Photo by Tony Cece

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pastor’s Conference Day 2

 Tuesday 07-30-2013

We started our day with a time of prayer and reading Psalm 61 & Isaiah 45 before setting up for the final day of the Pastors’ conference.  We saw a lot of familiar faces from yesterday. Yet, we also had the pleasure of meeting some new pastors who heard about the conference from those who attended yesterday.  We set out Christian books that were donated for the pastors. The pastors told us how amazing it was to have the opportunity to choose one of these books since most of them do not have very many books and are only able to get them from Nairobi. After the pastors picked their book, we started the conference with energetic worship, Kenyan style; there is nothing quite like it. Some of us found it to be similar to an aerobic exercise class, yet with beaming joyful Kenyan faces, worshiping our Mighty God.

The first session involved working with substance abuse in the church. This included discussion of the 12-step model of recovering from addictions (as seen in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery). After this session, our team members paired off to lead group discussions focusing on this topic. During these sessions, the pastors shared their experiences working with those suffering from addictions as well as their family members. Some pastors were recovering alcoholics themselves and had never shared that information with others. Other pastors have shared their personal experiences with substance abuse and have even integrated programs in their churches that support families of those struggling with substance abuse. Many of the pastors wrestled with whether to excommunicate or embrace those with substance addictions. They also were intrigued by the physiological components of addictions. Previously, they viewed addiction solely as sin. The pastors discussed ways that they could minister to those struggling with addictions.

Following these groups, Dr. Keyes and a student shared information about Human Trafficking. After this presentation, we had a break for lunch. The pastors talked to one another about the topic and following lunch we met in our same groups to lead another discussion. During the groups about human trafficking, the pastors shared stories about their relatives and church members who have been trafficked both in Kenya and abroad (especially Saudi Arabia). The pastors realized that they have been aware of members of their congregation who have become “house girls” and part of the role of a “house girl” is often engaging in sexual activities with the man of the household. The pastors realized that through their awareness of this, they are in part, promoting this negative treatment of women. While the pastors were passionate about educating girls and their parents about the risk factors of being trafficked, they were uncomfortable discussing ways to discourage men from using prostitutes. However, they expressed compassion and concern when discussing ways to minister to those who had been trafficked.

After the group about human trafficking, Dr. Keyes and Dr. Harris-Keyes led a presentation about domestic violence. This presentation focused on power and control dynamics in family, specifically emphasizing male dominance, which is prevalent in Kenya. A brief second presentation was shared about controlling anger. Reactions were mixed as even the pastors wanted to maintain control of their own families. Women in this country are subservient to the point of battery.

While Dr. Keyes & Dr. Harris-Keyes presented these last two presentations, Dr. Reese led the other members of our team in our 3rd and final supervision session of the day.  During the supervision sessions, we had the opportunity to discuss how we would lead groups before we led them and the opportunity to process groups after we finished leading them. It was interesting how there were common conversations and stories in all of the groups, yet many differences in group dynamics as well. One group had difficulty with a translator overtaking the group discussion. The group leaders of this group dealt with frustration yet also recognized that they were learning the very valuable skill of confrontation within groups. Dr. Reese ended our final supervision session of the day by asking each member of our team how they planned implement self care after this group. We each spent time walking, running, worshiping, reading, singing, coloring, etc. During our nightly debriefing meeting, the professors shared how they were proud of us for the development of our counseling skills. Now we are ready for a good night’s rest so we are ready for our women’s conference in the morning. Thank you again for your prayers. Please be praying for our last two days in Kaningop, Kenya.

-Ashley & Kelly 

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