REPORTS
Gay and Christian in
KENYA, UGANDA,
TANZANIA, RWANDA
AND BURUNDI
_________________________________________
STEVE AND JOSE REPORT ON THEIR MINISTRY IN KENYA, JULY 8, - August 6, 2007

    Fourth Week Report, Sunday, July 29 - Monday, August 6, 2007


    STEVE AND JOSE REPORT ON THEIR MINISTRY IN KENYA & UGANDA, JULY 8, - August 24, 2007

Nairobi, Kenya, apartment complex
where Steve and Jose stayed

    VISIT Steve and Jose!
    Visit the Other Sheep web site of  the Executive
    Director, Steve Parelli (at right in photo), and his
    partner Jose Ortiz.
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Meet us
under the
acacia tree
This website was constructed in July of 2007
Visits made to this web page since August 2007
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From: steve parelli [mailto:steve@othersheep.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 6:00 AM
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Cc: John P. Doner; Tom Hanks
Subject: Fourth Week in Kenya Report

Other Sheep Fourth Week in Kenya Report (Including first two days into our Fifth
Week)
Sunday, July 29 – Monday, August 13

What Was Accomplished/Activities

    Contact with three Nairobi Pastors (Sunday, August 5)

  • Jose and I returned (our second visit) to Nairobi Baptist Church for the Sunday 11:00AM
    Service (August 5) to leave with Senior Pastor John Gichinga a copy of "The Blue Book:  
    What We Wish We Had Known"  which we had promised to do at some point during our
    stay in Nairobi.  We were surprised to find a lengthy insert in the building titled "Nairobi
    Baptist Church Statement On:  Same Sex Marital or Sexual Relationship (Homosexuality,
    Lesbianism and Bisexuality)."  The flyer made reference to our visit to Kenya and the book
    we are distributing and then gave the official position of the leadership of the church on
    homosexuality, signed by the Senior Pastor and Chairman of the Elders' Court

  • Jose and I visited two other pastors (their churches being adjacent to the Nairobi Baptist
    Church) briefly (1) Rev. Fredrick Otieno Amolo, Senior Pastor of the Church of the
    Nazarene who listened closely to our story and took our contact information; and (2) Rev.
    Fr. Michael R. A. Ng'ong'a , DT Africa Director, Organization of African Instituted Churches
    (Coptic) who asked us to be seated, listened carefully to our views, invited us if possible
    for further conversation, requested (and was promised) a copy of one of our last books
    The Children Are Free

    Group Meetings/ Activities  in Our Home

  • First PFLAG Meeting, five in attendance (1PM, Tuesday, July 31).  After this meeting
    Steve appointed a Coordinator from those meeting.  The Other Sheep East Africa web site
    will give you more information.

  • A "coming out" meeting!  One gay Kenyan young man came out to a very close girl friend
    this morning in anticipation of bring her to the PFLAG meeting; they arrived after the
    PFLAG meeting was over and spontaneously joined with two other Kenyans (who had just
    popped in to visit).  This unplanned meeting of four (plus Jose and I) was a remarkable
    meeting of witnessing a gay Christian young man come out to a best friend of three years,
    herself a committed Christian of Baptist persuasion.  It was remarkable to witness.  She
    asked all the questions that a straight person asks at this stage of learning that a best
    friend (male) is gay.  We laughed together.  At one point she had the most surprised look
    of both amazement and wonderment when she learned that gays are "just like her" wanting
    romance, relationship, tenderness and closeness with a significant other.  She felt so
    connected at that point and expressed it. (4PM (Tuesday, July 31).

  • A regular discussion group on being gay and Christian, six gay Kenyan young men in
    attendance (Tuesday evening, July 31).

  • A regular discussion group on being gay and Christian, five gay Kenyan young men (three
    for the first time), in attendance; two were a couple; another seeking to be connected with
    his homophobic twin brother asked how he might come out to him (Wednesday evening,
    August 1).  Also attending was a closeted ordained Presbyterian minister.

