The Spirit was alive and dancing in the journey of this day, our fourth in Kenya! After breakfast, our group traveled to Kangemi, in Nairobi, to worship with the African Divine Church of that village. Although we found out later that, when learning of our visit, they called together all twenty of the assemblies of that region to come worship with us! What a blessing it was to be given such an extravagant karibu (welcome) and introduction to this church! We were also invited to participate in the opening processional. All of us had participated in a church processional before, but I don’t think any of us have participated in one with such joy and stamina as this one. The procession began at the road that led into the village then proceeded through the village, winding through the streets, calling everyone in the village to worship with sung calls and responses and dancing to the exuberant rhythms of African drums. The whole processional – from the moment the drums, dancing, and singing began to when everyone was seated in the church structure – lasted for about an hour! Then, we listened as a few people gave testimonies of God moving in their lives, two Scriptures were read, a woman called Evangelist Rose preached about the faithfulness of giving, and we participated in the abundance of music and dancing. Our experience in worship was greatly enhanced by our guide, Rev. John Gichimu, who translated all of this for us from Swahili!
We were also invited to share the sermon for the day. It was mentioned to us at dinner yesterday evening that we might be asked to do this, so we had decided that each of us would speak, introducing ourselves and our theological institutions as well as offering our own brief testimony of an experience of the Holy Spirit while in school. Listening to each member of our group speak was such a wonderful experience. After spending so much time together these last six days, we have shared stories and much laughter, but we had not experienced each other as the preachers we each have the opportunity to be at school, church, and as chaplains. Each individual brings such a unique perspective and such wonderful gifts to share and it was a joy to be able to share these with our brothers and sisters of the African Divine Church. When we left the church, quite a bit later than we expected :), we were charged to tae this congregation with us as we traveled home, remembering them in our prayers, in sharing the story of our experience worshipping with them, and especially in the invitation to come back to visit!
After an incredible lunch at an Indian Restaurant, we went to meet with Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah, the General Advisor to the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA). Dr. Mbillah is one of the leading theologians in interfaith studies and it was an honor to be given the opportunity to sit down with him, listen to him explain PROCMURA, and ask questions about his work. Our conversation ranged from the basic emphases of PROCMURA, the Christian theologies of exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism, the foundations for commonality for Christians and Muslims, and the efforts of PROCMURA in African countries where relations between Christians and Muslims is especially hostile. We could have listened to Dr. Mbillah for hours, but our time was limited because of our travel to our home for the next four nights – the Carmelite Community in an area called Karen.
For many of us, each day spent in Kenya is better than the last, and that was certainly true of today. We are hoping that this trend will continue as we attend the first of three days of school at the MIASUM Maryknoll Institute of African Studies. Tonight, we are hoping to get a lot of rest to prepare for being back in school tomorrow!
Asanti sana (thank you very much) to all of you for your prayers and support!!