As pastors around the country work overtime to secure the spiritual and material wellbeing of their congregations in these uncertain times, an alliance of Christian churches is reaching out to help any who might be in need.
The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) has begun the process of identifying needy pastors in Nairobi County with the aim of helping them take care of their families.
Bishop Peter Njao, who heads EAK Nairobi County, told the SHEPHERD that many of the pastors from the organisation’s member churches relied on tithes and offerings for their upkeep. But since the government banned public gatherings, including church services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, their livelihoods had been greatly affected as offerings dipped.
“We have to care for our own,” said Njao, who is also the senior pastor of Joy Miracle Centre in Umoja Innercore, Nairobi. “We appreciate what the state and other Kenyans of goodwill are doing to cushion the poor against the impact of this crisis but sadly, our pastors are not included anywhere,” he said, referring to financial and food aid initiatives that have targeted mainly low-income earners and small business owners.
Njao said the process to identify needy pastors commenced on April 23 in EAK’s over 4,000 member churches comprising about 1.6 million congregants.
“Apart from the pastors under EAK, we will also scout for needy people like the elderly, the sick, and pregnant women in our congregations to benefit from the aid. The same process will also take place in all counties where EAK has a presence,” he said.
Already, EAK has food donations that can feed about 3,000 families in Nairobi for a number of days, depending on the size of each family, he said.
The bishop said EAK had managed to reach Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Mutahi Kagwe, the CS for Health, about having discussions on the possibility of partially opening churches.
“The two ministers have agreed to meet with us and have also commended us for supporting government efforts to tame the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Church Ministers Forum (KCMF) has appealed to all Kenyans to take government directives concerning the coronavirus seriously. These include social distancing and wearing of masks at all times as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We urge all Christians and Kenyans in general to heed the government directives that are aimed at dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Let us abide by the guidelines given from time to time by our government, whose primary duty is to protect all citizens,” the organisation said at a press conference at Christ is the Answer Ministries, Valley Road, in Nairobi.
The church ministers said they believed the challenge currently facing the world had a spiritual dimension and as such, the Church of Christ was uniquely equipped to be in the frontlines of addressing the pandemic.
“We will continue to offer psychosocial and other forms of support to all affected Kenyans without favouritism or stigmatisation,” read the statement.
They urged Kenyans to put off fear, panic, despair, anxiety and misinformation regarding the pandemic and instead put on faith and trust in God.
“God loves us and has heard our prayers and will intervene as we do our part as responsible citizens. We assure all Kenyans that the coronavirus we are fighting is not the end of the world,” they said.
The ministers said KCMF would continue to partner with the government to provide direction to the Christian community and Kenyans at large with a view to mobilising available resources required to fight the virus.
The organisation asked Christians with skills that can be used to fight the pandemic to be ready to volunteer for training and equipping as part of social and technical support teams.
“The government will take the lead in coordinating these tasks and so we urge you to be ready to serve God and your nation as you may be called upon,” read the statement signed by Bishop Kepha Omae (chairman), James Mbugua (secretary) and Bishop Stanley Michuki (treasurer).
KCMF comprises church umbrella bodies like the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal Churches, United Clergy Alliance, Federation of Indigenous Churches, Alliance of Registered Churches of Kenya, Christian Alliance for National Transformation, Alliance of Apostolic Churches and Ministries, Transforming Western and Nyanza, Churches Together Consortium and Charismatic Churches of Kenya.