A lot has gone under the FTC bridge for the months of June and July 2019. Here are the highlights:
18 FTC faculty/staff members had a retreat at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Mwanza, Tanzania June 26-29. We met to reflect on the FTC journey for the past 5 years; blessings we have received as a college which have streamed down to students, staff, and faculty. Among the blessings include:
-The accreditation with the Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA).
-The upward surge of student enrollment we are experiencing every semester and module.
-Renovation and infrastructural development – the death and resurrection of the White House (repair of the White House men’s dorm) that has increased numbers of student enrollment.
-Thanksgiving to FTC donors who include: John Sarrin Committee and Indiana Yearly Meeting (for offering 80% scholarships to the first 5 Bachelor of Theology degree students) among others; and individual Friends and friends for their sacrifice to support the African ministry.
-SMA solar energy – a gift that has saved the college over 84% in monthly electric bills.
Besides the blessing, we also reflected on major challenges we have experienced, collectively as an institution, and individually. These include:
-Fatal shooting (stray bullet by a Kenya Police officer) of our
Front Desk Receptionist, Edna Tadayo in November 2017
while happily shopping at Cheptulu local shopping center.
-Current challenge of lack of facilities to accommodate surging numbers of pastors who have a desire for pastoral training at FTC. These include beds, chairs, and tables in the dining hall and diminishing space in the dining hall.
I spoke in a workshop for chaplains in the Western region of Kenya. This was held in Malaba, border-town with Uganda on June 5, 2019. My topic was, “Chaplain as a Mentor and Coach in a Learning institution.” I brought in the imagery of a guardian, father and mother (1 Cor. 4:14-17; 1 Thess. 2:6-12; 2 Tim. 2:2) and examples of Moses and Joshua; Elijah and Elisha; Jesus and the disciples; Barnabas and Paul; Paul and Timothy.
A quote that I share with the pastors, which I am proud of are the words said by Bill Clinton, former U.S. President, “People who grow up in different circumstances and yet are successful have one thing in common; at a crucial point in their adolescence, they had a positive relationship with a caring adult." (This quote came from a book titled Leadership in Theological Education, by Deininger and Eguizabal. 2018)
We had a two day FTC Faculty professional growth workshop from July 24-26. This workshop brought together 36 lecturers from all of our five campuses: Kaimosi, Lugulu, Nairobi, Lugari, and Kitale. Among the topics shared included: “Deep Reading: Essential skills in Academic Reading,” facilitated by Alice Shirengo; “Case Teaching/Use of Rubrics and assessment,” facilitated by John Sirengo; “What makes it hard to be an excellent Teacher,” facilitated by the Academic Dean, Rodgers Wekesi; “Health and Wellness,” facilitated by Nancy Wafula; and I facilitated a topic on “Syllabus Preparation.” I also led the faculty to do an evaluation and reflection. To some lecturers, this was their first time to come together with other lecturers, and this was quite gratifying.
Prior to the FTC faculty workshop, I attended a two-day conference on “Governance, Resource Mobilization, and Financial Sustainability” at St. Paul’s University (my alma mater, 1985-1988) from July 10-12. This conference targeted principals of collaborating colleges with St. Paul’s University. It was sponsored by the Overseas Council of Australia (OCA). Topic covered include Planning programs and activities Budget control; Directing and organizing; and Decision making and assigning roles. We also covered areas of Financial Policies Human Resource procedures Investment project management and creative fundraising. I came away from the St. Paul’s conference feeling hopeful and optimistic to tackle what lies ahead of me as an administrator of a theological seminary. But more than that, I gained a lot in the area of bonding with principals from other affiliate colleges, some of whom were my classmates during the time I was a student in this same institution.
This week is another beehive of activities. Students have resumed for the August module, and numbers are becoming a good problem. We are yet again registering a high record of enrollment from last module in April. The last time I checked at the reception desk there is a total of 100 students. We still expect a few more to come early this week for the next two courses. Students, faculty, and staff were excited to have Oscar Mmbali share his testimony of his call into ministry and experiences in both Thailand as a graduate student and now as a missionary in Belize. We were blessed to have him eat lunch and dinner with us in the dining hall.
Students took everything Oscar shared with lots of interest, but so amazing was how he nurtured his dream of wanting to take his ministry to Belize since 2003 while studying at FTC. 14 years later, his dream came true. After sharing, Oscar allowed a moment for questions from students, and one question was asked as to whether there was ugali (cornmeal mush) in Thailand and can he get the same stuff and chicken in Belize? His answer to this question was, "that is one major reason why I come back to Kenya at least once a year, to eat enough chicken and ugali that will run me the whole year when I am back to Belize.” Students left the convocation so motivated, especially when they learned that he is an FTC alumnus. They saw him and myself and Nancy as great role models who can go overseas, get education and return to give back to the community, but still extend their ministry overseas again as missionaries.