‘The God who sees me’
ARUSHA, Tanzania — Bernadette clutched the gate of Neema Village,…
NAMANGA, Tanzania— Denominational doctrine and drought.
Those were concerns expressed by a group of Kenyan preachers as they gathered in this East African border town.
Eight ministers, who preach for Churches of Christ among the Maasai people of southern Kenya, met with Christians from Tanzania and the U.S. to eat, pray and share news from their congregations.
Related: ‘The God who sees me’
As they waited for lunch, the preachers passed around their cell phones, showing pictures of their dead or dying cattle.
“The drought today has shaped our very lives,” said Paul Olboo. The Maasai must make long journeys in search of food for their livestock. Another minister, John Sarinke, said that the people he serves have attempted to plant crops as many as 10 times without success.
Many of their countrymen who profess Christ are divided into various denominational groups, the preachers said. As they share their plea for the restoration of simple New Testament Christianity, they also strive to encourage their countrymen as they face the threat of widespread hunger.
“It’s a little bit of a hard situation,” said James Ntuala, “but we have hope in God.”
As the ministers gave their reports, Steven Hill took notes. Hill, evangelist for the Sullivan Village Church of Christ in Lawton, Okla., makes regular visits to work with preachers in Tanzania and Kenya. His goal: to help East African Christians plant new churches in areas with no congregations and to strengthen churches that have been neglected, he said.
Accompanying Hill was Agustine Saimon, farm foreman for the Andrew Connelly School of Preaching. The school in Arusha, about 70 miles south of Namanga, is an extension of Denver-based Bear Valley Bible Institute International.
Hill’s ministry has helped Christians in rural Kenya attend the school, including Shadrack Lemuta, who attended the meeting. Lemuta is from Kajiado, Kenya.
The preachers shared stories of growth of the Gospel among young people and the need for church buildings. Some congregations meet under trees.
Taking the Good News to a dry and dusty land can be difficult, said Collins Kitamwes, preacher for the Noosikitok Church of Christ. The lack of food for livestock has made the people of Kenya transitory as they search for places for their cattle to graze.
Preachers must migrate as well, Sarinke said. Some use bicycles to reach the lost as they search for greener pastures. More bikes are needed.
After hearing the ministers’ reports and noting their requests, Hill praised them for their perseverance.
“You guys encourage me every time I’m around you,” he said. “I don’t know preachers who have gone through as much as you.”
Saimon thanked the preachers for maintaining their ministries through the difficult times.
“Be faithful to the Lord,” he said, “and he will take care of the other things.”
Olboo echoed that sentiment, quoting Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.”
“Salvation is patience,” he said, as he and his fellow ministers wait for rain — and for a harvest of souls.
To support the work or for more information, contact the Sullivan Village Church of Christ at (580) 248-1020 or sullivanvillage.churchofchrist.info.
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