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KateBe One – CFC Singles for Christ African Conference
Posted by Kate Deiparine on 10/20/2008 10:10:13 PM

Day One: African Night


            As the day ended for most people in Nairobi, energy and excitement built up in the Amani Center, Nairobi, Kenya for the 1st Singles for Christ African Conference last October 3. Delegates from different cities in Kenya, as well as neighboring countries of Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa slowly filled up the conference hall for this three-day event. An international delegation also took part in the conference, with delegates from Dubai, Saudi, USA and the Philippines.

            Delegates came in different African attire, some wrapped in simple kikoy scarves, others in African shirts, while a number came all dressed up in full African ensemble with clothes like a Maasai Warrior or a full dress made of Kente cloth from Ghana. Dancing already started even before the conference formally began.

            To open the conference, Mass was celebrated by Fr. Michael Shaji, relating the lessons of the day’s Gospel to the responsibility of being single for Christ. “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Luke 10:16. As members of CFC Singles for Christ, each one has already listened to Christ. However, the next step is living out this life that we are called to live, even if it means being rejected and ridiculed.

Manu Mutua, full-time worker from Kenya, and Gladys Asante, mission worker from Ghana, used their charm and humor to host the conference. After which, a heartfelt and inspiring opening worship pumped up the hearts and minds of the delegates. With hearts awakened, Nick Escalona Jr., CFC Coordinator for Kenya, welcomed the delegates and explained to them the theme of this years conference, Be One from John 17:21, “I pray that they may all be one as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us; so the world may believe that You have sent me.”

            As Day One came to a close, the sounds of African music slowly filled the hall and the delegates got down on the dance floor. From the Afro-hip-hop beats of P-Square, to the old school sounds of Hugh Masekela, the night ended with delegates dancing the night away celebrating being one with each other, one with their continent and one with God.


Day 2: Learning, Growing and Having Fun


            Church bells woke up the tired yet eager delegates on the 2nd Day of the conference. Fr. Alfonse Ouma celebrated the morning’s Mass. Fr. Ouma emphasized the difficult call of all singles today, to be a messenger of the Good News in world preoccupied with worldly desires. Yet, the Singles for Christ seemed to be vigilant and ready to face this challenge.

            From the church, the delegates moved to a school hall for the conference’s 1st Session: You Are Invited given by Adrian Enaje, SFC full-time mission worker. Adrian talked about the Feast that everyone is invited to take part of, a feast so great that delegates from all of Africa and even all over the world have accepted. Many reasons were given on celebrating with a feast for the weekend. But first and foremost, a celebration is called for because of God’s goodness in our lives. Adrian challenged everyone to open their eyes to the many blessings God has given them and to see Jesus in their lives. From a person who lacked finances, a former drug addict and a new SFC member, sharers from all walks of life gave testimony to how God has blessed them after accepting His invitation.

            Workshops were organized to help the participants grown more spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. Workshops on Relationships, Entrepreneurship, Time Management, Leadership, Shepherding, Scripture Reading and Vocation & Discernment were spread out through the day. Participants chose which workshop best fit their needs and shown interest in.

As night time fell, the participants filled the conference hall once again to hear Eva Muritu, speaker for Session Two: Are You In or Out? Continuing from the analogy of the Feast, Eva related how everyone is all invited to be blessed. However, there are many worldly things that hinder receiving these blessings. What separates man from God?  The word SIN was used as an acronym to better discuss what prevents man from being one with God. Selfishness. Immoralities. iNsecurities.

Manu Matua gave the talk for Session Three: One With Christ. As Jesus constantly calls everyone to be one with Him, man continues to hold back and push him away. Manu emphasized the need to be one with Christ. And how does one do this? Manu called on everyone to live out the SFC Covenant, to focus on things that unify us as brothers and sisters, and to live actively in the sacramental life. Most importantly, everyone should “deliberately, actively, conscientiously remain in constant communion with Christ.” A line he asked everyone to repeat over and over and over again. As a culminating activity to his talk, Prayer Stations were set-up around the conference hall, where participants where encouraged to share what hinders them from being one with Christ with a personal Prayer Warrior.

            The night ended with another party as different groups gave presentations representing their parish and celebrating their own unique culture.


Day 3: One Community, One God, One Africa


            Keeping with the theme of being one with Christ and accepting Him into our lives, the Sunday’s mass talked about the Parable of the Landowner and the servants who killed his servant first and then his son. Fr. Francis Mburu related how the community of Couples for Christ helps build the lives of people all over the world by accepting Christ and placing Him in the center of their lives. Like the other priests, Fr. Mburu reiterated the challenge that all singles face today: that of rejecting Christ and accepting other gods like sex, money, drugs and other vices. But the Singles for Christ community provides the perfect support group and environment to prevent young people from going astray.

After Sunday’s Mass, the 3rd and last day of the conference got a boost with a Praise and Fashion-fest. From the different African costumes to modern wear to SFC shirts, models from the different cities and nations strutted down the conference hall proud of their national heritage, and their SFC culture.

The Last session was led by Nick Escalona, Jr., speaking to the already tired yet fired-up group on the conference’s theme: Be One. Nick talked about going beyond knowing people in their own household, their own friends, and their own community. As the conference brings in delegates from different cities and different countries, it is important to feel and to be one with everyone, especially the Singles for Christ Community no matter where they come from. And as a special call to the African delegates, he emphasized that as important it is to be one with Christ, they should also be one as an African nation.

Praisefest soon followed, with everyone filled with the spirit, singing songs of worship. Songs like Glory, Glory Lord to Fix My Eyes on Jesus and to Send Me spoke well of the praise worthy of the Lord, the joy felt in their hearts, and the call that they all must answer to: to give praise to the Lord by living our lives with one God and as One Africa.

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