Churches Inc in Kenya 2018: 2
Kerry and Trevor from the UK, plus Pastor Shadrack from Tanzania and Pastor Davis - the host and teacher - are hard at work in Elburgon, Kenya for Churches Inc from the 7th to the 17th February. They'll be sending back updates and stories from the trip as often as time and internet connections allow. This is their second update - you can find the first one here.
Today we travelled 12km from Elburgon to the town of Molo. Since we were leaving early to travel, we did not have time to pick up Smati, but she was so upset by this that we agreed she could come by public transport to meet us part-way. Smati is so passionate about what we are doing, she wants to be always with us. She is 22 yrs old and knows her own mind. It is not easy for Smati to get around, so her mother and a lady called Margaret carried her and supported her all day even though this means they lose a day’s income. People here rely on day-to-day cash in hand work to survive so it is a sacrifice for these ladies to come with us.
In order to encourage pastors to attend the training event, it was held in a church. However, Pastor Davis faced many challenges that made it difficult to invite many pastors because there is sharp division between various groups of pastors in the area. Also, since the aim of our event is to discuss how the church can respond to people with disabilities in their community, there is a lack of will to participate. There is a sense that people are willing to give if they get something in return, but since people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable they have great need and cannot easily repay.
Praise God! We saw a tremendous shift in attitude of the pastors that did come to the event. By God’s help, we were able to give a strong challenge to the pastors at the start and end, which captured their attention and moved their hearts. We honestly shared personal experience of disability from the UK/Kenya and used the word of God to confront the attitudes that prevent the church from responding to disability. Our team member, Pastor Shadrack from Tanzania shared how his father was born with disabilities in a village where people believe that such a person will bring misfortune to the village (famine etc) so they must be killed or banished. But his grandmother ran away to save the baby’s life and now his father is a respected pastor.
We appealed to the pastors that they could begin preaching that ‘God’s power is made perfect in weakness’ rather than a false prosperity message that God only favours ‘the strong’. We asked them to talk openly about disability so that it is not a taboo subject and people have the confidence to tell them about relatives hidden in their homes.
At the event, we also had Mungo who knows many of the people with disabilities in the area and is very influential with them. He was encouraged by the event and is ready to work reliably with willing pastors.
A local politician, Sonis, who was not intending to come to our event suddenly changed his mind. When he arrived, he apologised for his appearance because his clothes and shoes were dusty, but he had felt so compelled to come that he didn’t have time to get cleaned up. He responded much more positively to our training than expected. Sonis is a Christian who works with all the pastors in the area. He asked us to visit the house of a particular pastor who had just lost his mother. One reason was to offer comfort to the family, but there was a second purpose. He wanted to get the pastors who had just been in our training to come together with us. It worked! When they saw us going, they followed when they would not usually go to this grieving family. As a result we were able to collect a love offering from the group for practical support with the funeral of 3,000 ksh. Pastor Davis also took the opportunity to plead with these pastors to unite in a combined effort to respond to disability under the leadership of Sonis. They agreed and some were extremely happy with this outcome. One pastor was so moved, he wants to pay a taxi to follow us wherever we go to do training for the rest of the trip.
God is preparing specific key individuals for us to reach during our training. We just found out that a lady from a Muslim organisation who attended our Friday training was so moved to act on what she had heard that she called Pastor Davis. This lady offered two places free of charge at their vocational school for two women with disabilities to learn hairdressing or computer skills so that they can earn an income rather than begging.
We are already seeing visible fruit from this Churches Inc. Trip. As for the team, we have experienced so much protection and guidance from the Lord throughout our time here. We are very grateful and feel it is such a privilege to work alongside Pastor Davis. In fact, he likes to be known as pastor because the title of Bishop has been so misused by men only seeking their own interests. Pastor Davis is called ‘the Bishop of disabled’ by some who wish to mock and insult him for associating with such people. However, he is glad to take on that reputation and to continue serving those with disabilities at real personal cost. Pastor Davis speaks often that following Jesus on the narrow way is costly and we have witnessed as a team that he lives out what he preaches. He has been working with Through the Roof for 17 years and as a result, huge numbers of people in this very rural area of Kenya have been given wheelchairs, crutches, bibles and the Gospel expressed with practical love.
Pastor Shadrack, our brand-new partner from Tanzania, has been learning from this experienced Kenyan partner and they are forming a close mutually supportive relationship. Kenya and Tanzania are neighbouring countries with very similar problems. Although Tanzania has one more unique horrific problem. In Mwanza where Ps. Shadrack lives, there is a camp where people with Albinism (skin condition) are protected from attacks. Most people there already have missing limbs. There is a very cruel business of cutting off their body parts to sell to people who believe witchdoctors' claims that these body pieces will bring them good fortune. Perhaps they think they will find gold in the mines or a politician thinks he will win an election if he has a piece. People with Albinism are even kidnapped from Kenya for this purpose and it is not safe for them to walk alone in many places.