Kenyan youth put faith into action

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Key points:

  • Tazama Christ United Methodist Church youth ministry teaches young people to live out their faith through community service.
  • The church’s TYC program has helped hundreds of Mombasa County youth by providing employment opportunities, offering counseling and rehabilitation services and conducting mentorship and spiritual programs. 
  • Peter Rua, who operates a fruit and vegetable shop run by TYC, said the youth projects have directly contributed to the increase in church youth membership. “Initially, we had only 30 youth, but now we have over 100 youth attending Sunday worship services.”

Youth at Tazama Christ United Methodist Church are living out their faith through community service projects.

Developed by the church in 2020, Tazama Youth in Christ encourages Christian discipleship patterned after the servanthood of Jesus, who cared for the sick, fed the hungry and befriended the outcast, said Samwel Birya, youth president. 

“One of the most important things a church can do is help young people live out their faith in practical ways,” he said.

The project, dubbed “TYC,” focuses on entrepreneurial efforts that promote moral values and active leadership by youth. Through poultry projects, secondhand clothing stores, car washes and refreshment kiosks, the program’s youth are navigating successfully in communities prone to drug and substance abuse. 

“(Tazama Christ United Methodist Church) has given the youth and young adults a chance to change their lives,” Birya said. “Many young people have deserted their idling bases to join projects led by TYC to earn a living and support themselves and their families.”

Birya, who oversees one of the car washes operated by TYC in Kadongo, said that the business has employed more than 10 youth who joined their church. Before working at the car wash, they participated in intensive rehabilitation and entrepreneurial skills training.

“Young people can do productive work when given support and skills empowerment,” Birya said. “I fondly talk about how the car wash has transformed the lives of 10 youth from alcoholism and drug abuse to active youth in business and church ministry. To God be the glory.”

Drug and substance abuse are prevalent in the coastal region that is home to the church. TYC has helped hundreds of youth in Mombasa County by providing employment opportunities, offering counseling and rehabilitation services and conducting mentorship and spiritual programs. 

Samwel Birya washes a motorbike at a Tazama Youth in Christ carwash in Mombasa County, Kenya. The program helps young people earn money to support themselves and their families. Photo by Gad Maiga, UM News.
Samwel Birya washes a motorbike at a Tazama Youth in Christ carwash in Mombasa County, Kenya. The program helps young people earn money to support themselves and their families. Photo by Gad Maiga, UM News.

Since its establishment, Tazama Christ United Methodist Church has transformed 200 youth from job seekers into job creators. Fifty new members resulted from the church’s youth ministry.  

TYC operates more than 10 small businesses in Mombasa County. Included are two poultry projects in Mlango Saba with over 500 birds, two secondhand clothing stores in the Business Annex area, two car washes in Kadongo and four refreshment kiosks in Falcon stage. The businesses have employed more than 50 youth. 

Malaika Bamba, 22, once lived on the streets. 

“TYC mentored and transformed me into a responsible woman,” Bamba said. “They instilled in me the virtues of courage and self-esteem and empowered me to live a value-based life. I now have a good job and a community at (Tazama Christ United Methodist Church) to turn to whenever I am in need.”

Zeddrick Injera, a youth member at the church, manages a poultry project. The small businesses, he said, exemplify the true meaning of biblical prosperity that encompasses spiritual and physical well-being. 

“The church’s role as outlined in the Holy Bible is not just concentrated on the spiritual well-being of the people in the community,” Injera said. “Jesus himself cared for the people he ministered to, making sure to feed them, heal them and even raise the dead. 

“Through community service projects, young people offer services and receive love and compensation in return, thereby living out faith in practical ways.” 

Elsie Gacheri, youth treasurer at the church, noted a significant change in the attitude of young people who joined the congregation. 

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“Most of them have demonstrated commendable behavior with a renewed sense of belief and belonging, not only to (the church), but (also) the entire Mushomoroni community,” she said. “Christian faith is indispensable in preventing and recovering from substance abuse. TYC community service exemplifies ways in which Christian faith can contribute to preventing people from falling victim to substance abuse and helping them recover from it.” 

Peter Rua, who operates a fruit and vegetable shop run by TYC, said the youth projects have directly contributed to the increase in church youth membership. “Initially, we had only 30 youth, but now we have over 100 youth attending Sunday worship services.” 

The Rev. Bernard Amani, Tazama Christ United Methodist Church senior pastor and Mombasa district superintended,thanked Tazama Youth in Christ for creating opportunities for young people through empowerment and mentorship programs and gathering successful youth to run various programs to help those who are lost in drug and substance abuse. 

“I am grateful to TYC for living out their faith in exceptional and commendable ways,” said Amani. “They came up with empowerment and mentorship programs that inspire young people who are hopeless in society and who had turned to substance abuse as a remedy to their problems.”

He urged support of TYC community service projects. Specific areas of need, he noted, include expansion of the poultry project to house up to 1,000 birds, establishment of additional secondhand clothing stores and refreshment kiosks, and purchase of car-washing machines to create more employment opportunities. 

“I foresee lasting transformation, spiritually and morally,” Amani added.

Gad Maiga is a communicator for the Kenya-Ethiopia Conference.

News media contact: Julie Dwyer at [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily and Friday Digest.


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