Nairobi Church Experience
by Bill Mann, MentorLink International Board Member
Background: In early 2015, MentorLink International Board Member Bill Mann and Chairman of the Board, Dr. Stacy Rinehart, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to conduct Passing it On! training with Lifeway Mission International, a large church planting network focused on reaching unreached people groups. Hear in his own words, Bill’s re-telling of his time in Nairobi.
(Left to right: Dr. Stacy Rinehart, Dr. Aila Tasse – Lifeway Mission International founder and Bill Mann – MLI Board Member)
“I was asked to speak at one of the churches that Patrick Maithya oversees in Nairobi – he is the Bishop in a Pentecostal church and he has supervision over 50 churches in Kenya. His story is remarkable – he started in a slum in Nairobi, and he lives in a very modest home, which is very close to a shantytown. The church itself is adjacent to a slum, and his daughter and son actually live in the slum with their children to minister to others.
Patrick picked me up at the hotel and we drove near the city center. It was my first “look” at Africa … The roads, in most cases, are often broken and rough. We drove for about 25 minutes – the time was slowed due to the condition of the roads – the main thoroughfares are in good condition, but the side streets are not. Everyone walks here – the women wear beautiful dresses, even though they may be on the side of the road in dusty and run down areas.
The church rents a hall [and meets there for Sunday worship] – it is a typical building for Kenya – very plain, with a stage at one end and plastic chairs which can be moved in and out. During the week, the life of the church is home-centered where Bible studies and other activities such as worship team practice occur. Sunday is for celebration – and what a celebration it was! Patrick warned me that there would be dancing.
I would categorize the first hour of the service as kind of an American Zumba class with singing and dancing! The praise team could have easily sung in my church in America (other than the dancing, which I will try and get our praise team to emulate). It was a non-stop praise for an hour, which was filled with joy.
(Above: Nairobi church service.)
I was given an hour to speak, which was daunting based on the 8 hour zone change and the fact that I arrived late the night before. Patrick introduced me as part of MentorLink International. He then described what he had already learned from MLI in the days prior, and what he had passed along to his leaders.
I chose to talk on an example of mentoring in a leadership role – using the story of Jethro and Moses found in Exodus 18. I had 3 points:
- Every Moses (leader) needs a Jethro (mentor);
- Even Moses (a leader) has blind spots, which a mentor can see clearly; and
- Even leaders need to be able to take advice.
I then proceeded to tell the story of my conversion, subsequent leadership roles that crossed my path and gave an overview of MentorLink International.
(Above: Participants of the 4-day training.)
To sum up my experience in Kenya, let me tell you about a lady I met during the training:
The lady in the middle of the first table was very quiet. At the end of the training on Thursday, I was sitting at a table with her and she tugged at my elbow and said, “I have a question for you.” She asked, “When are you coming back?””