As some of you know, Margaret and I took quite a while to decide where in Africa the Lord was leading us to serve. If you would have asked me a year ago, Kenya wasn’t even on the list. So how did we end up deciding on Kenya as our landing spot? I want to share three reasons that led us to decide on Kenya.
But first, let me give you a little more info about Kenya, particularly the religious landscape there. According to the Joshua Project, just over 47% of the country identifies as evangelicals. The closer you move to the Somali border the greater the percentage of Muslims. While there are a lot of Christian churches across the country, there is a great need for deep discipleship since the prosperity gospel is rampant there.
Good Fit for Our Family
When I was in my 20s, I thought that real mission work meant that people were called to go to the most difficult place for the gospel. To go anywhere else would be a letdown. While I am thankful for those who feel compelled to go to the dangerous and destitute mission fields, I have come to realize that being a father and husband alters my priorities when choosing a ministry location.
While Christians should not be controlled by fear, I believe it is my duty to put my wife and kids in a spot where they can thrive. Margaret and I know that living overseas will mean certain sacrifices, such as leaving behind close friends and family. We have counted the cost and still want to go. Our kids, on the other hand, don’t fully understand the difficulties of the mission field. Margaret and I don’t want our kids to grow up being bitter towards missions because we moved them to a spot where they are miserable and can’t actually be kids. Again, I know the Lord calls families to very difficult and dangerous places, but we did not feel that was the best choice for our family.
Nairobi provides tons of ministry opportunities, while also providing the kids with opportunities to participate in activities that they love, like ballet and soccer. Likewise, there are some solid churches to choose from, which was important in our decision-making. While some are called to move to places with no solid churches in order to start a new work there, that’s not our intention. We want to help strengthen the churches already there and equip nationals to plant churches, and having a healthy church that we could join has been important in our decision.
Good Fit for Our Gifts and Desires
Maybe you envision all missionaries as living in rural villages doing frontier church planting and evangelism. That was my default concept about international missions for quite a while. While I want to be a faithful witness of the gospel, pioneering church planting is not how the Lord has gifted me. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love academia and teaching. Thus, we prayed for an opportunity to exercise those gifts and desires.
In Kenya, I will be able to teach at the seminary and to help start pastoral training sites around the country. This is exactly how the Lord has gifted me, so we thought it would be a great chance to serve in our strengths.
Good Fit for Our Organization
Serving in Kenya is also a strategic move for Reaching and Teaching. Margaret and I have the privilege of being the first Reaching and Teaching missionaries sent to the continent of Africa. Lord willing, we will be the first of many. Nairobi, Kenya is a major travel hub in East Africa, which will allow for easier travel around the continent.
Likewise, there is a great network of theological educators operating across Africa, and being located in Nairobi will help us connect with the various organizations who are dedicated to seeing African churches strengthened. One such network is the Africa Baptist Theological Education Network. It is our prayer that we would be able to partner with some of these like-minded organizations and get other RTIM workers on the field doing formal and informal pastoral training.
We know that moving to Nairobi will not be easy, but we are excited about the doors the Lord has opened for us. Please pray for us as we continue to sort out the details for the transition.