Kings Family CMS Link Letter 1, Sept 1985

by Graham Kings

Date added: 21/12/2023

Our first impressions of country life near Mount Kenya are of extensive greenery, fertile red soil, ox carts carrying water in oil drums from the river, children following closely behind us saying Wazungu (white people), crickets chirping through the night, the soft light of paraffin lamps, wonderful night skies with the constellations in unusual positions, extended greetings on the road, people walking and walking, women carrying babies on their backs, exciting driving on mud roads in our CMS car, the relief of the tarmac, multi-coloured birds, plants and flowers, stone house and schools next to mud houses and stores, the sound of Kikuyu (the local language), some Swahili and English, colourful markets with many kinds of fruit and vegetables , the taste of freshly picked and cooked maize (corn on the cob), meat chopped on a tree stump in the butcher’s shop, and packed churches.

After two terms at the Church Missionary Society training college in Birmingham, Crowther Hall, Alison and I, Rosalind (now three and three quarters – the three quarters is very important) and Miriam (now one and walking) had a few weeks in London with our families before flying to Nairobi on 6 May. During May and June, and then again in August for the advanced class, we studied Swahili (the general language of East Africa) in Nairobi, staying at the Church of the Province of Kenya Guest House. In July we settled into our new two-bedroomed, stone house, which marvellously had just been finished (apart from being connected to the electricity supply, for which we are still waiting). It is tremendous to have our own place after so much moving around during the last year. From our bedroom and lounge windows we can look out over the valleys of maize and coffee, tea and other crops, to the forest and snowy peaks of Mount Kenya, which reaches 17,000 feet. We are at over 6,000 feet.

Kabare is about 85 miles north east of Nairobi and 35 miles south of the mountain. At the bottom of Kabare hill there are a few shops, various shambas (farm plots), a state boarding secondary school for girls and a mixed primary school: at the top, there is the church and the college, where we live.

St Andrew’s Institute for Mission and Evangelism, to give it its full title, is the theological and development college for the Diocese of Mount Kenya East, in the Church of the Province of Kenya, which is part of the Anglican Communion. It was established in 1977 by adding new stone buildings to the old mission house (built in 1915), and have five classrooms, men’s and women’s dormitories, dining room, various staff houses, electricity, water piped from a mountain stream, and a resident cow and calf, who supply milk and double as lawn mowers!

We thank God for bringing us to work here and for the warm welcome of the staff and students. There are 53 students, from other dioceses as well as our own. 33 are preparing for the ordained and deaconess ministries, and 20 for community health work – the two courses run in parallel. The staff included Gideon Ireri, Principal; Bedan Ireri, Director of Pastoral Studies; Paddy Benson, and English BCMS missionary Director of Academic Studies; Eleanor Benson, Librarian and full-time mother of three; Beth Ngarambe, Tutor for Community Health; and now myself, covering mostly Biblical Studies. Teaching is in English and services alternate between Swahili and English.

Alison will be teaching Rosalind at home, using a correspondence service and starting with the nursery course. Miriam loves being carried on Alison’s back in a kanga (a length of colourful material tied over one shoulder and under the other); she shares grins and pokes with Tom Benson (9 months) and is delighted by the cows. Rosalind has made great friends with Tabitha (five and a half) and Evelyn (three) Benson and Anne Ngarambe (three), and they are in and out of each other’s houses most of the time. She seems to have adapted well to all the changes and causes great amusement in the Kikuyu homestead , at the bottom of our garden, by carrying her teddy bear in a kanga. Alison and I are feeling quite tired at the moment, after the language study and various moves, but we are looking forward to settling into a steady routine and working in such an exciting diocese as this.

In July, there were three major events: a four-hour celebration service in the nearly completed cathedral in Embu; a procession and open air service lasting six hours, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Diocese at Kerugoya, a market town seven miles from us; and a week-long conference of African evangelical theologians here at Kabare. Our Bishop, David Gitari, is Chairman of the newly formed Africa Theological Fraternity, and he asked me to present a paper on ‘God the Father in the New Testament’. It was very stimulating to meet people from Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, as well as from other parts of Kenya.

Thank you for all your prayers and concern for us as we begin our new life in Kenya: we value your support very much. I enjoyed the visits to our various link churches and pray that, through our partnership together, God will encourage and challenge us all in his mission throughout the world.


The index page of our 17 CMS Link Letters, 1985-1991, is here.

Graham Kings

Graham Kings

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A bronze

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