The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coast lands be glad! (ESV) : Psalm 97:1
Dear Friends of NEGST,
We rejoice in the knowledge that our God reigns, that He is not wringing His hands in light of 2020. Even as we pray for life to return to “normal,” we see ways that He has been at work through these hard times. It has been a year of reflection, fervent prayer, and an intense realization of our human frailty. Truly, Christ is our only Hope in life and death.
As the fall semester comes to a close, we are thankful that learning has continued in spite of the challenge of classes being entirely online. Chapel has met once a week in person, and even the traditional Culture Week in October went ahead, though as a much scaled-down version. We rejoiced as the delayed-from-July graduation took place on November 21.
As we count our blessings, you are among them. Thank you for partnering with us through prayer, generous giving, and continued interest in what God is doing at NEGST.
We wish you a blessed Christmas!
“I am Rev. Akimana Canisius, married to Gisele Nyamugisha. I am from Burundi, and Gisele is from Congo. Both of us fled away from our respective countries because of the war. Both of us lost our parents and siblings. Gisele lost her two parents and five siblings in 1996 during the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were killed in one day, burned and buried in the same pit by enemies. I came to NEGST with only 100 Kenya shillings ($1). I benefited from scholarships from several different channels, and I am very grateful. Now I have graduated with a Masters of Divinity in Missions Studies with an Islamic emphasis. I have two church-plants here in Nairobi, one from three years ago, and a new church plant that is six months old. I have also a ministry in Tanzania-Babati, where I am training pastors for Muslim evangelism. Because of the war, I will serve God here. My wife and I are not allowed by International law to turn back to our countries. Kindly pray for us and for more hands to join us in ministry. Pray also for Gisele as she needs counseling and provision to continue her studies.”
Below enjoy the inspiring personal testimony of Professor Caleb Kim, a much-beloved lecturer in the NEGST Missions Department.
“I was born into a traditional family in Korea in 1958. My family leaders were not Christian. (Traditionally, the Korean “family” includes the extended family members.) They opposed the “foreign” religion, and I grew up with such a hostile atmosphere against Christianity that when I was very sick during my senior year in high school, I considered becoming a Buddhist monk.
Like all the young men in South Korea, I was drafted to join the military service in early 1979, serving in artillery as a soldier of KATUSA, Korean Augmentation to the United States Army. When our former president was assassinated in 1979, the crisis in the country terrified me and other young soldiers who could face death if another war broke out between the two Koreas. So it happened that I began to read the Bible in 1982 as I was seeking a good answer to the disturbing question about death, leading me to convert to Jesus. As a result I was profoundly relieved from the chronic heavy burden of my complex questions about death. But I had to go through unexpected challenges—including being cut off from my family membership and inheritance because of my faith in Jesus. Yet, I was peaceful and even cheerful because I found the answer to fundamental questions I’ve been asking since childhood.
The Lord continued to bless me with so many gifts, the greatest of which was my marriage to Manok in 1986. After my theological training at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Seoul, I got ordained as a minister in 1989. In the same year, I came to Kenya with Manok and our first daughter, Lydia, to serve the Lord under Africa Inland Church. As a missionary in Isiolo, northern Kenya, my first term was an invaluable field training that I could never have received anywhere else! Working within a Muslim neighborhood, I learned that I didn’t know these “people.” Coming to know my ignorance propelled me into an earnest pursuit of Islamic studies and anthropology. So, I joined the Fuller Theological Seminary to understand Muslim cultures better. (I did my doctoral research on the spiritual world among the Swahili Muslims on the Tanzanian coast.)
After earning my doctorate at the Seminary, I was invited by NEGST to join its faculty in 2002 and start a master’s program in Islamic studies under the Missions Studies Department. I was honored to work with my wonderful colleagues for the task, including Dr. Josephine Mutuku and her late husband, Dr. Steve Sesi (my closest friend and colleague who had urged me to join NEGST while we studied together at Fuller). Around 2009, I was also asked to establish a Ph.D. program in Intercultural Studies at NEGST, launched in 2011, and another Ph.D. program in Inter-Religious Studies, under ISAR in 2013 (ISAR, Institute for the Study of African Realities, is a constituent school of AIU). I also have served as as ISAR director since 2016.
The best time that I always enjoy is when I am with my students from all over the African continent. My passion is to recruit African evangelical Islamicists and missionaries specializing in Islam and Muslim cultures, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, on top of their well-equipped evangelical theology. I have seen many such graduates actively involved in various ministries among their Muslim neighbors in Africa.
With my courses on Islam and missiological anthropology now in the capable hands of Dr. Judy Wang’ombe, a student of mine for many years and now an excellent Islamicist and missiologist, I tend to focus more on the Ph.D. program in Inter-Religious Studies with Islamic concentration, which is offered through ISAR’s CSR (Center for the Study of Religions). I am still involved in the master’s program in Islamic studies at NEGST.
Recently I have published two new books, Cultural Anthropology: From a Christian Perspective (Utafiti Foundation, 2019) and Introduction to Missiology (Global Mission Society, 2020). The latter is my first book written in Korean.
Manok and I have been in Seoul, Korea for the past eight months. But I still cannot return to Kenya due to some “underlying medical conditions” which would endanger my health should I be exposed to Covid-19. I hope to return when traveling is a safer option. I miss my dear colleagues and students, as well as our beautiful campus!”
As is the case with so many educational institutions, covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on AIU. The ripple effect has meant that two-thirds of students were not able to graduate because their fees had not been cleared, and faculty are still months behind on getting their salaries. We know many of you have been giving faithfully even during this difficult time, and we are so thankful! The generosity of friends like you has ensured that the international students on campus have been able to get food and basic need items and students have still been benefiting from scholarships.
Prayer and Praise
In the upcoming semester, all students will continue online learning except for first year undergrad students. This comes with a number of challenges, so please pray for patience for all involved and for good learning to take place despite the online format. Pray for good health for those incoming first year students and their lecturers who will be meeting in person.
Please pray for the Lord to provide so that the school can meet its financial obligations, staff and faculty can be paid in a timely manner, and students can receive scholarships.
Praise God that Kenya’s corona virus cases are still relatively low.
Praise God for the many who did graduate, many with incredible stories of God’s provision and care (such as Akimana’s testimony above!). Pray that they would go forth, rooted in Christ, ready to be salt and light wherever God leads them from here.
Pray with Paul that we all might “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge “…that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:18-19
Christian Leaders for Africa