On Tuesday morning, a group of East African church leaders spoke in a panel discussion at Synod 2017, the Christian Reformed Church’s annual leadership meeting.
Christian Reformed Church in Eastern Africa
General Secretary Martin Wanjala reported that, especially in rural areas, “people are accepting Christ as Savior and Lord, coming to church and liking the life of ministry,” which, he said, “gives me great joy.” He added that people will walk 10 miles to hear someone preach, and that is often necessary because of rough roads and tribal insurgencies.
Wanjala asked delegates to pray for upcoming elections in Kenya, that the violent clashes surrounding the 2007 and 2013 elections there will not be repeated. In Burundi and Congo, he reported, people are coping with shortages of food and medicine, and instability because of violent tribal clashes.
Christian Reformed Church—Burundi
General Secretary Jean-Bosco Nsabimana told delegates that Burundi has been in a state of tribal warfare his entire life. In 2015 there was a deadly conflict over the reelection of President Pierre Nkurunziza. “Thank God it’s over now,” said Nsabimana, but he added that the Burundian people continue to struggle with disease, hunger, and instability. “People are mostly on the run,” he said. The CRC of Burundi was started in 2005 and has about 1200 members.
Evangelical Reformed Church—Burundi
Marius Ndabazaniye echoed Nsabimana’s concerns about his country of Burundi. “Most of the Christians [have run] away,” he said. “The problem is lack of food in Burundi. . . . Less than half of our people have jobs—it is not possible to find a job. I ask for your prayers so that we may have peace in Burundi.”
Reformed Church of East Africa
The Reformed Church of East Africa is a Kenyan church that was begun by Dutch missionaries in 1948. The denomination has grown to include over 600 congregations, said Jonah Lagat, general secretary of the denomination. Some government leaders are members of the church, he added. His church has been helping children who are orphaned because of AIDS. “This brings me joy, because we are able to reach out to the world and bring a positive impact.”
Synod closed the session in prayer led by Shannon Jamal-Hollemans. “We thank you for these pastors and these churches,” she prayed. “We have come to understand more of the situations in which these churches minister. They work in places that scare us. We know they are often frightened and perhaps discouraged. You are a God of power, of peace, that sees each one of us. Strengthen them as they minister. . . .”
Synod 2017 is meeting at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., from June 9-15. For continuous coverage, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases and the webcast, please visit crcna.org. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.