A visit by a team from Kajiado Diocese in Kenya brought a new sense of renewal and revival to St Paul’s Lisburn, as the parish continues its Forward Together projects.
The Kenyan Baraka team visited Northern Ireland from February 17 to March 10 and was sponsored by CMS Ireland and hosted by St Paul’s parish. The team was made up of people that members of St Paul’s had already met in Kenya during the summer of 2009, Rev Naftaly Lemooke – Team Leader, Rev Capt James Njoroge, Rev Capt Eric Solonka, Rev Mary Kuria and Mr Daniel Taama.
Baraka in Swahili means ‘Blessing’ and everyone who came into to contact with the team was blessed whether they were a member of St Paul’s congregation or a sister church or indeed a local politician.
The visit was a continuation of a partnership that St Paul’s Lisburn, through CMSI, has established with Kajiado Diocese. Last summer 25 adults travelled to Kenya for what was a life changing experience. The parish had given a number of motor-bikes to Kajiado and they are being used in some of the most remote parishes of that diocese, helping to establish new congregations and bringing support to isolated communities. Following this visit the next logical step to extend the partnership and project was ‘people to people’, engaging, sharing, growing.
The Baraka team came initially to see, experience and evaluate St Paul’s parish week of outreach February 13-21 called ‘Love is…’ see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXIbFpgQ89w. The team then spent a full week in St Paul’s going to parish events, preaching and speaking, Celebrating Holy Communion, an excellent ‘Kenya Night’ and visiting parishioners in their homes, giving the team a full flavour of parish life in Northern Ireland.
Other highlights included meeting the Mayor of Lisburn; a visit to Stormont hosted by Mr Edwin Poots, a visit to the Giants Causeway and visits to other sister parishes that have a link with Kajiado. One of the most moving and spiritually moving contributions the Baraka Team made was ministering to one of St Paul’s Lisburn own Kenya team members who suffered two bereavements during the Baraka team’s time in Northern Ireland and singing and praying at one of the funerals.
The link with Kajiado has brought a real sense of renewal and revival to St Paul’s Lisburn in conjunction with other ‘Forward Together’ projects in which the parish has engaged 2008-2010, a three year project.
Many team members have said how being involved with the project and having had contact with the Baraka Team has positively affected them and how they view church and faith. The rector of St Paul’s, the Rev Jim Carson said: “True partnership is not found in contributions of either money or things, even motor-bikes but is in relationship ‘people to people’. ‘Things’ may be a great help but it is as we have found in our Forward Together projects working/serving together, having real fellowship in prayer and around God’s word, literally it’s in ‘people to people’ that we find a new true unity, bond and love in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Daniel Taama, Bishop Taama’s brother, alluded to this in three words as he left Lisburn – Wisdom, love and Amen. Wisdom he says, being wise comes before love and then Amen let it be so!