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MAKING A DIFFERENCE A my L . S herman

“Fearless Influencers”

media; education and the family; church /mission; health and the environment; and business. Deeply frustrated with the individualistic, information-oriented, and often compartmentalized discipleship he witnessed, Wanjau sought a radically new Post-election violence in Kenya in late approach. Against teaching that brought 2007 left over 1,000 people dead and “outward conformity to a bunch of 250,000 displaced. In one gruesome inci- ‘don’ts,’” he developed an interactive, dent, nearly 50 unarmed civilians were praxis-oriented, small-group course slaughtered with machetes as they tried called “Mizizi” (Roots). It combines biblical learning with real-life action, hiding in a church in Eldoret. According to Nairobi-based evangeli- emphasizing a kingdom-oriented thecal pastor Muriithi Wanjau, the church ology that calls believers to join the suffered a huge loss of credibility during missio Dei.Wanjau’s coleaders then develthe crisis.“They acted like everyone else,” oped follow-on courses of similar ilk, he explained. “They took sides. Church one focused on prayer and the other on leaders fronted political candidates.They social justice. Today, hundreds of congregants have played a part in destroying the society. completed Mizizi and are at various And the people noticed that.” On August 5, 2010, two-thirds of stages of the Mavuno Marathon, which the Kenyan people voted to support a now also includes a season of leadership new constitution in a clean, peaceful development, behind-the-scenes service election — one the NewYork Times called at church, and exposure trips through“a much-needed boost of self-confi- out Nairobi.The first group of Marathon dence.” In the months leading up to graduates have now started frontline inithe vote, Wanjau’s church, Mavuno tiatives, according to their passion and (“Harvest”), played a role in educating vocational gifts. Mukuria Mwangi, for example, has hundreds of evangelicals about the new constitution. This included tackling the launched REFUGE, an initiative that hot-button issue of land policy — a promotes beekeeping by Mau Forest complicated problem, overlaid with residents and has established 13 nurserethnic tensions, that most pastors seek ies to aid in reforestation. Simon Mbevi to avoid. For Mavuno’s leaders, though, created Transform Kenya, Mavuno’s the issue involved justice, and that meant first foray into the political/governance sector. The new nonprofit is promoting it mustn’t be ignored. This remarkable church — which a nationwide prayer movement and draws nearly 3,000 people weekly, only operates a 12-month Christian leaderfive years after being founded — is on a ship-training course for believers who mission to penetrate Kenya with the plan to run in the country’s next elecvalues of God’s kingdom. Its entire dis- tions for Parliament. “It’s not enough to cipleship emphasis aims at “turning just pray for good leadership, and then ordinary people into fearless influencers we sit back and all the wrong guys run of society.” It has created a multi-year for political office,” Mbevi says. Two female graduates of the Mavuno “Mavuno Marathon” with the goal of producing passionate, prayerful Christian Marathon, Daisy Waimiri and Anne social entrepreneurs who will launch Nzilani, are deploying their business new initiatives in society’s six strategic skills in efforts to empower impoverished sectors: politics/governance; the arts and women from the slums. Waimiri has PRISM 2 0 1 0

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developed a matched savings program with over 450 members; Nzilani is using her import/export experience to market abroad handicrafts made by poor women. Photographer Ken Oolo has started a videography business with teens from Kibera slum. And musician Kanjii Mbugwa, who serves as Mavuno’s director of worship arts, leads Kijiji Records. The media company has successfully infiltrated the secular airways with gospel music and produced a reality TV show starring socially conscious singers that will air weekly on a leading national station. Adolwa explains that these initiatives result from congregants who grasp what is meant by “social transformation.” “It is a very big jump for people to move from saying, ‘Praise God,’ to ‘God has a heart for justice,’ to ‘God wants us to do something about the society,’” she explains. Thus, in addition to the Marathon, Mavuno hosts church-wide educational campaigns.The most recent example was its course on proposed Kenyan land reforms in the new constitution. A few years earlier, Mavuno urged its members with maids to enroll those young women in Kenya’s national health insurance program and pay the premium. Pastor Linda preached a series of messages about the realities faced by poor women in Nairobi and showed a disturbing video of a maid giving birth at home in the slum without any medical help. “We wanted the congregation to understand that this is not God’s will,” she says. Few middleclass Kenyans provide health insurance for their house help, but Pastor Linda told them, “Righteousness means you do things differently.” Pastor Muriithi says the Mavuno Marathon is about raising an army that will bring reformation in our generation. He wants to form Christians who will have confidence, assurance, and such a heart for the society that they begin to Continued bottom of page 38.


