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Planting a Church in Northern Kenya

October 27, 2023 |  By Sue Morris

Planting a Church in Northern Kenya

Timothy Kinyua, a missionary in northern Kenya, recently shared that one church in Isiolo, Kenya, has grown from 40 to 250 members. The church started under a tree, as is the usual way. Timothy went on to explain that in northern Kenya, the land does not belong to any one person. It belongs to the community. So anyone can settle in a place where they wish. Therefore, there is a process when a ministry goes into a village to share the Gospel and plant a church.

How to Begin?

Before Timothy and his missionaries start anything, they have to go to the authorities of the village. Timothy has to meet with the elders of the town.

The elders love meat, as they don’t have a lot of it to eat. Timothy will purchase a goat for about $20.00 and host a barbecue. During the meal, he will explain that he wants to come back to share the Gospel.

The elders are familiar with the existence of a god, so they are usually open to missionaries coming into the village. The elders give permission for them to speak to the women and children. Since the men don’t usually mix with the women and children, the team hopes to pique their curiosity with the activities planned for the women and children.

After getting approval, Timothy and his team will set up and show the Jesus Film. Since the film is in their own dialect, the villagers can follow the story easily. Their only confusion is that these light-skinned people speak their language! It seems like a miracle to them as they have never seen a movie or television show. The men do come to see the Jesus Film. Often, the whole village comes to view the film. The villagers are usually so interested in the movie that they will follow Timothy and the team from town to village to view the film repeatedly. This interest is an open door to share about Christ and the Good News of salvation with everyone.

Under a Tree

It is hard to share the Gospel during the day as there is no shade. You must find a tree and a place to sit. Africans are used to meeting under a tree. They hold cases there, elders meet, and women sit under a tree to visit. The missionaries have a captive audience under the tree. After showing the Jesus Film, the team makes arrangements for a missionary to come and lets the people of the village know when someone will visit. The team explains that the missionary will tell them about the man they saw in the movie: Jesus.

The team often begins with singing when they meet, as the villagers love singing. They will have something for the children, such as a game or a Bible story. When the people show interest and seem serious, Timothy’s missionaries build a small church for them with permission from the elders.

Speaking of the church in Isiolo, Timothy explained, “We built a small structure to shelter the worshippers from the sun and wind of the desert.” The church went on to expand the building and now houses 250 from a beginning of 40 people under a tree. Eventually, the government may come in to portion out the land, giving the ground to the ministry or church congregation that built the church. Usually, it is close to where the government has started a school.

Timothy’s team has started churches among eight tribes in about 90 communities. They now have 194 full-time missionaries and 364 part-time missionaries.

You Can Be a Part of Planting a Church

If you want to help plant churches in other countries to spread the Gospel, there are ways to help. You can pray for the ministries that are reaching the unreached. There is a prayer guide to download. You can give to support missionaries who are native to an area and who know the language and customs. You can go on a short-term missions trip to work and show love to the unreached and the missionaries.

How will you get involved?