COVID-19: SIM Kenya helping the church
By Peter Okaalet and Tohru Inoue | Kenya in east-africa
Photo by SIM Stories East Africa team.
While our parents or grandparents lived through the worldwide crisis of the Great Depression, many Kenyans’ parents or grandparents also remember the Mau-Mau uprising against British colonial rule shortly after in the 1950s through the 1960s. Now, in the midst of COVID-19, our current generation is weathering its own storm.
The Presbyterian church in Kenya has had to shoulder hardships from this storm. The Secretary General of the East African branch, Rev Peter Kariuki Kania, succumbed in July 2020 following complications from COVID-19. The sting of death is near, it seems.
Peter had led an “Adopt a Family Initiative” which collected food for the vulnerable. Contributions went toward families who were no longer able to work because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Through the years, the church has always been there – offering a shoulder to cry on, or a safe place to seek answers. But the church, like any other cross-section of the world, is also full of broken and hurting people in need of a Saviour. There are those for whom job loss may be the fifth thing that has gone wrong for them in the year. So, as the church, how do we strengthen our hands for the task? How can we help hurting souls to navigate the challenges surrounding COVID-19?
The SIM Kenya team has spearheaded a multi-pronged response to this once-in-a-generation issue. Our goal is to reach out to not only churches, but also radio and television, health associations, the inter-religious council, and many other avenues.
SIM Kenya is doing this by equipping leaders through virtual trainings. By far the greatest objective of these trainings has been that of engagement and empowerment, of equipping the saints for service, and of strengthening our own hands for the task.
In November 2020, the SIM Kenya COVID-19 Project Implementing team conducted the fourth virtual gospel-based training on COVID-19. A total of 45 (26 men and 19 women) people attended. They came from seven Kenyan provinces and 22 counties.
To date, SIM Kenya has trained 225 people from four countries (Kenya – 207, Uganda – 14, Bangladesh – 3, and Zimbabwe – 1).
The Presbyterian church wanted to carry on the legacy of the late reverend and explore additional ways of reaching those affected. The Bible-based response on COVID-19 training has been a helpful tool. 34 members of the Presbyterian church have thus far been trained. In addition, the leading presbytery in East Africa, the Presbytery of Nairobi North, has adopted this training and is set to serve its estimated 37,000 congregants.
“I’ve been equipped and hope to… help others,” writes one of the trainees.
If we are to weather this storm, God will help us. As another trainee wrote: “What [am I] learning from the pandemic? That God is the source of everything, and we cannot do without him. There are things we cannot do by [ourselves], we need to depend on him.”
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• the church to be a healing balm on hurting souls during COVID.
• the Lord to strengthen the SIM Kenya team as they serve.