality. In these countries, aid should move from building monuments (schools, clinics and roads) to improving the machine room (the systems through which education, health and transport are being provided).

Simply put: If we continue to equate aid with money only, then it will become obsolete in most countries over the next decade or two - except perhaps in fragile states.

However, if it is focused on transferring the knowledge countries need to catch up and compete with each other, it will remain indispensable.