About the Barrons

Joshua & Ruth

Alitzah, Hannah Gail, Eliana, Zerachiah, Ahaviah, Shalviah

(Why do our children have the names they have?)

(Where do we live?)Barron Family portrait

We (Joshua and Ruth Barron) are now in our fifth term of field service in Kenya.  We began work partnering with the Maasai but now work with many tribes as the Maasai believers are sharing the gospel across borders of tribe & culture & language.  We arrived in Kenya in January 2007, together with our two wonderful daughters, Alitzah (2003) and Hannah (2005).  But now we have six wonderful children! five daughters and one son.  Eliana was born in Nairobi, Kenya in July 2007, and Zerachiah was born in Tennessee during furlough in March 2010.  Ahaviah was born in Matasia, Kenya in September 2012.  Shalviah followed in January 2015.

.

Ruth earned a BA in English and psychology from Milligan College (1997).  She swore that she would never go to the seminary across the street where all “the weirdos and bare-foot missionary-types” were, strange people like Jonathan and Joshua.  So she naturally enrolled at Emmanuel School of Religion (now called Emmanuel Christian Seminary) the following Fall, completing an MA in religion with a concentration in Christian Doctrine (2000).  The following August, she and Joshua married — and his now-second-best friend Jonathan was best man.  Ruth has increasingly been involved both in ministering to victims of abuse and in educating churches and educational institutions on the importance of appropriate responses to abuse and to trauma.  As a scholar and missionary educator, she focuses on the intersection of trauma, theology, literature, and church polity.  She has presented at academic conferences in Kenya and Nigeria, been published in Mutuality and Priscilla Papers, and has a forthcoming chapter with Langham Literature.

.

Joshua likes to think that he is a bibliophile, but he is really a bibliomaniac.  Unable to limit himself to a reasonable course load, he received a BA in Bible & Ministry and also a BS in Chemistry from Milligan (1995).  After teaching Chemistry laboratory to college freshman for a couple of years while working in two graduate programs (seminary & Chemistry), he narrowed his focus and earned an MDiv from Emmanuel (2000).   Currently Joshua is a PhD candidate at the Centre for World Christianity at Africa International University in Nairobi. (Contrary to what has been posted online in a few places, he has not yet completed his doctorate and does not claim otherwise.)  He is the co-founder of the African Christian Theology network and the founding editor of ACTEA’s academic journal, also titled African Christian Theology.

.

Before we were led to serve with the Maasai, Joshua served a missions internship with Pioneer Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea (1993) and spent two summers (1996 & ’98) working with churches in northeast India.  Three months into our marriage, we spent a little over a year ministering in South Africa, where we taught at a small Bible college and worked with local congregations.  Upon their return to the States, we entered the very challenging & cross-cultural field of youth ministry until they began support raising full time to join a church planting team in Kenya.

NBTI studentsJoshua with the students of his 2010 NBTI course on the Spiritual Disciplines.  (The Barron girls — all much taller now! —  brought the students some homemade cookies.)

We spent our first term (2007–2008) living in the bush in the village of Endoinyo Erinka on the Loita Plains, adjacent to the Maasai Mara.  The first year was devoted to language and culture learning.  Focusing on discipleship and leadership training, one of our primary roles was the development of curricula for the Maasai churches in the Maa language.  We ministered through teaching at the Narok Bible Training Institute and the Maasai Discipleship Training Institute. We also taught various seminars in village churches and at the Ewaso Ng’iro Conference Centre.  At the very end of the term, we completed our first Maa language book, Enkinosata Ororei Le Nkai (“Eating the Word of God”), a textbook on congregational hermeneutics.

We were in America on furlough during 2009–2010.  We served as resident missionaries (teaching courses and mentoring students) at Nebraska Christian College for the Spring 2009 term.  We returned to Kenya in June 2010.  We lived in the town of Narok, a major center in Maasai land, for over year.  We now reside in Enoomatasiani (“the place where the matasia bushes are;” the matasia is one of the “tooth brush trees” for the Maasai) in Kajiado County, which is abbreviated to simply Matasia in English and Swahili (and misspelled as “Matathia” on google maps). 

