By Preacher James Tan

The First Term
We thank God for being able to conduct the first term, with a reduced number of students, and
an intensive schedule of 9 weeks, compared to our usual 12 weeks. Only new students, and senior
students who had missed the first term were allowed to return, with 18 new students and 19 returning

We thank God for the zoning system that we saw in Singapore, which we are able to
implement over here. The men were divided into two zones, and the ladies into another zone, where
these three zones were kept quarantined from each other for the first three weeks. Thankfully, there
were no cases amongst them, and the students were able to adapt to the “new normal” of wearing
masks (properly!) and being confined in the college.

In the streets, most people do not wear masks and there is little to no enforcement despite
the government’s mandate to do so. Most would wear them ineffectively, under their noses or under
the chin, just for the sake of doing so. Some of our church members will only wear the mask at our
gates to gain entry and remove them as soon as the service is over, despite our reminders.

The sad truth is many of them see the Covid-19 virus as just another variant of flu, and less
serious than the usual diseases of TB, Malaria, Cholera, and even Ebola. Some would rather subscribe
to the conspiracy theories that are widely spread on WhatsApp. We Asians are also not spared from
the consequences of it being called the “China virus”. Earlier in the year, huge political rallies have
contributed largely to the third wave, with many politicians and their followers attending unmasked.

The situation has naturally deteriorated into the third wave which is ongoing right now. For
the past month, the infection rates have steadily increased to 22% nation-wide at its height. Within
Nairobi, the rates are much higher, up to 60%, where we can assume that 3 out of 5 people might be

We were preparing to open the school for the next semester at the end of March for the Year 2
-4s, but we postponed it at the very last minute due to the high infection rates. If one student carried
the virus, the whole college will be at risk. This painful decision proved to be providential by the
Lord’s guidance, as the president announced days later, that there would be an indefinite lockdown
and curfew until the situation improves. We would have been in trouble if we have to manage 50
students trapped in the campus indefinitely with all schools suspended.

We thank God that there are no shortages in the basic necessities despite the lockdown. We
continue to head out only when necessary, usually once a week for our groceries on Monday
mornings when it is least crowded. The curfew at least, has given us some quietness and relief from
the booming clubs and churches that are behind the school.

One of our adjunct lecturers was in the ICU for 11 days, where all 5 patients with him in the
ICU died as he was treated. Thankfully he survived and was discharged, but with a bill of over
$10,000 USD. Some contacts that we have in the ministry have also been infected, with one Korean
missionary passing away. It is by the Lord’s mercies that all our families, staff and students in the
college are kept safe thus far.

We had to gather information on the vaccination programme by word of mouth, as the
ministry of health did not give any instructions other than announcing its availability. Many are wary
of the vaccine, as the rumours on social media are better circulated than actual information. Some
continue to believe that the virus, and vaccines are all part of some western conspiracy to colonise

However, we thank God that the government sees “teachers, religious instructors” as part of the
essential frontline workers in its first phase of vaccinations, and therefore we are eligible. The
AstraZeneca vaccine is offered free of charge, although it has only a 10% efficacy against the South
African variant, which many believe is behind the third wave. For a brief moment, the Sputnik V
vaccine with a much higher efficacy was commercially available, but quickly banned by the
government without much explanation. With the uncertainty of the vaccine supplies and availability,
we prayed and decided to go ahead with AstraZeneca.

We had to queue up before 5am in the dark, in the freezing rain before finally getting the shot
hours later. We thank God that as of now, all the residential lecturers and our staff have gotten the first
dose, without any serious side effects so far. With the surge of cases in India, we hope that the
supplies are sufficient for our second dose.

Looking Ahead
Despite the third wave and the lockdown, the situation on the streets remain relatively
unchanged. We continue to observe rampant corruption, where billions that are loaned or granted to
the country are missing. Many do not get tested when sick, as the cheapest testing fees of $50 USD,
are not affordable to most. Hospital admissions for Covid-19 requires a deposit of $3000 USD and
more, a sum beyond the average annual salary. Public welfare from the government is almost unheard
of despite the situation. We thank God that our campus church has sufficient reserves to periodically
aid the members with basic necessities.

At a spiritual level, there are many who interpret this whole situation to be Anti-Christian, and
persecute the church (even though all religious places of worship are closed). Some believe that it is a
curse to be infected and thus it is taboo to share that one is infected. They will hide their sickness and
symptoms resulting in more being infected. Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed apostles, prophets and
faith-healers have been unusually silent. Some would take divine sovereignty to excuse any form of
human responsibility in precautions. These are some things that we have to carefully instruct the
church members about.

Earlier in the year, we could at least have the Lord’s day service outdoors. However, to avoid
transmission of the virus, we are now running a closed service attended only by the college residents.
Nevertheless the sermon is recorded and sent to the members. Sadly for over a year, the sacraments of
the Lord’s supper and baptism have not been conducted.

Moving ahead, we would have to prioritize classes for our graduating students due to unfore-
seen disruptions in the annual academic programme. Non– graduating students would have “lost” two
years of their studies. Do pray that we would have the wisdom to plan the remaining year’s schedule
as we deal with much uncertainty.

Looking at the situation, it remains hard to be optimistic on how long the country would take
to recover. When we were in Singapore, it felt like we were in a bubble, insulated from the world’s

deteriorating situation. While we merely complained about the inconveniences, we were at least rela-
tively safe, with plenty of support from the government, and had some access to worship, fellowship,
and even service.

Here, we are just hopeful that our church members would be able to access our audio recorded
services. Most of them do not have smartphones. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of
God (Rom 10:17). However, we do worry for some of our members, and also the Sunday school
children who are missing.

With the last fellowship meeting being over a year ago, and evangelism, visitations near
impossible right now, the church ministry has been severely affected. With the changing world, the
mission work has become much harder. We honestly do not know how long the door for missions
might remain open with this situation. We see a departure of many elderly missionaries and hear of
none coming into the field. Mission trips, and even our movements to Tanzania and Rwanda are much
harder, riskier, and costly.

While we were in Rwanda last week, we had church members who were lining up at the gates
before 6am, for the 8am first service. Some were afraid that they would not get a place due to the
Covid-19 reduced capacity of 300, instead of the usual 900. About 70 members had to be turned away
and told to return for the second service at 10am. The first service started at 730am, half an hour early
because the maximum capacity had been reached. These Rwandese Christians might be simple, but
their zeal and love in seeking the Lord is evident.

Such a scene is unimaginable in our other campuses, or even in our Singapore churches. We
would queue, or even travel for good food but give much less concern about our spiritual food. Even
here in Nairobi, we have some members who would regularly stroll into church halfway through the

In Singapore, with the safety, security, technology and all the resources, is there spirituality
and godliness that would accompany the faith in Singapore? Or would the church be filled with
slumber, discontentment, infighting, and carnality? More is given, more is expected.

The rest of the year is filled with uncertainty. This update has been revised many times over the
past months due to the constantly changing situation. Even as I conclude this update, we have just
gotten news that the lockdown is lifted (despite the 12% current infection rate), and we would start our
next term on 17th May, God willing. The experts predict another fourth wave before the year end, and
we will be doing our best to at least help our graduating students finish if possible.

Do continue to pray for us, for the Lord’s mercies and protection, as we wait upon His will.

“A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain
from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:5-6)