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Churches meet community needs in Nairobi slums

A blog on seeking continuous, holistic transformation among those living in extreme poverty

Written by Rev Josephine Chavaseki and Dr Sas Conradie | 02 Aug 2022

Mixed groups of Kenyan women and men sit in plastic chairs with Bibles open on their laps, leaning forward in focused discussion.

Church members take part in Bible study groups at the Redeemed Gospel Church Pipeline in Nairobi. Photo: Josephine Chavaseki

Redeemed Gospel Church Pipeline (RGCP) sits in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums in Nairobi where more than 500,000 people live in extremely poor conditions. The church was started in 1996 to express God’s love to quarry miners who lived in this neighbourhood.

Meeting needs

Before 2012, the church struggled to meet the growing needs of its members and the wider community. Local people had high expectations of the church and were always asking why it was not more visible. On the other hand, the church was overwhelmed by demands from the slums. It was inward-looking and felt it lacked the resources to meet the many needs of the people. That was until the church started to use its God-given resources to transform its immediate community.

Using the church and community mobilisation process (CCMP) Bible studies, the church has established 47 Home Bible Churches that meet weekly in homes within the community for fellowship and Bible study. Each Home Bible Church has a facilitator and co-facilitator, and a guide based on Tearfund’s CCMP manual and materials. These leaders have helped their groups to discover God’s purpose for them, as well as their talents and opportunities to serve in the church and community in different ways. The groups started out by mentoring people, delivering healthcare, ministry to orphans and caring for families living on the streets.

Holistic approach

‘I had a background in theological training, but I found church ministry in the slum needed a more holistic approach,’ says Rev Josephine Chavaseki of RGCP. ‘Integral mission is a gradual process that needs prayer, dedication, whole-heart sacrifice and patience. I am grateful to almighty God because integral mission has helped believers to discover their value, potential and talents.’

In this case, CCMP enabled all these elements of Christian growth to occur holistically as believers developed and gained new perspectives through the Bible studies available in the CCMP manual (English/French only). This helped them to grow spiritually in discipleship. Members started to help each other in pastoral care. They improved their leadership skills, and reached out to their immediate communities in love. Their aim was to be light and salt to the world as in Matthew 5:13-16.

This began to happen when the church started a community centre with a primary school, training for tailoring and computer skills, and a welfare association of more than 300 members to strengthen church and community relationships. ‘The church has gradually grown to more than a thousand people, but the introduction of integral mission has released every believer to unleash their power and potential,’ says Rev Josephine. ‘By God’s grace the church has vibrant ministries for children, young people and families focusing both on church and communities.’ 

 
‘Bible studies are used to equip the believers on how to respond to different situations in life.’
Rev Josephine Chavaseki

Church transformation

CCMP has empowered the church to make an impact in the slums. They have used local resources to meet the needs of the community and communicate the love of Jesus to its neighbours. The integral mission process has offered training to emerging leaders in the churches who cannot access formal theological or leadership training. The process equips leaders with knowledge and skills on how to teach and preach the word of God effectively. The leaders are also empowered in facilitation and mentorship skills.

Since 2012 at least 235 CCM facilitators from three churches in the slums of Nairobi have been fully trained. The Redeemed Gospel Church envisions scaling up the training to raise 100 facilitators per year and expand to other churches and communities to create ‘continuous transformation’. 

Changing lives

The impact of CCMP on the facilitators, Home Bible Churches and community has been remarkable. One facilitator shared how he was just making ends meet as a tailor. The process changed him and his business so significantly that he now employs three people in a growing tailoring business. 

Another facilitator told us how he lived in a very basic shack made from plastic and was ashamed to let anybody visit him. He thought of himself as a nobody who had nothing. Through his initial interaction with the church and CCMP, he began to realise that God loves him and has given him the talents and skills to care for his family and others in the community. Today he is a teacher and one of the leaders in the church’s CCMP initiative.

Find out more about how CCMP transforms lives.

 
This blog has been updated from the original article published on Tearfund Learn in November 2019, when Sas Conradie was Tearfund’s Theology and Networking Manager for Africa. Rev Josephine Chavaseki is the pastor of Redeemed Gospel Church Pipeline (RGCP) in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Written by  Rev Josephine Chavaseki and Dr Sas Conradie

Rev Dr Sas Conradie is Tearfund’s International Partnerships Team Leader

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