By Preacher James Tan

The Last Stretch of 2021
We thank the Lord for helping us through the last 3 semesters (9 weeks each) of 2021.
The college restarted after the lockdown was lifted in May and was able to continue till
mid-December without any interruption. The 50th graduation service this year was held
in two cohorts, in October and December, as we operated at half-capacity. They were
happy occasions as these students had “lost” a year due to the lockdowns and were
finally able to finish their studies.

It was also a relief for us, as we finally had some closure, being able to resume and finish
subjects that were taught a year ago! It was a difficult struggle for some of the students to
resume the rigours of training after a year of break. While the students were rotated
across the 4 semesters this year, the final stretch of the non-stop 7 months on an intensive
schedule took a heavy toll on the faculty. On some days we were lecturing up to 6 hours,
and despite falling sick at times, we thank God for His sufficient grace.

The Year Ahead
Our short break in December has gone by quickly, and the college transitioned to the
“new normal” as we opened on 10th January, returning to the normal schedule of three
12-week semesters. We currently have 77 students, including an intake of 12 new
students. We thank God that the government managed to procure vaccine donations from
around the world, and all of our students and staff are vaccinated. As such, we are able to
ease some of our regulations to the relief of the students, but the wearing of masks
remains as an essential practice.

Our concern for this year especially would be the nation-wide elections on 9th August.
The political campaigns and rallies are ongoing amidst (and fuelling) the infectious
waves of COVID-19 since last year. However, the greater danger is the unrest, and
potential for tribal violence over the fight for presidency. The country still bears the scars
of the 2007 post-election violence, and the hostility between tribes are still present in
some areas.

Besides Kenya, we are also concerned for the surrounding countries. South Sudan
suffered a coup, and Ethiopia has an ongoing civil war. Our students and graduates from
these countries face a constant worry for their families back at home.
Do remember our campus in Tanzania, for Dr & Mrs Park, Rev. Judah, and Rev. Joseph,
with the ongoing semester and the busy construction work for the library. Also, do pray
especially for our principal Rev. Kim and his family as they labour in the Rwanda
campus, that the Lord will allow the college to resume this year with government

While we thank God for the provision for a solar pump for our borehole, do pray for a
good supply of water as we enter the dry season. The yield from our borehole and the
provision of city water has been irregular, and we are currently supplementing our supply
by buying from water trucks. The estates around us are developing at a rapid pace, with
everyone competing to draw from the area’s depleting ground water. Do pray for the
Lord’s guidance and provision as we are looking into digging another borehole.

There are many factors beyond our control. We are also waiting upon the government for
the renewal of our work permits this year. We pray that the Lord will help us, and grant
us a measure of peace that our mission may continue in such trying times. “I exhort
therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks,
be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a
quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

The Campus Church
A few weeks ago, the infection rates were up to around 30% daily. We kept hearing of church
members being ill, though they would usually claim that it is Malaria (which is rarely found in
the highlands of Nairobi). The PCR test (costing a week’s salary) is not affordable for most of
them, and likewise for our students who fall ill.

Despite having the vaccines readily available, only 18% of the population in the country are
vaccinated. It is still unknown how many of our church members had received it. Currently,
most of them do not wear masks daily and would only put them on when entering the
compound. Despite a government law recently passed on vaccination requirements to access
public places and services, it is hardly enforced. The coronavirus is “just another disease” added
to other common endemic diseases here.

We foresee that our worship services would continue outdoors for safety reasons and are
praying that this latest wave would subside. Despite these difficult times, we are encouraged to
see new faces regularly attending over the past year and do hope that our current members will
remain faithful.

Christian “Culture”
While Christianity is the prevailing religion in Kenya, attending church has become just a
cultural practice. This “Christian culture” focuses on emotions and feelings, and is often
man-centered. If one feels “blessed”, “inspired” or “uplifted” by something, it must be spiritual
and true. When it comes to reading the Bible, if the passage does not make one feel “positive”
in any way, it is irrelevant. If one does not feel “blessed” after a service or sermon, then the
preacher, or the music is not good.

Some students will hold onto the doctrines and practices of the charismatic movement because
it “feels” right. They will not sing some hymns because the music is not catchy enough and
does not “inspire” them. Some will not look at their notes or Bibles during class, selectively
listening to the parts which they “feel” is relevant.

Human Responsibility, Divine Sovereignty
In our struggle against this “culture”, we can feel disappointed or frustrated, as we hope and
expect all the students to be convicted and transformed as we preach and teach. It can be
discouraging, when we see some students showing little response to the Word and studying just
to fulfil the minimum requirements to graduate.

On personal reflection, this discouragement sometimes comes from our pride, forgetting that
conviction must come from the Lord, and not because we have preached and taught many
lessons and sermons. Such hardened hearts, both in the church and college are a reminder to us
that while we fulfil our human responsibility, it is never above divine sovereignty. If we have
done our utmost, we must learn to commit their souls to the Lord’s hand. We are also humbled
and reminded to pray, and not just teach. Compared to the many hours of preaching and
teaching, our efforts in prayer are often much lacking.

On the other hand, there is much joy and encouragement as we see some students responding to
the Word well. It is not uncommon for students to share that they are learning of doctrines like
Biblical separation for the first time in their Christian life. Some are joyous to be studying
certain books of the Bible “fresh” for the first time, untouched by any pastor in their own
churches. We are encouraged that some in their written testimonies have renounced the
health-and-wealth gospel they once preached, and other unbiblical doctrines and practices that
they taught and preached before coming to the college.

We are daily reminded that the work of the Lord both in the college and church is a “work in
progress”. Spiritual growth and maturity can take many years of gradual development. While
some missionaries would labour for decades just to have one soul, we should be thankful for the
many souls we can minister to! Let us press on in the mission fields both near and far!

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you,
Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35)