Thika Diocese is north west of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The Diocese covers a vast area, which in the past was prosperous. But in recent decades factories have closed, crop yields have fallen, and the coffee industry has collapsed, leaving many people in desperate need.
Most scratch out a living as farmers on small plots of land. But that life is full of challenges. The rains are unreliable, so you never quite know the best time to plant. Lots of farmers are also unskilled, and don’t know how to get the best out of their crops so many families go hungry. Children are unable to go to school because their parents can’t afford it. They’re trapped in a cycle of poverty and the situation feels hopeless.
POVERTY TAKES MANY FORMS
Added to this, there is also a history of spiritual poverty. Many in the region are Christians, but they have no idea that God desires ‘life in all its fullness’ for them. Outside of Sunday mornings, the church doesn’t have much relevance.
Partly thanks to this lack of engagement, the church struggles to pay its staff, as Rev Kamande knows. He has served the Anglican church for years and his salary would often be late, and not just by a few days. Once it came over a year late!
TRAPPED IN THE CYCLE
Obviously he could not rely on his income from the church. But Rev Kamande felt he couldn't work because of the attitudes of conservative Christians. They saw pastors who worked as ‘compromised’, because they weren't giving their whole life to the church. This trapped him in poverty too.
Many church leaders seemed to think this was the way it should be. They were concerned only with evangelism and spiritual teaching. This inability to engage people meant that churches lacked leadership.