NewThing Global Resident | Justin Kiprono
As I waited for the start of my Global Residency, I was excited and anxious at the same time. I was excited that God was leading me to something bigger than myself, I was anxious that it was all new!
It had been a year since I had returned to my home country Kenya from South Africa. My time in South Africa had come to an end and it was not clear what my next step would be. In faith, I joined the Kinara program at Nairobi Chapel as I tried to discern God’s leading. I turned down offers for a Youth Pastor position because it was not clear in my heart to go in that direction. However, when the opportunity to be part of the first cohort of Global Residency came, I knew that this is what God had been preparing me for over the past few years. Finally, here was something that captured my heart, a movement of God, a NewThing!
A Cultural Exchange
I was aware and excited that the Global residency would bring people from different cultures into my world. I still remember meeting my colleagues, Travis and Jen at our office. I can still hear his loud and confident American voice saying, "Hi, My name is Travis" and my softer Kenyan response, "Nice to meet you.” Now it feels like I have known him and Jen half of my life. As I have spent time with Karan and Isha from India, it seems that we share many cultural similarities. As for Charles and Chero, my Kenyan brother and sister, it’s been the start of a great friendship! It is just astounding how we have been able to bond together as team coming from different parts of the world.
There have been many opportunities to laugh at how different and sometimes startling our cultures are. We are constantly in conversation about what things would mean in an American context or in an Indian context. Initially, my anxiety centered on whether we would be able to build rapport across our differing worldviews. But now I have learned so much as we have consciously and vigorously engaged one another’s cultures. My worldview and perspective of ‘others’ has been broadened, and I am better for it!
The Challenge of Unexpected Journey
We have not been spared the challenge of ‘first things’! Being part of the first cohort I recognize the significant role of being a trailblazer and choosing to embrace change quickly and positively. There have been some points of frustration but I have learned to embrace a posture of grace and understanding. I am reminded that I am a vessel in the great work of advancing God’s Kingdom. I am also awakened to the fact that as the pioneering team, we have a great deal of responsibility as to how the journey goes.
The Celebration of Renewing Faith
There is a celebration in my heart of renewing faith. Since there is a lot at stake here for my life, my companions in the team, and the NewThing movement, as well as the churches involved, our faith and trust in God is being tested and tried. God is constantly asking me, will you trust me in this? Will you trust me when you don’t see the final picture in sight? Will you trust that I am using even those in your leadership to fulfill my plan? I struggle with these questions, yet am also being challenged to renew my faith and trust in him in the unexpected journeys of our lives!