  • (Spontaneous, unplanned) five for a pasta supper in our home (Thurs, Aug. 2)

  • Third Meeting for the Formation of Other Sheep East Africa, Sunday, August 5.  At this
    meeting 11 items of business were covered, all essential to the formation of Other Sheep
    East Africa, including the creation of a board with 8 individuals.  More information will be
    posted on the Other Sheep East Africa website.

  • Monday, Aug. 6, our last meetings in Nairobi (we leave Aug. 7 for Mombasa)

  • Pastors Mike and James (two pro-LGBT Anglican ministers) arrive in the afternoon
    for an appointment.  Our relationship with Pastor Mike has grown throughout our
    time here.  Prior to our coming to Kenya Pastor Mike and James have organized for
    a pro-LGBT church in Kenya.  Our introduction to Pastor Mike (first week here) and
    the ensuing meetings with him has been timely:  Jose and I have connected Rev.
    Elder Glenna Shepherd (Elder serving Region 4, MCC) with Pastors Mike and
    James;  they have begun talks with Elder Glenna that has hopes of leading to an
    MCC church in Kenya.  

  • A first time meeting of a gay man with other gays:  Jose and I have been emailing a
    closeted gay (school headmaster) that we met a couple weeks back.  He finally
    came to our home for a "private" meeting.  Of course he walked into our home with
    Pastor Mike and James (both straight) and another gay man (board member of
    Other Sheep East Africa).  Steve realized the new participant was withdrawing – he
    had not expected to be "outed."  I told him Jose and I could visit alone with him in
    another room which he eagerly agreed to; but then I suggested that he stay in the
    living room area to simply listen to another gay share his story without his having to
    say anything about himself.  He eagerly agreed to that – and as one gay told his
    story another arrived and then a third and now three gays were telling their story.  
    This school headmaster (age 31) told us that for the first time he was speaking as a
    gay man to another gay man; yes he told us his story in the group setting.   (I was
    close to tears to witness this meeting remembering the first time for myself that I was
    able to speak in a safe place face to face with another gay man; I was age 42.)

  • Second PFLAG meeting.  This last meeting was as remarkable as our meeting with
    the anonymous religious leader a couple weeks back who participated in "active
    listening dialogue."  The room filled up to just under 20 (17 or 18?) not counting
    Jose and me.  Our PFLAG coordinator is excellent.  His name is Felix.  You can read
    more on our Other Sheep East Africa website.  Emmanuel Kamau's mom was
    present!  New people were here for the first time and well as many repeats.  
    Everyone shared their story.  Then the Felix asked us to get into small groups of
    twos and threes and discuss what it is they would like PFLAG to do; then each small
    group gave their ideas to the whole group and Felix wrote down the ideas.  Amazing
    things will happen as they carry out their ideas!  Watch the Other Sheep East Africa
    website.

    Individual Appointments/ and Spontaneous Visits in Our Home/

  • Presbyterian minister spent morning with Jose planning for trip to Uganda (Thurs. Aug. 2).
  • Jose spent time counseling a gay Christian (Presbyterian) who serves in his church on the
    Youth Committee (Thurs., Aug. 2).
  • Steve received two gay Christians who came to give their story – to have it typed up – for
    the Other Sheep East Africa web site. (Thurs, Aug. 2).
  • Thomas came early Friday (Aug. 3) for breakfast and to help Jose with plans for trip to
    Uganda and Mombasa, Kenya. (Thomas will travel with us to Uganda.)
  • Several gay Kenyans visited our home on Thursday and Friday (Aug. 2 & 3):  Two to swim
    in the pool; another to leave off a gift to show his gratitude; a newly formed couple who
    had met during the discussion groups; and others.

