I have for some time had the feeling that 2017 will be a year of changes — for Kenya (which has a major election in August, for UK, for USA and for the Eatons!)
The biggest change in our life arises from the fact that Chrisco Fellowship of Churches has lost the use of Nairobi Cinema! This year we have not been able to hold meetings there. We reckon the Lord is answering prayer in unexpectedly doing some new things for us!
Some changes in inner-city work have already come. The Sunday meeting that used to meet there has moved to a hall attached to a hostel about 1 kilometre away. It is a loss so far as Monday-Friday is concerned, but for Sundays it is a good location since it is quite a densely populated area. As a local church it will probably do better there.
The daily early-morning prayer meeting at the Cinema, and the lunchtime prayer meeting which used to get large numbers have now ceased to meet. Some of the praying-people are continuing to meet in smaller groups in various smaller rooms and halls, but the opportunity to reach a wider range of people is not so good as before.
For me personally the biggest change is that my evening meetings in inner-city Nairobi have ceased. This has not come as a complete surprise. I have been sensing that this work would change after thirty years. For exactly thirty years 1987-2016, when in Kenya, I have preached almost every Monday and Thursday in Nairobi, originally in Nairobi City Hall, then in the National Union of Teachers hall, then in Nairobi Cinema. At one stage it was quite dangerous. Three times I was attacked trying to get back home late at night. Once in 1999 I was half-strangled by an attacker wanting a briefcase and I was left unconscious on Kenyatta Avenue minus my briefcase (which actually was returned to me via Nairobi Baptist Church minus some cash!). More recently inner-Nairobi has become much safer. The traffic congestion has become so bad and the crowds struggling to get home after work are greater than before, so robbers and crooks cannot escape so easily! On the other hand evening Christian meetings in town have become fewer for the same reason (people are struggling to get home). I think I was one of the few who were holding on to a regular evening meetings in the inner business-district. It has been a great thirty-years, and a major contribution to the life of inner Nairobi. Christians from many fellowships have taken part in the life of inner-city Chrisco and I regularly hear Nairobi preachers quoting bits and pieces of the many expositions given over the years — which is very encouraging. However now it is time for some new ventures! The 3 million word Branch Commentary (forthcoming, getting nearer I hope!) arises from this work, and so does my Whole Counsel of God (which also needs some development).
A New Centre; a New Website
My dear friend Charlie Plettenberg has for many years maintained a website for us (michael-eaton.de). But Charlie - for whom I have often asked you to pray - suffers from A.L.S., and he is no longer easily able manage this work. Marilyn is doing OK. Please continue to pray for them both.
So the question has been: what new form should my detailed-preaching-for-training-preachers take? There are two answers.
Firstly, there is this website. Westminster Chapel, London, have very kindly been giving me help in this. The Chapel are making available everything that was on michael-eaton.de — and I shall be adding much more in the weeks ahead. My new book on Hebrews 9 (The Blood of Christ) will be there also. I was just about to start a kind of over-the-internet Bible-school when Charlie became ill, but now I hope to do more along these lines. It will be of use to some of our friends overseas. But I would like to enlarge this aspect of the matter for Kenya-generally, for India, and for others around the world who follow this little bit of Chrisco-ministry from afar!
Secondly, there is some possibility of the actual central-meetings being transferred to Kibera, and Chrisco Central Church. It has not happened yet but I am expecting something along these lines. There is still a need of actual meetings — preaching not lecturing — and perhaps these need to be located in Kibera. We shall see what God will do.
Nairobi Baptist Church
For the last couple of weeks (Feb, March 2017) I have been involved in some meetings at my old church which I left 36 years ago. It has been a joy to catch up with them. They are doing well!