New OS Logo Other Sheep eNews  February 6, 2009

The Inclusive Shepherd:  "I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must  bring them also."    John 10:16 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Other Sheep to visit Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia in July and August, 2009.  Other Sheep is currently seeking contacts in these countries.  For details click here.

Rev. Makokha of Nairobi may get the "axe" from the United Methodist Church in Kenya. Makokha answers church leader's accusations.
An Interview with Rev. John Makokha, UMC Minister, Other Sheep Coordinator for Kenya


The Makokha Interview with Other Sheep
You could get the "axe"
Discrimination is sin
Before Other Sheep
Promoting homosexuality?
Educating Kenya
Long standing controversies
Rev. Christie's first accusation
Rev. Christie's contradictory remarks
Rev. Christie's second accusation
Were charges ever made?
Character assassination
Rev.Christie's motive?
Housing fund withheld
Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology
Heretic? Apostate?
Do any clergy dialogue with you?
Have you "split the church in two?"
Is dialogue possible among Kenyan UMC clergy?
Letters expressing concern should be written to . . .
Africa focus should be on poverty, HIV-AIDS, etc.
John Makokha, Nairobi, July 4, 2008
Rev. John Makokha
Nairobi, Kenya 
July 4, 2008
Photo by SParelli 
Dear Other Sheep Reader,
Rev. Neil Christie, United Methodist Church clergyperson and church leader in Kenya, made accusations against Rev. John Makokha in an article by Behind The Mask, according to Behind The Mask.
Other Sheep, in a written question-answer interview with Rev. John Makokha, asks Rev. Makokha about the allegations made against him as well as other questions around his work and ministry as it relates to LGBT issues and concerns in Kenya.
Here are Rev. Makokha's remarks.  The column at the left will link you, per question, to each question of the interview.
Steve Parelli, MDiv
Executive Director
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Makokha with church groupRev. John Makokha and Anne, his wife, with their UMC church in the Nairobi, Kenya, greater area.
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Tell Mrs. Winnie Adhiambow that it is time for the UMC church in Kenya to create an atmosphere where clergy can openly dialogue on homosexuality without fear of financial loss and ecclesiastical rejection.
Interview with Rev. John Makokha, UMC Minister of Nairobi, Other Sheep Coordinator for Kenya
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  John, according to the January 29, 2009, article by Behind The Mask, "you may face an axe from the United Methodist Church" at the next annual conference this April (2009) because of your "positive stance on homosexuality."  How likely is this, and do you think it could take place this April?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Well, it is anticipated that the next East Africa Annual Conference may be held during this time. The Bishop has the prerogative of making any appointments but with recommendations from each member country leadership. Looking at the way UMC leaders in Kenya have been strategizing and scheming against me, there is a strong concerted spirit of isolating and discriminating against me further during this session due to my positive stance on homosexuality. This session is likely to give homophobic and homohatred leaders an opportunity to shoot.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
So, you could "get axed" by your denomination.  Does that mean you'll be defrocked?  Do you have any recourse?  What will this mean to you financially?  What will happen to the church you are now pastoring?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  You can call it defrocking, or anything, but this is only a human decision. I will only be worried if I loose Christ. They are not the ones who called me in this ministry. They will not shut my mouth. I will raise a red flag using the social principles on affirmation of LGBTI persons in our UMC churches and the Great Commission. We talk of open hearts, open minds and open doors in the UMC. We need to be welcoming congregations, not unwelcoming. Discrimination is sin. I have affirmed my belief in an inclusive church, that is, a church that welcomes all of God's children, that is free from any discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  If I am stopped, this church will dearly miss an affirming spiritual leader but the mission field is wide.  The workers are few but the harvest is plenty.  I will also miss my all- inclusive sheep that I have trained and preached to so far. Financially, it will not change my position since I have not been on any salary from the UMC.  God has been providing for us in His own ways, through the gifts of his people. I am sure He will continue providing for my family through caring people who will choose to support us financially. God has been faithful and keeper of His promise.

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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  You've been involved with Other Sheep, an ecumenical Christian pro-LGBT international organization, since December of 2007.  Is that when you first became pro-LGBT, or was it before then?  Briefly, what  is your history in speaking up on behalf of LGBT people of faith?