.

In our second term, we saw the death of Narok Bible Training Institute (NBTI), which had primarily served the Community Christian Church (CCC) congregations in Maasai Land in Narok County. (Whereas the USA is divided into states, Kenya is divided into counties.) Then we saw the birth and death of Mission Institute East Africa (MIEA). As a result of these two failures, the Maasai congregations of the CCC began to feel the lack of training opportunities for their leaders. We were unwilling to start a new ministry that would depend exclusively on us. Instead, we were hoping to help the CCC establish a training ministry which would be sustainable and in which the CCC would be invested at the grassroots. Right at the end of our second term, the CCC established, on paper, therm Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI) with a uniform curriculum for the whole CCC (Maasai, Turkana, and others).  In 2010, Joshua began making occasional trips to Turkana Land (in northwest Kenya), two to four weeks a year, to train church leaders at Turkana Bible Training Institute (TBTI), now Turkana branch of Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI); he continued this schedule through 2018. Much of our second and third terms focused on training church leaders and teachers and continued implementation of the Enkinosata curriculum, which remains in high demand.

.

During our third term (2014–2018), we oversaw the re-birth of the Maasai Discipleship Training Institute, working alongside MDTI director Francis ole Yenko and assistant director Moses ole Mashipei, and the foundation of two new branch campuses of CCBTI, one in Ewaso Ng’iro in Narok County and one in Ng’atataek in Kajiado County, and expanded our publishing of curricula from Maa to Swahili and Turkana.  The Swahili adaption of our Enkinosata book, Kula Neno La Mungu, was published in 2015, followed by the NgaTurkana adaptation, Akiyen Akiroit A Akuj, in 2017.  Working with Simon Eipa, Joshua completed his church history in NgaTurkana (the title translates to “The Camel has Four Legs”).  We developed both a stewardship curriculum and a short introduction to the books of the Bible, both in Maa.  Joshua wrapped up his role as a bible translation consultant (2010–2017) for The Bible Society of Kenya’s 2018 revision of the Maa Bible. Besides continuing our previous ministries, we also worked to train church leaders as curriculum developers themselves. MDTI courses were held at its new basecamp in Olepishet.  Ruth developed a very fruitful prayer ministry that from then until now has given us a number of beautiful testimonies.

.

Starting with our fourth term (2019 – March 2022), we have been affiliated with MissionStream and have our work permits through the Africa Inland Church (AIC).  (In the 1970s and 1980s, CMF missionaries planted AIC churches among the Maasai and Turkana.)  We have continued to minister with CCC congregations but also have partnered with AIC congregations.  Just a week or two before the pandemic shutdowns forced the cancellations of planned courses and church planting activities in the bush, Joshua was able to teach a History of Christian Missions course to a group of mission-minded Maasai pastors, as our friend James ole Sinkua was rebooting Mission Institute East Africa.  (Recently MIEA and the Maasai branches of CCBTI have merged to form Harvest Bible College in Ewaso Ng’iro; several of the courses in the curriculum we developed for CCBTI have been retained.)  During the pandemic shutdowns, we were temporarily unable to minister at the grassroots level due to government regulations.  So we adapted and Joshua began using various online platforms to mentor church leaders as Ruth did the same to minister to victims of abuse and of trauma (she has saved at least one person from suicide).  We thus began to re-engage with formal academic settings — working with the branches instead of the roots, as it were, interacting with and sometimes mentoring bible college and seminary lecturers and professors.  As a result, we became members of the Africa Society for Evangelical Theology (ASET), Joshua in 2020 and Ruth in 2023.  Online mentoring led to the founding of the African Christian Theology network as a way to network and provide resources for African preachers, pastors, bible college and seminary students, and bible college and seminary professors.  This work caught the eye of the executive director of the Association for African Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA), which led him to recruit Joshua to join ACTEA’s staff.  Joshua was at ACTEA’s board meeting in March 2022 when we received work that his father had suddenly died, leading to an unscheduled furlough of six months.

