Republic of Kenya
World Convention is currently building a global reference for the countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ Congregations. Of the 193 United Nations States, the Stone-Campbell Movement exists in 174. This listing includes other nations and territories, numbering 194 countries where there is at least one representation of our churches.
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The east African nation of Kenya is surrounded by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south and Uganda (and a small border shared with Sudan) to the west. In the southwest corner Kenya shares a portion of Lake Victoria and enjoys along coastline on the Indian Ocean to the west. Encompassing an area of nearly 583,000 sq km (225,000 sq miles) the population of an estimated 31 million is sparsely scattered in the northern desert areas near Lake Turkana and more densely concentrated on the coastal plains and near Lake Victoria. A significant feature of the national landscape is the fertile plateau of the Kenya Highlands, formed by volcanoes and lavaflows, that is divided in two by the Rift Valley. The fertile coast is home to mangrove swamps, coral reefs and several small islands. With the diversity of ecological elements Kenya is home to the full range of African fauna that, together with the wildlife and big game, can beseen in the country’s several large national parks. These parks are vital to the national economy as tourist destinations.
It has been said that humankind may have originated inthe area now known as Kenya. Human and supposed pre-human remains found in the Olduvai Gorge are said to be “several million yearsold.” Two millennia before the birth of Christ nomadic tribes from Ethiopia entered Kenya. One thousand years later a second wave of migration began originating from Sudan and western Africa. By the tenth century A.D. Arabs from Persia and Arabia had settled along the coast. In the fifteenth century some of the first European explorers andsettlers began to arrive when the Portuguese ventured into the areataking the coastal areas from the Arab merchants. In the eighteenth century the Omani dynasties from the Persian Gulf region took control of the coastal region. The following century both Britain and Germanybecame interested in the region. Meanwhile, the Maasai tribes ruled theRift Valley and the Highlands. By 1920 the British had systematicallyassumed control of the more fertile lands pushing the Maasai and Bantusinto the less productive areas; subsequently Kenya became a British Colony in that year.
Opposition to British Colonial rule began after the Second World War and increased in the 1950s. British Princess Elizabeth made a colonial visit to Kenya in 1952 and it was there that shelearned of her Father’s (King George VI) death and her ascension to the Throne. In 1955 violent rebellion against the British expropriation erupted in the Mau Mau Rebellion. Eight years later Independence was granted, in 1963. In the years that followed politicalparties allied with particular tribes contested for control of thestate and her resources. The Kikuyu were the dominating tribe until1991 at which time there was a yield to the multi-party system and theadvent of democracy. Presently, a single legislative body known as theNational Assembly governs the Republic.
By most African standards Kenya has a stable and productive economy. In addition to the tourism mentioned above Kenya possesses a successful agricultural base (80% of the economy), withcash crops such as coffee and tea. In addition, their manufacturing sector (small-scale consumer goods such as plastics, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, etc.) is the largest and most diversified in east Africa. The foil to this success however is a population explosion, the second largest growth rate in the world, said to be ashigh as 4% per year. The increase in population has led to deforestation, lack of potable water and the breakdown of infrastructure. Crime such as the murder of visitors and ethnic massacres has caused a decline in tourism numbers recently. While Kenya is relatively stable neighboring instability has seen an influx of refugees into Kenya.
Ethnic diversity in Kenya is great with more than 80% of the population being divided among about 7 major tribes. Religious diversity is not quite as great; indigenous beliefs account for about 26% of the population while Christianity’s 68% is divided between Protestants (38%) and Roman Catholics (28%). There is a small percentage of converts to Islam. Kenya is said to have more expatriate missionaries than any other country on the African continent.
Each of the three major American segments of theStone-Campbell Movement are found in Kenya. The a cappella Churches of Christ were the first to enter Kenya (1965) and were the first registered with the government to operate missions (1968). Re-registration occurred in about 1994. When Christian Missionary Fellowship of the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ entered Kenya in 1977 they were afforded the opportunity to register under the umbrella of the Kenya Churches of Christ (1979). While this was a remarkable show of unity, it did present some difficulty back in the United States and caused the withdrawal of some support. Joint registration has meant that the two groups have worked together more closely than might have been the case had they had separate registrations.