Rev. John Maklkha replies:  Thank you for that good question. Before joining Other Sheep, I had been actively involved in the LGBTI ministry for more than 5 years. I have conducted capacity building seminars ecumenically for ministers and laity on mission/evangelism work and human sexuality as a component in Eastern Africa region. I have counseled pastors, youth and married persons on sexual orientation. I have taught in Bible study sessions and preached sermons for inclusion and affirmation of LGBTI persons.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks: 
Some Kenyan Methodist ministers, according to the article by Behind The Mask, have accused you of "promoting" homosexuality in the church?  Of course, no one can "promote" a sexual orientation.  A person either does or does not have same-sex attraction.  What you are doing is "promoting" education on the topic of homosexuality for the sake of learning and understanding because the gay Christian community -- a marginalized people -- is being spiritually abused by the church by its outright complete social rejection of LGBT people.  Would you agree that you are "promoting" education and not homosexuality?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Oh! My God, no one can promote homosexuality. Sexual orientation, according to scientific research, has shown that it is innate and cannot be changed. You only promote what is outside. You cannot promote what is inside. What is happening, so far, is ignorance on matters of human sexuality that has caused a lot of suffering to LGBTI. This has perpetuated both physical and spiritual violence in Africa. I have been promoting education (awareness) and not promoting homosexuality the way it has been alleged; through capacity building programs such as seminars and distribution of materials. I have also been carrying out counseling of LGBTI and PFLAG. We have been requesting dialogue and praying for tolerance and not intolerance. Inclusion and not exclusion. 

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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  So, what are you doing to bring "education and understanding" about issues relating to homosexuality to the United Methodist Churches in Kenya?  How are you accomplishing this?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  I am not only reaching out to United Methodist Churches, but working ecumenically. So far, almost all United Methodist Church leaders have received handouts and books on the Bible and homosexuality. I am passionately involved in organizing interdenominational seminars and workshops for clergy and laity. I have also been initiating dialogue with them. Counseling clergy and laity who are LGBTI. I have distributed resource materials to seminary and university students and professors. Lastly, I have been involved on KISS 100 radio and a TV talk show on the topic of homosexuality and social and religious justice.
This will create safer spiritual communities for LGBTS persons, their families, and their friends. I am confident that Jesus will break down all dividing walls of hostility and discrimination.
We are telling the church leadership that diverse understandings of Biblical texts is not disbelief.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks: 
Behind The Mask says that controversy between you and the Methodist church began when you became "an ally of Other Sheep Kenya."  But isn't it true that the controversy between you and the churches in Kenya over your position on homosexuality started long before you and Other Sheep met?   Can you tell us something about your controversies before Other Sheep?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Controversy between me and the churches in Kenya started long before Other Sheep met me. My independent study of human sexuality and my interaction with close family members and friends who were gay and lesbian led me to a different position from what conservatives believe. I taught in high schools and I encountered a number of youth who were gay. These led to both informal and formal controversies on the topic of homosexuality with both the clergy and laity. I have always preached love, compassion and non-discrimination. Some people accused me of being a liberal, but we should avoid judging others on the basis of sexual orientation.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks: 
According to Behind The Mask, Rev. Neal Christie, Assistant General Secretary Ministry of Education and Leadership Formation General Board of Church and Society, told them that you have "made big decisions without informing his supervisors" and that you have "hid behind this one issue [of homosexuality]."  But isn't it true that you have always been open and honest about your position and purpose in bringing light to the church on this topic of homosexuality?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  I wish to correct Rev. Neal Christie.  I have always been open, honest, and courageous and bold about my position and purpose in bringing light to the church on this topic. I have also been open on other issues such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, women empowerment, sexual violence and orphans and vulnerable children. The same supervisors he is talking about have, so far, isolated themselves from me and discriminated against me, when making big decisions, because of my position on homosexuality.
I dream of working biblically with servant leaders in the UMC, but not supervisors. This is the heart of my ministry. 
I am treated like an outcast and a leper, and yet Jesus was inclusive. I have tried my level best to go an extra mile to sacrifice and work with all leaders, but in most cases it has been frustrating. Therefore, this accusation has no basis at all and it's based on mere gossip and propaganda of which Neal, unfortunately, has fallen a victim to. In my several emails to Rev. Neal Christie, I told him I had been isolated and many times had to make grave decisions for the furtherance of programs in line with my calling.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  And isn't it true that in spite of Rev. Christie's remarks to Behind The Mask about your failure to work well with your supervisors, that he wrote you personally in an email and cc-ed it to several others that, quote, "Dear John:  The staff of the General Board of Church and Society offers deep gratitude for your vision, passion and skill at designing three superb leadership seminars for the United Methodist Church in Kenya.  Your gift for networking church leadership at all levels with change agents in civil society is strong and evident.  Your prerequisite flexibility in dealing with the myriad of unforeseen details is especially appreciated."  Rev. Christie wrote this in an email dated November 28, 2008.  Now, just two months later, he's telling Behind The Mask that your work is unacceptable.  How do you respond to Rev. Christie's contradictory remarks?
