3508 UNIVERSITY AVENUE, URBANA, IL 61802
How Our Mission Work Began in the Kitui District
Village of Tulia, Masaani, and Zombe
Erastus Kavuti came to this country as a member of the Kenyan Air Force in 1989. He became a Christian at Lackland Air Force Base. When he arrived at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul he began to worship with the Central Church of Christ in Rantoul and studied with Larry Powell one night each week. During the 9 months he was with the church in Rantoul, he expressed the desire to return to his family and his village to teach them the Gospel.
After Erastus completed the remainder of his 6 years of military obligation, Central Church of Christ in Rantoul and the Church in Lepanto, Arkansas paid for his 2 years of training at the Nairobi Great Commission School. The Central Church continued their support of Erastus and he returned to his village as the only Christian. One of Erastus’s early converts was James. The Lepanto Church paid for James’ two years of training at the Nairobi Great Commission School. James’ three years of medical training and he is licensed to operate a medical clinic making him a valuable member of the ministry team.
In 1997, 18 months after Erastus returned to his village, Bill Jordan and Carl Burkybile went to Kenya to visit, encourage the Church, and make plans for the future. They were 75 people attending services. Money was provided to purchase 2 ½ acres and pay for the materials to build a building. The members made the bricks and built the building. They had been renting a storefront for worship services. Erastus said having their own building sent a message to the people that the Church was there to stay. He told us that they wanted to be known as the church that cares. Long range plans were discussed including the possibility of a water well, medical clinic, and a non-boarding secondary school.
Four years later in 2001, Steve Hollinger, Gary Masters, and Carl Burkybile returned to Kenya. There were over 100 adults and children attending services. While they have very little in the way of material possessions they rejoice in the Lord. In Philippines 4:4-6 Paul say “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” They live and practice Paul’s teaching.
On this visit the mission team took Bibles, Bible Study Materials, Children’s Bible School Lessons and visual aids, $1500 worth of medical supplies, clothes, and soil testing kits. They purchased a solar collector and 12 volt lights for Erastus house, a motorcycle for James, and a hand pump for a hand dug shallow water well.
The Kavonge church building at Tulia was completed when they arrived. They observed a children’s Bible class with approximately 50 excited children. The teachers were very receptive to teacher training and Bible lesson materials. They expressed a desire to get more teaching materials and visual aids.
The mission team took hand percussion well drilling equipment that was manufactured in Arkansas. 25 men were taught to use the equipment. They drilled 25 feet in an attempt to have a well on the church property. The last 5 feet was solid rock. While they were not able to complete the well, the mission team left feeling that the men could use the equipment near the streambeds to drill shallow wells. With the use of a hand pump shallow wells could provide clean drinking water and water for cooking, bathing, and irrigating crops.
In September of 2004 Erastus Kavuti was brought to the U.S. to meet with supporting congregations and others who expressed interest in the work in Kenya. Time was spent identifying the needs of the Kenyan churches and planning a 2005 return trip to Kenya.
The trip to Kenya in 2005 went great. Five men from 4 states made up our team. We left July 21st and returned August 5th. While in Kenya we had 3 open air meetings, two community Bible studies, and numerous one on one Bible studies. The original congregation at Kavonge had planted two sister congregations, at Masaani and Zombe, in 2003. Support had been added for their preachers, Jeremy and Josphat. A motorcycle had been purchased for them and for Abraham. Abraham will be the next evangelist after completing his training at the Nairobi Great Commission School.
The mission team visited and encouraged the three congregations. They conducted a leader’s visionary/planning/goal setting meeting at the beginning of the trip and a leader's follow up evaluation meeting near the end of the trip. Future needs were discussed. The team distributed used clothes, Bible class materials, medical supplies, eye glasses, Bible reference booklets, etc. They observed the operation of our mobile medical clinic and discussed future needs with James, our medical missionary. In the past he has done hygiene classes and AIDS awareness classes in the schools. He will be starting those up again in the near future. The leaders discussed the planting of another congregation in 2006 and the possibility of sending five more men through the 2 year preacher training school in Nairobi.
The team had the opportunity to see the two new water wells that our funds helped make possible. The mission team met with the community water committee and received a formal thank you for our assistance. Erastus has always said he wants the people to feel that the church cares about them. The mobile medical clinic, the wells, and the formation of a school are all outreach activities that help the people and create opportunities to teach the Gospel. While in Kenya the team conducted three World Bible School workshops, three Bible teacher's workshops, four computer workshops, and three agricultural workshops. The agricultural workshop was designed around a vegetable gardening booklet written in Malawi, Africa. Kenyan farmers were taught about plant growth, soils, use of organic matter, composting, mulching, crop rotation, and plant nutrition. The importance of quality seed was stressed and the use of drip irrigation was demonstrated. The team planned for 40 students in the three workshops but had over 100 farmers attended. The farmers want a follow up workshop that will focus on seed and fertilizer.
