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Key note address to the Kenya Church Association

I greet you all in the name of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ “Bwana asifiwe

I also bring greetings from the CMS Africa family in Nairobi. Dennis and the team send their love and best wishes to you all. He recalls with gratitude to God the great time you had together two years ago!

Introduction

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity and the privilege to speak to you on this last AGM of the KCA. It took me by surprise to hear that KCA is closing down but obviously I believe you have sought the Lord over this and are settled in His perfect will and timing.

It is amazing that this coincides with my transition from CMS Africa after ten years of ministry which has been fulfilling. It has been a humbling privileged to serve with the church in Africa. I have known above all that the harvest is indeed plentiful yet the harvesters are few. This experience has helped me grow in my walk with the Lord and in my relationships with Christians who love and cherish the faith in Jesus. I know that today, more than before, there is hope for the church in Africa as in the world.

I grew up in the 70’s in a remote rural area in the eastern part of Kenya in St Andrew’s Church in Ukia parish which was a Diocesan Missionary area of Nairobi diocese. It is today part of Makueni Diocese.

One of the significant experiences in my early years was my interaction with a CMS mission couple (Christopher & Rosemary Carey). As young people in Primary and Secondary school, this couple taught us how to love Jesus and discipled us to be followers of Jesus. This indeed made the Christian faith exciting. My mother (now bed-ridden at over 100 years) was a staunch ‘tukutendereza’ believer (part of the ‘East African Revival’ movement). She loved the Lord and witnessed about the faith with passion. These early experiences became the foundation stone that has seen me through my later years in ministry and service

I have worked with the church all my working life. Initially with the Christian Council of churches in Kenya (NCCK), Food for Hungry International and for the last ten years with the CMS and CMS Africa consecutively. It has been a journey of searching for a faith that works for the church and people in Africa.

The last ten years with CMS have particularly presented a learning and reflection phase of my journey. These years have marked a turning point in my search for a gospel that works for us in Africa with all the challenges that characterize our society and the church in particular. I go out with a sense of fulfilment and gratitude to God for all His goodness.

God’s mission and the African church
The outgoing Chair of CMS Africa, Canon Francis Omondi stated in our annual report, 2011/2012 that;

“My persuasion is this, that as long as the church exists in Africa, missions will take root. God of mission has a church in the world’ “.........I cannot agree more with this profound statement!

Francis argues that we (Christians) erroneously think that God has given his church to the world. It is not the church that has a mission in the world but rather the God of mission has a church in the world that he has commissioned to participate in His mission……. ………….. ………….what a privilege is ours… that we are part of this body of Christ!

CMS Africa is focused on the church as the body of Christ and its wholistic development. The church is the bride of Christ - beloved and cherished despite her brokenness. In CMS Africa, we recognize that the church and in particular the local church is the body of Christ expected by God to serve the community just as Jesus did. Ephesians 3:10 states that

‘His (God’s) intention was that now, the manifest wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms’

We recognize the church of Christ is God’s chosen instrument to bring hope to a broken and needy world. That is why we work exclusively in partnership with local churches and communities to deliver a wholistic development program that is founded on mind-set change. We address mind-set change because we see the great potential that Africa is blessed with resources, people and a vibrant church - all these being factors for social and cultural transformation in society.

I joined CMS Africa at a time when mission leaders (Mani, CMS/ CMS Africa, Sheepfold ministries, the Evangelicals etc...) were prayerfully searching for answers to the many questions and challenges facing the church in Africa. The 19th century missionary movement planted churches, build schools and hospitals that spearheaded positive change in Sub-Saharan Africa.

CMS was (and still is) in the centre of this missionary movement of Western missionaries who brought the good news of Jesus to us. We are eternally grateful for the sacrificial mission that brought the Christian witness to Africa and elsewhere. What followed has been an impressive growth of the African church which has been visible in numbers and particularly on Sundays. This growth is certainly a sign of success of this God-inspired movement and the African church owes this to our Western brothers and sisters (some of you represented here). We give God the glory for the Christian courage and love demonstrated which can only be a move of God at the time. I am here today because my parents received the good news from a CMS mission station in a central part of Kenya (Kabete) and accepted the Lord. This is what was passed on to me……….

“We thought that our work was done when we as Mission Agencies planted a church but we failed to plant a mission minded Church” Len Firth Archdeacon of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne Australia.

Back to CMS Africa which was in the process of being birthed 2008. As leaders, we recognized that the church has been on the continent for over two thousand years and had grown in numbers. We recognized that this growth holds incredible potential for the healing of Africa and Kenya specifically. Yet, all too often, the church is disengaged from the crying needs of the community, focusing exclusively on spiritual structural priorities.

Despite Christians being a majority in many African communities (Kenya included), poverty, disease, conflict, interfaith concerns, negative ethnicity and environmental degradation abound. This appalling state of affairs propels CMS Africa to focus on wholistic transformation of the church and communities through the church. It is no longer more churches but what kind of churches (qualitative vs quantitative). CMS Africa aims at transforming mind-sets and creating an enabling environment in Africa and beyond so that the people of God build their own solutions and take ownership for their future.

