I am sorry for the slight delay in the writing of this letter but, though I returned to UK towards the end of April, it has taken almost 3 months for me to find, buy, and move into, the above address. During this long period I lived ‘out of a suitcase’ (mainly in Bed and Breakfast accommodation, but also in the homes of friends while on deputation work, and in a hotel while attending the Methodist Conference), and deferred the task of writing to the time when I would be settled in my new home. That time has now come.
Going back to my last five months at Kenya Methodist University (from December to April): I praise the Lord that he enabled me, with the help of your prayers, not only to complete all my teaching duties but also to complete the task of sorting the 38,000 books sent as a gift to the university by the Methodist Church of Great Britain from the now-closed Wesley College, Bristol. As I left KEMU, the important issues of how to dispose of the books which were not found suitable for the KEMU library and how to display the books which were accepted still remained to be finally resolved, and hopefully will be resolved in due course. Meanwhile, during my final five months, God was still working wonderfully in and through the students we were teaching. One particular example of this was the amazing response to the university students’ mission to a Methodist circuit in Uganda during the Christmas break, at which about 150 responded publicly to the gospel call, including about 30 Moslems!
Outside of KEMU, at the beginning of the year, I was posted to St. Joseph’s Church in Maua for my Sunday attachment. Maua is about 30 miles east of Meru Town in the Nyambene Hills, and the site of Maua Methodist Hospital. Here I attended the three services held every Sunday morning (the first in English, the second in Swahili, and the third in Kimeru) and conducted some Bible studies in a separate room after the Swahili service for those who wanted to go deeper into the Scriptures. St. Joseph’s is very much like the Kinoru and Kaaga churches I had been attached to earlier, with about 500 adult members (many of them young adults), about 300 children in the Sunday School, vibrant worship and a passion for mission and evangelism, and it was a joy to share in its life, if only for a short period.
I had two farewell parties before I left Kenya. One was organized by the Department of Theology, Religious Studies and Counseling and held in the open air in the grounds of a nearby retreat centre. A period of devotion and a meal were followed by speeches, the giving of a painted portrait of myself, and plenty of photographs. The second farewell party was organized by the university itself, and was held in the main administrative block of KEMU in the presence of the Vice-Chancellor, heads of Faculties and Departments, and various other representatives. Here the gifts were many, including the insignia of an African elder and carvings of East African wild animals. It was a wonderful send off, not only for the 6 years I spent at KEMU, but also for the 20 years altogether (1985-1999, 2013-2019) which I have spent working with the MCK.
The fact that there is no ministerial mission partner from the British Methodist Church to follow me in Kenya is a sign of the times. Whereas the original Methodist mission to Kenya was spearheaded by British Methodist ministers over 150 years ago, and whereas British Methodist ministers still greatly outnumbered Kenyan Methodist ministers at the time of autonomy in 1967, now there are no British Methodist ministers at all, while at the same time there are hundreds of Kenyan Methodist ministers who are well able to care for the increasing number of congregations and direct their mission work. Moreover, during the last 6 years while I have been at KEMU, statistics reveal that the membership of the Kenyan Methodist Church has now overtaken the membership of the British Methodist Church which, under God, gave it birth.
This is likely to be my last circular prayer letter. It is possible that I may take on some short-term, part-time lecturing assignments at KEMU or elsewhere in the future, and I certainly hope to keep on preaching as opportunities arise for as long as I can, but I am sure that this is the right time to retire from full-time ministry. So I would like to conclude by thanking you all for your prayers, and by welcoming you to keep in touch or even visit me if you have opportunity. If you intend a visit, however, please let me know in advance, not just so that I might be prepared for your coming, but also because my house is hidden and difficult to find (even if you have a ‘sat nav’), and you will almost certainly need some detailed directions!
Wishing you every blessing in Christ,
Yours in Him,
Rev Dr Peter Ensor