Micah Juma: Looking to the Future with Gratitude

It is a great honor for us to be able to present this briefing to all of you who are partnering with us in expanding the kingdom of God and serving “the least of these” here in Africa.

Finally, a new day has dawned for the young man, Micah Juma. In our previous report, Sympathize with the Needy, we shared his tragic story. Micah Juma, at age 23 (the year 2011), was involved in two  road accidents which left him with serious physical disabilities. Though his family managed to scrape together some money to begin to address the problems, they quickly ran out of resources and options, leaving young Micah permanently incapacitated.

After he was sent to the Kingdom Driven Ministries by the local chief for medical assistance, and we in turn asked our faithful brethren for support, several gave with great generosity and concern for Micah’s condition. We are glad to report that together we have finally been able to make some headway with his care.

In his first accident, Micah’s back bone and urethra were badly damaged; in the second accident, his right leg was severely broken. Both conditions were only minimally treated, leaving him for the last five years with a useless leg and a permanent supra-pubic catheter.

Since he came to us two months ago, we have been doing all in our ability to bring relief and hope to Micah and his family. We have encountered some challenges with the medical options available to us, but the Lord has provided solutions as the needs arose. We had to move from doctor to doctor, from office to office, from hospital to hospital, but at last we found a haven of good hope in one local hospital, Webuye County Hospital. After years of suffering, Micah’s broken leg was finally repaired this week! He was officially discharged on Friday.

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Admitted to the hospital

The next big step that awaits him is the urethral surgery, which will hopefully come a few months from now. This period of rest will allow the body to gain sufficient strength and permit the wound and bones to heal. Micah will also receive physical therapy. We pray and trust the Lord will make these next steps possible (and safe).

I would love to pass across the words of gratitude from Micah’s family, especially his father. This is what he told me when I visited him at the hospital after the surgery:

“My family and I would love to express our sincere gratitude and great thanks to all those individuals who have stood with us, and supported Micah. We feel like the big stone that was hindering us from seeing the love of God has been removed by the servants of God. Though  we have nothing to repay them, but still we have something to offer them. We will remember them in our prayers, and ask the Lord to shower His blessings on them, so that they can continue in good work, and help many more who are suffering in deep distress. God bless you.”

The prayer of the poor is no small thing; God is attentive to the cry of a poor man. In the same line of gratitude, we at Kingdom Driven Ministries give thanks to all our brethren for making our duty and service both possible and enjoyable.

In recovery after surgery

At home after surgery!

As Micah recuperates, we plan to take him for a scan, which will be brought to his next consultation with the surgeon so that they can assess the damage to the urethra and see if it can be repaired at the same facility that performed the leg surgery. We have approximately $700 remaining that is earmarked for both physical therapy and the next procedure. Because we needed to pursue next-level care to get the leg surgery done, we are operating with less funding than anticipated going forward. As the future needs become clear (based on consultation and best estimates from the surgeon), we will let you know if further assistance is needed. In the meantime, Micah, his family, and the team here at Kingdom Driven Ministries are thankful for what we have been able to accomplish on Micah’s behalf. Please pray for his recovery and for the future use of his leg.

Victor’s Death

Greetings saints,

It is with much grief and sorrow that Kingdom Driven Ministries has to report the sudden death of our dear and beloved brother, Victor Simiyu Wambani. Brother Victor has been struggling with serious chest cancer (Fibro Sacro of the anterior chest wall) for over a period of 6 years. Today, he fell asleep still under medical care; his next hospital appointment was due early next month and we were, in fact, trying to arrange something for as early as next week, as we saw his condition deteriorating.

018Victor’s family struggled to care for him in his lengthy illness, eventually believing that he was beyond remedy and assistance. Some three years ago, our village chief introduced us to Victor, and Kingdom Driven Ministries was blessed to not only assist him medically in his time of need but also to share with him the Gospel of the Kingdom, baptize him, and disciple him through many hard times.