Highlights of the trip included 16 baptisms and 2 people restored to the church. Using the portable generator, the P.A. system purchased in Kenya, and the laptop computer along with the LCD projector brought from the U.S., the team showed "The Jesus Film" to 152 people one night and "The Passion of Christ" to between 250 and 300 people the next night. Most of the people had never seen a film/movie before. The equipment was left in Kenya for the three churches to continue to show these films along with children's Bible story videos that were brought with us.
In their culture one of the highest honors that can be given a visitor is to kill and cook a whole goat. This was done twice for us on this trip. On each visit the Americans are amazed as they observe the joy and happiness of the Kenyan people. They have so little in the way of material possessions but realize what is truly important. When they were saying their goodbyes and giving the team handmade gifts, one person said "the most important gift we can give is our love". They helped us realize how blessed we are.
In 2006 our Kenyan brothers and sisters experienced a severe drought and famine. Life for many became a day to day attempt to survive. Many ate one meal a day and some had no food. Even on Sunday some people spent their day in search of a job and food. The churches in the U.S. connected with the work in Kenya donated $9000 in famine relief. Wayne Bailey and Carl Burkybile went to Kenya January 9th to 19th. They got a chance to see the effects of the famine relief that had been sent. In addition to food distribution our funds helped pay hospital bills, school fees, purchase an artificial leg for a man in need, and purchased hybrid seed for this year's crop. The famine has ended with the present rainy season. They have had more rain in this rainy season than they have seen in 10 years. Between the rain and the hybrid seed their maze crop is the best that many of the people have ever had.
The Masaani church building is progressing and should be completed in July of 2007. The hand dug well at Zombe is 30 feet deep and has water 5 feet from the top. The two bore holes in Tulia now have diesel generators, well pumps, pump houses, and water storage tanks provided by the Red Cross. These wells will provide water for about 10,000 people. During this trip the “Jesus Film” was shown to 300 people. Additionally, Carl and Wayne participated in two Bible studies as well as visiting and encouraging many church members. Contacts were made with various schools and permission was obtained to conduct a combination cultural exchange (life in America) and Bible study in both primary schools and secondary schools in July 2007. Wayne and Carl also had the opportunity to visit our 3 preacher students at the Nairobi Great Commission School.
Goals established for 2007 include getting water flowing from the two wells to serve 10,000 people, expanding educational opportunities by recruiting families in the U.S. to sponsor the education of needy children, developing plans for a non-boarding secondary school, improving the church sponsored pre-school programs, expanding the use of drip irrigation and other improved agricultural practices, re-vamping the operation of the mobile medical clinic, sharing the gospel with family, friends, and neighbors, planting two more congregations, and completing the Masaani and Zombe church buildings. Plans are being made for a summer of 2007 trip.
1. Took to Kenya
2. Visited 3 congregations (Kavonge, Masaani, and Zombe), the Nairobi Great Commission School (NGCS), mobile medical clinic, and members’ homes
3. Held leaders meeting
4. Assessed the famine situation
5. Evaluate the impact of famine relief sent
6. Visited primary and secondary schools where children from the churches attend
7. Encouraged church members, congregation, church leaders, and NGCS students
8. Reached out to the community by showing the Jesus film (with the aid of a portable generator and a laptop computer and LCD projector we brought from the US)to over 300 people
9. Visited two community wells we helped to fund with a previous $2000 donation
10. Began discussing a plan to build a non-boarding secondary school on the church property at Kavonge
11. Planned two drip irrigation demonstration plots for July, 07 (at the Masaani church property and at Tulia)
12. Initiated discussion with NGCS about developing a partnership in fighting hunger through the use of organic matter and drip irrigation in raised planting beds
13. Revamped mobile medical clinic operation and procedures
14. Ordered 300 Bibles to be drop shipped to Kenya for July, 07
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippines (Phil 1:3-5) "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...". We have always viewed our mission effort as a partnership between Americans and Kenyans. Through joining hands and hearts in service to God we see our role as helping Africans take Africa for Christ. As Erastus would say, we want to be known as the church that cares. Our approach has been to first seek to meet physical needs (food, water, health care, education) and thereby create opportunities to meet spiritual needs.
