TITLE: Bwana Asifiwe
By Jan Ross
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Our first taste of Kenya after collecting our baggage and going through customs was the Praise Team from Nakuru Community Church under the leadership of Pastor George Kaye, Field Representative of World Class Cities Ministries (WCCM)! Singing with total adoration and unreserved celebration ~ Bwana Asifiwe!
The trip from Nairobi Airport to Nakuru was long and hard for those of us who had traveled from California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, North & South Carolina, and Maryland. After over 8,000 miles of air travel, we now embarked on 90 miles of mountainous roads and another 90 miles of unbelievably rough roads. We arrived at the Merica Hotel about 4:00 am on Wednesday morning with an early breakfast scheduled for 6:00 am! Tired, dusty, and numb from the long hours of travel, we were thrilled to have arrived at our destination and ready for all the adventures that awaited us by God’s sovereign design! We had a schedule, but God had divine encounters in store for each one of the 27-member team!
After a quick shower, unpacking, and packing a small travel bag for one night, we boarded the bus for Eldoret, another four-hour drive from Nakuru over rough roads in a land were little is much and nothing is taken for granted, a land where 80% of the people claim to be Christian but where less than 10% actually attend a church, a land where over 50% of the people earn less than $30 a month, a land of abject poverty and overwhelming hopelessness evident in the eyes of the hungry children and concerned parents. No one could have adequately prepared me for what I witnessed; even the television spots of hungry children in Africa failed to communicate the smells, the tastes, the feelings of despair among the people who lived with little hope for a future!
Off the main road, several miles back into remote villages surrounding Bungoma, we came to a stop to tour a new church facility . . . I couldn’t believe my eyes! A small structure built with wood poles and mud, a dirt floor, and rough cut wood benches. As we gathered for prayer, the shofar sounded and the heavenly rejoicing could be felt in the hearts of us all. This was the first of many humbling experiences for everyone of us as we peered into the heart of people created in the image of God, created to bring Him glory, created to bear the Light of the World, people for whom little is much and nothing is taken for granted!
Mud huts with straw roofs, little children carrying bundles of sticks from the nearby trees, no electricity, no water, and the dirt road led us back further into the small community where a well had been dug and the foundation prepared for a new church building.
Martha’s Well had been financed by a precious group of people from New Life Ministries Church in Macclenny, FL, under the leadership of Pastor Elmer Holbrooks and his wife, Sister Priscilla Holbrooks. They made up an essential part of our team with a total seven dedicated members of the Florida church. With fresh water now flowing, Dr. W. C. Ratchford, Sr., and G. W. “Bill” Wilson (founder and president of WCCM) dedicated the well and laid the cornerstone for the church building! WCCM’s vision and focus was to minister to the most desperate need for life-sustaining water and prepare to minister the life-sustaining Word to the people of this local community.
Back on the bus along the dusty and rough roads, we stopped at the second location of a new well with fresh water ready to be dedicated and opened for use by people desperate for natural and spiritual water! Celebration and rejoicing rang throughout the couple hundred people who gathered to participate. A little boy managed to climb up a tree to witness the excitement – many of us wondered if his name was Zacchaeus!
Martha’s Well and now Mary’s Well and two new churches were ready to meet the needs of people in two small communities! Before long, a new commitment was made by a team member to fund the digging of a third well in yet another remote location. As a team, we were tired beyond comprehension yet our hearts were on fire as we mingled with the people, hugged, touched, and shared loving smiles . . . Bwana Asifiwe! Praise the Lord!
Finally arriving in Eldoret on Wednesday evening, we had our first night’s rest and a promise of an easier day on Thursday. A trip to the Church of God University outside of Eldoret started our day with a hearty welcome and an anointed time of worship with the forty or more students waiting our arrival in the Reception Center of the University. As we walked in, the students were worshipping, the anointing was strong, and the passionate love of the Lord was overwhelming as we stood in amazement with our hearts captured by the intense devotion we witnessed! Not one of us held back – we joined in and our hearts were united with these people who left everything behind to be educated and prepared for ministry to their own people!
Dr. W. C. Ratchford shared with the students from the Word of God – they were so blessed to receive his words of faith and wisdom as he opened his heart and poured out to them. After tea time, the students gathered for an indepth teaching on Intercessory Prayer written and taught by Dr. G. W. “Bill” Wilson. The rest of the team left to go back to Nakuru for rest and preparation for the Life-Giving Leaders Conference and Festival beginning at 9:00 on Friday morning.
Our bus drivers blessed us by taking us the “back way” to Nakuru, over the mountain range overlooking the beauties of Kenya. The sights were breathtaking from the top of the mountains as the valleys below portrayed a land with so much potential but under a heavily oppressive spirit of poverty and hopelessness. Most of the team members felt the same thing . . . how could a land so beautiful be so impoverished!
