The Wallaces Serving in Nairobi, Kenya

906866_277234115792373_3720417118611389151_oShawn and Heather Wallace serve in Nairobi, Kenya at New City Fellowship (NCF), a partner church of The Crossing–where Christine Simon and Windy Shull just spent almost 2 weeks. New City Fellowship’s mission is to share the love of Christ and seek racial reconciliation through the power of the gospel in a diverse and challenging city where people are divided not just by race but also by culture, economics and spiritual background. Shawn and Heather are in the trenches—on the front lines—taking the gospel to a hurting, dying, conflict-ridden city. A video about their work can be seen here: video overview.

Join us for a Meet & Greet with The Wallaces this Sunday between all services in Rm. 225.

Donate to The Wallaces’ work in Nairobi, Kenya.1511603_10208958499219017_1300314820328088032_oShawn co-pastors at New City Fellowship with Joe Muutuki. He also works in outreach to the Hindu Community in Nairobi by building relationships and having caring meaningful interactions over time. He mentors Christian men and church leaders with a vision for equipping them to more effectively reach those around them. Shawn has been taking on a new role teaching chronological bible storytelling to Kenyan pastors who use this technique to communicate the gospel in rural areas to semi-literate people groups. By taking on this new role, Shawn is helping free up other team members for greater leadership and administration responsibilities.

100_5332-150x150Heather co-leads the Sunday School program at New City Fellowship where many believers from various backgrounds seek to train their children in biblical education across the cultural divides listed above. She also mentors women through NCF and administers the summer interns program for their team. She does all this while sharing their one vehicle with Shawn, keeping their household running (no small task in Nairobi), and juggling the schedules of their three kids who remain at home—ages 16, 14 and 11. (Their oldest son is in college at their alma mater in New York.)

Diversity, Conflict and Reconciliation in Nairobi:
Nairobi has many different people groups who have all converged to create a truly international city. Many nations have their embassies in Nairobi and even more relief agencies use Nairobi as a jumping-off location and home for their East Africa offices. This means many thousands of expatriates from the US and other parts of the West call Nairobi home and need a congregation to meet their spiritual needs.

Nairobi is also home to many refugee populations. The largest is from Som.alia but there are also refugees and former refugees from:

  • Rwanda
  • South Sudan
  • Northern Uganda
  • Congo.

There are also large numbers of Kenyan citizens with ethnic and religious origins among the Hindu and Is.lam.ic peoples of India. These families have often been in Kenya for many generations but they keep to themselves and are considered unreached people groups who have rarely been reached with the gospel message.

Kenyans from over 60 tribal groups also populate Nairobi. They often have animosity toward Indians who were brought to Kenya by the British during colonialism and toward refugees from South Sudan, Rwanda, Northern Uganda, Congo and Somalia who they accuse of dragging down the economy and bringing violence to Kenya.

Tribal Kenyans often do not mix well with one another either. Historically, Christian Kenyans have only attended church with other members of their own tribal group where they worship in their mother tongue (which is sometimes called their heart language.) Tribalism is a form of racism that has led to civil war and caused massive violence and bloodshed in many parts of Africa. Animosity between tribes has a long and terrible history in Kenya. Tribalism contributed to the civil unrest that cost many lives, destroyed billions of shillings of property, and displaces more than three quarters of a million people during the post-election violence that erupted in Kenya after their contentious 2008 Presidential Election. You can read more in this past ESI post.

image-10Finding ways to bring all these groups: expatriate Westerners, Hindu- and M.usli.m-background Indians, refugee communities, and Kenyans from various tribes together is a particularly challenging task. It’s a task that is made more difficult by the fact that Nairobi is home to extremely wealthy people and also to millions who are destitute, barely subsisting in Nairobi’s squalid slums, some of Africa’s largest.

New City Fellowship’s congregation represents and seeks to share the love and grace of Christ amidst all this diversity. Sharing in worship together in the heart languages of many different people groups is only one of many ways New City Fellowship begins to break down the walls that divide people. Others include:

  • Eating together
  • meeting for small groups in each others’ homes
  • growing together in women’s and men’s fellowship meetings
  • praying together
  • sharing in the joys and sorrows of life together

All these and many other means are used to build relationships where reconciliation and unity can begin to thrive. It is almost always messy work–difficult, often exhausting work–and on occasions it can even be dangerous work.

12747953_10209258749365083_2050061341891882674_oSome History of how the Wallaces got to Kenya:
Shawn and Heather met in college then married and entered ministry together. They share a background in church-planting in an upstate New York college town that has a lot of similarities to Columbia. Shawn even wanted to make sure he got to see Mizzou and Faurot Field while visiting Columbia this weekend.

Before ending up in Nairobi and finding their way to New City Fellowship, The Wallaces first served for six months with a team in a remote area of South Sudan. Unfortunately, the civil war in South Sudan blew up in their area causing their entire team had to be evacuated in a hurry. Their homes and town were turned into a wasteland as thirty thousand inhabitants fled to refugee camps or where killed in the conflict.

Once in Nairobi, other team members introduced Shawn to Joe Muutuki which eventually led to Shawn and Heather serving with New City Fellowship. Working in racial reconciliation and evangelism in Nairobi wasn’t the mission field the Wallaces were planning for and the process of evacuating out of South Sudan continues to need healing in them and their kids. Only God knows where he intends his leading to take us. What seems like a sure calling to one place may turn out to open the door to our serving in another place, a place we would not have gone unless we were forced to redirect.

The Wallaces serve through Serge: Grace at the Fray (formerly World Harvest.) Serge’s team in Kenya works in pastoring, church-planting, education, medicine, evangelism via athletics (futbol/soccer), economic development and other means of reaching people with the love of Christ.

Pray for The Wallace Family to:
  • See God bring people to himself through their ministry.
  • Trust God to provide for all their needs, especially the needs of their children.
  • Have safe travels around the US this summer.
  • Enjoy family adventures in the midst of demanding travel schedules.
  • Find time for quality connections while in the US.
  • Be blessed by all the churches they visit.
  • Be welcomed and blessed by The Crossing during their visit with us.
  • Find rest, relaxation and restoration during their time with us.

Sources:

  • http://wallacesinafrica.com/
  • https://www.serge.org/
  • http://ncfnairobi.org/wp/

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One Comment

  1. ROSALYNN KOCH said:

    What a blessing to get to hear the story about God’s work in Kenya. Their love for Christ and the Kenyan people was so evident. I appreciated the opportunity to hear about their work and then to meet them, and the prayer needs.

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