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Dispatches from Kenya

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Kenyan evangelicals were a petri dish in the grand experiment of public square engagement.

The Academy Award winning Out of Africa, with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, gives visual cadence to the beauty of the majestic landscape of East Africa. While too slow in pace, its cinematography captures what is so beguiling about that land.

One cannot wander in a four-wheeled drive across its mara mashe grass-lands—as the sun pushes up over the eastern skies, and as one peers for lions, elephants, giraffe, water buffalo, and deer of many varieties making their way for an early morning drink—and not be in awe.

Kenya, a protectorate of England early in the European colonization of Africa, became one of the earliest countries of Protestant mission activity. As a boy sitting wide-eyed in our church mission’s conference, I couldn’t get enough of this land, as told by Ernie Francis and others. Names such as Kikuyu, Luo, Nubian, Mau Mau, and Jomo Kenyatta became familiar to me. To preach in Kenya many years later was for me a dream come true. As I stood in the famous Valley Road Pentecostal Church in Nairobi, I recalled the many who had travelled from Canada as missionaries to what was as romantic a place as a young prairie boy could dream about.

Today realism hits. We sit in gridlocked traffic as hell-bent drivers maneuver for a meter of advantage, at times riding paved roads, but then shockingly jarred by roads rougher than most Saskatchewan farmers have ever had to navigate. Cheek by jowl are skyscrapers of money managers, universities, and corporate headquarters. And nestled nearby is Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, estimated to be home to upward of a million and just a few kilometers from downtown Nairobi. Congested, shanty upon shack, here in east Africa Kenya is a vital key to Africa’s …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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