July 2020: COVID 19 in Kenya

July 2020 Updates

We are so grateful for your prayers and support for NEGST and for your investment in the lives of our students during this time. Since March, Kenya has had a curfew and cessation of movement order and churches and schools have been closed for in-person gatherings. Although the rise in Covid has been slow compared to the US and other countries, Kenya is currently at over 10,000 cases with the numbers still rising. The President lifted the cessation of movement order, and churches will be allowed to meet with strict limits. Schools for elementary through high school will remain closed through January, while institutions of higher learning may be able to open in September under strict guidelines. In the coming couple of weeks we will know if AIU will be able to open for in-class teaching in September.

Transition to Online Classes

Since NEGST began online classes in March, most Kenyan students have been studying from home, which can be a particular challenge for those from rural areas and even parts of Nairobi, where power is intermittent and internet limited. On campus, there is still a community of mostly international students who were not able to return to their home countries. The spring semester has ended and the summer term is well underway with everything online, including exams. Graduation that would normally take place in July has been postponed until further notice. The office is busy trouble-shooting and providing information for students, while chapel services are being recorded and made available through AIU’s facebook page. In spite of the challenges, we thank God that the lecturers, staff, and students are persevering and seeing good fruit.

“For three and a half years, I was teaching on campus at Africa International University. Since returning to the USA in March of this year, I have been teaching online. Nothing like having to learn a whole new skill set when you are 66 years old! Fortunately, I have a Friend, “who will never leave me and never forsake me.” The Lord has helped me day by day, over the last few months, to transition from traditional classroom teaching to online teaching. The great challenge is not to see those eager faces, desperate to learn, sitting before me. Because I am on the west coast of the US, ten hours behind Nairobi, Kenya time, I am having to pre-record my lectures and upload those onto the AIU site. It has been a challenge, but the Lord is up to the task and so far…so good. The difficult part for the students is that they do not have access to AIU’s excellent research library nor do most of them have very good internet connections. The best part, though, has been one on one meeting with each of my students online. They share their stories with me and each time I am so encouraged by how the Lord is raising up a whole new generation to carry on the task of proclaiming his Word and building his church. What a gift to be a part of their lives and their journey of learning, even if it is via our digital world.” John Dilworth, Department of Pastoral Studies

“The online mode of learning necessitated by the Covid situation has come as a welcome mode of delivery for many of our students. Though difficult at first, with time, many of our students have been able to adapt to this new mode of learning; and to some, this would be a better option moving forward even post-Covid. We are still hopeful, however, to resume face to face class interactions since it remains the best option for the majority of the students.” Shadrack Otieno W., AIU Student Council President

This semester I have been teaching Biblical Theology to 14 Masters students through Microsoft Teams. As a teacher, it feels rather odd to teach through a screen and not be able to see my students (since they have their video off due to poor connections). God has been gracious in that we have had no major technology problems and class discussions have worked fairly well, and I don’t think the online format has impeded student learning in any significant ways. Nevertheless, I really hope and pray that we can meet together again physically for the new semester in September since our technology cannot truly reproduce the atmosphere of communal learning that takes place in our classrooms.” Jamie Viands, Department of Biblical Studies

Farming by Students

Students have been extremely enterprising, clearing and farming all of the available plots on campus. As you can see in one picture, students have even turned the small areas in front of their houses into vegetable patches.

One student says: “Even though this time is very hard for families, because we are farming, none of us will go without vegetables. Even if my potatoes won’t be ready for two weeks, I can go to my neighbor and he will share his. It is a crucial way for us to look after each other, especially during coronavirus.”

AIU Online Chapel

In a time when all forms of teaching cannot be done in person, we praise God for his provision of a studio and a volunteer who was willing to give his expertise and personal equipment to move our ministries and lessons online. The ability to record sermons to share with churches has meant that AIU has become a hub of teaching, with both students and faculty delivering more than 50 sermons and devotional talks in the past 10 weeks. We pray that we will continue to learn how best to harness the opportunities before us, so that we can best serve our students and God’s people.

Join Us in Praising God

The Lord is continuing to provide for His children through the work of their hands in farming small plots of land at AIU and sharing with their neighbours. The Benevolence Fund continues to help the remaining students as the cost of non-perishable items rise.

Give thanks for the relatively slow rise in Covid-19 cases in Kenya so far, and for the Government’s cautious handling of the crisis

Praise God for technology that not only makes distance learning a possibility for students and their children, but also enables AIU to minister to the wider community through the preaching of the Word of God.

The Lord has given perseverance with online learning to Faculty and Students to finish off the spring semester, adjust to online exams and press on with the summer term.

Join Us in Praying for NEGST

Please pray for those students who are involved in pastoral ministry and are now able to meet in person with congregants as government restrictions are easing. Pray that they would have wisdom as they shepherd their congregations.

Pray for us to be filled with the love of Christ for one another even as we live in semi-isolated community.

Pray for students to be able to continue their studies and even for new students to enroll despite the challenges.

Pray that the Lord would continue to provide for the needs of His children and that many would have soft hearts toward Him during this time.

Pray for wisdom for the university leadership as they deliberate on whether or not the Fall Semester should be online or in-person.