Alex Goodwin serves as the Communications Director at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in St. Augustine, Florida, where he lives with his wife and two children. Alex has participated on multiple mission teams to Africa. His duties at the Mission Center include broadening awareness of, and participation in, Orthodox missions among the faithful of North America.
Today is Thursday, so I was up early to make the drive to St. Paul’s University near Limuru before the morning traffic totally clogged Naivasha Road, the main road out of our part of town. Normally I teach two Master’s-level courses at St. Paul’s on Thursday mornings – a course on the Atonement and another on Theology and Public Life. But I arrived today to discover that both of my students had illnesses in their families, which meant they couldn’t make it to class. Before I got too excited about having a FULL MORNING open up before my eyes, I got an e-mail from a former colleague at Africa International University all but begging me to serve as the external examiner for two Master’s theses. I am about to agree to help out, even though I know what this entails, and so even though the day is still young, I am already questioning my sanity. So I’m beginning to see how my “free” morning is about to go.
Yesterday (Wednesday) at the Orthodox Seminary, I taught the third-year students a two-hour class on the global Christian missionary movement. But rather than overwhelm them with dates and names which will not get remembered, I tried instead to help them understand the motives for missions. Among other things, this involved doing a Bible study of Romans 12:5-15, during which I got the strong impression that my students had never done a Bible study before. This made me realize how fortunate I have been to have such a strong grounding in the Scriptures. My Orthodox students are constantly reading the Scriptures, but mostly in liturgical contexts. In fact, we Orthodox hear far more Scripture in any given service than any Protestant church I was ever a part of. But in terms of understanding the Scriptures and being able to make use of the Scriptures, I am realizing that we Kenyan Orthodox have some things to learn. I taught the concept of inductive Bible Study for more than three decades and led more than thirty Bible studies during my time as a Protestant leader and pastor. But this sort of intentional study of the Scriptures is an entirely new concept here. I do not yet know what to do with this. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, with His Eminence’s blessing, we might start a weekly Bible study here.
If this were all, it would certainly be enough. But I also presented a paper in mid-March at an academic conference on the problem of dependency in Kenyan churches. I was asked to give a presentation on Orthodox Spirituality at a St. Paul’s faculty fellowship and another presentation on Women in Ministry at a staff fellowship at the Orthodox Seminary. And then a week or so ago I was asked to preach at St. Paul’s chapel on the day the Orthodox students were given responsibility for the chapel service.
And I’ve written a book on stewardship and the churches in Kenya. I go over how Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church through the time of St. John Chrysostom dealt with money, offerings, and giving. I cover the contemporary issues of dependency and the prosperity heresy, as well as misguided efforts to impose “tithing” as a solution for a church’s financial needs. I offer stewardship as the New Testament and early Church model of handling money and possessions, and I give examples of Kenyan churches who are doing money well and others that are missing the mark. Please pray with me that God might use this material to help His people here. Every church I am aware of, Orthodox or otherwise, struggles with money. And nobody for more than 20 years has addressed this in a systematic, useful way. I have submitted my manuscript to a Roman Catholic publisher, Pauline, and am waiting to hear from them. If they aren’t interested, I will try with one of the Protestant presses. I want this to be published here in Kenya so that the price will be lower and therefore the book will be more accessible to priests, pastors, and leaders across the country.
So I’ve been busy. Some days I feel like it’s too much and that I’m not doing anything particularly well. But I’m trying to be a good steward of the opportunity the Lord has given me and that you, through your prayers and your financial provision, are making possible.
OCMC Missionary Dr. William Black teaches at the Makarios III Orthodox Seminary and St. Paul’s University in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition to helping to train future Church leaders and clergy, Dr. Black has recently written a book on Stewardship – an increasingly relevant topic for the Church in the mission field.
Inspired by the OCMC, the Orthodox Christian Network will be featuring the outstanding missionary outreach of this organization who, in the spirit of Christ’s love, offers the Gospel worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond to the missionary calling. Please join us in raising awareness for their countless missionary endeavors, and we invite you to learn more about the OCMC.
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