made, pimps and traffickers will continue to “recruit” a supply of bodies to meet the demand. To miss this point is detrimental to the anti-trafficking movement. Perhaps worse, Half the Sky goes as far as blaming women for their own oppression. “One of the reasons that so many women and girls are kidnapped, trafficked, raped, and otherwise abused is that they grin and bear it,” write the authors, suggesting that if girls would just scream, protest, or run away, the abuse would stop and sex trafficking would be “undermined.” This kind of thinking dismisses the very real power of systematic oppression, turns a blind eye to the abuser/buyer, and suggests that those who are oppressed have a choice in the matter. “Oppression” denotes being under the merciless control of a greater power, and choice is a notion of privilege that many of us take for granted. For these victims “choice” does not exist. Most have been forced and coerced into their situation, and it is counterproductive (not to mention cruel) to suggest otherwise. I certainly resonate with the authors’ vision to empower women by encouraging them to speak out and seek change.

However, to publish the real names, faces, and even exact locations of victims is not only unnecessary but also thoroughly unethical and voyeuristic, serving only to increase the vulnerability of already victimized, vulnerable people. We should be protecting and empowering survivors of torture and crime, not subjecting them to pity or further exploitation. Nor is throwing money at schools and microfinance the overriding solution. Gender oppression is not limited to impoverished nations. Sex trafficking and gender-based violence are global issues, and money alone won’t fix them. In a movement where community education and activism are essential to change, we cannot afford to relay messages that further oppress the very women we advocate for. Instead, it’s crucial we take time to understand the systematic complexities of gender oppression and come up with ways to generate awareness, challenge the status quo, and call for social responsibility among our leaders and peers. n Tania DoCarmo is director of Chab Dai USA, a Christian nonprofit dedicated to combating human trafficking across the globe through collaboration-building, prevention, and advocacy. She has lived in Cambodia and Brazil and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in applied anthropology.

Making a Difference continued from page 7. lead their peers into effective responses to their country’s problems. “As church members take up roles of leadership,” he predicts, “people will begin to say, ‘We want what you have.’That really is the best advertisement a church can have.” n Dr. Amy L. Sherman is director of the Center on Faith in Communities at Sagamore Institute and a senior fellow with International Justice Mission. PRISM 2 0 1 0

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Must-Read Books by Ron Sider Here’s a list of books that I am currently reading or have recently read and can heartily recommend. To Change the World by James Davidson Hunter. I’m partway through this important book. The Historical Jesus of the Gospels by Craig S. Keener. Superb scholarship on a crucial topic. How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? by Larry W. Hurtado. This great book demonstrates the enormously important fact that monotheistic Jews almost immediately started worshiping the Carpenter from Nazareth. Excellent presentation of the historical data. Four Gifts of the King by R. Scott Rodin. A great first novel. Worshiping with the Church Fathers by Christopher A. Hall. A specialist on the early church, Hall provides an excellent, readable overview of the worship of the early church. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. If you have not yet read this superb book, put it at the top of your to-read list. Sex and the iWorld by Dale S. Kuehne. An important new book. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Yes, I know this came out seven years ago, but I’m just now reading it, and it is fascinating and informative.

"Fearless Influencers"  

Making a Difference November 2010

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