06 November 2010

A Most Remarkable Man

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of spending an evening at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (UMC) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The guest speaker that night was the Rev. John Makokha, a Senior Pastor of the Riruta United Methodist Church in the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya. He is the African correspondent for Reconciling Ministries Network and is the Country Coordinator of Other Sheep Kenya, a faith-based LBGT organization.

John is in the back row wearing a rainbow stole.

Rev. Makokha was brought up as an evangelical Christian believing that homosexuality was a sin. He told us of how he came to believe that this teaching is wrong. As a youth, one of his good friends was expelled from school, rejected and thrown out by his family and finally committed suicide. All of this because he was gay. On his journey to becoming a minister, he also had many encounters with LGBT people. Each encounter leading him more and more to the belief that the traditional teachings that he had been brought up with were wrong.

John earned his B.Ed. Degree at the University of Nairobi and has served as graduate teacher in various high schools in Kenya. He was ordained a minister in the Triumphant Pentecostal Church and served as a pastor in a Free Methodist Church. After earning an M.A. degree in Missions at Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology, he started Riruta United Methodist Church, the only Reconciling Ministry (RMN) in Africa. Anne Baraza, his wife, also a graduate of Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology, is the Counselor for Other Sheep Kenya and the CEO of Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme.

As Coordinator for Other Sheep Kenya, John passionately organizes and leads educational awareness seminars on human sexuality and gender identity throughout Kenya. Other Sheep Kenya addresses religious homophobia, trans-phobia, social justice, and HIV/AIDS in Kenya through capacity building and advocacy programs for LGBT people and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Other Sheep Kenya engages in (1) promoting the recognition and solidarity of LGBT people through recruitment into the organization, counseling/information sharing, and networking; (2) participation in LGBT activities in the country; (3) sharing information and experience between LGBT and PFLAG groups; (4) promoting the human rights of LGBT people through advocacy and campaigns; (5) training and mobilizing religious allies to win the war on homophobia and trans-phobia; (6) providing education, training and information on HIV/AIDS, care and treatment to the LGBT community; (7) promoting reproductive health education; and (8) mitigating against gender based sexual violence and substance and drug abuse within the LGBT community.

Because of his pro-LGBT stance, Rev. Makokha, along with his wife, Anne , have been evicted from their home and from the buildings that they had used as a church. They now have new places to live and worship, but are still in a very precarious situation. But still they persist and need help with some of the basics. They are trying to purchase a small property to house their church so that they no longer risk eviction due to their support of LGBT people. They would also like to buy a car to be used to rescue LGBT people who are under serious threat.

Please visit them.


Much of the information in this post was provided by John’s wife Anne.

1 comment:

Counterlight said...

You look good in that picture.