Igniting the Fire at Wigot Gardens, Kisumu
By Carren Adhiambo
Pictures: Stephen Kabacho and Tabitha Muia
The East African singles Retreat 2018 was held at Wigot Gardens in Kisumu, Kenya and the following coverage is just a glimpse of the fire ignited there.
Travels and Arrivals
The singles travelled from all over to gather at Kisumu for their retreat. Churches represented included Kisumu (the host), Nairobi (with four blocks), Kakamega, Bungoma, Eldoret, Mombasa, Embu, Dar es Salam, Arusha, Kampala, Luwero, Bujumbura, Kigali, Juba, and also Dubai.
Our special speakers were Gilbert and Perita Kimeng from Nigeria.
Some of us started our journeys on 29th May in order to be at the venue on 1st of June. The energetic Kisumu singles were right there to receive and welcome everyone as they staggered in one by one. They worked tirelessly throughout. Bright faces shone with high expectations and excitement. The hotel was beautiful and luxurious, and the scenery was breath taking and refreshing.
Breakfast and Lunch
The air was filled with laughter as people hugged on their way to the restaurant to enjoy a delicious breakfast served with smiles that warmed our hearts. Fellowship, photos and selfies abounded as everyone was making memories and capturing the moments.
After a leisurely breakfast and morning of rest and fellowship name tags were given as well as orange ribbons branded ‘Ignite the Fire’. From the faces one could tell that we were ready.
Before the opening ceremony, lunch was served. Our noses were greeted with the sweet smelling aroma of delicacies, and everyone ate their fill.
Opening Ceremony and welcome
The retreat was officially opened with a word of prayer, songs and national anthems from the different countries represented. In our diversity we felt the specialness of who we are in God’s presence. Paul and Betty Nthei graced the occasion and gave a warm welcome to all of us.
Opening Class: Single Minded Devotion
Mr. and Mrs. Kimeng took us through the class and helped us understand that a single-minded devotion means undivided commitment to God and that the devotion is not just for the singles but for all of us – married or single. God expects all of us to use our energies and resources for him. The devo was taken from 1 Corinthians 7:29-35. Some of the key points included:
- If both the man and woman draw closer to God, they will also draw closer to each other. If they move away from God they will also drift apart in their relationship.
- Being single is not a curse or a mistake but a God-designed / ordained stage or season in life, given by God with an agenda/purpose and thus should be enjoyed.
- Future marriage depends on our present marriage to Christ Jesus. The future is a reflection of the present. God expects us to use our current time to invest in our marriage to God and deepen our relationship with Him.
- God must be enough. If he doesn’t satisfy us then nothing in life will.
- We have to train ourselves to be godly through discipline and taking a personal responsibility for our relationship with God as stated in 1 Timothy 4:7-8.
Some of the areas we were reminded to be devoted to God in included:
- God’s word (Psalms 1:1-3) – study the Bible according to your need.
- Prayer (Mark 1:35) – if you can worry then you can pray. Convert your worries and anxieties into prayer.
- Fasting (Matthew 6:16) – this must be part of being a Christian.
- Confession (James 5:16) – sin is a disease that entangles so easily and we need healing from it.
The sisters separated from the brothers to have a small but powerful class from Perita Kimeng which focused on purity of the heart. It was centered on Psalms 119:10-18 and 1 Peter 1:1-9. The climax of it was learning that challenges and trials are meant to refine us to look more like God. The questions of reflection were: Where is my heart? God is speaking to me, am I listening? What trials am I facing? What am I putting above God? After separating into smaller groups the sisters were able to share concerns, questions and responses to the classes.
Fellowship and Dinner
There was fellowship after the sessions. Everyone admired the magnificent sight of Kisumu city from the hill, cameras flicked, and laughter cracked the air. The whole atmosphere was abuzz with excitement. Dinner was served and one could tell that fish was the order of the day! The meal was sumptuous and finger licking.
Bonfire: Ring of the Honor
The group had gathered around the bonfire. The fire was beckoning to us; the lights of Kisumu were flickering, exposing the mystery hidden in black beauty. Wow! This was a moment to enjoy — stories and life lessons from the Kimengs. They shared about their lives as singles, their dating and heart breaks, and the tests that every relationship goes through. Some of the tests discussed were the tests of spirituality, tests of compatibility, tests of purity, tests of longevity, tests of society, and tests of economy. They went ahead to expound on the roles of both the man and the woman in a relationship.
As we took tea to be at the cold, we played a game of making animal sounds. It was exciting and we laughed our lungs out. There was so much energy and so much fun. What stood out most for the singles was a spiritual lesson provided by the bonfire. The fire had to be kept burning by adding more firewood. If left for some time it would grow dimmer and eventually die out.
After prayers, we went to our respective rooms to rest for the night. We were looking forward for more the next day.