Rev. John. Makokha replies:  Rev. Neal is playing the politics of survival. For him to work in the East Africa Annual Conference, he has to work with 'politically correct' people. He has to soil me and deny me the same way the biblical Peter denied Jesus. After a private discussion with some homophobic UMC leaders in Nairobi during the seminar, a plot was hatched to isolate me and he was briefed.  He was told that since the UMC leadership would not be comfortable with me working in the whole East Africa Annual Conference, he needed to politically dump me as fast as possible. Rev. Neal wants to 'earn a face' before the East Africa Annual Conference leaders, because initially he had worked with the 'untouchable'. During the seminar, I am sorry to say, there was a lot of lobbying going on from the UMC officials and many times they signaled him out of the seminars to have him listen to their 'stories.' They did a lot of incitement and, regrettably, managed to convince him that he had picked the one man they were not comfortable with.  One of the leaders informed me of what was going on behind my back. Before the seminar took off, some of the leaders wrote him emails claiming the UMC leadership had reached a consensus that they would not attend that seminar just because it had been organized by me. I hope he has not forgotten that I had told him the UMC leaders were praying for a total flop of the seminar and even refused to participate in the planning and organizing of the seminar. I had to go many days without sleep because we had to make sure that everything from meals to accommodation, from seminar venues to facilitators for the various seminars, was in order.  But my advice to Neal is that he cannot claim to train clergy and laity in Africa on social justice if he wants to politically propagate the status quo and look for survival tactics. I thought he was going to bring healing, reconciliation and justice, but not an instrument of injustice, inflicting more suffering on some of us who are already in pain but soldiering on.
According to my own assessment, Neal may or may not be homophobic, but he is situational in his working. But my prayer is that he rises up and stands to the occasion.
He not only wrote an e-mail and cc-ed all the UMC leaders appreciating me, but at the end of the seminars he gave me a beautiful trophy and told everyone that they should emulate my example. I am amazed that he has become a turn coat! I have photographed it and I am sending it to you also.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  According to Behind The Mask, Rev. Christie said he "would not trust [you] financially again with any of [the] agency grants unless [you were] supervised by others for accountability."  Do you think Rev. Christie actually said that to Behind The Mask
Rev. John Makokha replies:  I have no concrete evidence that this is what Rev. Christie told Behind The Mask. But in the event that he told them, this is very very unfortunate since during the seminar we worked as a committee, not as an individual under the UMC Coordinator for Kenya.  
Neal continued shifting venues for the seminars for the UMC clergy from Nairobi's Eastland's area (Kayole), where we had budgeted for, to Lavington Methodist Guest House. The rates of the Methodist Guest House are almost three times more than Kayole UMC rates. And when, in his appreciation email, he says, "Your prerequisite flexibility in dealing with the myriad of unforeseen details is especially appreciated," I was convinced, beyond any reasonable doubt, that he had appreciated how I had been stretched further, but was somehow coping. He promised to take care of incidentals but left a bill which is yet to be cleared. He also borrowed 200 US dollars, to give to Rev. Josephat Rungu, from Riruta United Methodist Women, and promised to refund; but he has not done so to date.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  Has Rev. Christie ever discussed this allegation of his with you personally?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  He has never discussed with me personally this allegation, and this is the first time I am hearing about it -- through the media. I was satisfied that all the accounting of the expenditure was done and that original official receipts hand been handed over to him upon leaving. I have, so far, received the cleared copies of the receipts with no audit query whatsoever from GBCS treasurer.  I am persuaded to think that Rev. Neal needs to put facts on the table rather than gossip when it comes to serious matters. It is unfortunate that a person of his caliber should engage in the cheap gossip of many UMC leaders in East Africa.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks: 
Why is he using the media to character-assassinate one of his own fellow clergy?  He is making this statement to the whole Internet world.
Rev. John Makokha replies:  I cannot understand why Rev. Neal chose the media to soil my name. But I think he is better placed to answer this question. I don't know what he promised the East African Annual Conference leadership in order to continue having seminars here. Could it be part of a plan, that such serious allegations, if they are heard in the West, for the whole world to see, then I would be finished.  Until now, the East African Annual Conference homophobic leaders have not been successful in silencing me and are not comfortable working with me. This could be a properly strategized plan to "finish John with his ministry." How unfortunate! 
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  What is Rev. Christie's motive here?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Probably this is one of the approaches they schemed with the UMC leadership to deal with me. Again, looking at the cheap talk, it is assumed by UMC leaders that I joined an LBGTI ministry so I could make money and, looking at the statements Neal is said to have made. These are not his own words but words he was given during their gossip time. Therefore, might Neal be but the mouth piece of the UMC leadership, both in Kenya and in the East Africa Annual Conference, for political reasons?