Unfortunately, early this morning Victor was found dead at the building owned by KDM, where he has been staying for the past year, after being evicted from his father’s house by his step-brothers. Indeed, it was dark morning for all the saints here and our village in general. A couple of brothers gathered together at the premises after the death incident was reported at around 2 AM. The body was brought to the local mortuary for preservation. Our church’s deacons and several wazee are working out the details for the burial and funeral program.

Members of his family and the church have met earlier today to discuss the way forward and make further arrangements. It’s our hope that together we will be able to give brother Victor a proper and honorable burial, which all the saints deserve.

According to Africa traditions, burial is an open ceremony where all members of the community are free and welcome to attend. Mourners are fed by the family, which is typically a great burden to those already poor, but in Victor’s case, Kingdom Driven Ministries is hoping to take on that financial responsibility, as he has been a much-loved brother.

We were hoping to raise at least $500 toward this need. Even before this report was published, brothers who knew Victor gave $100, so we’re working on raising the remainder. We humbly request for your support and donation to meet this special need. To do so, visit www.kingdomdriven.org/donate and select the option to give to  Great Commandment needs (medical/urgent needs). The burial will be early next week.

The entire Kingdom Driven Ministries team wishes to express our sincere gratitude to all our partners, and brethren who have stood with us in meeting Victor’s medical needs over the years of his suffering, as well as providing for some of his practical needs like food and housing while he was unable to work. Through your holy prayers and compassionate donations, the Lord has brought Victor this far. We all are part of Victor’s eternal story in the world. May the Lord God think kindly of you, and remember you in all things of life. Though we are sorry that Victor has passed on, we rejoice that he is no longer suffering and that the Lord allowed him to see the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

Games Kenyan Children Play

020Children love to play. In every country, culture, home and continent, children play. Playing fulfills a vital role in childhood development. Without games to play, physical and mental  development of the children will be delayed. The basic similarity between a black child and a white child, an African child and an Asian child, a Kenyan child and an American child is that all have games they play. The only difference is in the types of games they play.

Since the dawn of civilization, Kenyan children have been playing many different games. Some of these games still exist today, while others melted away when the heat of technology and other online  games were introduced in the land, especially in the cities and urban towns. In the villages and communities where modern and western games have not found lodging, children continue to play their traditional games.

Among the common games that Kenyan children play is the tricky hide and seek; this takes at least the minimum of four children. One child will be asked to close his/her eyes or be hoodwinked with a piece of cloth so that the rest will run and hide in secret places; after few minutes the seeker will open the eyes or untie the cloth and start to seek others. In this version of the classic game, an object is placed in the center of the playing ground; if the seeker discovers the hiding place of one child, he runs to the object and hits it. The one who was discovered first will become the seeker in the next round of game. And if all the hiders hit the object before the seeker reveals them, he remains to be the seeker.

Many boys love to play marbles, known as “banta”  in Swahili. Often it is not really marbles; it can be nuts, seeds, stones, or dried fruits. Boys also learn how to make kites using plastic bags, strings and sticks. Often only “city boys” are expert in making kites, as compared to their village comrades.

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Children playing with fruits, as marbles

002In the neighborhoods where old and worn out bicycle, motorbike, and vehicle tires can be found, they become a playing tool for the children. You will find that rich children will play with vehicle tires taken from their parents’ cars, while the poor children will play with bicycles tires. Regardless of the form and type of the tire used, it is no less amusing to see them endlessly propel the tire forward with any good stick(picture on the right, a child with an old bicycle tire).

Girls plays with dolls made from old pieces of clothes, wood, or even plastic. Those who have parents in a good position financially will enjoy playing with real dolls.

Football (soccer) is the most common game Kenyan children play, both in the urban towns and rural villages. You will find children from different estates or villages coming together every evening after school and every weekend to compete in this sport. Many children cannot afford to own a real leather ball, but this to the children is a little matter. Almost every child knows how to make a paper-made ball. These balls are made from rolling plastic bags and tying them firmly together using ropes.

