Today has seen the final step in our church becoming part of Elim Gospel Church Kenya. It was a very exciting day and an extremely appropriate time for this development. Exactly ten years ago to the day my family, (wife Judi and children Tom and Ellie), and I spent our first Sunday in our home in Kosele. At that point we were very busy preparing the home to receive the first children. We were assisted by a very enthusiastic group of students from the UK. As it’s lost in the mists of time I can’t remember how we celebrated our first Sunday in Kosele, but it was the first step in planting our small church.
The church has been through its share of ups ands downs. We’ve experienced a pastor being driven out of the area because of the post-election violence in 2007. We have been widely ridiculed in the community because of our Pentecostalism and we have seen church numbers go up and down depending on the number of Mzungu, (European), visitors to the church. Like any church we have been let down by conflict between individual members of the church and conflict between the leaders of the church. The church family is, really, not very different from our own families. Like a good family we have held together through the ups and downs, celebrating together, grieving together and giving together.
In today’s service Pastor Paul, (who had to leave Kosele in 2007 because he came from the wrong tribe), said how delighted he was to be in church at this momentous time. Despite only being the pastor for a short time Paul was loved by the church members and they were pleased to see him back for this visit. Paul and his colleague Pastor Reuben are members of the national leadership of the Elim Gospel Church in Kenya. Becoming part of this movement links our church to a number of others in different parts of the country and to a wider global family of Elim churches with a headquarters in the UK. In a very moving service Paul and Reuben anointed our new Pastor Kennedy and co-pastor Dorine, and their leadership team, all by the popular acclaim of the church members. Reuben preached the sermon in the service and coined a completely beautiful phrase. He was extolling the virtues of loving one another through showing each other kindness and creating hope in brothers and sisters lives. He said that as a result of this “the friendship becomes fatter”. It’s a lovely image and a wonderfully African sentiment.
Kennedy, our new Pastor, reminded the church of its roots in our home ten years ago. Looking round the church and seeing the happy faces, young, old, men, women, boys and girls I was reminded of a New Testament scripture from 1st Corinthians 3:6-7 which says:
“I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. What matters isn't those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow.”
Sitting at the back of the church it was gratifying to see how much it has grown and the confidence of its new leaders. Like everything that we do out here its not really important who started it all off. It’s the people who make sure it has legs and lasts a very long time that matter. As long as the friendship continues to get fatter I have every confidence that Hope and Kindness will outlive me and Judi.