The weekend of 25-26 January I went to Vote to constitute a new church. I went with our oldest church member, Jonathan Kioko, who speaks the language of the area, and Johan who is accompanying me everywhere.
Vote is a little centre about 4 hours drive east to Kitui then 60 kms on a dirt road south. It is not remote like north Kenya. There are mobile phone networks, schools and medical facilities. Christianity came into the area in the 1950s, first of all the Catholics, then the Protestant Gospel Tabernacle, then Trinity Baptist, and last the Redeemed Gospel, a noisy charismatic church. Like so many areas, as far as we can tell, there is little genuine Christianity. Two ladies from the Gospel Tabernacle Church greeted us and said that most of the 100 attendees are just nominal Christians. When you read that 80% of Kenyans are Christians you will know how to interpret the figure, i.e. they are not Muslims.
The work has been here a number of years but was almost extinguished by a bad leader. Benson Nyamai then returned home from Nairobi to seek to build it up again. They had a brick building but the wind blew off the roof and the walls were destroyed. They now meet in this small corrugated iron structure and up to 20 gather. You might note the large trunked baobab tree to the left of the structure.
We arrived midday on Saturday, and had to wait until 4 p.m. to start the meeting. Such lateness is typical in Kenya. I took them through Acts 2 about what the Church is, who is a Member, and then what a Christian is. Then we interviewed the 7 prospective members. As is so common, some found it difficult to Biblically express their faith. Then we have to make the difficult decision whether to go ahead with them or not.
On Sunday things again got off to a slow start and in the service I preached on 1 John 4:7-11. There were 16 adults and youth present with a few small children. I chose this passage as I wanted both to preach the gospel centred on the work of Christ, and show the central pursuit of love in this newly established little church.
Six were due to be baptized so I gave instruction on what it symbolizes, especially that it is a means of grace to the one who believes. We waited for a lunch of rice and beans and then proceeded to the place of baptism. In such drier communities where there is much livestock sub-surface dams have been bulldozed out. They are simply a catchment area for when it rains so that animals can have a consistent access to water. The bottom is either rock or just mud. You can see how muddy the water looked!
These three teenage girls were baptized upon profession of their faith. They are each hoping to join Secondary School (probably boarding) this month. I exhorted them to be faithful amidst the many temptations they will face. May the Lord keep them faithful and help them to be witnesses of His grace!
Benson Nyamai is the leader in the church, and he is pictured with his wife Christine. May the Lord enable him to preach the gospel of Christ in season and out of season.
Vote is a dry area where so often there is little or no harvest reaped. They had planted ‘dengu’ (a very small pea) on the church land in an effort to raise money for the church building but they will only get a few kilos.
I went to sleep contemplating the journey back to Nairobi the following morning, thankful to God for how He had led us through the day, and thinking of all the work that lay ahead in the week. After an hour I was awoken by Benson saying that someone had been ‘bitten’. I knew immediately this would mean a visit to the hospital over half an hour’s drive away (at Mutomo). It was his mother-in-law, and it turned out it was a snake bite. She was hospitalized and the last report was that she was still in pain but recovering. I got to bed after 2 a.m. thankful for the opportunity to show mercy.
The work is much and the labourers are few. We ask you to continue to labour with us in prayer.