UPDATE by Preacher James Tan
August 2017

BCEA Kenya

The college is currently in the midst of the holidays. The final semester for the year will start on 4th September. Amidst the flour shortage and coming elections, the college managed to complete the second semester without too much trouble. There are currently 9 students remaining on campus, helping to maintain the college compound and renovate certain areas.

The manual labour is not easy. We have been cutting down trees within the compound for firewood. Felling trees is certainly quite dangerous, so do pray for safety! The kitchen stoves are fuelled by firewood, which is a more viable source of fuel as compared to LP gas due to its lower cost. This is important especially when we have to sustain huge cooking stoves for the entire day!

The Elections
The general elections just took place a week ago (8th August), amidst much fears and trepidation. Many would remember the disputed elections of 2007, when widespread violence caused about a thousand deaths, and half a million displaced. Politics in Kenya are often driven by tribal allegiances. Many people would leave Nairobi, the capital city, to return to their own villages for weeks, in order to protect their own families, lands and properties. We are thankful that half of the church members chose to remain.

During this time, foreign embassies would evacuate non-essential personnel, and many expatriates would also leave the country, returning only when the situation is resolved. Those of us remaining stocked up on food and water. It was necessary that we remain to minister for the sake of the testimony for Christ.

We are thankful to the Lord that the elections went on relatively peacefully. A voting centre was just behind our compound, and voters started queuing up around 3-4am. By the next day, it was clear that the incumbent president and party had the majority vote. Thousands of international observers within the country confirmed the integrity of the results. As the results were confirmed, thousands in the area went about celebrating in the streets throughout the night.

As of now, the opposition party is unaccepting of its defeat, calling for its supporters to go on strikes. While there have been small incidents of vio-lence around the country, the police and military presence have been able to keep them in control. Many of those caught up in the protests are often people mislead by fake news on social media. Some, are unemployed youths allegedly paid off to demonstrate. The Mungiki, the local mafia, is often mixed up in it, taking advantage of the situation.

The college is situated in an area mostly populated by the Kikuyu, the current majority tribe, that the incumbent president belongs to. Thus, things have been peaceful. However, Mathare, a slum area approximately ten kilometres away, has been rife with riots and violence, being occupied by the opposing tribes. Children have been killed as a result of the clashes.

On reflection, such accounts of riots and violence based on race or tribe, are only familiar to us as history lessons, annually celebrated while we were students during racial harmony day. Here, it is part and parcel of daily life.

Divine Sovereignty
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1

Despite the fact that majority claim to be Christian (over 80%), the belief in Divine sovereignty is not exactly reflected in practical living. It is a common practice to go on strikes and protests, even for critical professions like nurses, doctors and teachers, who can abandon their posts for months. Many have lost their lives as a result.

It bears a certain irony, that the same person that might be praising God for His Divine sovereignty on a Sunday, might very well be marching in a strike or protest, against the country that one is born in. Many are quick to boast of how Kenya is a Christian country, but when questioned on how “Christian” the culture, and actions of many are, they are equally quick to blame the nominal Christians that make up the majority.

In the college and church, the Biblical perspective on such matters has to be taught to both the students and members. The racial / tribal stereotypes and mindset that many grew up with are deeply ingrained, and not easily removed. The common argument of “rights” is often abused for people to get their own way. Christians here fall easily into a very humanistic, and carnal approach in dealing with many matters, whether it be secular, or spiritual. The lines between are often blurred by many, and politicians have no qualms about calling oneself a “man of God” to appeal to the masses. Also, it is not unusual to find some denominations or churches largely dominated by just one tribe, or to find certain groups of people ostracised or treated preferentially in a congregation. Even as foreigners, it is common to find racial slurs being hurled at us from very young children. Christian love and respect, is applied very subjectively.

While some might attribute it to the lack of education, the greater problem that many face is a lack of proper, sound Biblical, Christian education, both for young and old. Do continue to pray for the people and country here, and especially so for the next generation, if the Lord tarries.

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glo-ry, with respect of persons.” James 2:1

Prayer Items

The third semester will open on 4th September, ending with the annual graduation on 25th November. For the next semester, I will have 11 teaching hours in total, for four subjects: Exodus, 1 Samuel, 1 Corinthians, and Minor prophets.
-Pray that the students will return back for the final semester on time, es-pecially with transport disruptions after the elections.
-Pray especially for the graduating students who are finishing their stud-ies. Pray that the students will also be able to clear their remaining school fee balances, even after the provided scholarship.

Thank God for relative safety and security so far, as communications, water and electricity services still remain sufficiently functional.
-Pray that the Lord will have mercy to use the elected men and women to govern honestly, and benefit the local areas. Pray that things will settle down.
-Thank God for the availability of the staple: maize flour, for the people and college.

Thank God for His keeping in health and strength so far. Pray for safety as I aim to finish up my driving course by the end of this month for a license. I have also been tasked to handle the student affairs of the college, including disciplinary matters. Do pray for wisdom to discern matters, and for much love, patience and longsuffering.