Nairobi is a city of over 4.4 million people with an average age of just under 20. Contrast that with New York City with a population of 8.4 million people but an average age of 38 years old. Over 42% of the population in Nairobi is 15 or younger, though statistics show that one of nine children born in Kenya will die before their fifth birthday. Play that trend out over 1.1 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa and you get a sense of the overwhelming missionary task faced by the IMB team stationed here in Nairobi. On Sunday afternoon we spent time with Chandler, with whom our friend Lauren is working for the next two years. Chandler has two primary jobs, ‘on-boarding’ new personnel when they arrive in country on a Sub-Saharan Africa assignment and leading the Nairobi ‘university outreach’.
For most of us the pictures in our mind’s eye about Kenya are of slum children and rural mud huts. To be sure, those exist and the needs there are real. However, Africa in general and Kenya in particular is becoming increasingly urban. More and more young Kenyans are moving to Nairobi to attend university and that is where Chandler and Lauren’s main goals lie. With 42 tribes, multiple religions, and several other major ethnic groups attending, it is a true melting pot. Education is a key factor in extending life expectancy. Reaching these young men and women now can have a huge impact for the Kingdom in the future. Overcoming false religion and family culture can be a challenge though as there is a strong Muslim influence ingrained after years of trade with the middle east. There is also a strong ‘prosperity gospel’ influence that has soured many young people on religion. You don’t have to look far to realize that ‘prosperity’ is reserved for the few.
While the task may be enormous, Chandler, Lauren and the other IMB missionaries are attacking it with enthusiasm and energy. Lauren has just finished her language training and is working to get onto several different campuses. She is already building relationships and sharing the gospel. Chandler is a guy with energy and ideas. He recently hosted a team of 30 college students for 7 weeks. Those students went out to several universities around town befriending other college students and sharing the gospel with them. Lauren will be following up on many of those conversations.
Sunday afternoon we talked about ways that The East Africa Project could partner with university team from the US. We’ll continue to discuss options and I expect we’ll find several ways we can assist. In the meantime, will you commit to pray for the university team here? Their names are Chandler and his wife Kelly, Lauren and the other Journeymen and a new couple coming on the field soon. Prayer is the key!