BUILD has been training local church leaders in refugee settlements in northern Uganda, as reported previously. This month, in partnership with the Church Army in Kenya, we have begun to look at the needs there – beginning with Kakuma Refugee Camp in the north west of the country.
Kakuma is under enormous pressure. The camp that was designed to host a population of 70,000 now has approximately 150,000 refugees, and that having been ‘decongested’ through 38,000 being hosted in the nearby Kalobeyei Settlement from mid-2015 (the combined population was 191,500 registered refugees and asylum-seekers at the end of August this year).
Every possible resource is stretched to the limits, including those needed to grow and sustain healthy churches. Benjamin Kibara from BUILD in the ACK is also a Captain in the Church Army (an Anglican mission initiative). Benjamin reported as follows:
“We visited Kakuma Refugee Camp with a team from Church Army Africa through an invitation from Ven. David Wuor, from the diocese of Ayod. Five dioceses from southern Sudan had written to us asking for help in various areas including evangelism, clothes, food, tents and chairs for use during Sunday worship, and the training of leaders. The dioceses are Ayod, Nasir, Akobo, Maiwut and Bentiu (all are new dioceses, sub-divided from Bor and Malakal).
“As a team of eight we managed to take two large tents, with capacity for 150 people to meet, 100 plastic chairs, 10 sacks of clothes and assorted foodstuffs. Earlier in the year, Carlile College, the Church Army College in Nairobi, as a response to their request admitted four evangelists to train for three years. Even with this, the need for training leaders is huge and there is so much that needs to be done.
“Ven. David Wuor, was the dean of the cathedral that was demolished due to the ongoing war, and finished his diploma last year from Carlile College. David, who has been in the camp since 2014, shared with me that he had no previous training, even though he has served as a clergyman for twelve years. He is in charge of five congregations with 400 – 500 in attendance each Sunday. To do that work, David is supported by fifteen evangelists and lay readers who have no training at all to lead churches.”
David’s situation seems typical. Benjamin went on to describe how he had also visited a classmate of his from Carlile, Revd Timothy Ibrahim in his church in Kakuma.
“Timothy was my classmate in Carlile from 2005 – 2008 and has been in the camp since 1999. Timothy has three congregations and seven untrained leaders who support him. Timothy introduced me to the chair of all the Anglican clergy, Ven. Abraham who has been in the camp since 1992. Abraham shared that there more than 40 ordained Anglican clergy in the camp but more than 90% of these have no formal ministerial training.
“During my visit to Timothy’s church, the Bishops of Feiyang and Kongeren Dioceses were visiting the Dinka community in the camp. The bishops gave me time to address the gathered Christians and I explained to them about BUILD work across East Africa. Bishop David and Gabriel were excited to hear of the prospects to train their church leaders right there in Kakuma.”
David, Gabriel and many others are excited by this prospect, but delivering that training will not be straightforward. The nascent BUILD ACK initiative is now beginning to look at how this might happen, alongside putting down roots in and around Nairobi, where, despite a wealth of resources in comparison to Kakuma and Kalobeyei, there are also significant training needs. The challenge and opportunity will be to do this in an integrated way.