Danger and despair run rampant in the slums; pastors soldier on

By August 21, 2012

Nairobi (MNN) — Pastors partnering with Baptist Global Response know full-well the dangers awaiting them in Nairobi's slums. More than a million people live in appalling conditions with little or no access to clean water. Overwhelming poverty and static unemployment drive many to addictions and theft.

Pastor Morris Buyu and Pastor Patrick Muigai have both experienced Nairobi's depravity. In the slums of northeastern Nairobi, Buyu has been robbed at knifepoint, and he saw his wife stabbed. In 2007, as political conflicts stirred violent unrest between ethnic groups, the school building where Buyu ministered was attacked by two warring groups.

Muigai saw the suffering of Nairobi's Kiwanja community and its addiction to changaa, a Kenyan "moonshine" of sorts. Changaa is four times cheaper than regular beer and has become a staple for addicts living in the slums. Many slum dwellers are uneducated or sick, and brewing changaa is an easy source of income.

Despite the challenges and risks they face each day, these pastors have an ally helping them bring the Way, Truth, and Life into areas of intense darkness: a leather-working business called Sema Leatherworks.

Sema Leatherworks was started by Baptist Global Response partner Nairobi Business as Mission. Many congregations in Nairobi are too poor to support their pastors, which causes the ministers' focus to shift from caring for their flock to caring for their family. Sema alleviates this need by providing jobs for Buyu, Muigai, and six other pastors ministering in low-income areas of Nairobi. Pastors earn enough income to take care of their families by manufacturing leather products at Sema during four days of the week. Sema requires pastors to focus on ministry during the remaining three days of the week.

With the support of Sema Leatherworks and other Christian organizations, Buyu and his wife, Mercy, were able to plant a new church in their neighborhood earlier this year. Patrick has enacted several measures to challenge the changaa stronghold in Kiwanja, including Bible studies, a ministry for women with HIV, and a community development project involving the raising of chicken and rabbits.

At Sema Leatheworks, pastors craft everything from key rings and Christmas ornaments to Kindle covers. You can browse their products and place and order by clicking here. Or you can visit our Facebook page to write an encouraging verse or note to pastors working with Sema.


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