Building social solidarity and self-esteem

Rachel Karanja at home in Kenya; the building behind her houses a mushroom-growing business which is a model for others to generate income

Rachel Karanja, a Year 3 African Christianity MA student, told me how the supportive atmosphere and rich content of the CMS course has grown her confidence as well as giving her practical tools for mission.

Helen Harwood: Please can you tell us how you came to be studying on this course?

Rachel Karanja: I had always wanted to study theology, but it never materialised. However, one day while looking through social media, I came upon an advertisement. I decided to apply and hoped that if it was God’s will, I would be accepted. Following my application, I was invited for an interview, which I also passed.

From that moment forward, I had no doubts that I would pursue my ambition even if I did not have the registration fee; I felt that the God who started my exciting journey would provide all the resources I needed until I graduate.

Until now, it has been a walk of faith. Thus far the Lord has been very faithful.

How have you found study with us and what have you most enjoyed?

I found the study to be very accommodating, regardless of someone’s country of origin, socio-economic class, race, educational background, gender, or reasoning ability. I enjoyed the group conversations, particularly how we discussed our diverse points of view. It was encouraging to have other tutors invited to share their thoughts with us.

I know that the course has had an effect on your thinking, can you tell us how?

I never imagined that I would be able to study alongside ’Wazungu’ (Whites). We were indoctrinated as children that ‘Wazungu’ are superior than blacks.

Because I am an African lady, not well educated, with an African accent, who cannot speak British English fluently, I had initially felt like I was in the wrong place. I didn’t believe that I’d be able to study in a hybrid setting, but as time went on, I developed confidence.

I was showered with affection, compassion, and understanding, particularly from our tutors and my fellow students. As a result, I recommended two of my friends join the second cohort.

Can you say a bit about the context you are in, the religious make up of the area, and how the course has impacted how you engage with your community? 

I live in a multicultural, tolerant community where people of various tribes and faiths coexist. 

Rivalry has arisen in the past as a result of opposing ideologies and opinions. The concept of prophetic dialogue and hospitality, particularly the acceptance of ‘Otherness,’ has been critical. Previously, Christians and Muslims considered each other as ‘suspects’ making multicultural and interfaith missions challenging.

This course provided a truly practical technique that produced excellent results after implementing. This arose after we took part in a dialogue session in which people from different faiths gathered to express their concerns. As a result, there has been a greater sense of social solidarity. Muslims, Christians, and people of other faiths and backgrounds are increasingly cooperating and considering each other as brothers and sisters in the eyes of the same God.

That is amazing. Are there any stand out moments that have been very moving for you?

Themes such as Christianity and Indigenous Religious Traditions have played an important role. This unit made me aware of our rich African heritage, which I had previously been ignorant of. The founding church fathers and outstanding philosophers enhanced my self-esteem and corrected my unfavourable perspective of Africans being regarded as inferior or of a lesser God. This influenced not only myself, but also my generation and I believe the same for my future generations.

Another stand out moment is when I was given the opportunity to express myself, as well as the day I led worship alongside another ‘Mzungu’ student who was very polite and helpful.

That is lovely to hear, Rachel, how can we pray for you, please?

  • Please pray for me to discern how to partner with God in his mission.
  • Please keep me in your prayers as I endeavour to demonstrate to other church pastors how to discern God’s presence and partner with him rather than driving him to fit into church programmes.
  • Please pray that I will be able to come up with a curriculum which can be applied in our existing outreach programmes and churches focusing on multicultural missions especially among minority groups.
  • Pray that I get employment and funds for payment of my university fees.

Cookie Configuration

We use cookies on our website to ensure you have the best browsing experience. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

These cookies are necessary for the function of the website and cannot be disabled. They are used to save your preferences as you interact with our website, such as your cookie settings.

These cookies allow us to measure traffic on our website. They help us to know which pages are popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous.

These cookies are required for some of the core functionality of the website. They are set by third party content providers, such as video players and maps. If disabled, these content providers will not be loaded.


We use cookies on our website to ensure you have the best browsing experience. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

Configure Cookies Accept