Kingdom Club goes to Kenya!
Our story began under a tent at Meeting Street and Lee Street. You may remember during September three years ago, a two-week tent revival was held by a local evangelist, Matthew Pridgen. Eight young girls from the neighborhood ran down to see what was happening under this large white tent. These girls enjoyed the worship so much that they came back every evening and decided to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Those in attendance will always cherish the memory of seeing these girls, between the ages seven and nine, being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit at the revival.
Matthew and Nicole Pridgen, John and Sandy Tecklenburg, Scott and Nena Jackson wanted to disciple the girls so they started a weekly Bible study. Nena, who I often label as a “divine connector of people” invited me to join one of the meetings, and that was the beginning of our mission team. We certainly did not know it at the time. As Jesus told the disciples when he insisted on washing their feet, “You don’t understand now why I am doing this, but someday you will.” (John 13:7) We began pouring into this group of girls by teaching them how to apply the Bible in every aspect of their lives while relying heavily on outside resources with inner city ministry experience. God faithfully began sending us specific gifted leaders from the community and our churches. The leaders were divinely appointed, the girls became like family, and the “Kingdom Club” was formed. We currently meet in a room graciously provided by Second Presbyterian Church, and in MaryAnne Poole’s home on Vanderhorst.
Our mission is ‘to equip young girls from the East Side with Biblical principles and Scripture lessons to be leaders and role models to others in their community’. The Kingdom Club teachings have heavily focused on the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal. 5:22-23) We all display this fruit in our lives the more we know and trust God. To experience this supernatural love is not by human effort, but by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Children need to know this truth, and they are actually more teachable on this subject than adults. We even created a handshake and fruit of Spirit song especially for The Kingdom Club with the help of singer, Ann Caldwell of the Magnolia Singers here in Charleston. Recently, we have implemented the teachings of the children’s books and curriculum by Nena Jackson and Kristi Smith, Fruit That Lasts. It was during this time that God gave us a word that some of the leaders of The Kingdom Club were the 2017 Kenya Mission Team.
So following the Lord’s obedience in July, The Kingdom Club leaders went to Kenya! While there, our team led a Vacation Bible School based on this content we had been teaching at The Kingdom Club meetings. The curriculum, Fruit That Lasts, uses lively tree characters to teach children about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit through a modern day parable with photosynthesis. We used puppets that were designed by a wonderfully gifted puppeteer and actress, Christy Cabaniss, who has also become a valued member of our Kingdom Club team. We love that this teaching started in Charleston and then we took it 8000 miles away to our brothers and sisters in Kenya. Also our Kingdom Club teammates and loved ones who stayed home played just as big of a part as those of us that traveled to Kenya. It is our prayer you will also be blessed by this testimony.
Once in Kenya, our team was divinely connected to several orphanages under the guidance of the Bishop Simon Mwaura and his wife Lucy. Simon is the epitome of an amazing leader. He leads many churches under the umbrella of his great ministry, God’s Grace For All Nations (GGFAN). He is also every child’s dad at The Home of the Good Shepherd Orphanage in Nyahururu, Kenya. Simon is an amazing businessman, entrepreneur, spiritual leader, educator, missionary, mentor, minister, and even a woman’s counselor (for our team at least). We met Simon many years ago through St. Michaels Church and he continues to partner with St. Michaels as a missionary.
Simon sent us to minister at several of his friends’ orphanages during the week. These homes were located in some very poor villages of rural Kenya. The facilities resembled what looked like stables and stressed farms. These orphanages were struggling consisting of only ten or so children who’s only toy was a ball made of fabric and rubber bands, but it made for quite a special memory for all of us. The intimacy of the settings worked well for our relational group of missionaries.
The end of the week came upon us and we were scheduled to begin our children’s conference preparations on Friday at Simon and Lucy’s Home of the Good Shepherd. We were told to prepare for 150 children who were coming from many churches for a conference and slumber party on Saturday. We commissioned the older children at The Home of the Good Shepherd as team leaders in preparation for the weekend events. We quickly discovered an amazing community of young disciples working together to thrive. Every single pre-teen and teen showed great leadership skills at Simon and Lucy’s home. These children carry a mighty spirit of hope and are empowered to serve in a Spirit led community that thrives and fosters hope for a greater future through faith and education, which is exactly the environment we strive to provide for the Kingdom Club participants.
Simon had confirmed on Thursday evening that Nena Jackson and Kristi Smith (our leaders) were going to speak and minister else where on Friday. This left a few of us to work with The Good Shepherd on preparations. A fear of failure to perform crept in, but it was quickly relinquished by a great peace that all of our gifts would be used greatly throughout that day. Throughout the entire trip, God orchestrated our team so that each member was always where she needed to be at the right time. That Friday, my teaching gifts were flowing, Rosie Colson’s artistic and hospitality gifts were glowing, and Maryanne Poole’s leadership and management skills were shining. Meanwhile, Nena and Kristi were off doing what they do best, letting God use them as vessels to minister to others. Prep day ran like a well-oiled machine. For example, we had 150 gift bags to fill with 9 different colored bracelets for the visitors. The 30+ children formed an assembly line to gather the bracelets and drop them in the bags while walking through a line many times. The faithful assembly line flowed like a glorious train.
Friday night, we returned to the hotel and came up with some ideas for organizing the groups, ensuring smooth transitions. Saturday morning arrived and there was one snafu- 220 children and their Sunday school teachers showed up when we had only prepared for 150! Our lack of supplies was evident at the first name tag station so we scrambled, and the Lord multiplied our supplies like He did with loaves and fishes. By Saturday evening, we wondered if the 220 children “got the message”, but many of them accepted Christ. Then God orchestrated an amazing receiving of the Holy Spirit for everyone, at which point we knew He was doing something greater than we could do. We rested peacefully.
Sunday, the final conference day came, and all of us piled into the building for worship. The program was completely run by the children themselves! Each church group presented a song, dance, or message about what they had learned. These children were singing the Kingdom Club song and doing the Kingdom Club handshake with their peers. They were reciting the fruit of the Spirit with sign language and repeating lines from the puppet scripts. God HAD been working in a mighty way even when we felt tired or unproductive or when the numbers weren’t working. During the times when the leadership team seemed divided, He sanctified us through the process and brought us back into his body of believers to do a good thing. Praise God.
Kingdom Club in Kenya will forever be a life changing experience for all of us. The best part is that it’s an ongoing story. We are excited to see where God takes us next on our journey! One vision we have is to take our Kingdom Club girls to Kenya with us. They already know and love Bishop Simon Mwaura, who spends time with them each time he visits Charleston.
In closing, let’s go back to the tent. What’s the significance?
Paul was a tentmaker (Act 18:3) who travelled and shared the gospel.
The tent of the Godly will flourish! ( Proverbs 14:11)
For we know when this earthly tent we live in is taken down- when we die and leave or bodies- we will have a home in heaven, an eternal BODY made by God himself not human hands. (2 corinthians 5:1)
A God fearing man put up a tent in our city, and God made His move and continues to do so! It is clear that God’s church is everywhere and He calls us to work together as one to grow his kingdom no matter where we serve. We all have the opportunity to share in His mission through His church! Our prayer is that our little church story blesses you and encourages you as you grow in the body of Christ.