Skipping and jumping rope is one of the favorite games for young girls, especially those of lower grades (class 2 up to class 5). This game starts from the ankle, working all the way up to the neck. You only need a skipping rope, but many use stockings as an alternative to the ones you can buy at the store. In the game, two players stand on each end of the rope, swinging it in a circle motion, often while singing a song. A third player will start to skip and jump in the middle, as the rope turns. The two players on each end start swinging the rope low, which is easy for the jumper, then gradually progress by lifting the rope higher and higher to the knee, the thigh, then waist, until the third player can’t jump any higher. While the girls enjoy skipping, boys will find much fun in long-jumping and hopscotch. In most schools, children are taught these games as physical education.

Bird hunting, swimming, bicycle riding, fishing, and swinging are among many other games that village children love to play. Play is a universal need for children; only location and available resources determine how it will be met.

 

 

Extend the Circle Of Compassion

005Anthony Mirundu, age 32, a resident of Muungano village, husband to Agnes and the father of three children, is one of the patients who has recently been sent to us by the local government authority seeking medical assistance. Brother Anthony is a very poor man who has been suffering from a serious wrist wound which started in early 2011 as a small sore infection, but slowly grew and became a terrible problem to him and his entire family.

Late in 2011, he was admitted to Kakamega General Hospital for a while, and due to financial constraints he was discharged from the hospital without receiving any medical assistance. His relatives and friends contributed a little money and took him to another local hospital, Kitale District Hospital, for examination. After a wrist X-ray, it was reported that there was “an expansible osteolytic soap-bubble lesion of the distal radical metaphysics.” There was also large soft tissue mass and minimal soft tissue ossification; the conclusion of the report was radial bone neoplasm, likely chondrosacroma, which is the cause of Osteosacroma disease (a malignant bone tumor).

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Being without any source of income, Anthony was unable to seek for further medical assistance, and instead he visited the local chief’s office to find help. In turn, the chief also sought compassion from Kingdom Driven Ministries.

Our desire is to show compassion to Anthony and alleviate his suffering. But as we all have our own limitations, it is not always possible to do good at all seasons and to all people. Perhaps it is good if I borrow the wise words of Cyrus the Great, the ancient prince of the Persian people, to drive the point home:

“And I think that no virtue is practiced by men except with aim that the good, by being such, may have something more than the bad; and I believe that those who abstain from present pleasures do this not that they may never enjoy themselves, but by this self-restraint they prepare themselves to have many times greater enjoyment to come.”

As Christ-followers, we know that as we sacrifice to meet the pressing needs of others, we indeed store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. These works should be directed by our God-given compassion. Albert Einstein said,

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”

It is true that we so often see what is immediately before us and concern ourselves with those closest to us. Yet we should all challenge ourselves with the words of Jesus himself: if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” So in a case such as Anthony’s, perhaps you can help us to extend our circle of compassion. If you would like to donate to help us assist Anthony with his medical need, please visit www.KingdomDriven.org/donate. You can earmark to Urgent Needs/Medical or note that it is for Anthony. May God bless you for your generosity and also for your much-needed prayers as we seek a way forward.

 

 

 

What Does Sunday Fellowship Service Look Like?

Sunday is one of the most special days for many Christians all over the world. We commemorate anew that the Lord Jesus Christ overcame  and defeated the power of Hades and conquered the power of death by rising from dead. In this day the entire human race was given great hope and possibility of true immortality and life of eternity; indeed, Sunday is a special day.

Since the infancy of the church, early Christians held this day as a very sacred and unique day of the week. It was the day that all the followers of Christ (the church) would gather together in their homes to be in fellowship with God the father and the son through the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was also the day for the saints to be in communion with one another.

In the early church, Sunday was not the day for powerful sermons from charismatic individuals; rather, it was the day for the powerful teacher, the Holy Spirit, to minister to the church through the ordinary saints. It was not the day for special entertainment and show, rather it was the day of true worshiping of God in truth and spirit. The saints would gather together in humility and sincerity to strengthen one another through interactive, Spirit-led fellowship. It was a special day for remembrance as the Lord Jesus promised his disciples,

” These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” ( John 14:25-26)

According to apostle Paul, the church service was all about edification and listening to the Holy Spirit of God, the sharing of the spiritual gifts imparted to the saints by God. In his epistle to the saints of Corinth, he admonished them saying,

” What is the outcome then, brethren ? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching,  has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by the two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the under pass judgement. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is a not God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. ( 1 Corinthians 14)

In all of our local Sunday fellowships here in East Africa, with humility and sincerity we strive to adhere to and imitate the ancient practice of church service. We honor those who came before us, we learn from those that taught us the way of church because they  also were taught by the Lord himself through the Holy Spirit.

