Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya to get a sense of how God is at work through ministry of the CGGC there. Pastor Nancy Boyer (interim pastor at Mt. Joy Church of God in Mt. Joy, PA) headed up a team of 13 from the Eastern Region Conference and they were joined by Winebrenner Theological Seminary President Dr. Brent Sleasman and me.
The ministry of the CGGC in Kenya works under the name of Voice of the Gospel Ministries. Several years ago, a group of pastors reached out and sought to affiliate with the Churches of God, General Conference. You might wonder why the different name in a different country? My understanding is that there is significant baggage around the name Church of God and its connection with the prosperity gospel in that part of Africa: thus, the need for a different name to identify this group of churches working with the CGGC. I’ve often thought that John Winebrenner might have landed on a different name for our body if he had started it a different era than 1825: today we have a much more difficult time explaining which “church of God” we are or aren’t.
Pastor Nancy, who serves on the CGGC Global Reach commission, has been developing a great connection with our ministry in Kenya over the past several years and has spearheaded several different trips over the recent past. Last year, she helped organize another team from the ERC to go and teach our pastors and leaders in Kenya. This year’s team was focused around a similar mission.
There was a group of eighteen Kenyan brothers and sisters who gathered in the city of Embu to take a variety of classes offered over a five-day span. These folks represented about fifteen congregations who are a part of the Voice of the Gospel Ministries. Most of these leaders have not had the opportunity to pursue any formal training or theological education in Kenya and the options there are both scarce and cost-prohibitive. When this need was identified, Pastor Nancy went to work to pull together a group of folks who would be willing to help fill this great need.
The team members came from six or seven different congregations in the ERC. Team members were as follows: John and Pastor Nancy Boyer, Pastor Dale and Pamela Miller, Pastor Tom and Ada Myers, Pastor Anthony and Wendy Zumbo, Pastor Gilbert Thurston, Lisa Wilt, Jeanne Carlisle, Dominick DiBella, and Katie Heil.
Each day there were a series of classes offered to help equip these leaders for more effective service in life and ministry. Pastor Anthony Zumbo taught a section on Wisdom Literature. Dominick DiBella taught a section on Personal Finance. Pastor Tom Myers taught through an exposition on the book of James and pastor Dale Miller taught a section on Leadership. Pastor Gilbert Thurston taught a section on one-on-one discipleship and Dr. Brent Sleasman taught a homiletics class. Jeanne Carlisle and Katie Heil led the entire group through a section on basic first aid and medical care. Lisa Wilt opened each day with devotions for the group.
The slate of class offerings made for some very full days. It was such a joy to watch our brothers and sisters from the U.S. and our brothers and sisters from Kenya get the opportunity to learn from one another and encourage one another.
There are innumerable ways in which our churches in the states can partner with our brothers and sisters around the world. This trip demonstrated one of the benefits of long-term partnerships with our brothers and sisters in Kenya. It sometimes takes some trial and error and often takes more time than we wish it would, but there are some beautiful possibilities when brothers and sisters in the U.S. are willing to do the hard work to truly partner with brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world. Everyone benefits from the experience when we partner together in ministry.
Are you or your congregation partnered with another ministry somewhere else in the world? If not, you’re missing out on some of the most vibrant work the Lord is doing in our world.
I would love to see the day when every CGGC congregation in the U.S. has at least one vital partnership with brothers and sisters somewhere else in the world! I’m grateful for this group and the great work they did to invest in such a meaningful way into the lives and ministries of their brothers and sisters in Kenya. I’m praying that others would follow their example and make similar kinds of investments around the globe.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 14, No. 8