A striking observation was made as we traveled through the remote regions of Kenya – it became evident that the immediate area surrounding thriving Churches whose doctrine exalted Jesus Christ as Lord were much less impoverished. The land was producing food, the living conditions, while still very poor, were much better. More children were seen in school uniforms, the schools were filled with children in the playgrounds, and the roadsides were lined with children making their way to classes. Where the Word of God was thriving, so were the people! We were very obviously in the midst of a great spiritual battle where the Living Word of God brought victory over the abject poverty and the lives of men, women, and children were enriched physically as well as spiritually! Surely it is God’s heart that we not only minister to them spiritually, but meet the needs of the people physically first!
When we finally arrived in Nakuru, we had just a few moments to freshen up and meet downstairs where a high government official had been invited to meet with our team. We were led to a meeting room and soon he was escorted in by three other men. Although I do not remember his name or his rank in government, I remember him! His first words were . . . “Bwana Asifiwe!” He was a Christian and not in the least ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He addressed our team members with sincere gratefulness for the work WCCM is doing in the area – ministering to the physical needs of the people as well as the spiritual. He shared with us for several minutes and then opened it up for question and answers. He was very gracious and extremely informative!
Our evening was spent resting and preparing for the remainder of our time in Nakuru! Friday morning came all too soon with preparation of the two locations of the Life-Giving Leaders Conference where many team members were preaching and teaching Church leaders, bringing encouragement and exhortation, ministering in the gifts and pouring out into the hearts and lives of hundreds of people! The response was awesome – the people are so hungry and receive so easily! The simplicity of the Gospel is rich and the parched and weary hearts soaked it all in as a dry sponge would water! The sound could be heard all throughout both locations – Bwana Asifiwe!
The evening “festival” was really an outdoor evangelistic endeavor held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. The crowd was not what had been expected yet we believe those God wanted there were indeed there! For a small yet profound example of how God was working through us this week, the heart of the “festival” was found in a little boy.
A little boy (unnamed) caught the eye of Glenda Green, a precious and sensitive lawyer from New Life Ministries in Baltimore, Maryland. Her heart was immediately captured by him. Although unsure of the proper way to approach him or any of the other children dancing around in the park during the worship, she waited to see if God would open a door. Sure enough! Pastor Ratchford opened up the opportunity by inviting the team to begin ministering to children! Her heart leapt within her and she moved toward him. After speaking with him and learning more about him, he prayed with her and accepted Jesus! There was much rejoicing . . . this little guy was living on the streets and had no future. But the Spirit of God allowed Glenda to see in him a “warrior” and she knew that God has a plan for him. He told her that his family was Muslim but that he would go home and bring his mother with him on Saturday night. Supposing this would be the proof of what God had begun in him this night, she hugged him and encouraged him as he left. The altars were full with others needing prayer for various things – healing, deliverance, and salvation! The needs are so many!
Saturday was once again filled with teaching and ministering at the Life-Giving Leaders Conference. Glenda, however, was full of anticipation . . . would her little friend be back tonight? Did he really go home as he said? Would he bring his family back with him? She talked on and on about him!
The team was broken up into two groups – the first group enjoyed a tour through the Lake Nakuru National Game Park on Friday morning, the second on Saturday morning. The tour was about three hours long through the remote areas of the game park where an abundance of interesting wildlife were seen in their natural habitat. We saw large numbers of waterbucks, warthogs, impalas, water buffaloes, monkeys, and many, many varieties of birds.
Saturday night’s “festival” was filled with anticipation for us all . . . and there he was – alone! Glenda’s heart sank and her mind was filled with questions: Did he go home? Did his family reject him? What happened? After a while, she caught his eye and saw a woman standing with him, intently listening to Pastor Ratchford’s powerful message on the Blood of Jesus. At the altar call, the little boy came forward and was soon joined by the woman, his grandmother. Jaideep Jesudoss, a Field Director of India on behalf of WCCM had much understanding of the Muslim religion and what was needed to win their hearts to Jesus. He shared with this little boy’s grandmother and she prayed with him – gloriously saved! Bwana Asifiwe!
The story is much more detailed, but it testifies to the power of the sovereign move of God in the hearts of people who are seeking and searching and straining to find purpose in life. If this little boy was the only one who had been saved, it would have been worth the entire trip for all of us. With total awe and praise, we report many hearts won to the Lord, many lives changed, many hearts turned, and many people challenged to hold on to God’s unfailing hand!
Drs. Roff and Burch accompanied us to minister to the physical needs of the people. Between the two of them, they treated about 650 people. Many of the people they saw were in desperate need of medicine for AIDS . . . the needs were overwhelmingly great!
Leaving Nairobi on Monday evening left us all with a sense of unfinished business. Every one of us felt a strong need to continue to minister to those we had come to love in such a short time, in some way helping make something appearing impossible become possible in and through God.
Strong friendships were made, the call of God was realized, hearts were melted and challenged, and unity in the Body was formed as these 27 people came together with a common purpose and goal to share the love of God and the power of the Cross and Resurrection giving hope for a future in a land where little is much and nothing is taken for granted!
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