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The church of Saboti that meets at Patrick’s house.

In our Sunday fellowships, baptized men, both old and young who are filled with the Spirit, are allowed to share and contribute their spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying the church. While women are restricted from teaching men in the church, they are allowed to sing psalms and hymn to the Lord and share their testimonies with the church, just as it was instructed by the great founder of the churches:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive as the law also says.” ( 1 Corinthians 14)

For the sake of our conscience and obedience to God, we encourage our women to be silent and submissive during Sunday service and also to cover their heads as their  symbol of God’s authority over their heads, according to the scriptures:

” But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.” ( 1Corinthians 14).

In these fellowships saints have struggles, challenges and difficulties which need to be addressed. Here the saints are given a chance to share their struggles and request for prayers. The elders of the church will lay hands on them and pray for them.

” Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing  them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14)

The deacons of the churches  collect contributions from the saints which will help to meet the needs of the  churches, and the poor and needy in our midst. This practice helps to cultivate the virtue and spirit of giving and sharing among the saints.

These is how the ancient church did their Sunday services, practices which we hope to exemplify in our churches here in East Africa.

 

 

Kenya Communion Service

Communion service is one of  the most sacred and mysterious practices of the church. It is mysterious in nature because of it inexplicable power to connect the souls of the saints in one common bond of unity and love, and the ability to link Christ (the head) with the church (the body)  in one fellowship and one community.

” And He took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ” This is my body which is given for you; do these in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying , ” This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” ( Luke 22:19-20)

foot washing

Our communion here in our village fellowship usually begins with the saints washing one another’s feet in humility as a sign and symbol of service to one another, and a mark of willingness to be a servant. Men will wash men’s feet, while women will wash other women’s feet. We do this according to the instructions that the Lord Jesus gave to the church.

” So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ” Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your  Lord and Teacher, have washed  your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that  you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” ( John 13:12-17).

Unlike the Sunday general service, which is open fellowship, communion service is usually closed; only the baptized believers attend. Visitors who are not yet part of the spiritual family would find it very difficult to comprehend the mystery behind the sacred fellowship of breaking bread and sharing the cup of Christ. And as the apostle Paul warned, without proper examination and thorough inner listening, careless participation can result in punishment and chastisement.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” ( 1 Corinthians 11)

In our communion services, the saints are given few minutes of introspection and inner examination in silence to find where they have erred, either by words, thoughts, or deeds. Then, there is time for sincere confession and repentance before the church. Here, there is no condemnation, no judgement, no criticism; only love, forgiveness and understanding. The elders pray for the restoration of the sinner and beseech the Lord to pardon the church for its errors and transgressions.

After confession and repentance, the church shares e a simple  meal together to symbolize their unity and oneness in Christ. The meal is any meal that is available and healthy for all members. A full meal might be rice with beans, but sometimes it is just tea and bread or maandazi. As  families and the community feast, these meals are always covered with great joy and gratitude of heart, and perfumed with the love of God. This is the meal of thanksgiving.

Enjoying chai and mandazi

Enjoying chai and mandazi

To imitate Christ is the surest way to the kingdom of Heaven. He alone knows the way to the father, and the way to life. In communion with one another, we are at one  with God through Christ, our atonement.

Age-mates at communion with their Moms.

Age-mates at communion with their Moms.

 

Shopping in the Village

What does it look like to live in a developing nation without electricity, without supermarkets, without automobiles, without all the myriad of things that many people use every day? What does it mean to live in a village where supermarkets don’t exist? A village with very small shops with very few items? This scenario is typical of many small, African villages.

