The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in Kenya in 1998 as part of a larger East Africa strategy for training leaders among several people groups. Because the Lutheran church was growing at such a large rate, many churches were being planted that had no pastor. A great need exists to train lay leaders who can minister to the large numbers of people who are newly-baptized and to travel to many other villages that have asked to hear the Gospel. Therefore, the main thrust of LCMS work has been to support local Mission Training Centers, where eight to 12 laymen meet several days monthly to receive biblical and doctrinal training from national Lutheran pastors. Currently, there are 18 training centers throughout Kenya. The strategy is to make these training centers self-sustaining so they can continue their work without mission support.
The LCMS, by convention vote, joined the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) in altar and pulpit fellowship in 2004. The ELCK is therefore a sister/partner church. Its roots are in mission work begun in 1948 by Scandinavian mission societies. The ELCK has 121 pastors, 200 trained evangelists, 520 congregations and 100,000 members. It is a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC).
Currently, mission work in Kenya is carried out in collaboration with the ELCK. They determine what locations are best to conduct training and who should be involved. The ELCK also has a pastoral training seminary in Matongo, western Kenya, which the LCMS has supported.
Many short-term teams have served in Kenya in the past few years through the LCMS, helping in such areas as evangelism and teaching. Mercy medical teams also come to Kenya through the LCMS. The LCMS first awarded a grant for mercy work in Kenya in 1994, when we distributed food to hungry Kenyans. Ongoing work has included health care, digging wells, providing support for a girls’ school, artisan support, a dairy goat breeding project, orphan support and orphan rescue centers, drought relief, flood relief, church pews, Bibles and theological materials and cows for Kenyan church workers.
Currently, the LCMS supports a women’s handcraft project; the Diakonia Compassionate Ministry, which reaches out to at-risk populations; orphan/disadvantaged children support through the 1001 Orphans program; assistance for deaconess training programs; and providing shelter and material goods for families affected by politically-induced violence.