The story of RCA's mission work in Africa has often followed the seemingly continuous political upheavals experienced on the continent. When RCA missionaries had to evacuate Ethiopia because of the communist overthrow, some of them crossed the border into Kenya to continue their work among the Daasanech people residing there.
Kenya's population of more than 42 million includes over 70 distinct ethnic groups. The limited amount of cultivable land has encouraged the population to concentrate in those areas, with the result that 75 percent of the people live on 10 percent of the land. Kenya gained independence from Great Britain in 1963. About 80 percent of the population is Christian. There is a strong Muslim influence on the coast and in the northeast.
The Africa Inland Church (AIC) serves as the RCA's partner church in Kenya. The largest Protestant church in the country, the AIC is the result of the work of the Africa Inland Mission (AIM) and is still closely tied to AIM. At the invitation of the AIC, the RCA agreed to undertake two projects in areas where the AIC wanted to work but could not provide personnel or funds. These joint AIC-RCA projects--among the Pokot people in Alale and among the Orma in Waldena, Titilla, and Daba--are among unreached peoples. The projects focus on evangelism and on community development, which includes health, agriculture, animal health, income generation, water development, and education. Because the Africa Inland Church has a strong mission program, both projects have increasingly come under the direction of indigenous staff. The Orma project is now staffed entirely by Kenyan missionaries, and the last western RCA mission staff person handed the Pokot project over to nationals in 2002. The RCA's relationships with and support of these projects will continue, along with thanks for the success stories that enable us to redeploy personnel and financial resources into new, more underserved areas.
St. Paul's United Theological College, another RCA mission partner, trains students for ministry in the church and society. Its diverse student population comes from a variety of church traditions and from countries across Africa. RCA missionaries help with the school's administration and teach classes in economics, theology, sociology, psychology, and pastoral care for HIV/AIDS patients.
In early 2007, the RCA entered into partnership with the Maasai Outreach Mission, an indigenous church started in 1984 that desires to minister to and bring change within the community. The Maasai people live in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and Tanzania. One of the specific problems they are striving to address is the immense need for clean water. The RCA is partnering with them to build wells, which make it possible to irrigate land for growing crops and to keep livestock from perishing. A readily available water supply also means that when the Maasai were previously searching for water, they now have time for education.