Life can be simplified in two ways: voluntarily, or involuntarily. Simple living asks, how little can a person live with and be satisfied? Or perhaps, how much a person can live without and still be comfortable? Poverty can serve as a strong catalyst in simplification of one’s life. Poverty itself can also be either voluntary or involuntary.

Because of the simplicity of many villages of Africa, supermarket is among the unfamiliar terms which very few people will understand. Small canteens and tiny shops (usually called duka) are what serve the order of the day. Supermarkets are only found in bigger cities and major towns. In the village duka, you won’t find the secondary needs on the display, only the basic needs. You won’t find the luxurious things of life, only the necessities. Here you won’t purchase monthly supplies, only daily supplies. In a supermarket, customers can walk through the aisles and pick up what they need. A duka is usually fully closed-in; customers choose from visible inventory and the shopkeeper passes it through an open window.

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Some people in the villages never see the inside of a supermarket

Most villages have at least two to five shops, which meet all the demands of the villagers. These shops sell only basics and primary supplies that are necessary for the welfare of the families. The shops usually all sell similar commodities, which mainly are  food stuffs and other basic needs: sugar, bread, rice, cooking oil, wheat flour, salt, soaps and washing detergents, sodas, tissues, sweets and few other things. The quantity of washing detergent is usually 10 or 20 grams–enough to wash the day’s clothes. Sugar, and even fresh milk, are sold in quantities as small as 1/2 cup–just enough for the day’s chai.

As the old adage says, the earliest bird catches the worm; so, too, are the shopkeepers who wake up early in the morning. Because all village shops sell similar commodities, it is only those shopkeepers who open their shops very early and stay open after the sun sets that will make a higher profit. An average shop will make about 300-500 KSH ($3-5) profit every day, but this profit might change during the harvest seasons as the circulation of money will be higher at those times.

These shops are normally open early in the morning at around 6:30 a.m, and close late in the evening around 8:30. Usually women are responsible for running the shops during the day while men work in different areas, often farming. A shopkeeper can serve a minimum of 30- 50 people every day, depending on the time he/she opens the shop.

In many villages the task of running a shop is undertaken by the average, bright minds who are able to deal with little calculations, keeping records, giving accurate balances and accounting. Shopkeepers are viewed as a life -line of village life and a main cornerstone of the community foundation. These small village shops have uplifted the living standards of the village people, providing sources of employment and boosting the economic growth of the nation.

 

Man and Food

Naturally, man does a lot of things in his few and brief fleeting moments under the sun. Some of his daily activities seem so mundane yet very vital and important for his survival. Many take the ordinary activity of eating for granted, offering it little attention or reverence. But in reality, food is essential and vital for every living species in the universe. Food is the well spring of life and vitality.

No doubt, both the man in the White House and the poor man in a mud and grass house need food to gladden their souls. A king and a slave both need food to satisfy their hunger. Both rich and poor rise every morning and retire late in the evening to toil and labor for their daily food. Food is the focal point of man’s life; the only point where both races meet, and the vital activity that all living beings share in common.

The entire process of man’s deception, seduction and manipulation revolved and centered on the subject of food ( fruit ) and the eating (see Genesis 3). Crafty serpent fully knew the weakness of mankind laid on their vulnerability and dependence on food;  he deceived where it was hard to resist.When God cursed man, his punishment also rested on the matter of food:

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it  all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,  and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food…

In another ancient account, the man Abraham  demonstrated his hospitality and generosity to his divine guests by preparing and offering a delicious meal,

      So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. ” Quick,” he said, ” get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread.

” Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.” (Genesis 18)

Jacob deceived his old father Isaac with a palatable lamb meal, and thus stole Esau’s blessing ( Genesis 27). And again Jacob robbed poor Esau’s birthright with a delicious stew ( Genesis 26:27).

In the gospel account, we also learn of the vital role that food had in the life and ministry of Jesus,

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ” Rabbi, eat.”
But He said to them,” I have food to eat that you do not know about.
So the disciples were asking to one another, ” No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” ( John 4:31-34).

