Kenya has a massive evangelical presence. Nearly 50% of the population are affiliated to evangelical churches, from Protestant, Independent, Anglican, and Catholic backgrounds! Pentecostals especially experienced rapid growth. Overall, 82% of Kenyans call themselves “Christian”. Why then does Kenya have so much poverty, and such corruption? With so much corruption, terrorists and international drug traffickers use Kenya as a base. Pray for Christians to unite to oppose wrongdoing, and to promote policies that honour God. Kenya needs a just and honest government that will uplift the poor and punish the wicked.
Political issues increasingly impact the churches. Examples are intimidation of the press, human rights abuses, ethnic discrimination and, above all, the controversial points in the new constitution. Christianity is increasingly politicized as many churches seek to transform Kenyan politics with new parties and fresh vision. Pray that all Christians might unite in opposing wrong and in upholding policies that honour God. Pray for gifted, holy and accountable believers to be appointed to positions of influence in the nation.
Waves of church growth and renewal have impacted the nation deeply. The East African Revival (1948-1960) made a deep and lasting impression on the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. This revival was quenched by legalism, divisions, materialism and personality clashes. More recent growth in evangelical/Pentecostal churches (both international and indigenous) is massive. One of the largest groups is the Africa Inland Church, birthed from the missionary input of AIM. Charismatic renewal beyond Pentecostal churches is remarkable - this movement has impacted 33% of Catholics and 25% of Anglicans.
- Nominalism is a major issue, even among evangelicals/Pentecostals. Attendance nationally is only 7%, less than one-tenth of all Christians. Establishing effective means of discipleship is a huge need as increasing numbers associate themselves with the Church, yet with no true spiritual growth in their lives.
- The need for trained leaders for the more than 80,000 congregations gives cause for concern. Over 70 institutions train Christian workers for ministry. All major denominations have training centres. The Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (300 students, including a PhD level), the Pan African Christian University and Daystar University serve all of Anglophone Africa. Yet these academic programmes are insufficient to address the sheer numbers needing to be trained. TEE programmes abound, but pray for grassroots training programmes, such as Langham Preachers Seminars, that aim to ground leaders in the Word and to help them lead and plant truly biblical, truly African churches.
Missions vision has significantly altered Kenya's church scene. A large and increasing number of Kenyans are serving cross-culturally within Kenya or abroad, with agencies such as Horn of Africa Mission, but the potential is so much greater.
- Young people. The majority of Kenyans are children, so children and youth ministries are of utmost importance. CEF has more than 40 full-time workers committed to children's ministry. SU has a great impact on primary and secondary students. FOCUS(IFES) operates in over 40 universities and colleges. FOCUS disciples, trains and mobilizes students and graduates for ministry, having sent 15 abroad as missionaries. Over 1,000 university students recently committed themselves to missions.
- HIV/AIDS sufferers - around 500 pass away every day due to AIDS, despite the halting of the infection rate. Much of the very public campaign to reduce infection rates is built on a platform of fidelity and abstinence. The Anglican Church recently apologized to all who suffer from AIDS for previously shunning those with HIV. Pray that Christians may lead in ministry in this area; pray also for those who suffer and for the hundreds of thousands of orphans left behind.
- The large numbers of city slum dwellers, including over 100,000 street children or orphaned householders. Several ministries work among them; pray for ways to minister to all aspects of these children's lives.
Less-evangelized peoples - 4-5% of Kenya's population are least-reached or unreached peoples. In the last 15 years, major progress has been made in reaching the unevangelized. Nearly every group has been adopted or targeted by Kenyan and foreign Christian groups, and FTT has identified the least reached. Pray for:
- The largely pastoral, animistic peoples of the north and west, who are increasingly responding to the gospel - the Turkana (15% Christian), Pokot (15%), Endo (15%), Sabaot (2%), Rendille (0.2%), Samburu (0.5%), Daasenach (0.9%) - through the ministry of AIC/AIM, Anglicans and many others. Thank God, and pray for well-led, culturally appropriate churches to be established. The well-known Maasai are now 25% Christian.
- The Muslim Oromo-related peoples of the northeast - the Borana and related Njemps (Chamus), also the Garreh-Ajuran, Orma, Malakote and Munyoyaya. There are churches among only the Njemps (1.5% Christian, but already sending evangelists to other peoples) and the Borana (less than 1% Christian).
- The Khoisan (Bushmen-related) peoples, which include the Boni, Dahalo and Dorobo (8 subgroups). These small, spread-out peoples are largely hunter-gatherers and adhere mainly to traditional religions.
- The Mijikenda peoples of the coastal hills. The beliefs of the Giriama, Duruma, Chonyi and Pokomo(2) are mixed traditional and Muslim, but they also have a large minority of Christians. The Digo, Segeju and Bajun are almost entirely Muslim. Pray for those seeking to reach them.
- The coastal Swahili and Arab populations, which are strongly Muslim and largely unreached. They tend to be quite resistant to outreach. Some Kenyan churches now minister to these groups; pray for a testimony of truth, power and love.
- The Somali in the northeast and in cities. Instability in Somalia has driven tens of thousands of these people into Kenya, bringing their strife with them but also making them more accessible to the gospel. Numerous Christian workers (AIC/AIM, SIM, CBIM, Baptists, Sheepfold Ministries and Mennonites) are reaching the Somali in Kenya, especially through holistic ministry. Somali Christians number perhaps a few hundred.
- The Asian community is Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Parsee and Sikh. They are prominent in trading and private industries, but feel insecure amid Kenya's struggling economy. AIM, Christar and Sheepfold Ministries work among them. ASCKEN (Asian-African Concern Kenya) is a partnership of Asian, African and international ministries seeking to reach all of East Africa's Asian population. Several churches have been planted, but, in general, African churches have not yet picked up the missional challenge of Kenya's Asians.
Nairobi is a strategic hub for ministry in Africa and beyond. Many international Christian organizations have continental offices based here. The Ecumenical AACC (All Africa Conference of Churches), the AEA (Association of Evangelicals of Africa) and PACLA are a few of these. AEA plays a key role in promoting evangelical unity and ministries in theology, training, literature and fellowship. Pray for this key work and its extension throughout Africa.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.