During the past five years, Foursquare Missions International (FMI) Missionaries Garry and Brenda Kean and their four daughters have been living and serving in the bustling capital city of Nairobi, located in Kenya, Africa.
Kenya is notable for its distinctive physiography, perhaps most famously the Kenyan Highlands, which comprise a region deemed one of Africa’s great agricultural successes. Despite this fact, episodes of drought and flooding, decades of rapid population growth, and diseases such as HIV/AIDS are a few of many contributors to the nation’s high poverty rate, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Nairobi is counted as one of the most populous cities in East Africa, and at around 3.3 million people can easily be called a place of influence. Although characterized by high levels of crime, Nairobi should not be overlooked as a city rich in story and hope, as we found when we recently interviewed Garry. He candidly shared his perspective on missional life in Nairobi, and his hope for impact in Kenya and beyond.
Kenya is between stages one and two in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model, meaning people are coming to Christ through discipleship and leadership training. New Song Nairobi, the church Garry pastors, is a stage two church. Says Garry: “The church has been established, and discipleship is happening. The development and releasing of leaders is a priority; the church continues to grow and is increasingly involved in outreach as we make evangelism a primary focus.”
What is daily life like for your family?
Garry: We believe that God calls a family, not just the parents, to the mission field. Our kids are a major part of what God is doing here. Our first Life Group members came as a result of Brenda walking our youngest in a stroller through the neighborhood.
School plays a major role in the education and social development of our daughters, and our mornings start early. Family coffee time on the “big bed” is part of the morning routine, and then it’s off to school for the girls while Brenda and I do our part to make sure the church and Jacaranda Creations function. Jacaranda Creations is our sewing ministry, an NGO created to empower widows and single mothers to provide for their families. Meetings, study and discipleship are major factors in our day.
Tell us about your recent church plant and interdenominational partnerships.
Garry: Our church is nearly three years old. We began hosting a Life Group meeting in our home every other week, where we would spend a couple of hours enjoying a meal together, and then time in worship and the Word. We primarily had neighbors and friends attending.
After a year of meeting in our home, we launched New Song Nairobi and began meeting weekly at a hotel nearby. On our first Sunday, we had about 40 people, and we’ve continued to grow, averaging 150 today.
We’ve partnered with a variety of church and parachurch ministries. We have strong ties with different Baptist and Assemblies of God churches, and our Bible training is done in partnership with Pan African Christian University. Additionally, the Lord has opened the door for some amazing friendships within the diplomatic community.
What challenges do you face as missionaries in Nairobi?
Garry: Crime is high and always present. We frequently hear of and are affected by friends who have been victims of crime. We were in Nairobi during the election violence of 2008, and have had personal friends kidnapped, robbed and carjacked.
I used to say that being in the center of God’s will is the safest place to be. I don’t believe that anymore. Often God’s will leads us into dangerous situations and places. We know we’re called as a family to serve the wonderful people of Kenya, and we are aware of the dangers and take the necessary precautions; we don’t live in fear of the situation.
As with most missionaries, finances are a struggle. We know that God is faithful to provide for what He calls us to do, but it’s still a challenge for us to continue to do the work, maintain a level of awareness for our supporters, as well as seek out new support.
How did impacting families become a goal of yours?
Garry: Evangelism and ministry to the family have been our passion for years. Church for us is multi-ethnic and multi-generational—it reaches across cultural, social and economic barriers, and involves men and women in ministry. That’s church.
Ultimately, what is your hope for the city of Nairobi?
Garry: I believe the Lord will use this church plant and others to feed new life and leadership into Foursquare Kenya. Our goal is to see The Foursquare Church here become a church planting movement that is impacting lives and changing a nation.
They say Kenya is a Christian nation—statistics such as “80 percent of Kenya is Christian” are commonly quoted. The gospel has come to Kenya, but has not permeated society here. Nairobi is a gateway; touching the continent of Africa is possible through this key city. Our goal is to raise up leaders who not only will impact this nation for Christ, but also the continent of Africa and beyond.
How can people get involved in what you are doing?
Garry: Well-planned, strategic teams are helpful. Anything that will strengthen and develop our leadership is critical. There are also many opportunities in the areas of worship, children’s ministry and ministry in the slums.
How to Pray for the Keans
- Pray for leadership development.
- Pray for church growth, spiritually and numerically.
- Pray for finances.
- Pray for their daughters. In 2012, Kaitlyn, their oldest daughter, will be off to university.
- Pray for continued focus on what God is calling them to put their hands to. Garry says there are many life and death needs that come to them daily, and that they want to be good stewards of their time and resources to make an impact where God wants their focus.
How to Support the Keans
To send an encouraging word or for more information on the Kean family and their work in Nairobi, email them, or write to them at the following address:
Garry and Brenda Kean
Kean & Company Inc.
P.O. Box 345
Franklin, TN 37065
Watch a video featuring Garry Kean’s song “Out My WIndow,” which shows Garry and Brenda on the field in Nairobi.
By: Ashley Wolpert Miller, a freelance writer living in Long Beach, Calif., who has enjoyed leading and participating in several international missions trips