In His compassion to the multitude of the people, He fed five thousand with two pieces of fish and five loaves of bread ( Luke 9:12-17), and four thousands in the second account. In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus used the celebration and killing of a calf to symbolize the value of food in the spiritual and physical life of a person ( Luke 15:11-12), in the Lord’s prayer He instructed the disciples to remember asking for their daily bread,( Matthew 6:11), He further made it clear the cause of man’s anxiety and worries under the sun, is food and clothing, ” For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” ( Matthew 6:25)

From the Biblical accounts to the present day, food plays a  fundamental role in every man’s life and every community.  Man needs his food to survive; thus, the creator of life has allowed sun and rain to help the land to produce all the food varieties ever known. Every community has their traditional foods, every family their staples, and every person their favorite.  Each food has its unique preparation and preservation.

In Kenya,  food plays an important role in uniting families and enhancing stability in the communities. Urban folks have different foods compared to the village folks. Most average village families, just like those in the West, take three meal a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast is often milk tea and a few slices of bread. In other homes corn meal porridge is the favorite morning meal. Families gather together for the morning meal. In a Christian family, the father, who is the head, will lead the family in prayer and thanksgiving. In the case of a traditional family, libation will be offered to the ancestors. A normal breakfast will cost at least  50KSH (50 cents) every day. Breakfast is normally eaten between 7 and 8 AM.

A002fter daily tasks and duties are done and the children are back from school, the family will come together again for their second meal. Many families in these villages use githeri (a mixture of maize and beans) as the best meal of the day, perhaps because of its high starch and heaviness. People’s main food, especially for dinner, is Ugali or fufu (corn meal). Ugali is a starch dish made from maize flour, which is stirred in boiling water to make it solid and eatable. It often goes well with greens or beef stew.

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Githeri for lunch

Of course, in the village, cooking is done in large pots over three stones (see Water and Fire, part 2).  Even making  a simple meal like githeri requires much time in sorting beans and cleaning maize; to say that many villagers eat this simple meal doesn’t show the many hours of labor involved in these efforts. May this article stir your reverence and appreciation to God for the gift of food for nourishment of man’s body. Remember to share your meal with the less privileged and the hungry.

Kingdom Driven Ministries is blessed to partner with those who care about feeding the poor; we  stock bags of maize (our community’s staple food) in the KDM office, which our church’s deacon gives to those in need (both from our fellowships and in our community). We want to offer a hand up, not a hand out, so we give 1 Kg per person per week, except in special circumstances. Thank you to all those who make this giving possible!

 

 

Public Education In Kenya

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School uniforms are required, differing based on the school of enrollment

Education holds a great promise for the lives of young people, the growth of nation,s and the strengthening of communities in general. Nowhere will you find more people say that “Knowledge is power” or the promise of a future, than here in East Africa.

Education prepares our youth to be responsible young adults as they look forward to taking on greater responsibilities in the world. Learning how to solve problems, and building desire and capacity to learn, represent the fundamentals of real education. The prevailing view in our area is that education is the means of creating a better nation–free from poverty, diseases and ignorance.

The nation of Kenya has came a very long way in establishing and re-establishing its  public education system over the years. The first missionaries who came to the land, Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann (in the year of 1728) worked with a Swahili manuscript Utendi Wa Tambuka (Book of Heraclius) and established the first mission schools in the country at Rabai, in the coast of Mombasa in 1846. The zeal and thirst for education was stirred and aroused among the people of Kenya. Both government and non-governmental organizations have given education higher advantage, and invested heavily in its provision.

After the end of colonial administration, Kenya government began a campaign to give free public primary education in 1963. Since then, the system and structure of education has undergone transformation and reformation three times. First the system of public education was established in the format of 7-4-2-3: 7 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education, 2 years of high school and 3-5 years of university education. This system resembles the British public education,wherein children begin their elementary ( primary) education at the age of 7 and complete at age of 13 after sitting for final examination.

In the year of 1985, a new system was introduced, 8-4-4: 8 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary, and 4 years of university education. Two weeks ago, the ministry of education introduced a new system of 2-7-3-3: 2 years in kindergarten, 7 years in primary school, 3 years in secondary school and 3 years in university.

