An Initiative to respond to the needs of Pastors who were adversely affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

EAK Bariki Mchungaji Initiative Report

Report Generated by Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK)

1. Introduction
Since the declaration of the first case of COVID-19 in Kenya in the month of March 2020, a number of measures were established to prevent the populace from contracting the disease. COVID-19 exposed the vulnerability of many of congregants and clergy, especially those in the large cities of Kenya, in the informal settlements, and in poor urban and rural semi-arid areas. Churches were adversely impacted by the lockdown and closure of places of worship owing to the nature and spread of corona virus. The challenge of COVID-19 created a devastating gap, as it was something that people least thought could happen to the nation at the time it did. Since the entrance of the novel corona virus, a heavy burden of need sparked in the community and drastically changed how ministry had been conducted in the past, not just here in Kenya, but globally. Churches were closed, areas cordoned off, curfew and lock down imposed, all these in an attempt to scale down and curtail the spread of this disease.

In as much as the regulations were helpful, the church continued to bear the brunt as ministry to members and churches slowed down. Many Church leaders were not able to offer the psycho-social support to their members and the surrounding community which was much needed. Ministry of share and care was closed as Bishops and Overseers did not have permit to travel, strengthen and encourage churches spread across the counties.
Owing to the above challenges faced by clergy, EAK made a special request to the CS, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, requesting for consideration for services of the clergy to be classified as essential services. Another request was for clergy to be issued with travel passes to enable them travel across counties for encouraging the body of Christ and that was granted.

The challenges accosting the Kenyan populace and the church in Kenya owing to the COVID-19 pandemic are still enormous for the fact that we are yet to reduce the spike in the novel corona infections, and flatten the curve. These challenges brought all sectors to their knees and called for urgent interventions across board. A need to pull together in supporting of needy clergy was presented. COVID-19 pandemic challenged the church
significantly to being strategic in determining and executing the most helpful responses possible for constituent community groups, the Church and Christian community in general.

2. Situation Analysis
Shocking reports revealed that quite a number of Kenyans, especially the low level income earners were more afraid of dying of hunger than of corona. This was a clear case of the dire need that rested in the community. Several reports gathered, indicated that Pastors throughout the Republic were not spared either. There was a report of a Pastor who distributed his children to church members to save them from starvation. There was another sad report of a Pastor in one of our counties who committed suicide due to huge debt burden. Several church buildings were shut due to high accruing of rent. Some Pastors were locked out of their houses for high non payment of rent.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of many of our Pastors, especially those ministering in the informal settlement and in poor urban and arid and semi arid rural areas. These pastors were adversely impacted by the lockdown and were in dire need owing to the closure of churches caused by the spread of corona virus. Critical to note that most pastors, answered the call of God to preach, and left all behind and they basically relied on the giving of their congregants every Sunday in terms of Sunday offering and tithes. Unfortunately, since the Churches were closed, this means of support dwindled or entirely ceased, owing to the worshippers understanding of and approach to giving.

To compound this problem, the community expected the church and the Pastors to help during times of crisis, such as in this season, irrespective of whether Pastors had something to offer or not. The current reality was that a certain number of Pastors had no food supplies nor funds to fend for their families, and as community and respected leaders¡¦ found it difficult to go to queue for aid food either from government or well-wishers, together with their congregants.

Reports of pastors had been evicted from their residential houses owing to delayed or non-payment of rent, their families going without food, closure of some rented church buildings due to unpaid rent, and pastors found it very difficult to fend for themselves. In the informal settlement, it was becoming a normal finding Christian Pastors being lured to join the Islamic faith as a result abject poverty. As an intervention, EAK with other partners continued distributing food packages to the needy all across.

3. “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative”
The above sparked EAK to embark on a plan to raise money in support of needy and vulnerable pastors which led to the birth of “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative”. The “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative” interventions across board resulted in the need of pulling and pooling together towards supporting disenfranchised and needy pastors. COVID-19 pandemic challenged the church significantly in being strategic in determining and executing the most helpful responses possible for constituent community groups, the Church and Christian community in general. CITAM on hearing the need immediately came in by contributing 2 Million Kenya Shillings towards the
kitty and also brought in a partner who contributed Twenty Million Kenya Shillings to the “Bariki Mchungaji” kitty.

