Date of Award
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Bruce L. Bauer
Many boys who undergo circumcision as a rite of passage in the Kikuyu community in Kenya are secluded for two weeks while they heal. During this period their parents are barred by the culture from seeing their sons and the boys are left entirely to the influence of their peers, who introduce them to all manner of vices like smoking tobacco, bhang, drinking alcohol, taking drugs of addiction, chewing of miraa, pre-marital sexual activities, and recruitment to illegal gangs. These vices negatively affect the boys’ spiritual growth and expose them to physical, mental, social, and emotional health risks. An initiation rite of passage is a ceremony performed on boys and girls at the puberty stage of their development which is meant to mark a significance time in the child’s life as they transition from childhood to adulthood. This traditionally involved circumcision of both boys and girls and mentoring of the initiates. The Abagusii girls are subjected to the old unbiblical and even outlawed cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in this 21st century.
The project sought to create and implement a strategy to provide a functional biblical substitute for initiation rites of passage for Kikuyu boys and Abagusii girls and thus reduce the number of boys and girls who undergo these rites in the traditional ways which are harmful and unbiblical. A functional biblical substitute for initiation rites of passage is one that combines the good values of the communities involved with the biblical principles and thereby contextualizing the process and improving on it.
The Adventist functional substitute for initiation rites of passage was developed and implemented and many boys and girls were protected from the traditional practices. Church members were encouraged to consider the alternative strategy for their boys and girls as they transition into adulthood. A training manual was developed which was used to mentor the initiates and which shall also be used to train Trainers of Trainers (ToTs) to open up many centers for mentorship during the initiation rites of passage in the future.
The idea of developing functional substitutes to address the traditional practices in Africa is paramount. If this is not done the diehard, harmful, and non-biblical cultural traditions will persist even in those communities which are perceived as being Christian. The strategy that was developed has provided an excellent substitute for the traditional practices during the initiation rites of passage among the Kikuyu boys and Abagusii girls. The boys and girls who would have been negatively impacted during these rites of passage have been spared the torturous and harmful traditions and will continue in their health spiritually, mentally, physically, socially and emotionally.
Initiation rites--Kenya, Puberty rites--Kenya, Female circumcision--Kenya, Church work with youth--Kenya--Seventh-day Adventists, Seventh-day Adventist youth--Kenya
Gichuiri, John Macharia, "An Adventist Functional Substitute for Initiation Rites of Passage for Kikuyu Boys and Abagusii Girls in Kenya" (2014). Project Documents. 267.