A letter from Brenda Harcourt in Kenya
It has been some time since I have written to bring all of you up-to-date on my ministry here in Kenya.
First, I have relocated to Kikuyu from Chogoria. I am enjoying the move but not all the packing and unpacking and getting acquainted with the area that is involved. Kikuyu is one of the oldest Presbyterian strongholds in Kenya. It is a compound just outside of Nairobi and houses 21 different institutions owned by the PCEA (Presbyterian Church of East Africa). We have a hospital, university, church, teacher training college, school of nursing, and a plethora of schools including Alliance Girls and Boys Secondary schools from which many of the brightest students graduate.
Second, the move brought me closer to my support system and also to staff who can help with the program training that I do. We are in the process of designing a program that will be training trainers. It will be called TELL (Teaching Effective Liaison Leaders). It is still in the discussion stages, but we hope to be able to implement it before the first of the year. In addition I am on staff at the university and teaching in the theology department. It is really exciting because it means I am teaching students I will work with eventually in the presbyteries when I do training in those areas. The training part of my position falls under Resource Mobilization; the new program will be mobilizing human resources.
Third, in the PCEA all ordained pastors must be attached to a presbytery and parish. I will be attached to Millimani Presbytery and Loresho Parish. I was thrilled when they asked me where I wanted to be attached. Loresho is where I worship whenever I am in Nairobi and has become my home church. Now I am also attached, which means that I can be called upon to preach or administer the sacraments or perform marriages. If you are ever in Nairobi, please stop by and worship with us. Our motto is: Loresho is a church where you are wanted, welcomed, and loved.
Fourth, just like you in the U.S.A. we are preparing for the election of a new president here in Kenya. There are many candidates and they are trying to narrow down the number at this time. Kenya adopted a new constitution a year ago, and so election dates are being changed and this has caused uproar. We formerly had elections in November, but that date has been changed to March of next year. We are praying for a peaceful election with none of the post-election violence we have experienced in the past. That is easier said than done since tribal lines still are a big part of the election process. Please keep us in your prayers.
Fifth, another situation that has occurred is that we have had several grenades thrown at local churches. The belief is that it is in retaliation of the attacks that our Kenyan Defense Forces have been involved with in trying to close down the Al-Shabaab terrorist movement. What that has meant for the churches is that they have to have heightened security. Almost all churches now are hiring security that scans automobiles, using mirrors to check underneath vehicles, and all individuals are checked with a wand for carrying anything in. Bags are checked and it is just unbelievable that in order to worship you need to stop at the gate and be checked so thoroughly. It is necessary because the attacks keep happening. This past Sunday an Anglican Church of Kenya was targeted and a grenade was tossed and exploded in the church school where innocent children were attending classes. One child was killed and nine others remain hospitalized. My fear is that those children will carry scars both invisible and visible for a long time. They will associate the church with the place where they were injured and lost one of their friends. It is hard to understand why children were targeted.
There always seems to be a cost of innocent lives when retaliation happens. The efforts to stop the movement is to try to control terrorist groups that are already threatening the lives of human beings, and then on top of that you get them retaliating back, and more lives are lost. Human life seems to lose value. Keep the churches in your prayers.
The heightened security also includes malls, hotels and shopping areas in general. Anywhere where people gather. The more people, the higher the risk.
Sixth, Kenya has also experienced strikes by many groups in the country. The teachers just came to an agreement after being out for over a month. This really affects the schools because the students here use the British system of grading in which exams are given at the end of the year for the entire year's study. Also, those exams are important to those making the transition to secondary school and also to the university. It means that classes will be extended by a month, which will affect lots of other areas that rely on the schools being out at a certain time.
While the teachers were out the instructors at national universities also decided to strike. They have returned to classes. Then the doctors at the national hospitals decided to strike, which put a terrible strain on the private hospitals. The doctors still continue to strike. Meanwhile the people continue to suffer. They are the innocent again who are affected and cannot do anything to change the situation. Pray for the people who get caught in the midst of all the struggles.
Please keep my ministry in your prayers. We are trying to continue and trust God as we figure out how to faithful in the midst of so much turmoil.
Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA)
P.O. Box 387-00902
Brenda_harcourt@yahoo.com or use the "Write" link below
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 99
Blog: Church Mouse Musings
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