Eastleigh Fellowship Centre (Nairobi, Kenya)
The founders of the Eastleigh Fellowship Centre were Justus Machango, David Shenk, Jack Aoro, Ahmed Ali Haile, John Okanya, Obo Otengo and the Ngarama family. The church was planted in 1973 in the Eastleigh slums of Nairobi, Kenya, bordering the Moi Air Base to the east, in a densely populated majority Muslim area. The Centre sits only 50 yards from a Muslim mosque. This location came about because David Shenk, who had been a missionary in Somalia, loved working with the Muslims. When he left Somalia and came to Kenya he opted live in the Eastleigh area, and to plant a church among the Muslims concentrated in Eastleigh. Previously there was a congregation meeting at Avon Hall in Mbotela, a ward in Nairobi.
In 1980-1981 Shenk raised money and purchased a four-family apartment building. There were two vacant plots of land on both sides of the apartment, so he sought out the plot owners and they also agreed to sell the two parcels to the church. In 1982 the Eastleigh Fellowship Centre was constructed on one plot, and on the other plot a basketball pitch was erected.
The Eastleigh Centre offered library services and provided English lessons for the Muslims who had come from the village and wanted to have a grasp of the international language. A section of the building was used for Christian-Muslim dialogue, and there were classrooms for the formal education of lower classes. The church hall was used by different groups regardless of their religious affiliation.
In the mid-1990s a gym was also constructed to provide for those who wanted some exercise. In 2018 Eastleigh Fellowship Centre remained a unique ground where Muslims and Christians carried out their activities simultaneously without friction or tension. Over many years the Muslim extremists have bombed other parts of Eastleigh but have not laid hands on this project.
The Eastleigh congregation has had various leaders. From 1973 to 1978 it was led by Pastor David Shenk and Evangelist Justus Machango. Evangelist Joshua Okello provided leadership from 1976 through 1981. Joseph Shenk was the pastor in charge from 1978 to 1981; between 1981 and 1982 the church had no pastor but survived under the church council’s leadership. From 1983 to 1988 Joshua Okello became the pastor in charge. From 1988 to 1989 Eastleigh was under the supervision of Elders Francis Kizito, Samuel Omwalo, Philip Okeyo and John Okanya among others. In 1989 Philip Okeyo was the pastor in charge and was later followed by Francis Kizito and Malachi Oyoo. In the 2018 the leader was Rebecca Osiro .
Ojwang', Francis S., ed. Forward in faith: history of the Kenya Mennonite Church: a seventy-year journey, 1942-2012. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Mennonite Church, 2015: 99-104, 194-199.
|Author(s)||Francis S Ojwang'|
Cite This Article
Ojwang', Francis S. "Eastleigh Fellowship Centre (Nairobi, Kenya)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August. Web. 22 Feb 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Eastleigh_Fellowship_Centre_(Nairobi,_Kenya)&oldid=161459.
Ojwang', Francis S. (August). Eastleigh Fellowship Centre (Nairobi, Kenya). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 February 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Eastleigh_Fellowship_Centre_(Nairobi,_Kenya)&oldid=161459.
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