Serving with ICM’s African Theological Seminary in Kenya was initially a “big faith stretch” for Kathy Bowe, but after years of watching God work among the African people, she never wanted to leave.
Kathy and husband Darryl Bowe, both teachers, joined ICM staff in 1997 after meeting then ICM President Phil Walker at Laurelglen Bible Church in Bakersfield. Now, two years widowed and living in Seattle with her children and grandchildren, Kathy fondly remembers joining ICM after more than 20 years with Campus Crusade for Christ.
“It felt weird, changing our careers at age 50,” she said. “But Phil Walker is a visionary, and Darryl was very interested in helping train pastors across Africa.”
Darryl and Kathy were content for a time to manage ICM’s Bakersfield office, but Darryl longed to equip pastors to share the gospel. The Bowe’s years with Campus Crusade had taken the family to Los Angeles, London, and Germany, so when the opportunity to serve with ICM in Kenya came along in 2009, the couple’s grown children expressed a desire to see their parents settled in the States and close to family.
The Bowes compromised by committing to just two years in Kenya, joining the ATS staff as teachers and mentors. Darryl taught advanced degree courses in Old and New Testament theology and Greek and Hebrew languages. Kathy wrote the ATS newsletter for staff and students and taught certificate and diploma-level classes in English language and study skills.
It was then that Kathy was assigned to also oversee the fledgling Shepherd’s Scholarship program, which she recalls as one of her most essential duties. Professors with advanced degrees and real-world experience as pastors and ministry leaders teach ATS coursework. The seminary operates on a trimester system, a three-month hybrid program that allows students to complete their education while supporting their families and remaining active in their ministries. Students stay on campus for about ten days a semester, then return home to complete their studies online.
The cost per student ranges from $1,500 to $2,200, depending on the campus. Those costs are less than a regular university but still out of reach for many Kenyans yearning for higher education. Shepherd Scholarships help finance the vast majority of those who attend ATS.
“The students often told me that without financial help, they wouldn’t be on the campus,” Kathy said. “They are intent on completing their programs and always striving because they want to be learned in Scripture and serve the Lord.”
Pastors who graduate from ATS return to homes and congregations armed with sound Bible teaching, solid gospel truths, and advanced degrees that are recognized and valued by their churches and communities. In Kenya and other African countries, the churches are still held in high regard, and the input of church leaders, Kathy said, is routinely sought on matters ranging from the spiritual to the socio-economic.
“In Kenya when Christian pastors speak, people listen,” she said. “In Mt. Elgon, especially, it’s thrilling to see how the community values what their pastors have to say on many issues.”
Darryl and Kathy fulfilled their two-year commitment and returned home to Seattle to be ready grandparents to Dexter, 10, and Lucy, 8. Still, they returned to Kenya every year for a time of teaching and to reconnect with teachers and pastors until Covid and illness intervened. In September of 2021, Darryl passed away after a year-long illness.
These days Kathy supports ATS from afar and reminds American Christians that Africa’s faith leaders and the Shepherd Scholarships that help them, are worthy of their prayer and financial support.
“One thing I always appreciated about being in Kenya, was the people’s incredible faith in God,” she says. “They don’t have safety nets. They don’t have government programs. They just rely on Jesus.”