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 (Manna 35: Entrusted with His Grace)
In the Shoes of a Missionary
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ARIn the Shoes of a MissionaryA brother shares his experiences during a one-week missionary trip to Kenya. Despite the poor physical condition of the accomodations, the trip was an eye-opening experience filled with many lessons which he can never forget, lessons which he hopes you can one day experience for yourself.In this article, a brother talks about his experiences during a one-week missionary trip to Kenya. He traveled from place to place with a few other visiting members, meeting Kenyan brothers and sisters as well as those seeking the truth. During his visits he found it was not uncommon for services to be held in mud houses and under trees. In a town called Kilgoris, he visited a hospital whose equipment was all second-hand, accepted from more developed countries. During the visit the brother was touched by the hospitality of our brethren and the innocence of the children, and learned many lessons which he can never forget, lessons which he hopes you can one day experience for yourself.

If I were to say one thing about our missionary trip to Kenya, it would be that it was far too short. Although the one-week trip in June 2000 was very brief, it made an impact on me as well as the others in our missionary group, which consisted of two sisters and one brother from Scotland and three brothers from Singapore.

Kisumu

A Different Kind of Chapel

On our first Sabbath day in Kenya, we took a five-hour car ride from the capital of Nairobi to a town called Kisumu. There were believers in Kisumu but no church building as yet, so they held services in a school.

Half of our group stayed behind for service at Kisumu, while the other half traveled to two other villages, Alunga and Bunde, to conduct services. I was glad that I was in the latter group because what I saw was a real eye-opener. I discovered that services in mud houses and under trees were not uncommon in these areas. Alunga had a chapel, but it was merely a small, run-down wooden structure that could in no way keep out rain. At Bunde we held services under the leafy trees. But whether it was wood or leaves, God kindly offered a clear sky over our heads.

The Hospitality of Our Brethren

After the services at Alunga and Bunde, some of our brethren invited us to their homes. They offered us ugali (a product of maize), rice, curry, and tea. People in Africa usually survived on barely two meals a day. A basic meal consisted of ugali, rice, mutton, chicken, and fish.

Like most other homes in Africa, theirs were built out of mud, with straw or zinc roofs. Surprisingly, the art of building mud houses is a technology in itself. Mud is compacted around a wooden structure to form the walls, and then cow dung is smoothed onto the walls and floor. This unique mud-and-cow-dung combination can withstand the punishing elements of nature and, amazingly, can repel mosquitoes.

The Miracle of Rain

When we arrived in Kenya, the country had already been suffering a drought for five months. The drought was serious enough for the government to declare a nationwide disaster. When those of us in the missionary group found out about the drought, we prayed earnestly for it to end during each prayer with our African brethren.

During our bicycle ride out from Bunde, my African cyclist (I was sitting behind him) described the difficulties caused by the drought. He mentioned the food shortages that the villagers were facing and how efforts to increase crop growth had gone in vain. Most of the time I could only listen to his story in silence, feeling heart-wrenching pity for these poor souls.

Unexpectedly, during that trip out of the village, it began to rain! It was truly a miracle and a reminder to us that our God is a living God. This unique incident reminded me of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which states: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Kilgoris

Transportation

On Sunday, our missionary group set out for another small town called Kilgoris. In Kenya we typically traveled by bus, van, car, bicycle, or taxi (usually in Nairobi only). A bicycle is the standard form of transport into villages, and these trips can range between half an hour to an hour. We didn't pedal the bikes, but instead rode as passengers behind a cyclist. I felt sorry for these people because they worked so hard but earned so little.

Transportation in Africa is usually inefficient; drivers often wait for their vehicles to fill up before departing, and sometimes this can take up to two or three hours. We didn't arrive in Kilgoris until Sunday evening.

Hospital Visitation

Our work in Kilgoris was basically evangelical, since there were no baptized members there yet.

