This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Kenyans equipped for relations with Muslims

Waiting for a taxi at a tea shop in Nairobi, Kenya, Jona­than Bornman asked a young Somali refugee if he had any prayer needs.

The man replied, “I want to go to paradise.”

Bornman responded, “I am a follower of Jesus, and Jesus makes the way to paradise very clear.” Bornman was thankful for the man’s open confession.

At a Christian-Muslim relations seminar at Eastleigh Fellowship Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, Mennonite pastor Rebecca Osiro, right, works in a group to study and discuss how to improve relations with Muslims. — Jonathan Bornman/EMM
At a Christian-Muslim relations seminar at Eastleigh Fellowship Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, Mennonite pastor Rebecca Osiro, right, works in a group to study and discuss how to improve relations with Muslims. — Jonathan Bornman/EMM

As a member of Eastern Mennonite Missions’ Christian/Muslim Relations Team, Bornman traveled to Kenya April 27-May 8 at the invitation of the Kenya Mennonite Church.

He went with David Shenk, who started the team to build respectful connections between Christians and Muslims while faithfully confessing Christ.

Bornman and Shenk led seminars to help Kenyan Mennonites develop a vision for healthy Christian-Muslim relations as the Muslim community in Western Kenya grows.

The first seminar took place in Malindi, a majority-Muslim city. It included about 20 participants from five churches. Many were young people accustomed to interaction with Muslim friends, schoolmates and co-workers.

“My perception is that they were deeply encouraged by our 1 Peter 3:15 message of gentle, respectful witness,” Bornman said.

Bornman and Shenk conducted a workshop May 5 for more than 20 senior leaders of Kenya Mennonite Church at Amani Gardens Inn in Nairobi.

Bornman and Kenya Mennonite Church general secretary Samson Omondi led the audience in a discussion of four topics: dialogue, witness, peacemaking and hospitality in relation to Christian-Muslim communication. Bornman said he was surprised at the passion participants brought to the topics.

Bornman and Shenk participated in dialogues May 6-7 with members of the Eastleigh Muslim community at Eastleigh Fellowship Centre. These included presentations by Christians and Muslims, as well as questions and answers between Christian and Muslim audience members.

Bornman and Omondi worked with their audiences to develop steps to ensure growth in healthy Christian-Muslim interaction.

After speaking at Mumweni Mennonite Church in Mombasa, where he delivered a sermon, “Salvation for the Rejected,” based on Ishmael’s story in Genesis 21, a church member told Bornman that she had grown up Muslim and remained close with her Muslim relatives. She thanked him for his message and his kind posture toward Muslims.

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