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Mission to Africa: Serving Under Kenyan Skies

    07.27.17 | Spiritual Life Faith-filled community Academics: Religion by Dr. Lisa Hall-Hyman

    A team of Southern Wesleyan University faculty, staff, alumni and students traveled recently to Kenya to partner with local ministries and missionaries to encourage and assist them in serving the communities of Nairobi and surrounding areas. They are pictured visiting a local Kenyan pastor (right). Pictured from left: Dr. Lisa Hall-Hyman, SWU faculty; Rebecca Cromer, SWU alumna serving in Kenya; Reagen Welch, SWU student; Monica Keever, SWU student; Kayla Payne, SWU student; Noah Cromer, recent SWU graduate; Rev. Dave Tolan, SWU missions mobilizer; and Rev. John ole Kisotu, assistant bishop of Good Shepherd Church, holding his daughter.

    Hall-Hyman was part of a team that recently traveled to Kenya, accompanied by Rev. Dave Tolan, SWU missions mobilizer and several Southern Wesleyan alumni and students.

    The mission of God to make disciples of all nations is the mission of today’s church. Southern Wesleyan University understands this charge and recently supported me, Dr. Lisa Hall-Hyman, professor of education; Rev. Dave Tolan, missions mobilizer; and  several Southern Wesleyan University undergraduates and alumni in their journey to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel”(Mark 16:15 KJV) in Nairobi, Kenya.

    I sincerely believe the mission trip allowed each of us to ‘Step out of our comfort zones into another part of God's world ultimately expanding our faith and changing our lives forever.

    Kenya is located in East Africa, on the equator. Although the primary language is Swahili, many Kenyans understand and speak English. Unfortunately, 46 percent of the population is poor according to national poverty lines (Gachanja, P. & Kinyanjui, G., 2016). Education is often a challenge due to household affordability and the quality of teaching available to those living in the Nairobi slums. At times food and medical services are unattainable.  Yet, in the midst of their struggles Kenyan hearts are open to the teachings of Christ and they thirst for a renewal of faith. 

    Team Kenya (mission participants) partnered with local ministries and missionaries to encourage and assist them in serving the communities of Nairobi and surrounding areas. 

    We shared the Book of John written in Swahili, clothes, toys and much more. Immersing ourselves in the culture, we set forth on a 14 day mission to inspire hope and win souls. We served in a diversity of settings to include: the Nairobi slums, West Nairobi School, the Heshima Children’s Center, and the Angel Centre. We worshiped with the members of Good Shepherd African Gospel Church and attended a growing church in Nakura, Kenya. In Nakura, we met under a huge tree with adults, elders and children. I was honored to be part of such a spiritual service sitting under African skies among His people worshiping “the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:2 King James Version).

    Serving in the Nairobi slums was heart wrenching, yet inspiring. Residents of the slums live in extreme poverty. The rate of unemployment is high. HIV is prevalent and cases of domestic abuse and rape are common. Most households cannot afford education for their children and clean water is a rare. The families we visited had no electricity, running water and little food.  We brought food and water, lifted up songs of praise, and shared personal testimonies of God’s deliverance through times of trouble. We danced, played, and celebrated God’s grace and mercy with children in the community. The mission visit validated the presence of hope and joy in the lives of those living in the slums; and, inspired each of us to be even more deliberate in our efforts to disciple and provide support to those in need. 

    Promoting Faith-based teaching and learning at West Nairobi School (WNS) was most inspirational. WNS is a K-12th grade North American Christian school that provides education for missionary families in East Africa. Students from various ethnic, religious and national origins are taught in a setting rooted in respect and values based learning. During our time spent at WNS we assisted teachers with their lessons and encouraged students to maximize their educational opportunities.  Additionally, we challenged them to remain good stewards and to always walk in the light of Christ. We also attended Chapel and fellowshipped with all members of the faculty, staff, and administration.

     Supporting The Heshima Children’s Center was an overwhelming experience. Heshima means “dignity” in Swahili. While serving at the Heshima Children’s Center, I learned that children with special needs in Kenya are shunned from their communities and are treated in a shameful, undignified manner. However, the Heshima model promotes dignity for children with special needs and their mothers. They provide opportunities for mothers of children with special needs to work and care for their children simultaneously. Mothers employed with Heshima were not only trained to provide special needs services, but also assisted in the clean water project, and beading business. As a member of Team Kenya we provided assistance to work with caregivers feeding, reading, playing, and holding infants and toddlers. We also interacted with those Heshima mothers who provided clean water and designed beautiful beaded jewelry. I cherished this awesome opportunity to interact with the Heshima family providing encouragement and celebrating their passion, dedication, and God given strength.  

    I will never forget time spent volunteering at the Angel Centre. The Angel Centre is a non-governmental organization, based in Waithaka, Kenya. Their primary purpose is to provide care and assistance to abandoned and/or orphaned babies two years of age or younger. Team Kenya shared food, water, activities for the children, and lots of love. The entire day we assisted Kenyan women in loving and embracing those beautiful little ones. It was amazing spending quality time with them. Despite their circumstances the children and caregivers met us with open arms and hearts. The journey to The Angel Centre provided the opportunity for Team Kenya to represent God's Kingdom and rejoice in His unyielding power and protection.

    Sharing the love of God with others is our responsibility as Christians. In this spirit, I celebrate having the opportunity to remind the lost and oppressed of the God’s grace, mercy and goodness. The same God who sent Paul and Jonah sent me and other members of Team Kenya, to represent His Kingdom.  In doing so, I experienced a cultural awakening and developed an even greater appreciation for God’s majesty and omnipotence.