4. Evangelical Alliance of Kenya Bariki Mchungaji Process
Level One: CITAM and Partners

a. Mobilization of resources
b. Receiving of list from EAK
c. Disbursement of Resources through an automated system
d. Report generation to donor

Level Two: EAK National Office
a. Establishing Infrastructure for vetting
b. Collecting names for the needy Pastors from the counties
c. Sending names to CITAM for disbursement of funds
d. Follow up of the process and generating report for feedback

Level Three: EAK County Offices

a. Receive Guidelines for qualification from the National office
b. Share the guidelines with county leaders for locating the would be beneficiaries in the county
c. Identify the clergy that qualify for support

Level Four: EAK Sub County Office
a. Responsibilities
b. Receive Guidelines
c. Work with the county structures in identifying the needy deserving clergy to be supported

Level Five: EAK Ward Offices
a. Receive Guidelines form leadership
b. Identify beneficiaries from the ground
c. Generate data for the needy Pastors
d. Send names to the County Leaders
e. County Leaders submit list to the National Office to be sent to CITAM

5. Criteria for vetting/ Qualification

Requirements for Evangelical Alliance of Kenya “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative¡¨
5.1. Checklist for qualifications
a. Must be a Pastor
b. Must be recognized and serving in a certain Geographical area (County)
c. Must be a Pastor that solely depends on church income for sustenance
d. Pastors struggling to meet their very basic needs (rent, purchase of medicine or put food on the table)
e. More consideration shall be given to a Pastor who is sickly or nursing a sick spouse or child
f. Pastors with high number of dependents or huge family burden (Six children and above) shall be considered
g. Pastors ministering as missionaries in Counties that are not native (Away from their original homeland)
h. Pastors ministering in hard areas (Muslim inhabited areas, arid and semi arid areas)

6. Bariki Mchungaji Initiative number of selected Pastors for the first disbursement process in counties

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7. EAK Feedback Report of “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative¨ Interventions
The following reports were gathered through a structured way of feedback generation and collection from beneficiaries of the ¡§Bariki Mchungaji Initiative¡¨. Strategies employed to generate data included:
a. Feedback data forms
b. Telephone conversations
c. Short Messaging Services
d. Whatsapp
e. And face to face interviews with a few selected beneficiaries

8. Evangelical Alliance of Kenya “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative¨ Feedback form
This form was to assist in gauging the impact of “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative¨ from the individual clergy at the grassroots level
a. Name of Respondent: Summarized position of EAK Counties
b. County: Over 28 Counties that benefitted from the initiative
c. Contact: As per list Email: Available on request

Consolidated Guiding questions and responses
1. How were you affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
100% of the beneficiaries were grossly affected by the covid pandemic for the fact that churches were closed and most depended on regular church income as per scripture.

2. What can you do now that you were not able to do before the support?
Responses included:
a. Through the vouchers received, they could now place food on the table and got ability to feed their families.
b. The gesture made others know that God knew their needs
c. A number responded by saying that they could now concentrate on ministry as stress was reduced

3. What will you do now that you were not able to do?
a. Ability to concentrate on ministry of helping others now that help came
b. Ability to feed the family
c. Better budgeting and planning of resources for future

4. What is that thing you have done or are planning to do not to revert back to the same position?
a. Check on possibility of engaging in supplementary business
b. Engage in farming activities of the shamba
c. Poultry farming project

5. Out of what you received is there anyone you were able to also assist?
a. 95% of respondents were able to share something with either the poor, sick, elderly, their neighbors, or friends, orphans, widows or needy relatives.

6. How was the channel used to send assistance? (System for sending and receiving of support)
a. 98% agreed to the fact that the system was very good, convenient, safe and perfect way to offer support directly to people. only that the redeeming process was not clearly understood hence late redeeming
b. About 2% initially thought it was a scum and out of that, a few deleted their text messages in the process
c. About 5% of the total were a little bit confused at the supermarkets while redeeming the vouchers but the supermarket attendants were kind enough to assist

7. What message do you wish to send to the supporters of the initiative?
a. Prayer and wishes for more blessings for the good gesture
b. They are real Christians and have demonstrated so
c. Thanksgiving to the donors
d. For God to give them a continual heart and spirit of generosity
e. Deep appreciation for that kind act
f. Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burden, and this is the way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

9. Conclusion
“Bariki Mchungaji Initiative” is a noble course that God used to restore the passion for Pastors to keep serving. Pastors give out, but very few people are concerned about the needs of their Pastors.
The general view was that “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative” is timely, and needs to be consistent as the need is still there since covid is still on the rise.
Scaling of the project to a level where clergy are trained on entrepreneurship and are encouraged to venture into other investment opportunities to complement their efforts in ministry.
Evangelical Alliance of Kenya team of Board members and CITAM Missions team after a discussion on “Bariki Mchungaji Initiative¡”