9 things I learnt as a missionary in Kenya

 
Andy Harker | March 7th 2018

Andy Harker, one-time employee at The Good Book Company, has just returned to the UK with his family after six years serving as a mission partner in Kenya, working with iServe Africa. Here he reflects on what he has learned personally about discipleship and spirituality from Kenyan believers.

  1. Food is not fuel. It is the place of fellowship. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have just eaten; you’ve arrived at my house so here is some hot food. Every meal together has the cultural value of Christmas dinner in the UK.

  2. Efficiency is not idolised. If you run over by five minutes or even an hour it’s ok. If a transaction takes just a few minutes that's ok as well. Efficiency is not added into the list of the fruit of the Spirit ahead of love, patience and kindness.

  3. Devotion is not rushed. It is common to meet Christians who wake at 4.30am for  personal devotions. Prayer meetings and church gatherings can’t be shorter than two hours. Sermons are rarely shorter than 45 minutes. There is time to express and to let things sink in.

  4. People are not lazy. Many a Nairobian has two phones, two jobs, evening classes and various financial and time responsibilities to the nuclear and wider family. Add to that, for Christians, church service and evangelism. “Leisure" and “holiday" are not words in many Kenyan dictionaries.

  5. Children do not disrespect their parents. Despite various social problems in Kenyan society there is a general atmosphere of respect from children to parents which has a lot of good in it and has been largely lost in the UK.

  6. Grieving is not deflected or minimised. East Africans do grieving well. They know what to say when someone has passed; they know how to feel and sympathise sincerely. There is a right weightiness and time given to the grieving process.

  7. Bold vision is not suppressed. Kenyans have not lost the courage to dream big dreams and pursue them, to "expect great things from God". A church plant that might have taken four years of planning in the UK might take four months or four weeks in Kenya. Blue-sky thinking is allowed. Optimism is celebrated.  

  8. Evangelism is not feared. There is a boldness in going onto the streets and going door to door and talking to people about Jesus which is very challenging.

  9. The Word of God is not dismissed. It might be wrongly handled but there is a generally high respect for the Bible both among Christians and non-Christians. This gives a wide open door to gospel ministry.

 

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Andy Harker

Andy Harker moved to Nairobi as a mission partner with iServe Africa in 2011. Andy’s main work is developing training curricula and courses, mentoring apprentices, teaching on the quarterly ministry training weeks and building links with like-minded ministries across Africa. He's married to Susie and they have three children.

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