Kings Family CMS Link Letter 3, Feb 1986

by Graham Kings

Date added: 23/12/2023

Immediately Bishop David Gitari stepped out of his car, he was surrounded by Turkana women wearing beautiful bead necklaces, jumping in the air, and singing a greeting in the name of the Lord.

I also was similarly surrounded and joined in the dance. Some of the women were very old, with dry skin; others were young, with babies on their back. Their hair was shaved at each side and long in the centre; as a traditional greeting they individually flicked their hair at us with a twist of the head.

Then we were welcomed by the Samburu women who wore a different style of necklace, metal rings on their wrists and head bands of beads with a triangular star on their foreheads. After about half an hour, the open-air Confirmation Service began.

This was the week before Christmas and we had driven 125 miles north-east of Embu to the town of Isiolo. Having picked up the vicar, The Revd Cyrus Muriithi, we had continued a few miles northwards to Epinding, a plain surrounded by hills and shaded by acacia trees. Most of the Turkana and Samburu people had walked to Epinding for the service from further north, and some for as far as 20 miles.

Diocesan missionary work was started in this semi-arid area at Isiolo in 1980, with a congregation of eight and since then evangelism and development have been bearing remarkable fruit. The parish now has 16 different congregations. In February 1985, the Bishop had baptised 180 people and the week prior to the Confirmation Service, a further 257 – the latter were made up of 68 men, 95 women, 42 girls, 32 boys and 20 infants. This really is a fine argument for infant baptism, for the context is in many ways comparable to the experience of evangelism in the early Church. When several married couples had been baptised, they re-emerged from the crowd carrying their infants, and insisted that they also should be included in their new faith.

This particular day, 125 people were confirmed – 55 men, 45 women and 25 older children. They had all been well prepared by their evangelists and answered the Confirmation questions clearly. The Bishop preached and led the service in Swahili and one of the Turkana evangelists translated into Turkana. The Samburu people also understood, since their language is similar.

After the service, the Communion Table became a Development Desk. The Bishop and the Diocesan Director of Development, Josphat Mugweru, took notes as the elders explained their needs, which included clean water, eye treatment, cattle dips, and help with preventing elephants from ruining their crops. While this was happening, the local Community Health Workers, who had trained at St Andrew’s Institute, were dispensing medicine. The whole day impressed on me the rich variety of the Anglican Communion and the way in which evangelism and development, spiritual and physical health, work together in the mission of the Church.

In January, Paddy Benson, a BCMS mission partner here, became Publications Secretary in the new Diocesan Department of Communication and I took over from him as Director of Academic Studies. He still teaches five periods a week and we are thrilled to have another full-time tutor, Joyce Karuri. There is still no electricity connected to our house, but God works in mysterious ways. Faith Wanjiku does our ironing at the Benson’s house and, true to her name, for some time she has been sharing the good news of Christ with Judy, who helps the Benson family. Last week, Judy became a Christian.

During the past few months, friends from the Sudan, Uganda, Norwich and London have been great company: so too have been the crickets (cicadas). It seems to be the cricket season again: Alison has consequently developed a fine off drive with the broom. Rosalind has been identifying enormous hornbills in the college jacaranda trees, Miriam has learned to run, and Alison and I have spotted ‘Ali’s Comet’ in the clear 4.30am sky.

Thanks very much for your prayers. At last, your icy chill turns to spring, our dust becomes mud and brown becomes green. May the Lord’s Easter life unite us all, in perceiving his will and answering his call.

 

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

 
Graham Kings

Graham Kings

 
 
A bronze

Interweavings

Wood panel

Wood panel