Bishops, Beggars and Bananas…

I recently spent some time in Kenya.

I was staying with Simon Ngahu and his family who live in Mukurweini, Central Province.

As we spent time with leaders, home fellowships/churches and met people in their homes and in shops there were some things that kept coming up…





It was a real pleasure to meet believers and leaders from a variety of backgrounds and traditions in Kenya. As we shared though it became obvious that there is a growing sense of uneasiness with what is happening amongst the body of Christ there. Typically Church life consists of one or two strong and vocal ‘leaders’ standing on the stage and crowds sat in rows excitedly taking it all in. It was exciting to look with these leaders at what could be done to change this state of affairs! How can the saints be mobilised for ministry like Paul wrote in Ephesians 4. What would “Church” look like if ‘leaders’ facilitated others to hear God, understand Him and obey Him every day rather than just handing out information to people for 1 hour every week? What strategy is needed in order to fulfill Jesus’ mission of making disciples of all nations/peoples?


At a lot of the meetings/gatherings/chai drinking sessions (!) God kept reminding us all of the scriptures from Matthew 14 when Jesus fed the multitudes. There is an increasing understanding amongst the brothers and sisters we know in Kenya that poverty is a mindset rather than a condition. Throughout scripture Jesus teaches that servants who are faithful with small things will be given more. We would do well to learn this lesson here in the West as our brothers and sisters are learning in Africa. Much damage has been done by well meaning Western Churches and ministries through financial hand outs that have fed this poverty mindset. The result is that the growth of God’s Kingdom in Africa seems dependent on money from the West. It’s exciting to see this issue being addressed so that God’s people can experience His abundance through faithfulness to Him. Time and again we looked at the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew 14 and how Jesus did not give His disciples 5000 portions of food – but rather he multiplied something small. What would Church, business, financial circumstances look like if the main issue was not seeking God for more or asking others for more – but rather being faithful with the small seed God has put in your hand. The multitudes had more than enough to eat as Jesus multiplied a small portion of food. What could Jesus do through a small group of committed disciples in our region? Interestingly enough I didn’t encounter as many beggars on this trip and the most uncomfortable situation I found myself in was watching the television one night where a very well known (Western) Christian Channel spent at least 30 minutes repeatedly asking for money from viewers….. It was embarassing…!


I love fruit, and especially bananas. Here in the UK we have one or two varieties in our shops. In Kenya Bananas are growing on trees around you! And there are loads of different varieties that all taste different! It made me think about how when we plant the Gospel and make disciples then what “grows” might look different from place to place and certainly from culture to culture. It was so amazing to be able to just encourage our brothers and sisters to keep planting the seed of the Gospel and to help people be obedient to Jesus. What forms and grows might look very different from what they know as traditional church or what the “imported”, more western models of Church look like.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris April 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

Good stuff Ben. Well done for all that you do.


Christine Bertrand April 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Great stuff to read, especially ’cause I just spent 3 months in Uganda, neigbouring country to Kenia. I hope the whole body of Jesus gets this message. Am also myself tired of listening….


Ben and Catherine Taylor April 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm

What were you doing in Uganda Christine?


Gaz April 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Good points Ben. And not just for Kenya or other developing countries, but for us in the rich, fat West as well. We (as leaders) can learn to equip all disciples for ministry.


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