By Stan Friedman
KITALE, KENYA (October 17, 2013) — Students and graduates from Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos (CHET), the Covenant’s Hispanic training center, have traveled here to work on a project with a Kenyan nonprofit to preach among slums in the city.
The team of seven includes five CHET students. They left October 9 and will return October 23.
The trip is being led by Melvin Ardon, a CHET graduate and lay leader at the multiethnic church plant Fountain of Life Covenant Church in Long Beach, California. This is Ardon’s third trip to Kenya.
The trip is being coordinated with Eagle Vision Ministries, a Kenyan nonprofit, and Templo Betel Latino, a non-denominational church pastored by CHET graduates.
Templo Betel purchased land in Kenya for the nonprofit, on which it will construct buildings where it can conduct outreach ministries, including feeding children, housing some who may have been abandoned or orphaned, educating mothers and other family members on parenting and preventative health, mentoring and discipling, and skill training that focuses on economic development.
The nonprofit ministers in the slums of Kitale, and the trip gives the CHET students opportunities to serve in ways that were previously never imagined. “Mel made it abundantly clear that on these trips that he does not take tourists. These are work trips with well-planned objectives, always with an ear to the Holy Spirit leading them to additional opportunities to serve,” said Ed Delgado, CHET president.
Most of the team members struggle financially even to pay for school, so participating in the trip represents a major commitment and passion to share the gospel, said Delgado.
Team members raised travel funds by selling tamales and pupusas (a Salvadoran delicacy), through church fundraising, from individual financial support, and financial contributions from Fountain of Life and another new Covenant congregation, Navegando Con Jesus in Torrance.
In addition to raising funds to address their own travel costs, each team member also raised $750, which they have pooled to cover many of their expenses while in Kenya. They are staying in private homes, and Ardon said, “We plan to bless each host with a financial gift before we leave.”
Participants said they were honored to participate and expect it to be a learning experience. “My preparation is to keep in mind that God is in every single person that I will see or meet and that love is a powerful statement, and I am hoping that I can make that statement in a profound way in every person I get to meet,” said Benito Amaya, a student in the CHET ministerial program.
Delgado stressed his admiration for the men and women who are participating. “These young Latino leaders could easily be chasing after the American dream. They could be investing their time and money on things that do not matter. They instead are seeking first the kingdom of God.”
He added, “CHET equips unserved and underserved Hispanic men and women for pastoral ministry. These young Hispanic leaders, because of many challenges and life circumstances, would generally not be qualified, recruited, or involved in ministry or mission that is this complex. Yet like early church disciples, they are being equipped and are obedient to the Holy Spirit’s call to go to places that are mostly unknown to them.”