I’ve been planning on writing this blog for over a month now. I don’t think my procrastination is due to laziness, but being nervous. I do not want to mess this one up. How do you portray a land and experience so vastly different than anything in the Western world to wonderful and sincere people who have no clue, especially when I do not know if I can really say I have a clue? But after laying in bed for a few hours unable to sleep, it is time to try…
The church meeting under their tree
When God was calling me to Kenya, I knew my future would be unavoidably tied to Northern Kenya. Abby and I have now made a number of trips to assist with new churches up North. It is a wonderful place! The land is dry, hot and harsh, security is far from guaranteed, and problems abound; yet when I am there, I feel more alive and in God’s will than any other place in the world.
Abby and I with some of the kids
My heart is full of joy whenever I am with the Northern churches. They just seem to get it. At one new church in Laisamis. the people just heard the gospel for the first time in February of last year. They are young Christians, but they pray to God as a village every evening together and their desire is to share the gift of God with all the people around them, even their traditional enemies. They almost never beg for things like people in the more prosperous areas of the country, and the biggest thing they ask for is someone to move there to teach them more of the Bible (right now they only have a pastor when one visits every month or two, but God is preparing someone to go as I write!).
Even with all the joy that I have over God working in Laisamis, I often find myself holding back tears when I think of the people there (I am now).
In the village one night on our first visit, I was sitting talking to one of the elders through a translator as they cooked a goat they just killed in our honor. He was telling about life and how it was hard because most of their animals had died and many of the others were sent away with the young men because of the drought (this was months before the drought ever became international news).
Before and after pics of the goat
As we talked, the elder made a comment I will never forget. He was explaining life and he said, “sometimes people die of hunger.” The elder said it so casually that the translator felt the need to elaborate. He looked at me and said, “did you hear what he said? People often forget that this type of things happens, but it is reality here.”
I feel like it is impossible to explain the scene. Here I am sitting and listening. In the back of my mind I am worrying about the safety of my car being left outside the village in the bush. I am hearing about their life trying to evaluate whether it is a worthy cause for the ministry to give a little money to feed some orphans. I am hearing about what daily life is like and in the middle of the U.S. equivalent of “we wake up, brush our teeth, take the kids to schools, and go to work,” he says “and people starve to death.”
He was not telling all the extremities of life. He was telling the day to day. They have no food or water. Many of their kids don’t go to school. For work, the old grandmothers walk 5 miles with a heavy bundle of sticks on their back to get 50 cents to buy food for there family for the day. Most of their animals, their livelihood, have died yet they killed a goat for me. I am the great guest of honor and they are dying. PEOPLE DIE OF HUNGER!
God have mercy on my soul. People think that I sacrificed by moving to Kenya as a missionary, ha. God has blessed me so richly.
I mentioned that the people in Laisamis rarely beg, but there is one other need that they have mentioned. We want to build them a church. They are happy to continue meeting under their tree and often this is best, but a building in this case would be a huge help. It would be evangelistic because the building would be outside the village, making it a neutral place for other villages to come and worship together. It would serve as a classroom, protected from the harsh elements, to train others to continue spreading God’s message of salvation. Also, it would give the young children a school room to go to. The government school is too far for the younger kids to walk to so currently they meet under a thorn tree and are taught by some of the high schoolers who can’t afford school this term.
I wrote this blog as a confession of how blind and spoiled I am and in hopes that maybe eyes will be a little wider, but I do not want to deny the chance to make a difference.
If you feel led to give as an indulgence to make you feel better and less selfish, please keep your money; but if you are willing to pray daily for the gospel to reach all the people of Northern Kenya and you want to make a difference, here are some needs. We have money to start building a building but still need a little more for things like benches. The property could use a pit toilet because so many people will be in one place. Long-term, we hope to have a residence for the Pastor/Church planter trainer. Also, Pastor Peter Katonga is preparing to move to Laisamis to lead the church. He is going with his family on faith without any support.
Here is the bottom line, we are praying that Laisamis will be a strategic center for training and sending out people to reach the north with the gospel. Only a few million people live in an area the size of New Jersey, but there are tens if not hundreds of thousands who have never heard the message of the one true God ever. If we reach them, we can push on into South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. If we don’t, Islam will continue to spread in the region. There is a small village in Laisamis who want to share the Good News they have received, but how can they if they are hungry and starving and no one is there to teach them.
These five kids are orphans that the village does their best to take care of. The bloated stomachs is a sign of malnutrition.
Thank you for reading the whole thing! I hope you were as challenged as I have been. Keep your eyes open as a second part about another Northern church is to come. I pray that God will open your eyes and allow you to see the world the way He does.
Singing worship songs at church
A young boy walking to the village
Playing soccer with the kids