Riding down the road in Vihiga County towards Kakamega from Kisumu Town two Fridays ago could have been a longer than expected journey due especially approaching Boyiani Mission Centre of the African Divine Church. This is where approximately four hundred youth sang and danced through the rural roads marching to pay tribute to their founder the Late Archbishop. As each youth marched the two kilometres towards the current Archbishop John Sayia Chabuga’s residential compound the key leaders awaited them including the Archbishop himself, a founder church member and the Late Archbishops wife. The youth formed a line and took turns individually pledging themselves to the growth of the church while giving respect to their founder. After all youth entered the grave site then the Archbishop and leaders followed where a prayer was said and songs were sang in the Late Archbishops honor. Then the current Archbishop spoke to the youth encouraging them to continue to stand by their church for future growth together.
The African Divine Church began in 1948 and has continued to grow in members and churches in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Originally, the church was spread through a similar marching that the youth were partaking in as they walked they would gather members to join them. The church began during the colonial times and had a difficult start because it was often considered a political organization rather than a peaceful church and was considered a threat to colonialism. As a result of this assumption, some church members initially were jailed and harassed based on their beliefs. So as the youth marched, they remember the struggles their founding fathers faced as they continue to grow and strengthen the African Divine Church.
The Youth Conference focused on several key issues they discussed through various methods with the youth. The conference lasted a week and knowledgeable people were brought in areas including; communication, nutrition, future opportunities and technology. Communication is a key area the ADC is working to strengthen throughout its various churches. They have put in place a new SMS technology that will enable the Archbishop to send an SMS to inform the youth on an upcoming event when necessary. This will help to keep the church in contact with one another and spread news of ADC events and happenings in a short amount of time. In addition nutrition was also a key subject and a lecturer was brought in to discuss the importance of a well balanced diet. Aside from to these areas of focus, there were also seven pillars that the youth were to master by the conclusion of the seminar.
The conference focused on a seven specific areas which included liturgy, strategic plan, delegation and team building, giving, attitude change, leadership and conflict and resolution. For example, in the area of attitude specifically the conference focused on changing or transforming the attitude of its leaders for the better of the ADC church. A positive attitude is the key to management of the church it is in the way we work, interact with people, face the environment, interact and exist. The result of the ADC youth to maintaining a positive attitude will lead to the church having limitless possibilities for the future. While another topic discussed was giving and how it is important and necessary for the church to move forward in the future. The meaning and purpose of giving was made clear for the youth so they can better comprehend the reasoning behind the tradition in their church. The conference as a whole worked to strengthen the leadership of the youth through engagement and theology. In conclusion of the conference there was a brief examination to determine the amount absorbed by the youth. As a result of the examinations the average score proved that the youth absorbed much of the information provided through the conference. After the results were announced at the final ceremony the Archbishop stood and offered to grant scholarships to the youth who performed the best on their examinations in each category of Evangelists, Youth Assembly and Youth Regions. Each of these categories represent the specific areas of focus they youth work and represent. The top male and females scores in each area were awarded with scholarships to the Boyiani Bible College located on the mission. The scholarship in total will cover the tuition for attendance of the Bible College and is a great gift to these aspiring youth.
In addition to offering the scholarships to the top scores, the Archbishop blessed the youth with a final message of encouragement. The Archbishop said, ‘The days when the youth were in the darkness are gone, we as preachers will not let you get lost again.’ He promised an easier link for communication between the pastors and youth. He also encouraged the youth to continue their education in the Bible College at Boyiani so they can continue to serve their home churches. Relating to the conference themes, the Archbishop also encouraged the youth to avoid conflict in their churches because conflict he said will make you fail. The Archbishop also encouraged the youth to continue to grow saying, ‘We want you in this ministry so keep planning as you grow to make a base for your leadership.’ The youth are Disciples of Christ sent out to grow and develop to become spiritually strong being sent out to prepare for the challenges and promotions ahead. The final word from the Archbishop was that of prayer, praying for the youth wherever they may be heading to and to look out for one another.
The Archbishop also encouraged the youth to come to the Boyiani Mission to continue their theological education at the Bible College. This is a one year certificate course in theology that began in 2000 with nine pastors to train and since then has trained over 500 students. In the past four years alone the Bible College has maintained just over 40 students each year. After this year certificate course, the graduate takes over a ADC congregation in one of the three surrounding countries. With its’ current success, the Mission is planning to create a diploma course which would open doors to all denominations for theological training.
Not only has the ADC increased its involvement with the youth education, it is also seeking to become more involved in the growth of children within their churches. The ADC has 60 primary schools spread throughout Kenya. These schools are to benefit the entire communities they serve rather than just the Divine Churches children. The ADC also spoke to the youth during the conference about how the youth should prioritize children so they are not left behind. The youth need to mentor the children as well has help with the Sunday school classes for the spiritual growth in the children. The Archbishop encouraged this to help support the youngest and future generations of the church.
The Africa Divine Church is growing and helping rural communities throughout East Africa to strengthen community development specifically with the youth and children. There is still much work to be done, and the church has high hopes and plans for the future. The General Secretary for the ADC said in response to the OAIC’s contributions to its Bible College, ‘We are very grateful for what the OAIC is doing because it would not be possible without them; with their assistance we have been able to sustain the Bible College and increase the number of participants.’ The OAIC will continue to work with the ADC and its programs to further the education of youth and children and strengthen community development efforts together.