I just got back from two weeks in Kenya. The focal point of the trip was to train a gathering of mostly rural pastors. Most of their churches have dirt floors, mud walls, and thatched roofs. The nicer houses of God have sheet metal to keep out the rain and an outhouse in the back. Most of the men receive little (even no) compensation; most have had no formal training. The congregations they serve live day-to-day and hand-to-mouth. Disease is high—there is typhoid in the water and malaria in the mosquitoes. Life expectancy is 59 years.
Churches are small (25-40) and are seemingly everywhere. It is not uncommon to find a church holding a “revival” in the village square. Churches are constantly planting other churches. The problem is men are assuming these pulpits with no training. Preaching is often loud and full of hallelujahs and amens—the pastor inciting the congregation to respond in kind. If there is electricity, the pastor’s microphone is turned high to distortion and an electric keyboard programmed to an African beat fills the air. Parishioners are not still. When the music begins, so do their hands and feet; as they dance to the music, it is difficult to distinguish whether they are chanting and praying in their tribal tongue or a Pentecostal one.
With money from our church, we were able to give 250 bibles (English and Swahili) to pastors to distribute to their mostly Bible-less congregations. We also purchased and gave out theological books from Packer, Piper and Sproul as well as a Reformation Study Bible to one pastor who was so overjoyed, he and his wife could not speak but only hugged me in disbelief in what they had just received. With some extra money, we gave 10,000 Kenya shillings (about $100) to one pastor from Turkana (Northern Kenya on the border with Somalia). A lethal combination of drought, political ineptitude, and corruption has created an environment of death there. This pastor (named George) had recently walked 25 miles into the bush to plant a church. The congregation meets each Sunday under a tree.
These are some of the images, people and stories from Kenya. I have a lot more. For as I have discovered after making these two week trips these past two summers; you may leave Kenya, but Kenya never leaves you.Pastor Rich Hamlin September 1, 2011
Pastor Rich was in Kenya working with Agape Project International.