.

We returned to Kenya to begin our fifth term in September 2022. Shortly after the pandemic lockdowns finally ended, we returned to Maasai land to minister to some new church plants.  Ruth had opportunities to preach, and Joshua had an opportunity to be an English-Maa translator (Ruth preached in English, as we were hosting visitors from a church in America, and there was no one else there to translate).  Some of the Maasai women wept in relief at the good news in that sermon, and several Maasai men testified to having their eyes opened.  Elsewhere, Ruth’s abilities and expertise have begun to be recognized.  In October 2022, Ruth was invited by the leaders of the Faith and Public Witness group of the ReThinking Church in the 21st Century project to contribute a book chapter on the public witness of the Church in response to abuse.  (Her chapter, “Overcoming the Obstacles:  Challenging the Church’s Public Witness in Response to Abuse,” was submitted in June 2023; the book is scheduled for publication in 2024.)  In May 2023, Ruth’s sermon “For Whom Will the Church Be Safe?” was published in Priscilla Papers, an academic journal; it is available in html and pdf formats.  In August 2023, her article “Bitter Roots and Bitter Herbs” was published in  Mutuality.  Before that, in July 2023 Professor Esther Ayandokun, the Rector of Baptist College of Theology, Oyo (in Oyo, Nigeria) invited Ruth to give a plenary presentation / lead paper at the College’s International Academic Conference on the theme of “Vulnerability, Molestation and the Church’s Response.”  So in October 2023 Ruth presented on “The Rain Reveals the Leaks:  How the Vulnerability of the ‘Least of These’ Reveals the Vulnerabilities in our Own Hearts and Systems.”  (A video recording is available on vimeo.com.)  A published version is forthcoming in Baptist Journal of Theology.  In March 2024, we co-presented a paper (Ruth was the lead author and lead presenter) on “Who Are the Lost Sheep?  How Abuse in the Church is a Missiological Issue” at the annual ASET conference. 

.

Joshua joined the office staff of ACTEA to coordinate research and publications, to help meet ACTEA’s mission of strengthening theological education through accreditation, scholarship, and support services to serve the church and transform society.  In addition to his staff responsibilities, he continues to mentor African church leaders, ministry students, and theological educators.  He is also active in African theological education in other ways.  In 2022, he became a founding member (and member of the constitution committee) of the African Homiletics Society, which promotes solid biblical preaching in Africa.  In 2024, he was invited to serve on the planning committee of IAMS-Africa (International Association of MIssion Studies – Africa), which promotes Christian witness and mission in Africa.  Since 2019, his research has resulted in a number of publications in several peer-reviewed journals — African Christian Theology (2024, co-written editorial published in English, French, and Portuguese), Conspectus:  The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary (2022), Evangelical Review of Theology (2024: an article and a co-written communication), Global Missiology (April 2021 and October 2021), Journal of African Christian Biography (2021), Journal of Language, Culture, and Religion (2021), Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis (2021, html or pdf), Post-Christendom Studies (2024, forthcoming co-written article), Priscilla Papers (2019 and 2023), Stellenbosch Theological Journal (2021), and WEA Theological News (2024, co-written communication).  In addition, he has written two book chapters, one in Globalizing Linkages:  The Intermingling Story of Christianity in Africa (2024) and the other in the next volume in the ASET Series (2024, forthcoming).  Besides becoming founding editor and a managing co-editor of ACTEA’s journal, African Christian Theology, he is also one of three series editors of the African Christian Studies Series (AFRICS).

 

Ruth teaching during a marriage/family seminar for the congregation in Olepishet, back in 2009.