Dear Friends and Praying Partners,
His Eminence has authorized me to announce that I have been asked to serve as the new Deputy Dean of the Makarios III Patriarchal Orthodox Seminary here in Nairobi, the school where I have been teaching and living this past year. The Archbishop, of course, is the General Dean under whose blessing I will serve. I have about a month or so to pull things together before the students arrive and a new year begins. I am beginning by consulting with as many people associated with the seminary as possible - the three former DDs whom I know, faculty, staff, students, just to get my mind around all that goes on here and all that needs to be done. I will have my own raft of courses to teach as well in addition to my administrative responsibilities. We face a lot of challenges which space doesn’t allow me to enumerate right now. Just to say please pray for me and for us. This job will be impossible to do unless the Lord goes before me and prepares His way. The strategic nature of our work is apparent to everyone aware of the growth of Orthodoxy on this continent. But it also draws the unwanted attention of the enemy who is keen to thwart any advance of the kingdom of God in this place. So please pray.
|His Eminence with clergy, faculty, visitors and students of|
Makarios III Patriarchal Orthodox Seminary
I have had to implore my administrators at St. Paul’s to keep them from loading me with an impossible number of courses. They started by assigning me five (this was after I told them I had to go halftime because of my new upcoming responsibilities). But ‘halftime’ evidently means different things to different people. Ideally, I should teach two. They have talked me into three. And still I hear of attempts to add at least one more Masters-level seminar course. So as of now, I’m teaching the Bachelor-level Church History survey courses, I and II (3 hrs on Mondays and Wednesdays, respectively), as well as a repeat performance on Fridays of the Masters-level Theology and Society course I taught this summer. In fact, as I write this, I am sitting at a coffee shop in downtown Nairobi, which becomes my office every week about this time. My course is held at ‘Church House’, St. Paul’s high-rise ‘campus’ in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD). Because parking and traffic in Nairobi are both ridiculous, I ride local buses, and leave myself enough time to run errands, finish preparing and drink coffee. Class starts at 5:30pm and runs till 8:30pm, which means I’m scrambling for a bus back home at the same time as everyone else getting out of class at one of the 10+ universities that have downtown campuses like St. Paul’s. Usually I get home before 9:30pm, unless I stop at a local burger joint for a bite to eat. Tonight, however, the Archbishop will be waiting for me because I am helping him with his correspondence, and he uses my laptop to access his email. At some point, we’ll retire to his office and he will dictate correspondence. And finally at who-knows-when o’clock, he will say, ‘OK, Professor, I think we are finished for today.’
The big events of this past month were the three conferences I attended. The first was the first annual women’s conference for the new Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya held about an hour’s drive from Eldoret. His Grace Bishop Athanasius asked me to speak on the subjects of Money and Sex. I asked the ladies if they had ever heard a man give a talk on sex before and they all shook their head ‘NO’! At the last minute, I realized what a fantastic opportunity I had to sample the opinions of Orthodox women in Kenya with respect to this subject (sex, that is). I was so pleased with their response, I decided to try the same thing at the next conference, the all-Kenya Orthodox Youth conference, held in Nandi County also in western Kenya. At this conference I was also asked to speak on Sex and Money. And I also had the opportunity to give my ‘testimony’ of how I converted from being a Protestant pastor and missionary to becoming an Orthodox Christian.
|Me speaking at the Diocese of Western Kenya's Women's Conference|
|His Grace, Bishop Athanasius addressing the All Kenya Youth Conference.|
|Me speaking at the Youth Conference, talking about sex, pregnancy, abortion, domestic violence,|
and forgiveness in Christ.
The final conference was held in Arusha, Tanzania, and was a training conference for university lecturers. Like most such events, some of what was presented was rather obvious. But there were other things I took away that give me some new perspective on things to try as I seek to engage my students to learn at a deep rather than a surface level. Tanzania looks a lot like Kenya, except, at least where I was, considerably more laid back. I get to go back in January for part 2 of the training. I think I’ll be ready for more laid back by then.
A couple of matters for prayer:
I have written a book: Stewardship and the African Orthodox Christian -The Forgotten Secret Behind Christian Giving and Healthy Churches
I have struggled to find a publisher. Currently I am thinking to self-publish here in Kenya. There is a desperate need to get Christians here interacting with these ideas, and nobody else is addressing them. I think I can keep the cost down to $3-$4 or less per volume. I have asked the Archbishop for his blessing and also to write the Forward. My ideas are ancient (Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church Fathers were all in agreement as to how we should use our money, as opposed to the default positions here of Dependency and the so-called Prosperity Gospel) which means they are RADICAL for the Kenyan context (and maybe even the American context as well). I also hope to publish with an academic press so that it will ‘count’ as a legitimate publication in the eyes of the university and academic world. Pray that the right doors will open. Pray that I can come up with enough capital to finance self-publishing the book here (such things are not in my budget). And pray that His Eminence will find my book and its message useful in furthering his own vision for the Archdiocese.
|His Eminence Makarios, Archbishop of Nairobi and Exarch of Kenya|
and His Grace Athanasius, Bishop of Kisumu and Western Kenya
preparing to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy to close the Youth Conference.
Well that’s more than enough for now. Thank you for praying. Thank you for your financial support. As our new Liturgical Year is underway, may we all find renewed strength and perspective as we follow our Lord these next steps along the way.