A letter from Brenda Harcourt in Kenya
Another trimester at the Presbyterian University of East Africa is almost over. It is hard to believe that I have been working in Resource Mobilization (Human Resources) and teaching part time at the University now for three terms. We are busy grading papers and preparing to take exams the middle of August.
The students I met here will be graduating next year. They do a four-year program in three years by giving up long breaks and taking trimesters with a two-week break between them. It means serious concentration on studies, but it also means they get out in the parishes as pastors within four years. They complete their studies and do practical applications in churches for six months and then are ordained as pastors. Watching them master their studies and preparing to be pastors is an incredible transformation experience. I enjoy seeing them developing into pastors who will serve primarily in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
The interchanges that take place in the classroom show how the critical and creative thinking takes place during this time in their preparation. Nurturing and guiding and instructing and encouraging all take place as they try to make the transition from active church members and elders to pastors. I have high hopes for the church in the next decade. I think that the pastors we are preparing are truly going to be solid in their theology and ready to adapt the church to the changing world so that the message is relevant to the people they pastor.
My favorite time in each class is the last 10 to 15 minutes and sometimes beyond when we talk about questions and concerns they have. That is when they really open up about what we have just discussed. We talk about cultural norms and tribal traditions as well personal and denominational understandings. It is exciting to hear them challenge those issues that need to be addressed. I have learned so much from them over the trimesters. I realize that my understanding of African culture is so shallow and only what is presented to the outside world, but they invite me into those areas that are sacred and reserved. They allow me to ask questions that are not usually discussed and then they try to help me understand that innermost part of their being.
In addition to teaching part time I also continue to do the leadership development part of my work here in Kenya. I am currently working on developing a short course program through which classes that just can’t be covered during their studies can be offered as well as classes for continuing education for pastors who are already in the field. Another program in the TELL (Training Effective Liaison Leaders) program is an attempt to prepare the regions far from Nairobi to continue the work that I am currently doing. It will be a program in which presbyteries can send someone to be trained in leadership development for evangelists, elders, deacons, Women’s Guilds, Men’s Fellowships, Church Schools, youth, and other areas of need within the presbyteries. Each program they take in specific areas will help them develop a module to take back to the presbytery so that they can then teach it to those who are unable to come to Nairobi to study. This program will reach more people with training than we are able to do here.
I thank you for your support as you help me to do the work I am doing here in Kenya. Your prayers and financial support are touching the lives of so many people and through those I am training, whether through Leadership Development or lecturing at the University, are being shared with a broader scope of people. Lives are being transformed, and you are a part of that transformation.
If you would like to begin to support me and the work I am doing here in Kenya you can do so through my DMS or ECO accounts (see below). May God richly bless each of you and may God bless the people of Kenya I live and work with.
Please pray for the students at PUEA and the people of the PCEA denomination.
Rev. Brenda S. Lindsey Harcourt
Presbyterian University of East Africa
Theology Department and Leadership Development
P.O. Box 387-00902
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org (or use the "Write" line below)