We were back in Mathare this Sunday, at the Glorious Celebration Centre. We were there a few weeks back and Pastor Peter Kisia had wanted to have us back again. At least from my perspective, Mathare is a tougher place to live than Kibera. The economics of the place are a lot tougher. There is a lot less money in the immediate area to support the huge numbers of people living there. The largest “industry” is the chang’aa production (which happens to be right below the church in the river valley).
I met Pastor Peter almost 3 1/2 years ago. It was just after the post election violence. His brother had been killed. I think that would have been a reasonable time for him to decided God was calling him to ministry elsewhere. But he is still there, still reaching out to a very difficult community. As we looked around at the extremity of the place he commented on how it was getting better. He said before there were basically only two options to make money in Mathare, chang’aa and prostitution. Now there were other options. He has offered free lunch to all those guys down there working in by the river and he had invited an evangelist to preach while they ate. He pointed out three men in the church were former workers there. He has a school for children. We saw at least 100 standing around outside the church when we showed up. “Wazungu!” “How ah-roo?” None of them are enrolled anywhere. He also has started a sewing ministry for the women. Most of the women in the church do laundry for people in Eastleigh. Sometimes they get as little as 50 shillings for a days work with deductions if they take chai at the house where they are working. He has a good heart.
The service was great, except they had lost their audio technician. The power was out when we arrived and I was quite enjoying praise and worship. Then the power came back and the keyboard and microphones came out. There was a lot of buzzing and distortion (much more than normal). Just about everyone tried to make it better with little to show for it. So when it came time to preach, I asked if they could hear me in the back without the mic.
I preached on the need for a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-14).
Sio “Je, unafanya nini?”, lakini “Je, unafanya kwa nini?”
Not, “What are you doing?” but “Why are you doing?”
After the service they did some child dedications. True to the difficulties of the place, none of the fathers were present, just four mothers and babies. We also celebrated communion. I was curious to see what would be in the cups. It was orange Fanta. At first I wondered why it was not blackcurrant Fanta, which is purple. But then I thought what does it matter. Once you move away from wine it is clearly only symbolic. Also, they do not sell blackcurrant in 1L bottles, but they do sell orange in 1L.
Cammy and I talked about how unlike “up country” churches, the people here had to get to work. A lot of the income for people living in the slums comes on the weekends when the more wealthy people are willing to hire them to wash clothes, cars, do yard work etc.