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PR AXIS “Your connection to holistic ministry” Winter 2011

One Church’s Discipleship Strategy to Change a Nation

by Amy L Sherman Creating “Fearless Influencers of Society” Post-election violence in Kenya in late 2007 left over 1,000 people dead and 250,000 displaced. In one gruesome incident, nearly 50 unarmed civilians were slaughtered with machetes as they tried hiding in a church in Eldoret on New Year’s Day. According to Nairobi-based evangelical pastor Muriithi Wanjau, the church suffered a huge loss of credibility during the crisis. “They acted like everyone else,” he explained. “They took sides. Church leaders fronted political candidates. They played a part in destroying the society. And the people noticed that.” On August 5, 2010, two-thirds of the Kenyan people voted to support a new constitution in a clean, peaceful election--one the New York Times called “a much-needed boost of self-confidence.” In the months leading up to the vote, Wanjau’s church, Mavuno (“Harvest”), played a role in educating hundreds of evangelicals about the new constitution. This included tackling the hot-button issue of land policy--a complicated problem, overlaid with ethnic tensions, that most pastors seek to avoid. For Mavuno’s leaders, though, the issue involved justice, and that meant it mustn’t be ignored This remarkable church--which draws nearly 3,000 people weekly, only five years after being founded--is on a mission to penetrate Kenya with the values of God’s kingdom. Its entire discipleship emphasis aims at “turning ordinary people into fearless influencers of society.” It has created a multi-year “Mavuno Marathon” with the goal of producing passionate, prayerful Christian social entrepreneurs who will launch new initiatives in society’s six strategic sectors: politics/governance, the arts and media, education and the family, church/ Continued on Page 2

Africa is the focus of this issue of Praxis. What is God up to over there? And are God’s people being obedient to the call to be salt and light in that beautiful but needy continent? There are rays of light that tell me that God is on the move in Africa and that God’s people are indeed participating in the divine mission of compassion, justice and evangelization. Amy Sherman shares the story of Mavuno (Harvest), a large church in Nairobi, that disciples believers in Christ in such a way that they address the nation’s social and spiritual needs. Far from merely completing a “discipleship booklet” and deeming you a disciple, Mavuno is committed to an intense program of equipping Christians to engage in six strategic sectors: politics/government, the arts and media, education and family, church/ mission, health and the environment, and business. This issue also includes a feature of a holistic ministry called Blood: Water Mission, which is helping to provide clean, safe water and health care to13 African nations. I was in Ethiopia recently, where I had the privilege . . . . of getting to know a group of 24 brothers who serve the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in some capacity. I didn’t know much about this tradition when I went, and frankly, I still don’t. What I did learn, however, was inspiring; these brothers love the Lord, and they long to serve their community holistically by the power of the gospel. I trust by highlighting the church’s holistic activities in Africa that we are reminded of God’s love for the whole world. On that basis, it has always been the conviction of WDN that churches around the world should not only learn from one another, but they should also partner together where ever possible in the work of the gospel. What can we, who serve in North America, learn from the sisters and brothers in Kenya and Ethiopia, and vice versa? And can we work together for the transformation of our community and to the glory of God?

Al Tizon, Director

prax·is [prak-sis] –noun; Action and reflection upon the world in order to transform it.

It’s Personal

Making A Difference:


One Church’s Discipleship Strategy to Change a Nation

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 approach. Against teaching that brought “outward conformity to a bunch of ‘don’ts,’ ” he developed an interactive, praxis-oriented, small-group course called “Mizizi” (Roots). It combines biblical learning with real-life action, emphasizing a kingdom-oriented theology that calls believers to join the missio Dei. Wanjau’s coleaders then developed follow-on courses of similar ilk, one focused on prayer and the other on social justice. Today, hundreds of congregants have completed Mizizi and are at various stages of the Mavuno Marathon, which now also includes a season of leadership development, behind-the-scenes service at church, and exposure trips throughout Nairobi. The first group of Marathon graduates have now started frontline initiatives, according to their passion and vocational gifts. Mukuria Mwangi, for example, has launched REFUGE, an initiative that promotes beekeeping by Mau Forest residents and has established 13 nurseries to aid in reforestation. Simon Mbevi created Transform Kenya, Mavuno’s first foray into the political/ governance sector. The new nonprofit Page 2

is promoting a nationwide prayer movement and operates a 12-month Christian leadership-training course for believers who plan to run in the country’s next elections for Parliament. “It’s not enough to just pray for good leadership, and then we sit back and all the wrong guys run for political office,” Mbevi says. Two female graduates of the Mavuno Marathon, Daisy Waimiri and Anne Nzilani, are deploying their business skills in efforts to empower impoverished women from the slums. Waimiri has 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 talented 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 in prime time weekly on a leading national station. Associate pastor Linda Ochola 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 continued on page 4


disease to an already vulnerable population.