Our 10 person team (8 from Philo Road and 2 from Arkansas) will leave for Kenya July 12th. The team includes Steve and Kathy Clarkson, Gary and Linda Masters, Carl and Ruth Ann Burkybile, Wayne Baily, Angie Zahnd, Johnetta Wilde, and Heather Jackson. The team is thrilled, humbled and overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for the trip.
We will be taking medical supplies, eye glasses, Bible teacher training materials, children's Bible class materials, school supplies, drip irrigation kits, Vegetable Gardening in Africa Booklets, tools, and gifts. 300 Bibles have been shipped to Kenya. We will be taking pictures and letters from 12 families who are sponsoring a student's secondary education, pictures of our children, and a DVD of our children at VBS and church camp. We hope to purchase 2 portable generators with P.A. systems, a propane cook top unit, a hand pump for the hand dug well at Zombe, and other supplies when we get to Kenya.
During our stay in Kenya we will be visiting and encouraging approximately 200 Christians at Kavonge, Masaani, and Zombe. We will also be visiting the three new congregations that have been planted since January. We will be purchasing three locking cabinets and stocking them with basic medical supplies for James to use with the Mobile Medical Clinic. The men will be preaching on Sundays and meet with the supported evangelists to set goals for the future. Women on our team will do eye tests and provide glasses as needed. They will be spending time with the Kenyan women sharing life experiences and studying the Bible. We will observe the church sponsored pre-school program. We will conduct open-air meetings, teach community Bible studies, hold a Super Saturday VBS for 200 children, conduct 3 drip irrigation workshops, and show Christian DVDs. We will see the two deep wells we helped to fund, the new hand dug well at Zombe and the new church building at Masaani. We will visit primary and secondary schools and meet the students sponsored by American families. We will be taking soccer balls, Frisbees and paper, pencils, etc. to the schools. We hope to spend some time comparing cultures/customs and conclude with a Bible based puppet show.
Please pray for our trip. May many come to know God and commit their lives to Christ.
The Trip: In 20 days on U.S. soil Erastus made 21 speeches/sermons/presentation and participated in 20 meetings with individuals and/or groups of people. He spoke to Christians at 8 congregations. He spoke at two elementary schools and one high school. He spoke to student sponsors, college students, preacher interns, and area preachers. He spoke at a Habitat for Humanity meeting and on Christian radio station WGNJ. During his visit Erastus thanked, encouraged, and challenged those he spoke to.
During the U.S. visit Erastus related that the dry season crop failure had resulted in famine conditions in Kenya. He reported that a typical Kenyan family is eating one meal/day of maize (corn) and beans. People from Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, and Michigan responded by donating $5,067 in famine relief. The money will be used to buy food for distribution through the churches and hybrid seed to plant for the upcoming rainy season. Congregations and individual families also donated money for preacher support, student sponsorship, and community development projects.
The Future: Contributions are currently supporting 6 preachers and the mobile medical clinic. Four more men are being trained to preach. The Masaani church building is being completed. We are helping the Masaani congregation build primary school classrooms. We are helping the Kivaki congregation buy land for their new church building. At the Kavonge congregation we are assisting with community development projects and planning to build a secondary school. The youth of the church have developed proposals to reduce poverty. Their proposal states, “We are 40 youth whereby through God’s will and his love and mercy we are focusing on bringing souls to Christ through the youth poverty eradication project. We are targeting all youth in our community irrespective of their religion and we believe that they will come to know the true Gospel of Christ through our project and through God’s will.” Their proposal includes raising chickens for egg production, raising mushrooms for food and medicine, planting Eucalyptus trees for lumber, planting Jatropha trees for bio-diesel, and raising Aloe Vera plants for medicine. Many of these projects will be part of the school land development. Erastus reported that phase 2 of the Kavonge secondary school project is underway. The Kenyans expect to have 20,000 brick made by the end of June so that building the school can begin. The goal is to complete 2 classrooms, a principal’s office, a kitchen, and an eating area by January of 2010. The first year will have a freshman and sophomore class. The next phase will be more classrooms, a shop for teaching job skills, and drilled well. The education that this school will provide for 350 children will provide hope for a better life. Through teaching the Gospel the students can also have eternal hope and a home with God. Sunday October 26th has been designated as “Build a School Sunday”. Our goal of $100,000 will build the school buildings, equip the school, and drill a deep well. Please pray for this effort and prayerfully consider contributing to changing lives in Kenya. May God use us to make a difference for the children of Kenya.