Friday, January 18, 2008

From the Grace family - FUM Field Staff in Kisumu - 1/16/2008

Grace Notes
16 January 2008

Dear Friends,

Please continue to pray for Kenya. Things are tense, although we continue to feel personally safe.

We had some hopeful political news last evening. Kenya's newly-elected Parliament met for the first time yesterday. It was anticipated that the opposition (who believe they rightfully won the presidential election) was going to try to sit on the government side of the assembly. They didn't try to. Then the opposition won the vote to have their people installed as Parliament's speaker and assistant speaker. Please join us in praying that this represents the beginning of a legitimate political solution to the impasse.

Our family is well, and living at home in Kisumu (after 5 days in Kaimosi followed by a week in a more secure compound in Kisumu). We are well stocked with food and other supplies. We feel safe. Yesterday was Isaiah and Jesse's first day back at school.

It seems that almost all the school children and teachers have returned to Kisumu; many (such as we) were away from Kisumu for some part of the last three weeks.

We have been able to get food, fuel and supplies in Kisumu. In most recent days we have been downtown for shopping and business.

Today is the first of three days during which the political opposition has called for demonstrations. There have been some disturbances in other parts of town, but our children had a normal day at school.

It has been quiet in our neighborhood where both our home and our school are. Our house is also quite near the family home of the popular opposition leader Raila Odinga, which means less likelihood of trouble near us. We and the other foreigners are monitoring the situation. But so far there are no indications that we will be in any danger here.

Over the last few days, our sense of ministry has become clearer as we've found that God has a use for us!

Eden is now working intensively with a group of Kenyan Quaker leaders to pull together a national Quaker Peace Conference for the end of next week, bringing together 60 people for analysis and discernment of God's call to the Friends Church at this particular moment. Amid the swirl of confusion in Kenya right now, this piece of work feels important and clear and energizing and hopeful.

There is a strong desire among Friends that our various organizations work together to address the ministry needs (physical, spiritual and structural) of Kenya in the days ahead. How exciting it is, to discover that God has put us here for such a time as this.

Both FUM and FWCC are collecting funds to underwrite the cost of the conference and the implementation of whatever joint action plan will emerge. Go to And while you're there, remember our ministry account! The prices of food and fuel have skyrocketed over the last couple of weeks, and we're feeling the pinch.

There are a lot of news and information sources about the Kenyan situation on the Internet, even though Kenya has probably dropped from the main-stream headlines in most countries.

Mary Kay Rehard's blog is particularly excellent -- We're so grateful that our friend and former colleague has been called to such an important ministry! God does indeed have a role for each one of us to play.

We're tempted to inundate you with the writings of others, which we have found particularly helpful or inspiring. However, since Mary Kay has catalogued them all, we need only give our recommendations here. There are three pieces in particular, which are important to read and understand.

-- the Pastoral Letter from Friends Church Kenya, dated 8 January but posted on the Kenya News blog on the 11th. This is one of the strongest statements of the Friends Peace Testimony in recent memory. Look for it here.

-- David Zarembka's discussion of media distortions and bias when covering situations of violence in Africa. It was posted on Dave's blog.

-- Dr Ray Downing's reflections on Epiphany and the root causes of the supposedly "unexpected" social disruption we've witnessed. You can find it on this Kenya News blog.

Business here in Kisumu is definitely not "back to normal", but we are finding a new normal:
extra security around the kids' school, extra long lines just to enter the few remaining shops, etc.

We are also finding joy in the extra time we're spending together at home and the extra attention we're giving to prayer. God is still in the midst of us.

The Christmas carols we sang so blissfully just a few weeks ago seem so much more poignant now; "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight ... Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today."

So many of you have written with words of encouragement and support, and we cherish all these messages.

It's not always possible to write a personal reply, but please know that we are so grateful. As the world's headlines turn to other matters, please don't forget to keep praying for Kenya and for Friends to be faithful to God's call, day by day.

With great hope in our hearts,
Eden, Jim, Isaiah and Jesse

Eden Grace, Field Officer
Friends United Meeting/Africa Ministries
PO Box 478 Kisumu 40100 Kenya
phone: +254 735 479174
email: graces - at -

No comments: