A letter from Brenda Harcourt in Kenya
Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is time for me to write a message again to bring everyone up to date on my work here in Kenya.
A new term has begun at the Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA). It is always exciting when a new term begins and students and faculty are busy getting course outlines and lesson plans together. It is a time of great creativity. I love when this time comes because it allows for all kinds of ideas to be floating around with the faculty, and expectations for the coming term. I love teaching so much and feel that God continues to give me the gifts I need each new term to prepare leaders in the church to further the kingdom of God. Please pray for my students and fellow faculty as we begin this term.
This term started with the horrible Westgate Mall attack that I am sure you have read about in your local newspapers and seen on television. I tried to post information on Facebook as newspapers were releasing information on this end. It was a terrorist attack and left the country and the world struggling with the aftermath. Westgate Mall is the mall that I usually go to, to shop for groceries and when I want to eat out. The morning of the attack I was in my home talking with Nancy Collins, the regional liaison, about going for groceries and having lunch while we were out. We decided to wait until Sunday after church and settled back to more conversation with a cup of coffee. If we had gone we would have been at the mall at the time of the attack.
The people of Kenya pulled together to deal with the crisis. Tribal, racial and ethnic differences were put aside and people responded to people. Blood donations were made to help the over 175 people who were injured and hospitalized. “We Are One” became the slogan of the people, and it was clear that indeed Kenya became one as they dealt with what needed to be done to deal with the situation. It has forced Kenya to take a hard look at inland security and how to better handle these types of situations in the future. The pictures were hard to view and still remain unbelievable for those of us who frequented the mall. The trauma that the people both young and old will have to deal with is foremost in my prayers. It has been a tough year with the fire at the International Terminal of the Kenyatta International Airport and now the Westgate Mall. Please pray for the people of Kenya as they move forward with their lives and loss of loved ones.
When a situation like the mall attack happens and you are in the country where it happens you immediately think about how fragile life is and how quickly those we care about and love can be taken from us. Phone calls started coming in from my students first, because they know I go there frequently and when I said, No, I was safe at home, their response was, “Thank you, God." Then the messages started coming in from around Kenya and the rest of Africa and then around the world. People calling to make sure I was OK. I am so blessed to have so many people who care about me and pray for my safety. Even today, a week after the crisis ended, I am still getting text messages and emails making sure I am OK. God truly blesses us with a loving family that keeps contact with each other. Please pray for all the people who checked in to be sure everyone they knew in Kenya was safe.
What this means for me is that I take extra caution when I am out in public places and try not to put myself in any situation that might jeopardize my security. It also means that I pray even more diligently for those with whom I work and live and thank God daily for the thousands who were spared during this time.
In two weeks I travel back to Meru to help with leadership development training as Blackhawk Presbytery sends a team to visit their partners in Imenti presbyteries. It will be so good to see old friends from Blackhawk and also to get back to Meru to continue the training that I have been doing there for many years. Our theme this time for leadership training will be “Stewardship, It is Not Just About Money.” I will be assisted by one of my pastoral students as we conduct the training along with the Blackhawk and Imenti team. Please pray that the information that we share will be helpful to the leaders.
I thank all of you for your continued prayers and support of my work here in Kenya. If you would like to contribute to my work here in Kenya you can do so by making a contribution to my ECO account or DMS account through the PC(USA) (see below).
In Christ’s Service in Kenya,
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)