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks: 
On another site on the Internet, you are quoted as saying "The United Methodist Church in Kenya has refused to pay me a salary for the past two years because I am an openly pro-LGBTI minister."  How can the denomination do that?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Due to my stand of fighting for the rights of gay men and lesbian women in the church in Kenya, the leadership has tried all ways to frustrate and persecute me including denial to release funds for my living support for over  two years. Despite all these frustrations, I have vowed to stand firm since the grace of God is sufficient and God loves all of us. Perhaps by withholding my stipend they thought as a family we will relent, but we have vowed to stand firm in this ministry because we've proved beyond reasonable doubt this is a calling from God and not man.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  You and your wife are both graduates of the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST).  How has this institution of higher learning been treating you and your wife and family?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  My wife was refused continuity of part-time lecturing work on allegation of my association with the Other Sheep. Due to evangelical homophobia and homohatred my family was discriminated against, rejected and denied a source of income. But as Christians, we forgave all those who made this decision. Our children were told not to mix with others because they would "recruit" them into LGBTI ministry. We were also advised to seek alternative housing elsewhere because of the nature of our ministry. We prayed, God opened a window and we moved out. But we still love our school.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  How do your fellow clergy and your evangelical peers view you now that you are asking the church to re-consider its views on homosexuality? Are you considered a heretic?  Are you considered an apostate, that is, someone who is totally outside of the faith?  Obviously, you aren't considered a friend of the church who, like the prophets of old, is giving a call to the church to examine itself in this area.  Or, are there some who still stand by you?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Some of my fellow clergy and evangelical peers view me as a heretic and liberal, that is, someone who is outside the faith in Christ. My call to the church, to be inclusive and reconciling, has made me not a friend of the church. This has made some of them to look for any window of opportunity to soil my name using all forms of allegations to suit their occasion. However, we have a few who agree with me but do not want to be known by their flock and leadership.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  Have some of your fellow clergy and evangelical peers engaged in open and honest dialogue with you on the topic of homosexuality?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Some have made attempts to engage in a dialogue on this topic but the majority fear consequences from their leaders and sponsors. We organized a seminar for the clergy in Nairobi but ministers feared to attend. It is a pity that even some resource materials donated to some evangelical colleges have sometimes been returned to us due to disapproval on the basis of phobia and lack of academic freedom.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  According to Rev. Christie, as reported by Behind The Mask, you have "split the church in two."  If the Methodist church in Kenya is "split in two," then it is evident that there are many individuals within the church, like yourself, who believe the church needs to be inclusive, that is, that the church needs to be accepting of LGBT people just as they are.  Since there are that many people who disagree with the church's present posturing on homosexuality, isn't it time to begin constructive dialogue rather than ratting out every clergyperson who may have differing views?  Isn't it time for everyone to keep cool heads and step back and do some serious theological and sociological work?  Do you think the UMC in your conference could ever create a structured theological dialogue between themselves as fellow ministers?
I have no power and authority to "split the church." But, through teachings and preaching, the clergy and laity have the free will to choose which road to follow. There are very few individuals within the church who believe the church needs to be inclusive, that is, accepting of LGBTI persons just as they are. It is time to initiate dialogue through the spirit of love for both the clergy and laity. We need unity in diversity as we reflect on some theological and sociological issues of sexuality.
Looking at leaders' worldviews, I do not think they are ready at the moment to initiate theological dialogue between ministers and clergy due  to the following reasons: Religious and cultural homophobia and homohatred is rampant; societal pressure; lack of sound understanding of  What the Bible says and doesn't say about homosexuality; lack of an understanding of the science of human sexuality. This kind of knowledge is lacking in most curriculum.
We are also lacking open-minded scholars in the church who can come together and dialogue effectively.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  Is dialogue possible between clergy within your own denomination there in Kenya?  And if so, how would that come about? 
Rev. John Makokha replies:  It is not likely, but there is hope for the future. I think we need to be persistent on reaching out to the clergy even at individual levels or groups of twos and threes.  The clergy are very influential in any community. This should be done slowly and systematically, one level at a time. The best approach is ecumenical, according to our experience and study.
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  Who would the outside world write to express their opinion in the matter of needed dialogue?  If someone wanted to express their view that the UMC in Kenya should show you grace at this time and give consent to dialogue, to whom would this sentiment be expressed?  And at what email address?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  Lay leader of Riruta United Methodist Church: Mrs. Winnie Adhiambo;  Email: [email protected].
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Steve Parelli (Other Sheep) asks:
  What comment would you like to make to the UMC church leaders in Africa through this interview?
Rev. John Makokha replies:  I would like to request our church leaders to focus on the challenges facing the continent rather than wasting paper and ink and meetings on homosexuality. My pray is that the leaders focus on church leadership wrangles, HIV/AIDS, corruption, poverty, orphans and vulnerable children among others. This will make our mother continent to develop holistically and the church will grow. 
My dream is to see an LGBTI affirming church in Africa. This may take long, but that day definitely will come but with a little sacrifice and pain.
Other Sheep is an ecumenical Christian ministry that works worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions.
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