Monday, March 3, 2014

It only takes a spark...

The entire group of Marketplace Ministries, with ICM reps in the front.
I remember in Liberia when it seemed the work was beginning to have a life on its own, owned by nationals.  I remember in Ghana when I recognized that the work was gathering a momentum of its own.  And yesterday, I recognized a similar situation in Kenya.

We had the Marketplace Ministers Commissioning in Kakamega yesterday.  Forty-one business owners, all members of the Deliverance Church, accepted the calling of doing their business as a mission and were anointed with oil by their pastor to go out and reclaim the redeemed Marketplace.  This group has already decided to organize themselves as a cooperative to begin working together, seeing each other as collaborators rather than competitors.  Over and over again we heard that the networking that is taking place in the church is so exciting, as they didn't know each other before.  Five members of the church are being trained as trainers and they announced yesterday that the next class would be starting soon - people began to register after the service.  They will also reach out to area churches in this next class.  So of the four activities that we do, the training is complete, the mentoring will begin in the next month, advocacy is beginning, and access to capital is an ongoing dialogue.
The group made t-shirts for the occasion, with the logo of the African Theological Seminary on the front, and "My Business My Mission" on the back.  They designed this themselves but a shout-out to Doug Seebeck for them choosing the title of your book for their motto!
The new entrepreneurial team at the church, who are also the officials of the new cooperative formed by the team.  Quite a gifted and dynamic group of leaders!
In Kitale, all four activities are vibrantly moving forward with great success.  The trainers that I trained in October are now in their 8th week of a new training with 50+ business owners.  These business owners are from 16 different churches in the Kitale area!  Commissioning services will take place in a number of these services, thereby engaging the pastors and leadership.  We will have a meeting at the end of March to organize a poultry cooperative in Kitale, and Humphrey (from Kakamega) will come to speak, as will representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Cooperatives who are very interested in our work.  The Chiefs from the regions have been gathered together to assist in the recruitment activity.
Meet Humphrey, the leader of the Entrepreneur Team at the church, the head of a 3600 poultry farm association, the head of an NGO, the leader of the new cooperative formed by the  Marketplace Ministers, currently in the Training of Trainers to be the next teacher of this curriculum, not to mention the fact that he runs three businesses of his own, is married and has seven children.  This is one busy man and so very talented!  He will be coming to Kitale at the end of March to speak to the poultry farmers that we are gathering here, in an effort to help mobilize them toward working together.
The training in Eldoret just began on Saturday.  They will bring up the rear of this research project, with members from the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) and the Africa Inland Church (AIC).

This week I start the second session of training of trainers with the fifteen students.  Once they complete the training, they will continue to be mentored as they begin to push the idea of Business as Mission and Marketplace Ministry in their respective churches.

The Friends (Quakers) Church continues to push this strongly forward through their leadership.  The Deliverance Church is now talking about how to push this out through their denomination.  We hope that the same happens in the ACK and AIC.
Next to me is Alfred Kibairu, the ICM Marketplace Ministry Coordinator.  This man is the perfect mix of theology (he's a pastor) and business (he's an accountant).  He has been such a blessing to this team and I know that he will carry this work forward!
As I watch our little office humming with activity, and I hear conversations that skilled and knowledgeable Kenyan leaders are having about this ministry - conversations that convey ownership, I can only cast my eyes up and whisper thanks to God.  In many cases my role has been to connect the dots - to bring people together in a room to start the dialogue.  I continue to pray that our quick growth will continue to have deep roots and not grow beyond our capacity to do the work well.  But I am so thankful for the people that God has brought to join in His work.  And I'm convinced this work was in progress before I arrived in Kitale - I was able to join what He had already been doing.
After the service, we went out for lunch together.  This is Rev. Dr. Jackson Wambua, the senior pastor of the church. He was in the first class at the Africa Theological Seminary and was part of the catalyst for ATS being what it is today.  Behind him is a stork that showed up - it tried to invite itself for lunch.  Dr. Wambua gave it a bit of food and eventually it moved on.  Big bird though!