My name is Rev. Meshack Okumu. I live in Nairobi, Kenya. I work for Carlile College, Centre for Urban Mission.
We are doing DNA training in eight informal settlements. Last year we wanted to reach 200 pastors and church leaders with the DNA material and we were able to actually train more than 200! The following stories are examples of what God has done through the DNA trainings in our region.
A few years ago we had a training in one of the slums called Kawangware. In this slum there was a pastor from the Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya. After going through the training he went back to his village and talked about the concepts with the members of his congregation and to people in the community.
One of the issues they were dealing with was poverty. Many poor, needy people were coming to church and living in the community. So he decided to begin an economic empowerment program for his community.
Working with the community, they formed a savings group and started saving 50 shillings (less than a dollar) every week. After about six months they began making loans to the members of the group. Each borrower would return the money with interest.
This program started about four years ago. Today they have in excess of 300,000 shillings which they have generated without any outside help. The people thought they had nothing to give and now they have much! The finances of the church has increased because of this.
We had a training in another slum called Mwiki Kasarani. About 35 pastors came. Most of the pastors are also working other jobs. One pastor was also a teacher in an informal school, so his immediate audience was the children in his school.
The people coming from this community are so poor that sometimes the children would come to school without breakfast and sometimes would go without lunch. So this pastor and his members decided they would start making porridge for the children in this school. They said they would begin by making porridge for just 10 children. The success of this porridge business was so good that the local government official (he is called the Chief) heard about it. The Chief then called the pastor/teacher and told him to come to his office for some relief food. They got about six bags of maize and six bags of beans. The pastor realized that you don’t have to have everything but when you begin being faithful with the very little that you have, God will multiply it.
The pastor was excited that the Chief was able to hear and give them some food. They are continuing with the services of giving the children some light meal.
Another slum where we work is called Kibera. It is reportedly the second largest slum in Africa.
I had a training in Soweto, one local village in this slum. A lady there, named Beatrice, is a leader in their church. Beatrice went through the training and began thinking about how to implement this training in her community. But before she could share these ideas with her church she felt she needed to begin doing something in her own surroundings.
Beatrice went to visit a neighbor and to her surprise found that the neighbor’s children were sleeping on a carton on the floor without a mattress. She was moved because in her home she had a mat and felt she needed to share. She went home and took a knife and cut in two the mat her children slept on. Through this she was able to share and lots of relationship developed, neighbors who had not been talking to each were now in relationship.
A pastor in the same training thought about the discipline of love. He had never visited a sick neighbor. This time he went back to his neighborhood and visited this neighbor. He found the neighbor was very sick and needed attention. But he didn’t have money to take the neighbor to the hospital. So he went to another neighbor and asked if he could borrow 50 shillings (less than one dollar) for transport to the hospital. But that neighbor gave him 1000 shillings which was enough to take a taxi instead of using public transport.
As we learn in the training about the discipline of love, you don’t have to have everything to serve God. You just begin with what you have. He was so happy that God was able to use him, not necessarily removing money from his pocket but the Lord provided through other people.