Wholistic discipleship - A model for sustaining mission
The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and loose the mind of the world you will soon discover you have not won the world. Indeed, it may turn out that you have lost the world.” Dr. Charles Malik Former President of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.

Among many other approaches, the Samaritan Strategy message and approach became relevant and timely - an inspiring message to a church in Africa that is ripe for change. CMS Africa embraced this message taking a key leadership position in teaching and spreading this message across Africa. This teaching is a wholistic transformation approach which sees the local church as the community of faith representing Christ as God’s chosen agent of transformation. CMS Africa was convicted then, and still is, that the church is the solution to the challenges facing Africa. We believe that the church of Christ is God’s principally-ordained agency for social and cultural transformation. It is perhaps the single most important indigenous, sustainable institution in any community, with members virtually in every sphere of society. This is particularly true of Africa where statistically almost 50% of the population (about 400 million people) is Christian and with an estimated four million churches.

Yet, for the church in Africa to effectively advance God’s intentions, its leadership requires fresh vision and equipping. Towards this end, CMS along with other partners have been equipping and envisioning the church in Africa afresh. This training goes beyond envisioning. It equips church leaders with simple tools that enable them to apply what they have learned immediately, thus beginning the transformation process in their own communities with existing local resources – no matter how poor they may be. The training places special emphasis on the importance of mind-set transformation and presents the Christian worldview as the key to wholistic transformation. It focuses on the local church to promote a Biblical worldview that would be the foundation of practical, effective and transformational discipleship.

CMS Africa’s partnerships with churches and communities that have received this training are making remarkable contributions to the transformation of communities. They are effectively addressing and responding to issues in their communities. This involvement has made their Christian witness more effective and mission is taking root in these communities. They have formed what we refer to in CMS Africa as ‘communities of best practice’. These communities are found across Africa and in particular in Mukono diocese in Uganda, Machakos Diocese in Kenya, Morogoro in Tanzania and Byumba Diocese in Rwanda among others. These are communities reaching out to their neighbours with the love of Christ and using their local resources to make a difference in the lives of both Christians and non- believers. From CMS Africa, this is the perspective we have of the kingdom of God being brought to the people especially those that are needy and vulnerable. This to us is a sure way of sustaining God’s mission in our context.

The vision of CMS Africa is fulfilled in partnership with churches and local communities using wholistic approaches, including capacity building and empowerment programs, which spur these partners towards transformation through renewed mind-sets.

Given that about 60% of our population in Africa is youthful and the majority of them unemployed, CMS Africa has further engaged the church and Christians in Africa to embrace Business as Mission. We are employing BAM teachings to equip the church to affirm business people and professionals to realize their calling and influence in the market place for kingdom purposes. We are consequently envisioning business people from within the church to recognize their calling and use their platform to create jobs and wealth and to influence the market place with Biblical values of diligence, integrity, honesty, generosity, transformational stewardship and justice in Africa. Through BAM, business people and professionals are realizing their potential in the market place as full-time ministers and the market place as a prime mission frontier. This is changing the face of mission as business people take their rightful position. Business people and professionals are now building churches and cathedrals as a result of this engagement. An example is the Kigali Cathedral and also in Mukono Diocese. Mother’s Union members are engaged in microfinance institutions such as in Byumba, Mount Kenya South and Thika Dioceses in Kenya. At the same time professionals and business people are reaching out to the poor and marginalized in communities where they have been impacted by these teachings.

CMS Africa aims to see engaged churches, affecting real transformation in their communities and in sufficient mass to disciple the nations in Africa. It has been reported that the church in Kenya banks over 2.billion Kenya shillings every Monday (following the Sunday offering).This is a pointer that the church has potential to speak to the issues of society including impacting the economy and influencing policy. Business as Mission has therefore become a primary vehicle for on-going poverty eradication in countries where we work. This is why CMS Africa has passionately been pursuing the church that is scattered as indeed the church gathered on Sundays is visible. We are convicted that if the numbers gathered on Sundays can receive the true gospel, Africa would be transformed and the woes that are part and parcel of Africa would be a thing of the past.

In making discipling the church the focus of our mission, CMS Africa has made a crucial paradigm shift in missions which has previously been expressed in terms of salvation of souls. Our teachings through SSA, BAM and F4 all focus on the church, including women and youth, seeking to make the church resilient and deep in teaching so that Christianity becomes a lifestyle. In Tanzania for instance, VISION conferences organized in partnership with World Vision Tanzania have become the core agent of community transformation across the Tanzanian Republic.

In Kenya, an increasing number of congregations and even whole denominations have adopted CMS Africa’s wholistic discipleship approach including Karura Community Church and All Saints Cathedral to mention but some. In South Sudan, the Financial Freedom for Families, a personal financial management training geared towards better stewardship of God-given resources is taking root in Juba and Wau. CMS Africa is making inroads in this new nation with some of the training. This is a move towards sustaining mission as churches even in the most marginalized areas capture the vision of owning mission.

