About EMM East Africa
Introduction to EMM-East Africa
EMM’s relationships in East Africa encompass 9 countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea. In addition, South Africa is now included under the EA Regional Representative.
This region is not homogenous: nations are wildly different from their neighbors in their ethnicity, economics, religion, history, and politics. Individual nations, likewise, are not necessarily homogenous, and citizens often identify more strongly with a particular ethnic group rather than with their nation.
The religious atmosphere is very diverse; some areas have a nominal evangelical majority, several are Muslim, one country is communist and actively persecutes people of any faith. In all the countries, faith practice is heavily influenced by the African traditional spirituality of its distinct ethnic groups.
As is typical of Sub-Saharan Africa, most of the region is rural and agrarian, and includes some of the world’s poorest and most violent countries on the globe. Kenya’s economy is the strongest in East Africa, with an average income per person of around $1400 (in PPP dollars); in contrast, Eritrea averages less than $500 per person. Visitors frequently comment on the staggering depth of the poverty and human suffering that is witnessed here. In contrast, many wealthy and educated people also live in these countries, and their diaspora occupy positions of influence around the world.
EMM’s work began in 1934 with evangelism, soon followed by medical clinics and schools. As MCC’s work with relief and development strengthened, EMM honed their focus on church work, although we do work hand in hand with MCC on some projects.
In addition to Mennonite churches in Kenya and Tanzania, this region is home to the largest Anabaptist church body in the world (Ethiopia); also to a tiny church plant cluster in Uganda, and to underground churches in extremely oppressive regimes.
EMM has identified 4 areas of strategic priority: Reach the Unreached, Develop Missional Leaders, Mobilize Partners for Mission, and Support Like-Minded Ministries.
The mission house is currently managed by Aram and Debbie DiGennaro. I had the pleasure to meet Debbie several years ago and share a small Mission Aviation airplane ride across Kenya. If you are in the neighborhood, stop and give them a visit!