The Church and government have always been strange bedfellows, at least in the eyes of many. Kenya’s history is replete with many fights between the two. When Covid-19 struck Kenya, the patchy relationship between the Church and the government came to the fore once again.
On Sunday March 22, this year, the Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary Mr. Mutahi Kagwe announced the immediate closure of all places of worship. This was received with mixed reaction. Some quarters perceived it as a slap in the face of the Church where various Church statements had said Church will remain open as “a focal point for prayer, solace and strength from God.” Opinions were sharply divided among the populace with some supporting the government decision and others calling for Churches to remain open.
Pastors and Church leaders were caught in a difficult position. On one end, it is the pastors Christian duty to obey the authorities governing the country and ensure the safety of their flock, so following the lockdown measures would seem appropriate. On the other end, the congregations need to have spiritual nourishment and the gift of fellowship especially in this troubled time. The pandemic has had serious financial ramifications not to mention that the pastors also had their personal issues and needed encouragement themselves.
In order to support the pastors during the crisis, TWR Kenya through its Church Relations department designed special messages to pastors via email, text messages and even phone calls. Through the messages we discovered that many Pastors who had businesses, were forced to shut down because of Covid-19 and many were worried about congregants who had lost jobs and needed support.
TWR Kenya also came up with a special package for Pastors to reach the country with special five-minute messages. This is a unique package to help Pastors reach the Kenyan population. The Churches and TWR Kenya work in partnership where TWR Kenya pays for the broadcast and the Churches only pays a fraction of the recording fee of the pre-recorded message.
A few Pastors came on board. One of the Pastors is Joseph Kimari, in his late 60s -70, who travelled from Ruiru approximately 26 kms east of Nairobi to be able record his messages of encouragement to be broadcast by TWR Kenya. Many other Churches could not even afford the payment with an offer of 60% discount.
Amidst all this, TWR-Kenya’s FM station in Marsabit has had a different experience. The station has continued to register the biggest response from Pastors and Churches in the region. Marsabit pastors have taken to the station like fish in water. Their radio congregations have grown, and listener response has increased tremendously! The doors of the physical Churches may have been closed but the virtual Church in Marsabit is alive. The need for spiritual nourishment has increased, and someone must meet those needs.
Pator Tanui ( TWR Kenya church relations department) with pastors from Voi during the 2019 Lamu pastors training
Today, Pastors fellowships have ceased but thankfully Kenya has started a virtual Pastors fellowship via zoom. Through this, Pastors from all over the country can join in on a monthly basis. This unique platform will help Pastors to be in touch with one another, share their challenges and pray for one another.
Church Relations Desk. By Enos Changulo & Pastor Philemon Tanui