Changing the African Water Crisis: a look at Blood:Water Misison

Blood:Water Mission stands out as an organizations for a few reasons. Perhaps the most familiar are its famous founders. The organization was started by the multi-platinum For the overwhelming majority of people within the United and Grammy Award-winning band, Jars of Clay. The States, water is an underappreciated commodity. Clean water organization is focused directly on practices in water, HIV/ AIDS and community development. However, the mission of is all around us--everywhere from vending machines, to park Blood:Water Mission is founded in the gospel of Jesus’ call drinking fountains, all the way to our kitchen faucets. Water to seek justice and love the poor. Blood:Water Mission is is rarely thought of as scarce, and clean water is almost also unique in its approach. The organization uses a model always overlooked as a luxury. In contrast, access to clean of community empowerment to bring about sustainable water is a dream not yet come true for more millions of results for African communities. By partnering communities people in Africa. Furthermore, unsafe drinking water has a within the U.S. with communities in African countries, drastic affect on victims of HIV/AIDS in Africa by spreading continued on page 4

Word & Deed Network in Ethiopia WDN Director Al Tizon was in Mekele, Ethiopia this past August, as WDN has gotten involved with a partnership between the St. Frumentius Abba Selama Kesate Behran Theological College in Mekele and an evangelical mission agency called the Bridges of Hope International. Together, these two entities created a Master of Arts in Advanced Christian Studies program with the blessing of the Patriarch. This program is designed to give the professors of the college a graduate degree that integrates scholarship and practice.

thinkers has always been a part of the vision of WDN, to accept the invitation to teach in the program was a no brainer! Dr. Tizon taught a week-long, module-based course entitled, “Theological Social Ethics and Mission.” Tizon reflects, “I spent a week with the professors of St. Frumetius—24 of them, two who were priests and one a monk all in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. I went there to teach, but I also learned much about this tradition.” Prayer Requests related to Ethiopia:

✜ Pray for community development projects that are underway as a result of this degree program, that they will truly help the poor in that region in concrete, tangible ways

Since training people to be both thinking practitioners and practicing

✜ Pray that this educational partnership become a bridge between the Orthodox

✜ Pray if and how WDN should continue its involvement with this program .

and Evangelical churches in Ethiopia ✜ Pray that through this degree program, the professors will be ignited by the gospel and thus influence the students of the college who are studying to be priests, pastors, missionaries, and monks.

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prax·is [prak-sis] –noun; Action and reflection upon the world in order to transform it.

In an effort to change the HIV/AIDS epidemic and water crisis in Africa, the organization Blood:Water Mission has been working for over six years to create clean water solutions, health clinics, HIV/AIDS support groups, and sustainable grassroots programs. Today, Blood:Water Mission has partnered with more than 1,000 communities, providing life-saving water and health care to more than 600,000 people in 13 different African countries.


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continued from page 3 the organization pulls together resources that connect both the needs and strengths of neighbors around the globe. This model for community, sustainability, and empowerment is at the core of the organization’s mission and its call to the gospel of Jesus.

slum without any medical help. “We wanted the congregation to understand that this is not God’s will,” she says. Few middle-class 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 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.”

Blood:Water Mission’s campaign is simple: $1 can give one African safe water for a year. The organization has seen communities in both the U.S. and Africa find extraordinarily creative ways to be a part of this great work--from high school car washes, to sponsored 5k runs, and even quite a few “lemon:aid” stands. The message is clear: we can make a difference in the African water crisis and HIV/ AIDS epidemic together.

Dr. Amy L. Sherman is director of the Center on Faith in Communities at Sagamore Institute and a senior fellow with International Justice Mission.

Learn more about Blood:Water Mission or become a part of their work, visit their website bloodwatermission.com

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PRAXIS Fall/Winter 2011