Cross –cultural mission
Case of Byumba and Mount Kenya South and the Case of Mukono and Machakos Dioceses.

In the midst of many challenges and a brokenness that has made the church lose its salt and light in society, especially the church in Kenya, God is at work in Africa and the church is the vehicle for this move of God. I worked with the NCCK when the church was the prophetic church in Kenya – it was then the voice of reason and the voice of God. The result was that evil was not allowed to thrive in the Kenyan society – whatever evil was checked including corruption, devil worship, negative ethnicity, etc. During those days of the late Bishop Okullu, the late Bishop Muge, late Bishop Gitari the church stopped at nothing to curb the evil in society.

Today the church in Kenya is in the process of being regulated by the state for failure to set and maintain even the bare minimum of expected standards. Many in Kenya have lost faith in the church as churches particularly the new age churches have lured and swindled innocent citizens in the name of God. It is said that if the church does not disciple the Nation, the Nation will disciple the church.

Meanwhile the challenge of Islam is real in the midst of a church that is losing her voice. The voice of Islam is loud even with a minority of less than 15% of the population. But all is not lost as indeed God is at work. The remnant has remained faithful to God. As stated earlier, the church does not have a mission for God in the world, but it is God who has the church for His mission in the world. In the midst of this perverse generation, many churches are growing and increasingly owning mission. While traditionally, mission has been known and seen as happening from the West to Africa. Today the church in Africa is sending out missionaries to mission fields within Africa and outside Africa.
. …………get examples…Ethiopian church, CITAM, All Saints, Nairobi Chapel (even planted a church in London). There is hope for the Church in Africa as mission and particularly Cross- cultural Mission takes root.

CMS-Africa’s Footprints Campaign: a move towards sustainable missions

The Footprints Campaign seeks to transform lives for the better by ensuring continued engagements with the church not just today but in years to come.

At the heart of CMS Africa Footprint Campaign is the promise of longevity - life eternal - improved life for every Christian here on earth and of a community’s posterity in God.
Now more than ever in its 8-year history, CMS Africa is determined to execute strategies that will ensure millions of people across Africa and beyond discover and build their own solutions in God.

“The Footprints Campaign is more than a building. It is a manifestation of the ownership of mission by Africans; mission from Africa to the World.” -Rev. Dennis Tongoi.

This strategic position of CMS Africa is greatly under siege with the closing window for continued donor-driven missions work due to a slowing down of the global economy.

The Footprints Campaign presents you with an opportunity to realize your own, perhaps unformulated, desire to contribute to missions work in Africa and beyond as well as engender a wholistic transformation of communities through renewal of mind-sets for a better tomorrow.

The campaign seeks to help CMS Africa’s mission programmes become sustainable as we work with the Church across the continent.

Our campaign seeks to raise KSh. 166,000,000 towards the construction of an eight-floor office building on the CMS Africa property on 850 Chania Avenue, Nairobi in Kenya.

The project is targeting 3,000 individuals, business entities, or churches, to each donate £500 or $700 or KSh.60, 000 - the estimated amount to build and furnish a square foot of the construction.

The support can be given either as a one-time payment or in any manner of instalments over the two-year period that the construction is expected to last.

The building will house CMS Africa offices and the remaining space will be commercialized. The income generated will be used to support CMS Africa missionaries working in different parts of Africa.

We recognize that mission will be sustained when churches embrace the right gospel and in obedience to the God of mission move out to love their neighbour as themselves. This is the paradigm shift we seek to teach and by the grace of God that we pray for. We recognize that a mission house put up in Nairobi will not make the church own and grow mission as indeed it is quite insignificant in Kingdom terms. It is the envisioning and change of mind-sets that will multiply leaders and cause churches and Christians to own and obey the Great Commission.

We realize that when the church is Africa will be discipling the numbers that come to church on Sundays for worship for meaningful impact, then mission will take root as these numbers translate to impact. While this is happening in limited ways, our prayer is that this move of God will be experienced across the continent. This is why CMS Africa exists.

Acknowledgements
Upon completion of payment, a footprint donor will be issued with a certificate bearing their Footprint Number to acknowledge and honour their participation in supporting missions through CMS Africa. Those who will be issued with a certificate will also have the option of their names and a personalized message appearing on the ceremonial plaque to be located at a prominent place in the completed building.

Conclusion
I believe that you all cherish this country called Kenya and indeed that is why we are all here. As I conclude, I like to request you all to keep Kenya in your prayers as we go to elections next year in August. You must have followed the just concluded (hopefully so) ICC story that has gone on for the last seven years. There are a number of concerns with the church and other actors calling for the disbursement of the electoral body. The chief justice, a key office in the electioneering process, is retiring rather at the wrong time and the political terrain as always does not look easy. Please pray for us that the good Lord would preserve the country and give us peace in our day.

Once again, thank you for inviting me to this gathering. May God bless you.

May God bless you all; your families and generations to come.
Amen.

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