I've been really busy all month teaching and writing lectures. For August we had modular courses, meaning that we take our normal classes that usually take 3 months to teach, and teach them in 3 weeks. I had to write a lot of lectures and discussions really fast. But this means that a good part of my work for the first semester, starting in September, will be done already. So by September I will start having a normal work schedule, being able to rest a little bit, and begin work on my courses for second semester which are not near ready yet.
Teaching has been really fun. This is what I was made to do. I enjoy teaching in the classroom just as much as teaching in the field informally like I was doing in Uganda. Both are good and different, and it's nice to have a change of pace. I'll get to do a fair amount of teaching in the field around Kenya in coming years though, once we've been here a while.
When I first started teaching again, I had memories of when I first started teaching in Uganda 7 years ago. I have come a long way since then. I speak in a totally different voice and accent then I did back then, because now I know how to speak so that students can understand. I am much more confident. And I know how to make my teaching both simple enough, and contextual to the African context. I'm thankful that my Ugandan students were so merciful back then when I was so green and surely made many mistakes.
For the modular courses, the students come three times a year, a month at a time. I am teaching the first year students church history, and I have 15 students for that class. I am teaching the third year students for missions and evangelism and I have 6 students for that class. These are two of my favorite subjects to teach. Surprisingly, most of my students are women. Most of the students are pretty young, some as young as 19 years old, just out of high school. But some of them are older than I and have been working for years or been in ministry for years. Most want to become ordained pastors, but some want to go on to university to get a theological degree first (this diploma is a prerequisite). Here is the first year class. They are only here for another week.
Some surprises or interesting things from classroom discussions:
- There is a common idea here that many Christians in Anglican churches are not really "born again" or "saved." In Uganda, this was the impression that Pentecostals had about the Anglican Church. But I was surprised to find that Anglicans themselves also believe this. When preachers introduce themselves or people introduce themselves in meetings, the most common form of introduction is, "Hi my name is Anthony. I am born again and Jesus is my personal savior." Or, "Hello, my name is Anthony, I love Jesus so much, and I am God's child." Things like that. I asked my students about this and they said that a lot of people in the church don't want to be "saved." Upon digging into this further, it appears a lot of people are content to just go to church and enjoy the tradition but they don't want a personal relationship with God. This is obviously something I am going to have to keep learning more about. But it always warms my heart to hear people introduce themselves and talk about how much they love Jesus.
- I learned that being an evangelist in the Anglican Church of Kenya involves door to door evangelism almost every day. It is also, from what I gather, a stepping stone to becoming a pastor. You begin as an evangelist, do that ministry, get more theological education, and then you can move up to ordained pastoral ministry. I've been trying to emphasize that being an evangelist or missionary is a respectable calling by itself, and if that is your gift, you don't need to "move up."
- In talking about some African missionaries in history I told my students how they received visions from angels who called them into ministry. Being an American, I have natural skepticism about angels, visions, miracles, spiritual warfare, etc. But I was surprised to find that their skepticism of such things dwarfed my own. Here I was in class, as an American, trying to convince my African students that God can still use angels today, God can still do miracles, and God can still give people dreams. It was not what I expected! In this way, they are nearly exact opposites of the Pentecostals I used to teach in Uganda.
- In missions, we have been talking about the challenges of being a missionary, and the students certainly think that it is a tough calling. I keep trying to inspire them that perhaps God will call one of them to be a missionary to an unreached group in Kenya. So far no takers, but I am convinced they all want to go home and change their church cultures so that their churches send out more missionaries.
- In my research I found that there are quite a number of unreached people groups in Kenya. What is sad is that most missionaries to Kenya from around the world, like me, are not doing anything to reach these groups. They end up with all other kinds of mercy ministries but the unreached peoples stay unreached. And even more sad is that the Kenyans, who are right next door, metaphorically speaking, are not reaching out to these groups either. When I talked to the students about these groups, they were mostly aware of them. So I asked why Kenyan churches are not sending missionaries to them. The answer I was given was that Kenyan Christians fear to go to those places because sometimes the tribe might be violent. They have heard of people being killed. This led into a good discussion on whether we should really have a fear of death or not as Christians.
This website shows you some of the unreached people groups in Kenya - Joshua Project - Kenya. Most of the groups that are unreached are either about 100% Muslim or about 100% Hindu. It's crazy to think of a group of about 50,000 people, with only 4 church members. Most East African Christians, based on what I've been told in both Uganda and Kenya, plant churches in areas where the majority of their new church members come from other existing churches in the area. Please pray - Matthew 9:37-38 - "Then he said to his disciples, 'the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.' Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"
- We also talked a lot about reaching out to Indians. There are many in Kenya as in Uganda. But Kenyans fear talking to them, and for some good reasons. It seems that many Indians, while they work with Africans daily, seem to look down on them. I'm not sure if this is related to their beliefs in the caste systems and different social classes or something else. But we have seen a lot of Indians belittling Africans and looking down on them, whereas they treat Westerners completely differently. And we've heard many sad stories from our Ugandan friends. Indians remain unreached with the Gospel in Kenya, few are reaching out to them. Kenyans fear that if they try to talk to them they will get "chased away." Next semester, I am giving an assignment that the students have to try talking to an Indian, even if it is just asking them if they can interview them about their beliefs. I will let you know how it goes.
- We talked about the mission concept of "culture shock," the stresses of living in a new culture. They asked if they would have culture shock if they went to the US. I didn't really think they would have much as Kenya is so westernized now. But I said that they would probably have culture shock, not from anything big, but from hundreds of little changes. I mentioned one small change: "In the US, we drink tea but we don't have a set time each day for 'tea time.'" Their eyes got so big, they were just utterly shocked and horrified, haha.
- We talked about the missions concept of Western churches supporting local evangelists in a place say like Kenya. A lot of organizations do this as you can support about 4 local evangelists for the price of one person from North America. It seems like a great way to partner together. But the students surprised me by arguing that it is not a good system. They think it is keeping the African churches in dependency upon the Western countries, when they would like to see the African churches taking up the call to missions without having to be paid by the West to do it.
- A new greeting I heard a student say was "Up up Jesus!" and then the other person should respond, "Down down Satan!"