Friends in East Africa
In just a few generations, the Friends community in East Africa has been transformed from a mission project of American and British Quakers into a network of more than a dozen yearly meetings in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and beyond. Today, East African Quakers represent a solid majority of the Religious Society of Friends worldwide, and they continue to grow in numbers, experience and self-reliance. Friends in East Africa are now completing the missionary cycle, sending their own gospel workers to share the good news of Jesus Christ in other regions of the Africa continent.
East Africa is home to a wide variety of Friends projects. Some of these were founded many decades ago by earlier waves of North American and British missionaries. Many others have been established more recently through the autonomous efforts of Friends in East Africa. All of these mission sites represent the ongoing work of Friends United Meeting in Africa.
The African Ministries Office (AMO) is located in the city of Kisumu, in western Kenya. The AMO is the headquarters of Friends United Meeting in East Africa, and serves as the African counterpart to the FUM offices in Richmond, Indiana.
Friends Theological College (FTC) is the premiere Quaker institution of theological education in East Africa. The only Friends pastoral training institution in East Africa, FTC seeks to equip ministers who will be thoughtful listeners, effective evangelists, dynamic preachers, informed educators and models of integrity. Students not only come from Kenya, but Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania as well. With 2,000 Quaker churches just in Kenya, the need for trained pastors is very great!
Friends United Meeting founded its mission in Kaimosi (Tiriki, Western Kenya) in 1902, and began offering medical services in 1903. By 1965 patients came from all over Eastern and Central Africa for treatment at Kaimosi Hospital. Lacking the resources to bring the hospital out of a state of disrepair, East Africa Yearly Meeting approached Friends United Meeting with the request to take over the hospital again. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in January 2006 giving total management control of the hospital to Friends United Meeting.
The motto at Lugulu Hospital is, “We Treat, but Jesus Heals and Saves.” The hospital staff members have, for decades, considered the spiritual health of their patients and themselves an essential part of their Christian witness. Lugulu Hospital reports that it has been elevated to higher status by the Ministry of Health due to the improvements made with the USAID-ASHA (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad) grant that was completed at the end of 2008.
Turkana, located in the northern part of Kenya, is a region familiar with hot temperatures, harsh winds, frequent droughts and limited resources for development. Turkana Friends Mission was started in 1970 by Ersal and Dorothy Kindel and two students from Friends Theological College.
The Samburu people are a semi-nomadic pastoralist tribe living in the plains and arid highlands north of Mt. Kenya, in an area prone to drought, instability, violence and cattle rustling. Friends’ mission work began among the Samburu in 1995 by Isaiah Bikokwa as an extension of the Turkana mission.
How Can I Get Involved?
There are a variety of ways that you can participate in the ministry of Friends in East Africa. A good place to start is with prayer. Friends in East Africa need your prayers.
- * That the Lord would bless our field staff, pastors and other leaders in their work of shepherding the flock and preaching the good news of Jesus in East Africa.
- * That the Spirit would lift up skilled physicians and nurses to serve at our hospitals.
- * That God bless the work of theological education in all of the schools operated by Quakers in East Africa, particularly Friends Theological College.
- * That the Holy Spirit raise up and equip a new generation of pastors and other spiritual leaders for the growing need of East African Friends.
- * That the witness of Jesus Christ’s living presence within might find new openings throughout East Africa.
The material needs of Friends in East Africa are great indeed. God has blessed Friends in East Africa with a large network of schools, hospitals, churches and mission sites, and the cost of maintenance, much less expansion into new areas, is huge. The need for medical supplies and funding for our field staff is particularly pressing. Is God nudging you to give?
While the material needs of Friends in East Africa are huge, those of us from other parts of the world have been told time and again: “Your money is very helpful, but your presence is even better!” There are virtually unlimited opportunities for service and learning among Friends in Kenya, Uganda, and greater East Africa. Is the Spirit asking you to get involved?