In the late 1990s and early part of the 2000s there arose a dispute over the registration in which several officers of the Kenya Churches of Christ attempted to have a new fraudulent constitution put in place. The matter was not related to the shared registration between the two branches of the Stone-Campbell Movement. The matter was in and out of the Kenyan courts for several years and has caused a great deal of grief for the Kenyan churches. New officers were elected in 2003.
In 2005 the Kenyan government began to make changes inthe way expatriate missionaries and mission organizations are taxed. In some cases the percentage of tax assessed is 20% to 30% and more and could be made retroactive for several years. This new system oft axation, if it becomes effective and permanent, could seriously hinder, even cripple, the work of many missionaries working in Kenya forcing them to abandon the work ( see website: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/004/1.24.html).
A cappella Churches of Christ
Nyabuto Marube of the Kenya Church of Christ and a participant in the 2004 World Convention in Brighton, England has provided the World Convention office with a wonderful brief summary ofthe history of the Churches of Christ in Kenya, a synopsis of which isgiven below.
The first American a cappella Churches of Christ missionaries to work in Kenya were Van Tate and Ken Ogle, who arrived in 1965, under the sponsorship of the White Station Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. Within three years Van and Ken had been blessed with the establishment of three congregations and recognition from the Kenyan government that comes with legal registration. Soon thereafter other American missions teams arrived(1969), including Sonny Guild, Hilton Merritt and Gaston Tarbet to work among the Luhya and Luo peoples. Fielden Allison, Richard Chowning and Gailyn Van Rheenen later went to Kipsigis to open a new work. The Rift Valley Province was opened to missionary activity in about 1973. Elsewhere, missionary teams were formed to open new works in the North Kalenjin groups, including the Kisii, Meru (1978), and the Giriama tribes (see website: http://www.faulkner.edu/admin/websites/rtrull/mfc/Kenya/history_churches_meru.htm). Marube says that the Churches of Christ have had as many as fifty missionary units (couples and individuals) working in Kenya at one timeand that more than 100 missionaries families had worked in Kenya by the late 1990s. For an extensive list of these missionaries, past and present, as well as contact information, please see the website maintained by Ken Bolden White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, Monroe, Louisiana ( http://www.wfr.org/kenya.missionaries). Furthermore, millions of US dollars have been spent for salaries, work funds, fees and projects in the 35 years since the Churches of Christ have been at work in Kenya. Among the work is Kenya Church ofChrist Children’s Home in Kitale, medical clinics in Kibisorwet and Nairobi, and schools in Kambakia and Nairobi.
Until recent years, most of the work done by the Churches of Christ (and the same can be said for the missionaries of Christian Missionary Fellowship, who will be discussed below) has beenamong the poor in the rural tribal areas. With few exceptions, the missionaries adhered to principles of 1) identification and contextualization via learning the tribal language and culture, 2) planting indigenous autonomous churches that were self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating, 3) focusing on evangelism and church planting for the first two decades, 4) only initiating projects which could be supported from local resources in order to minimize outside dependency. As the local churches gained the capacity to evangelize and plant churches, the focus of the missionaries in thedecade of the 1990s turned, more than in earlier years, towards leadership development, social works and the acceptance of outside funds for projects, according to Nyabuto Marube.
Major projects, both long-term and short-term, have involved thousands of national men and women in campaigns, leadership training, agriculture and water projects, intensive (kitchen) gardens, drought resistant crops, veterinary work, re-stocking camels and goats, making of tile roofs, adobe stoves, soil blocks, building techniques, famine relief, adult literacy, bomb and trauma counseling and training of teachers, guidance counselors and school inspectors in trauma assessment of school children. In recent years AIDS awareness and education have become a major focal point for most missionaries working in Africa.