Public Primary Education

Since 2003, education in public schools became free and compulsory. This resulted in high pupil enrollment, overwhelming the number of teachers. In some parts of the country it was reported that one classroom contained 100 pupils with only one teacher. Primary education is free by law. Parents are, however,  required to provide essential supplements that are needed in the learning environment which Kenya government cannot provide: school uniforms (at a cost of 8000-10000 KSH, or $8-$10), fees for desks (500-1000 KSH), lunch fees (1000 KSH) and extra-curricular activities fees (500 KSH).

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Children at our village primary school

Primary education begins at the age of 6-7 after completion of 2 years in kindergarten. The first class or year of primary school is known as standard one, and the final is standard seven. Primary children are called pupils. School semesters at both primary and secondary begin in January and ends in November. Students get three school vacations in April, August and December. The school day starts at 8 a.m and finishes at 4 a.m, from Monday to Friday. Depending on where a child goes to school in relation to home, he may get up while it is still dark to begin the long walk school.

Public Secondary Education

Public secondary schools are divided into three levels: national, provincial and district.. Pupils with the highest scores from primary schools gain admission into national schools, which are more prestigious and offer quality education compared to provincial and district schools. National schools charge higher fees than provincial and districts schools, at least 70,000-80,000 KSH every year. That’s $700-$800; if the average daily wage is 500 KSH, or about $1750 per year, that’s almost half of a family’s annual income! However, if one is accepted into a national school, few parents would refuse to struggle and make payment.

Pupils with average grades will find admission in provincial and district schools, which are still difficult for families to afford. An average provincial school charges 40,000-50,000 KSH ($400-$500) every year, while the district schools might charge only 10,000-20,000 KSH ($100-200) per year. School fees are paid in three terms. In 2008, the government introduced plans to offer free secondary education to all Kenyans, but this has not been successful implemented.

Principal subjects offered in public secondary schools are: English, Swahili, Mathematics, History and Government, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Religious Education, Business and Agricultural Studies.

 

Even free primary school has fees that add up and challenge the average family; once one or more children are enrolled in secondary school, paying school fees is a constant challenge and a burden. However, even those we would consider the most poverty-stricken willingly sacrifice to give their children as much education as possible, as an investment in their future. Currently, Kingdom Driven Ministries  does not assist with paying school fees for children, except in very special cases, simply because the need is just too great. However, we ask you to pray for all of the parents in our towns and villages who want to give their children  the very best hope for the future, and struggle so much to provide it through education.

Africa Funeral and Burial Ceremony

Every family, community, nation and race, in one way or the other, have a set of values and practices which they adhere to and accept as part of their lives. These beliefs and traditions are what give different groups of people an unique cultural identity.

Culture is simply cumulative experience and knowledge, values, attitudes, religious practices, notions of life and death, and concept of origin of the universe. Tradition implies the handing down and transferring  from generation to generation, either through written records or oral delivery.

Let us cast our spotlight in the continent of Africa. Africa is made up of not less than 53 nations, and each nation is further divided into many small groups known as tribes. Each tribe has its own culture and traditions, which distinguish it from other tribes. In the nation of Kenya, there are total of 43 small tribes which makes the people of Kenya. Each tribe adheres to different and unique cultures and traditions.

Despite all their differences, the tribes have something that they share in common–the rites of passage. Every tribe has a certain evolution, from birth until death. Rites of passage are a very important part of many African tribes; they are considered to be sacred and vital for the survival of the community and identity.

“Rites of passage play a central role in Africa socialization, remarking the different stages in an individual development, as well as that person’s relationship and role to the broader community.”  (Alik Shahadah)

There are four important rites of passages in Africa communities, namely;

  1. Birth
  2. Puberty
  3. Marriage
  4. Death

Today we will focus on death, funeral and burial in African culture and traditions. These rites are among the most sacred and significant in many of Africa’s communities.

African view of Death

African tribes view death as a final rite of passage where the soul is passing into an invisible and continuous phase of existence. Death brings both sorrow and joy to the community. Communities mourn because a member is finally making a sacred transition into the spiritual realm; this member will never be seen again by mortals. These are periods of great distress and bitter lamentation from the community, especially women and children.