    General Solicitation with the Public at Large (Sunday, July 29)

    Briefly:  we handed out copies of the article Can One Be Gay and Christian? to people on
    a bus on which we (just Jose and I alone) were traveling returning from Nairobi National
    Park.  This is common practice to offer articles/ newspapers on the bus.  Practically
    everyone took a copy.  Jose was seated at the back of the bus; I was seated at the front.  
    People anticipated the answer to the question of the title of the article as "no."  One man
    at the front of the bus gave me the thumbs up approval, smiling.  But when he read the
    article and got a "yes" for the answer he stood to his feet and began to holler and
    condemn us until the whole bus was in an uproar –literally everyone shouting at us.  Men
    were getting to their feet and verbally attacking us.  (A miniature re-take on the uproar at
    Ephesus, perhaps –ha).  The shouts were coming together so that you could not hear
    them all individually.  They continued until the bus came to its destination and we all got off
    at which time we went our separate ways while several kept look at us and hollering.  As I
    looked back one individual smiled at me with eyes that said "keep it up! and thank you"
    and he waved a friendly wave and kept looking at us.  We had done what he could not do.  
    We can be marked because we will leave (if we remain alive; which I intend to – no martyrs
    here!).  The gay Kenyans will lose their jobs, their families and church communities in
    many, many cases, if they speak up for themselves.  We've met some who have been
    disowned – thrown out of their homes for coming out! and loss of jobs!


    Social Event:  Pool Party  (Saturday, August 4)

    Jose and I rented the pool area of our apartment complex and threw a party (it felt great!).  
    Others from Ishtar helped with arranging for a caterer and for other details.  Between 50 to
    60 (or more!) attended.  One straight person (visiting from Switzerland) commented that
    she had never had so many people come up and introduce themselves at a party (how's
    that for "The Other Sheep" putting forth their best foot).  A few swam – although this is
    winter here and temperatures are around 70 (cold!).  We made the sure the steam room
    was on! and in good working order!  The pool area has an open counter area for serving
    food and several patio tables with chairs as well as lounging chairs.  A very, very attractive
    area. Some brought music and that played nicely in the background!  (No blaring!)  The
    whole apartment area is gated and manicured.  Just beautiful.  I've never thrown such a
    party in all my life!  (Almost felt celebrity like, you know, as in the movies –ha! – pool, food,
    drinks, and of course, beautiful people everywhere.)

    We started at 5PM and had agreed (with the apartment management) to end between 11
    and midnight – and I had no idea how I would get everyone to leave (everyone was talking
    and having so much fun)  – It started to rain lightly at around 11 and by 11:30 most people
    had left and by midnight the catering people had picked up and the pool area was
    cleared!  How nice the rain!  Five people crashed at our apartment.  So we had a full
    house for the night.

    Grant Request Proposal Written  (July 31)/  Website Upgraded

    Can you believe I wrote a Grant Request Proposal?  I stayed up most the night of July 30
    into July 31 to do it.  And sent it off to a contact person in the USA to have it mailed.  It
    needed to be post marked July 31.  

Observations/ Comments

    I'm tired and exhausted.  There is a part of me that is numb from working hard.  However I do feel
    – I feel a lot of things; I just don't have time to reflect on my feelings – which I like to do and which
    I always make time to do  – to think about what I'm experiencing; but I have to rush on to the next
    thing.

    I have this week to think and to write and to reflect with Jose.  I'm grateful for these next few days
    alone with Jose as we make our way to the cost and beaches.  

    I am truly grateful for the gifts of friendship and the joy of sharing in the lives of others in this our
    first visit to Africa.  I could not have asked for a more rewarding experience in Africa then I've had
    in these past four weeks.  I feel as if God is truly the father to the fatherless, that he ministers to
    the oppressed, that God is good.

    One verse may summarize what we've experienced:  "I sent you to reap what you have not
    worked for.  Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."  
    John 4:37, 38.

    I believe this is true in our situation. (But let me tell you, bringing in the harvest can be pretty
    demanding!  Ha!) but the rewards of seeing the harvest – WOW – that's the blessing we are
    experiencing; therefore our deep appreciation and indebtedness to all those before us who have
    labored – YOU'RE harvest is beautiful; we've reaped the benefits of your toiling:  what joy to see
    these gay Christians.

Steve and Jose

Contact Information
Steve Parelli, M.Div
Executive Director
Other Sheep
www.othersheep.org
sparelli2002@yahoo.com
2962 Decatur Ave. 5D, Bronx, NY 10458
718-360-0884