By the year 2000 there were an estimated 850 Churches ofChrist in Kenya’s 42 tribes and sub-tribes with an estimated membership of more than 23,000 adults in local churches. There were three deaf churches, one Ethiopian church, one French-language Church and one Sudanese Church. In addition to these churches were many preaching points where the number in attendance was too low to be considered a church. By 2004 it was estimated that many of these preaching points had grown sufficiently to raise the number of churches to an estimated number of in excess of 2,000 congregations with a combined membership of over 40,000.
International Churches of Christ have 8 congregations in Kenya, including the 1600 member Nairobi church.
Christian Churches/Churches of Christ
Christian Missionary Fellowship (CMF) of the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ made their first survey trip into Kenya in 1974. At that time CMF had a large work in nearby Ethiopia and was hopeful of expanding their field to include Kenya. By 1977-78 the Brock, Doty, Johnson, Priest and Hudson families were in Kenya opening a new work first with the Turkana (1977) and later with the Maasai (1978). Registration was secured in 1979 under the umbrella registration of the Kenya Churches of Christ. The following paragraphs from the CMF website (http://www.cmfi.org) tell the story of their work in Kenya:
“CMF ministry among the Turkana: A nomadic people of Kenya’s northwest desert, the Turkana live much as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. They were not receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ until CMF missionaries began living among this people in 1977 to provide medical care. Missionaries live amongthe Turkana and learn their language, as well as being active in local communities. Literacy and leadership training are crucial to establish a strong, indigenous church. Church buildings, school buildings, and clinics have also been established. On the village level, team members are involved in public schooling, development projects, and medical work. The first elders for 2 Turkana church were ordained in late 2002, a great step toward having a fully Turkana-led Church.”
“CMF ministry among the Maasai: From the Christian perspective, the pastoral Maasai people of southwestern Kenya were a people un-reached with the Gospel of Christ until CMF developed ministry among these people, beginning in 1978. As CMF missionaries began to live among the Maasai people, learn their language and culture, and tell them the Good News of Jesus, many Maasai came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. There are now over 60 churches in Maasailand with many other villages being taught by Maasai Christian leaders. Two training centers complement the extensive village teaching programs, as church leaders come to a center for one-week seminars for specific, intensive training. A literacy program provides each churchwith readers and teachers. Missionaries also provide special courses in area churches to supplement the training center programs. Nine established clinics and mobile clinics meet healthcare needs and provide information on health and hygiene for the villages. Our goal isa truly indigenous Maasai Church.”
“CMF ministry among the urban poor: three families are currently building a team of Nairobi churches for a new work among the urban poor of Nairobi, Kenya’scapital. They will initiate a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program that incorporates evangelism and micro-enterprises.”
Nyabuto Marube believes that the historic partnership between the Kenya Churches of Christ and Christian Missionary Fellowship has borne tremendous fruit for Kenya in the nearly thirty years of existence. Their combined efforts, according to Marube, have led to the establishment of at least 4 nursery schools, 7 kindergartens, 19 primary schools (with at least one of those being devoted to orphans and disadvantaged children), 2 secondary schools, 2 polytechnics, 11 permanent medical clinics, numerous short-termmedical/health projects, 1 college, 2 ministry training schools, 14 ministry extension schools (Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania), 3 street children’s ministries, and an orphan’s home.
Good News Productions International (GNPI), another ministry of the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, completed a 5,500 square foot film and media studio in Nairobi in 1995. GNPI-Africa has produced materials in 34 different languages including films and other effective teaching tools that are culturally specificand evangelistic. Many of these materials are used in church planting and leadership training efforts throughout Africa.
African Christian Mission, International which began in1948 to serve primarily in Congo (now Zaire) expanded to include Kenya after 1988. Currently at least three missionary families serve in Kenya with ACM, International working together with CMF, Good News Productions and the Kenya Churches of Christ. One work of ACM, International is the Rainbow Children of Promise children’s home that is involved in the recovery of street children.
Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism (FAME)has also been active in Kenya sending medicals supplies and medicines into the country. FAME mobilizes medical mission trips to several countries partnering with missionaries and ministries which specifically focus on evangelism. June 1999 saw the opening of FAME-funded Nabukhisa Health Clinic in partnership with Mike and Karolyn Schrage. FAME also provided funds for a clinic in Kabondo withDr. Larry Niemeyer in 1998 and financially helped to upgrade the CMFsponsored Napusmoru Dispensary in 1999.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Initial Disciples’ involvement in Kenya began in 1983. Currently Disciples’ and United Church of Christ partnership involvement in Kenya includes the assignment of Division of Overseas Ministry personnel with the National Christian Council Kenya. Previous involvement included financial support of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the National Council of Churches of Kenya and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.
The National Council of Churches of Kenya is the world’s largest national council, providing grassroots development projects throughout the country. The Presbyterian Church of East Africa maintains a network of some of the best health facilities and educational institutions in the country.
Disciples relate to two partner organizations which deal with problems throughout Africa. They are the All Africa Conference of Churches, Africa’s regional ecumenical body, and the Project for Christian Muslim Relations in Africa, which specializes in promoting understanding between adherents of Africa’s two mission-planted faiths.
Current Disciples Overseas Mission personnel for Kenya include Phyllis Byrd: theological educator for All Africa Conference of Churches; Brandon Gilvin: Global Mission Intern; David Owen: World Council of Churches in Kenya; Roxi Owen: Teacher with Rosslyn Academy in Kenya.
Australian Churches of Christ
Deaf Ministries International is a ministry begun byAustralians Neville and Lil Muir. While they are an independent international ministry that currently works in nearly a dozen countriesthey relate and partner with the Australian Churches of Christ.
DMI work began in Kenya in 1988. Currently the work isbeing lead by Josephat Mulongo a profoundly deaf man who is coordinator of the work there as well as pastor of the Nairobi Immanuel Church of the Deaf.
A team of deaf pastors are now serving churches and ministering in schools in Nairobi, Mombasa, Mumias, Bungoma, Ikinu, Kilifi, Oyugis, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kwale and Kapsabet. In the Nairobi area there are ministries going on in Doonholm and Kambui as well asthe main down town church. In May of 2003 new ministires are planned for Ana Khan, Machakos and Karen schools for the deaf.
Kenya Christian School for the Deaf is located inWestern Kenya near the town of Oyugis. Commenced and administered by Gloria Catolico Okello a Filipino missionary with DMI, the school continues to grow by taking in needy deaf children from the area. Many of these children are AIDS orphans. All teaching and child care staffare deaf.
Currently the school is meeting in rented facilities in the town but land has been purchased nearby and building will commence as soon as funding is available and the land title has been cleared. DMI works with schools and churches in thirteen areas of Kenya.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
Revised by Gary Holloway, December 9, 2013
A cappella Churches of Christ websites featuring Kenya:
A very detailed list of contacts for a cappella Churches of Christ
Nyabuto Marube, Kayole Church of Christ, Nairobi
A cappella Churches of Christ
Kambakia Training Center
Kenya Christian Industrial Training Institute, Nairobi
Kenya Christian Institute of Practical Ministry, Nairobi
Nairobi Great Commission School
Embakasi Christian Academy, care of Martin and Nancy Phiri
A cappella Churches of Christ see:
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
Christian Missionary Fellowship
5525 E. 82nd St., PO Box 501020
Indianapolis, IN 46250
See also the individual websites of these CMFmissionaries
Kip and Katy Lines:
Dave and Dr. Suzie Snyder:
PO Box 636 Village Market
Nairobi, Kenya 00621
P.O. Box 365
Seelyville, IN 47878
Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism (FAME)
P.O. Box 34800
Indianapolis, IN 46234
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Division of Overseas Ministries Communication and Interpretation Office
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the UnitedStates and Canada
Division of Overseas Ministries Communication and Interpretation Office
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986
For a list of many Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (in the United States) missionaries/ministries see:
Mission Services Association
7545 Hodges Ferry Road, Knoxville, TN (USA) 37920
Telephone: 1 (800) 655-8524
Fax: 1 (865) 573-5950