On the other hand, is the great moment of joy and gratitude, and is viewed as a blessing for one member to be called by the ancestors to join the company of ancestors, and be among the spiritual protectors and  helpers of the community. Death is a sacred journey from physical reality into spiritual world. That explains why most communities have special preparations for the dead; the process is very crucial and vital. In ancient cultures and traditions (such as ancient Egypt) people would be buried with different objects to assist them in the next life, such as weapons, tools, clothes, money and precious items to take as gifts to the ancestral spirits.

Funeral ceremonies

Funerals are taken very seriously. They are sacred, unique, socially binding and expensive affairs. There will be long or short mourning periods for the deceased, based on their age, gender, and prominence in the community. For a child it may take only three to four days of mourning; for women and “ordinary” men, it will take at least a week’s time. For prominent and respected men, like chiefs, senior elders and spiritual leaders, the funerals often take at least two weeks time.

During the funeral ceremonies, lineage rituals are performed and gifts and donations are offered to the family of the deceased to help with the heavy costs associated with the ceremonies. Slaughtering of animals for meat is a very common tradition during funerals. For the prominent and respected members, not less than 10 to 20 bulls will forfeit their lives to feed the mourners and please their ancestors. Unfortunately, this extravagance leaves the families more miserable and poverty-stricken after the funeral ceremony is over. But despite this, it is a sign and mark of respect for the dead, hospitality for the mourners, and reverence for the ancestors.

Burial Ceremonies

Burial ceremonies are done based on the faith and religion of the deceased. If the deceased was a traditionalist, his burial will be conducted in traditional ways; if they were Christian, it will reflect those beliefs, and if they are Muslim, then it will be according to Muslim traditions.

Traditional burials are always led by elders and traditional priests, who will pour libation and offer food to the ancestral spirits, accompanied by rituals and sacred rites performed to express the appreciation and honor for the life of the deceased. Chanting and dancing to invoke the spirits is a significant part of the traditional burial ceremonies. Is good to understand that all these rituals are to venerate the ancestors but not to worship them. Ancestors are not gods, but rather are perceived as the spirits that link the living men with a living God.

In a Christian burial ceremony they will sing hymns, offer prayers at the chapel with the coffin placed in the middle of the chapel. Sometimes the service will be done at the funeral home’s chapel or in the cemetery chapel. The priest or the pastor will lead the mourners in worship and glorify God for the life of the deceased, then preach a sermon of comfort to encourage the deprived family. Special candles may be lighted and passed around, or an icon of Christ or one of the saints may be placed in the hands of the deceased. After the sermon is over, friends and relatives will be allowed to view the body and offer the words of comfort to the family, then the coffin will be carried to the burial site. The priest will make a final prayer before the body is lowered  into the grave.

Muslim burial is very brief and, unlike other traditions, is done immediately after the death occurs. Muslims are encouraged to remain calm and composed after they hear the bad news of death. They will close the eyes of the deceased and cover the body with a clean piece of sheet. Its is forbidden for mourners to wail, scream or lament. The deceased will be washed carefully by one of the family member with clean and scented water. The body will be wrapped in a clean, white sheet, (known as kafan), then transported to the final prayer site (salat-I-janazah). These prayers are often done in open places; in a courtyard or public square, but not inside the mosque. The local Imam will  lead the mourners in prayer, which are silently recited. The body will then be taken to the cemetery for burial. While all the members of the community are allowed to attend the prayer ceremonies, only the men of the community are allowed to accompany the body to the burial site. After the burial is done, the relatives and friends of the deceased observe a three- day mourning period.

Currently, Kingdom Driven Ministries does not use general funding to provide for funeral expenses; however, we have great compassion on those who struggle to provide an honorable burial for a relative. With the cultural tradition of not refusing anyone to attend a burial (and having to feed everyone who comes), the expense is great. When one of our own brethren is responsible for the bulk of funeral expenses, we actively solicit special donations specifically for that need and have our deacon(s) assist with organizational details. If one among our brethren dies, we also will make sure one of our ordained leaders is available to preach at the burial service.