On Monday we visited a hospital in Kilgoris that provided medical care to sick villagers for a small fee. Two doctors (a husband and wife team) ran the hospital, with a staff of several full-time nurses. They lacked medical equipment and beds, so they accepted second-hand equipment from more developed countries and commendably made do with what they had in order to help all their patients. By our standards the hospital was poorly equipped, but by their standards it was a luxury.

At the hospital we conducted a mini-hymnal evangelical service and a ward-to-ward visitation. During our visit with each patient, we prayed especially for each one's illness with prayers of understanding, hoping that they too would learn to speak to God through prayer. At times we shared a hymn or two, and many patients sang and prayed along with us.

Although most did not show their pain and suffering outwardly, you could see it in their eyes while speaking and singing with them. They seemed so helpless in their suffering—you could tell they were looking for some glimmer of hope in their lives. We hoped that through the prayers and through God's power, these people could realize their need for God and somehow reach out and find Him.

Service by Lamplight

That night we held a service at the house of a woman who believed but was not yet baptized. She testified how God's grace had come upon her ever since she believed in Jesus Christ and started observing the Sabbath. Thank God, many came to seek the truth that night.

Since electricity and running water is a luxury for most Africans, we had only one small kerosene lamp as our source of light in the dark house. It was placed in the middle of the room, giving barely enough light for everyone to see the speaker. Reading by this light was almost impossible, so the speakers had to use their small flashlights to read the Bible verses.

In this house, I thought about the contrast between life in the rich city and in rural Africa. Life in Africa ran at a slower pace; the mad rush of city life was absent, and almost everyone turned in early. This was probably why there was no real need for bright electric lamps in the houses. I felt that these people were blessed because their simple lives allowed them to have a more simple faith in God. They probably weren't distracted by the many luxuries and worries of the world, as we sometimes are.

The Children

In Kilgoris and throughout the trip, I had a chance to interact with African children. These children were very adorable and friendly, and they could really melt your heart. I noticed that they were very different from the children in developed countries—the African children were more innocent and simple. This made me think of how Jesus must have felt when He took a little child into His arms and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3). These children also reminded me of the importance of religious education. Helping them learn about the Savior while they are young can mold them into God-fearing adults. Most of the places we visited had separate classes for the children, but there is still a great need for religious education teachers and hymnal worship leaders.

Preaching to a Tribal Chief

On Tuesday we visited the village chief of the Masai tribe and held a mini-evangelical service in his house. I noticed that there were tribesmen who wore the Masai uniform of war and carried a spear, a bow, and arrows. They were always on guard, ready to protect their land and cattle from neighboring tribes, who would sometimes try to steal from them. This illustrated the instability of life in rural Africa.

Going Home

On Wednesday we visited Kendu Bay, where there were plans to build a church. We met with the local church council to provide some guidance on the church building plans, along with other administrative matters.

After Kendu Bay, we journeyed back to Kisumu where we departed from the rest of the group and made our way back to Nairobi. On Thursday afternoon, the three of us from Singapore caught a flight back home. We spent only one week on real missionary work, and this was definitely far too short a time.

Experience It for Yourself

During our trip, we stayed in hotels that were infested with insects and often lacked water and electricity. Bathwater sometimes came from a well, and there was one place that didn't have a toilet. But despite these living conditions, I learned some valuable lessons on this trip.

The poverty of the people was quite an unforgettable sight for me. After being exposed to such extreme poverty, I became more appreciative of God's blessings in my life. It helped me to understand and empathize with those struggling with poverty.

Seeing how differently people live and think in another culture helped me to broaden my mind. I learned that in trying to teach others about God, we cannot always do things the same way, especially in other cultures and other countries.

Most importantly, I saw how desperately these people need the Lord. There are so many people who are suffering, and only the Lord Jesus Christ can deliver them.

I am so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to walk in the shoes of a missionary, if only for a short time. If you are interested in serving the Lord in missionary work, and at the same time learning some important lessons, I strongly encourage you to experience this opportunity for yourself.

May all the glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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