Thank you! From me and the FTC family

March, 2022

Dear Friend,

Greetings. I thank the good Lord for having given me another year to be alive and offer myself as a servant in God’s vineyard. I can’t imagine it has been seven years since I came to Friends Theological College as Principal. For this, my dear Friend, I have a special reason to thank God. 

It was around this time, in 2014, when Friends United Meeting board and staff began thinking and praying about someone who could receive a calling to go to FTC as Principal. The advert went out and announcements were made everywhere. I came across that announcement and my heart was never the same again. For several years I had nursed the idea of one day going back to Africa to serve as a missionary, after my graduate studies and eighteen years of stay in the U.S. And my prayer was that the place of my service would be FTC, my alma mater (class of 1985). 

So in May 2014, I sent my application for the Principal’s position to the FUM office in Richmond, Indiana, and within a few days I received a response calling me for an interview. I went through two interviews, one with FUM Indiana staff and board members, and the other one with a section of the FUM Indiana staff and a section of FTC faculty, staff, students, and board of management representatives on the phone from Africa.

When I learned that I had been selected to be the next Principal of FTC, my response was mixed. First, I had joy in my heart that I would finally be going back to Africa to serve in ministry. But on the other hand, I experienced a great degree of ambivalence. This intensified when I finally told my wife Nancy about the plans to relocate back to Africa. I had been teaching at Columbus State College for eight years and Nancy had just finished her nursing program of study. We made several phone calls to get in touch with Friends in Kenya and many of the conversations were more discouraging than encouraging. Friends told me that I would be making a major mistake to resign from my teaching position and relocate to FTC. When I asked why, I was told that FTC was a dying project. 

However, there were some voices that were extremely positive about my calling to FTC. Those were the voices that prayed for me and gave me courage to make a final decision. These included a group of FUM staff led by the General Secretary, the Global Ministries Director, and a number of the FUM and FTC board members who surrounded me and Nancy with prayers for discernment and words of encouragement on a daily basis.

Robert Wafula with FTC faculty and staff.

I finally made a decision to resign from my teaching position to dedicate four months’ travel for support raising. This was the time when you, my friend, came in to make my decision become real. I travelled and visited churches and Meetings among North American Friends. You signed your pledge of support to my ministry, and you have continued to do so with your finances and prayer. Your support finally made my ministry 100% supported. 

When I arrived on the FTC campus at 4 p.m. on October 15, 2014, my heart did leap for joy. I may have had the same feeling that the first Quaker missionaries—Arthur Chilson, Edgar Hole, and Willis Hotchkiss—had when they first arrived in Kaimosi, in 1902. When I looked around and received greetings and hugs from the faculty, staff, students, and board representatives, I looked up to heaven and said a silent prayer, “Lord, thank you for leading me here, so please help me to stand so that I can hold this place to stand. And please God, protect my dear wife in Ohio.” By the time I made the decision to relocate, Nancy had already enrolled for another two year program of study in nursing. She relocated to Kenya two years after my arrival.

Reality began hitting home within two weeks of my arrival as FTC principal, when I realized that there was no money for staff salaries. In fact, salaries were three to four months in arrears. With my ministry fully supported, I had enough funds to fuel the college truck to travel from one Yearly Meeting to another, raising support to run FTC programs and to raise student enrollment—it had dropped significantly to only twenty-seven students. Within six months we closed the salary arrears gap and staff were able to put food on the table for their families. By the beginning of the next academic year, student enrollment had risen to over one hundred. 

Samburu cohort graduating in October, 2021.

We also embarked on bringing theological and pastoral training closer to people. Between 2015 and 2017, in addition to Lugulu, which was already in existence, we launched four satellite centers: Nairobi, Lugari, Kitale, and Chebuyusi. I travelled to Samburu and began a training program among the Samburu pastoralist communities, out of which we’ve graduated twelve pastors who are now doing works of evangelism and church planting within Samburu’s sprawling vast lowlands. 

Next on my list is training pastors among the Turkana communities of northern Kenya, the most arid land in the country. With your support, I have also been able to travel to Tanzania. Through a combined effort with John Muhanji, FUM Africa Ministries Director, we have been able to identify pastors with a calling for ministry in Tanzania and enroll them into FTC programs. Three of these pastors are Elisha, Jacob, and Joshua, who came to FTC for a one-year certificate in Pastoral Ministry and Evangelism. They graduated two years ago, and today as I write this letter, these pastors have six Friends churches in the southern part of Tanzania and one congregation across the border in neighboring Malawi. 

In collaboration with Pastor John Moru, former director of Turkana Friends Mission and a current bachelor of theology student at FTC, we have trained and mentored two pastors from the Turkana region and they are planting churches in the southern region of Sudan. I have a similar story among the Masai community, where we have trained three pastors, a woman named Sabina and two men, who are all doing a tremendous work of evangelism and church planting among the Masai. Basil Friends Church, a place where Sabina is ministering, has also begun a school, and parents who go to her church are also encouraged to enroll their children in school.

You may not have been personally to these parts of Africa, but I am encouraged and energized to say that they are thriving on your support. At the same time, I would like to just share with you that I am now into the second year of my third contract (my eighth year as Principal). At present, my support is quite low, at 62% of my ministry goal. With my support below 100% of the goal, I won’t be able to accomplish in this three-year term what the Lord has planned. I encourage you to continue supporting my ministry or to increase your support; or, if you are reading my newsletter for the first time, please consider supporting my ministry. Words can only fail me in saying THANK YOU for standing with me. Where I have been, you have been, where my fingers have touched, you have touched, and where I have spoken, you have spoken, because you made it possible for all this to happen. The current FTC enrollment of 362 students stands on your shoulders. I commit my daily prayers for you, that God may watch over you and keep you safe, especially at this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Peace to you.    

Dr. Robert J. Wafula, Principal

Friends Theological College
Tel: +254 734 728564