By Pete Ekstrand and Stan Friedman
KENYA, (March 11, 2013) – The Evangelical Covenant Church of Kenya’s (KCC) sacrificial commitment to the economic and spiritual growth of people in this African nation proved awe-inspiring to members of a recent Covenant World Mission vision trip who said it will affect their own ministry.
“It was eye-opening to see the real needs of the churches and inspiring to hear their big vision,” said Scott Slayback, pastor of Lifespring Covenant Church in Loveland, Colorado. “The time challenged me to think of ways to help empower churches to preach Jesus and meet the needs of the poor without creating unhealthy dependencies. I was encouraged personally to look at my ministry here in the U.S. with different eyes.”
They visited 12 churches and met more than 20 pastors in a variety of ministry contexts in central Kenya and along the coast. The trip ran February 13-21. Click here to see additional photos.
Don Camp, a member of Arvada Covenant Church in Arvada, Colorado, was impressed by the mission focus of the Kenyan denomination, which he said, “is targeting the poor and truly needy as opposed to the more affluent.”
The dedication of the pastors also was overwhelming. “I was floored to learn that these pastors receive no salary, no compensation,” Camp said. “It is strictly a labor of love.”
Kenya Covenant President Simon Kamau is a development expert and said the church is seeking to strengthen opportunities so Kenyans are less reliant on others. “Buildings don’t build people – people build buildings,” he said. “So let’s empower the people so they can build their own buildings.”
Empowerment was a key theme throughout the trip. “I just see more and more how the discussion that President Simon Kamau led us in – of doing mission in a way that empowers and resources people, especially people who seem to have few resources from an American middle class point of view – is a relevant discussion for my own congregation’s needs,” said Nancy Ebner, pastor of Orchard Covenant Church in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts.
The denomination is pursuing self-sufficiency, but still is bolstered by funds from elsewhere. The way those funds are donated should be in keeping with the same attitude with which the Kenya church is trying to assist its people, says Ebner. “I think it is right for us to empower Simon and his leaders to choose their own priorities for the funds that might be donated,” she explained.
Other members of the group were:
- Lee Robinson of Centennial Covenant Church in Littleton
- Judy Davison of Lifespring Covenant in Loveland
- Roy Graham of Imago Christi and Centennial Covenant in Littleton
- Larry Shipman of Kingsburg Covenant Church in Kingsburg, California
- John & Letha Kerl, regional coordinators for Europe and Africa
- Pete & Cindy Ekstrand, missionaries in Democratic Republic of Congo and coordinators for Kenya and South Sudan
Click here to learn more about vision trips sponsored by Covenant World Mission.