November 5, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I did something this month I never really expected to do; I made my first solo trip into the African bush. And I survived! Let me tell you, it is a lot more stressful and “weighty” to go by yourself, be the only one responsible for your life and health, and be the only one taking care of everything. It’s a lot more taxing, nerve-racking, and challenging when it’s just you and the stuff you can carry in your backpack on your back; when the mere exposure to the elements (the fierce sun and brackish water) can kill you; when you only personally know one person within a hundred mile radius (and you don’t know him very well); when no one you will be going to see speaks any English or even Swahili except that one person you know; when you don’t know what you will be eating for the next four days; when you have no idea what to expect; when your surroundings are straight out of a National Geographic magazine. But like I said, I survived, and now I can even write about it.
My main ministry has been and will continue to be our church planting ministry here in the town of Kitale. But just a couple hundred miles north of Kitale are villages of people that have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ before and where the message of the gospel has never been proclaimed. Is it worth it to put yourself through some dangers, through some risk, through some stress, and through some discomfort to be able to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ with such people? I hope our answer is “Yes!”
My trip started from Kitale by boarding a shuttle (public van for transportation) to Makutano. From there I boarded another shuttle with 7 seats in it. The driver managed to stuff 17 people into that shuttle made for 7. He drove us down the long escarpment and into the bush. From there I jumped on the back of a 125cc motorcycle for another 1½ hour drive further into the bush, through narrow paths, over rocks, past camels, and through multiple 100 foot wide river beds (some completely dried up and some that still had water). I finally arrived at Benson’s compound where I stayed for the next four days. Benson is the Pokot pastor I went to visit. His compound consisted of a small hut to sleep in, a small hut for cooking in, a small hut to store food in, and a goat corral. Every night I was there, people emerged from out of the bush to gather at Benson’s compound for a time of worship. These 2-2½ hour worship times included singing, testimonies and me preaching the Word of God. We also had a Sunday morning worship service at the church (no building, just a large tree under which we sat on wooden planks propped up off the ground with rocks). This service was 5 straight hours of singing, testimonies, Roger preaching…singing, testimonies, Roger preaching.
The highlight of the trip for me was the all-day Saturday evangelistic circuit we made. The evangelism team was made up of three Pokot men, three Pokot women and myself. We walked 5 miles through the steaming hot bush to the village Benson had chosen for us to share the gospel in. There we began “hut to hut” evangelism with each hut being about a 10 minute walk from the last. At each hut where we stopped, we sang songs, and I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each stop probably averaged about 30 minutes. This was not a completely unreached area but none of the people we visited were Christians. I enjoyed watching one of the older Pokot men on our evangelism team. Petro (his English name) never spoke during the public evangelism and sharing of the gospel; but while others were speaking or singing, or while I was preaching, he would look for people wandering around on the paths outside of the compound, grab them by the arm, and drag them over to hear the message. If a child got up to wander off, he would track them down and bring them back to make sure they heard about Jesus. While follow-up will have to be made to ensure that the conversions are real, I was thrilled when some Pokot people at different compounds trusted in Christ as their Savior; 4 at one compound, 3 at another, and 2 more at yet another. After we were finished with our evangelism tour, we walked the 5 miles back to Benson’s compound. The fierce sun beat down upon us the whole day. By the time we returned, I was so exhausted that I fell into a chair and immediately fell fast asleep, slumped over but still sitting in the chair. When I awoke, still groggy from my slumber, I found all the other Pokot team members had found grassy, shady places to lie down and sleep. I rejoiced the next morning when two of the women who trusted in Christ had walked the five miles to Benson’s “church tree” for the Sunday morning marathon worship.
Now that I’ve returned to Kitale, I have to decide how I will proceed with this Pokot ministry. There are totally unreached villages tucked up in the hills that Benson wants him and me to visit. These people have most likely never seen a white man, never seen a book, never heard of Jesus, are probably involved in witchcraft and animistic or spirit worship, and may wear animal skins for clothes. I would love to reach these people and share the gospel of Jesus with them. But, honestly, beloved, most of the trip was physically and mentally exhausting. Was it miserable? Yes. Was it rewarding? Yes. Does God have future ministry plans for me up there? Pray with me as I seek His face and His will in this matter and see how He would have me minister to His dear lost children in Pokot.
Until next month, beloved.
May God’s peace and joy be with you.
For the glory of God in East Africa,
Roger & Julie Tate (and Emily, Amy, & Josiah)
Visit their blog!