Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

Category Archives: Kenya

Chaplains Training Chaplains



Dave, back row, second from left and Navy Ch. Capt. Jon Cultler met with the KMOD chaplains in March, 2011
Dave, back row, second from left and Navy Ch. Capt. Jon Cutler, center, met with the KMOD chaplains in March, 2011

Military-to-military engagement was a big part of Dave’s job while stationed in Djibouti. Not only did he work with the different branches of the U.S. military, but he also spent time with members of the Kenya Ministry of Defense (KMOD), particularly with the chaplains.


The Kenyan chaplains saw the need for a school to better train their chaplains but had no idea how to go about starting one. Thus, the Kenyan Ministry of Defense Chaplain Training Program was born. At least the seed was planted.

“The idea came about after our first visit with the Kenyan Ministry of Defense. After round-table discussions with the principal chaplains, a Roman Catholic, a Protestant and a Muslim, we realized we had much in common with the troops we care for,” Dave said.

Dave, right, discusses plans with the Kenyan chaplains.
Dave, right, discusses plans with the Kenyan chaplains.

Issues such as alcohol abuse, family separation, and post-traumatic stress affected troops from both nations, but Kenyan chaplains were not always trained to deal with these experiences.

“The KMOD knew they needed a chaplain school, but didn’t know how to start. Ch. (Jon) Cutler and I brainstormed an idea to bring one of each of the KMOD faith group chaplains to Camp Lemonnier to work with the base level chaplains and experts in the Family Readiness Center for two to three weeks per person,” Dave said. Through the visit, the three Kenyan chaplains would gain a foundation in the common concerns among military members and observe how the U.S. chaplains meet the needs of military members.

Of course, the KMOD was interested. Next came working out the details with the major players – Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa, KMOD, US Africa Command and the US State Department. “We needed to work out the logistics, legalities, international cooperation and, of course, who pays for travel, time, lodging, etc.,” Dave said.

Dave took the lead on the logistical, topical and schedule of events for the Kenyan chaplains while Ch. Cutler tackled convincing the leadership at CJTF-HOA, AFRICOM, and the State Department that this was not only a good idea, but met the mission goals of relationships and community building.

Many of the pieces fell in place, but not enough for Dave to see the project to fruition. However, a modified version took place in July 2011. For more information on that visit, go to


The Nairobi Synagogue

  “There’s a synagogue in Kenya?” I was incredulous when Dave told me that he, Brenda Harcourt and US Navy Chaplain Jon Cutler attended an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the middle of Nairobi. It is a beautiful synagogue with attendants ranging from a world-renowned heart surgeon, the Israeli ambassador to Kenya, a variety of peopleContinue Reading

Cheetahs prefer Italians

Did you know cheetahs prefer Italians over people of Jewish heritage? It’s true. As part of his Kenyan excursion, Dave went to the Nairobi Safari Walk along with Brenda Harcourt and US Navy Chap. Jon Cutler and had a close encounter with a cheetah. The park itself was amazing. “Wild animals in their natural habitat!Continue Reading

In Africa, when religious leaders speak, people listen

“Whew! What an amazing day,” Dave said. On March 3, he met with Bright Mawdor, deputy general secretary of the All African Conference of Churches and learned a lot. Unlike in the United States, separation of church and state does not exist. “When the Secretariat speaks, the government listens,” Dave said. AACC leaders interact withContinue Reading

A Rabbi is a Novelty in Kenya

“So there we were — a Rabbi, an Imam, an Anglican Priest and a Presbyterian minister — all teaching and sharing together” at the Hour of Prayer on March 2, 2011 in Manda Bay, Kenya. It was quite a sight and quite historical since no one besides Dave ever saw a Rabbi in person before.Continue Reading

Lamu, Maasai and Hippopotami

  The day after Christmas Dave toured the countryside of Kenya, starting with Lamu, an island resort near the Somali coastline. “It reminded me of the Caribbean of the Islands in atmosphere and the laid-back attitude,” Dave said. Lamu is one of the oldest cities in Kenya and is the oldest port. Dave photographed aContinue Reading

U.S. and Kenyan Chaplains Meet

One of the more exciting aspects of Dave’s job in Africa was military and religious engagement and he experienced both when he and his boss met with the three  principal chaplains of the Kenyan Military, Col. Alfred Rotich, a Roman Catholic bishop; Col. Paul Simiyu, an Anglican bishop; and Lt. Col.Mohammed Ahmed, a Muslim imamContinue Reading


On the drive to Addis Alem, Ethiopia to visit the Compassion International site, I was anxious. I did not know what kind of reception I would get. I was sensitive to perceptions – a white man, driven by an Ethiopian interpreter from the American Embassy, accompanied by an Ethiopian from Compassion International and my NavyContinue Reading