In late August, Rev. George Ondieki (LHF translator in Kenya, Africa) and Tuomo Simojoki (coordinator for the LHF-Kenya office, pictured at the top of the stack of photos below) set out for the Kitui region of Kenya, boxes of catechisms and Bible storybooks packing the trunk of their vehicle.
As the two men traveled the several hundred miles from Nairobi, to Meru, to Kitui County, green vegetation became sparser and the dust gathered. River beds, like the one shown above, were dry. There had been no rain for two years.
“The area is really suffering at the moment,” shared Tuomo. “There is massive drought and no crops. Communities consist of women and children, drained of men as they move to cities for income. “So in one congregation we visited, there was only one man present. The women walk three hours a day to find water and then another three to get back home–six hours every day!
In case of sickness, they walk 20 miles to the nearest health clinic. So many die on the way.”
IN THE MIDST OF SUCH CHALLENGES, congregations are THIRSTY for resources and training.
“We were invited by the bishop of the Mt. Kenyan (Lutheran) Synod to join them in a mission trip,” Tuomo explained. “There were two new Lutheran congregations, which had previously been Pentecostal but have become Lutheran. Their pastors had never seen a catechism before. They were extremely thrilled to receive catechisms in their Kamba language!
“The congregations and pastors are thirsty for resources and training. Some of the pastors came from Anglican backgrounds, a few from Methodist, and also some from Pentecostal backgrounds. Because of a lack of training, many African pastors’ theology is shallow and limited. But a change has come, from hearing good Lutheran theology. They are impressed by the depth and Biblical truth of our Lutheran teachings.”
“WE WANT MORE!”
At each of the churches, Rev. Ondieki introduced the Small Catechism, translated and published by LHF in the Kamba language. Listeners eagerly followed along and discussed baptism, the Lord’s Supper and women’s roles in the congregation. During down times, they talked of practical things, such as how to organize a Sunday school and better train their pastors and evangelists.
“The reaction was so positive,” Tuomo said. “The congregations were impressed that a Church had such materials and they want more! The pastors demanded more teaching, and soon. The bishop has asked for LHF to hold a seminar as soon as possible.”
READY TO GIVE ALL
Our Kitui brothers and sisters in Christ model a faith all should aspire to.
“On Sunday, we gave a lift to an elderly lady who was prepared to walk to our church service,” Tuomo recalled. “It would have been an over 15 mile walk for her. The pastor tends to three congregations by foot. The distance is three hours to each congregation, so he doesn’t make it to each place every Sunday. At church, there were these two girls who walked 4 hours to get there. They were ages 12-14 years, and the area is full of poisonous snakes. But they wanted to come to church.”
YOU CAN HELP THEM HEAR GOD’S WORD IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.
The catechisms our Kenyan brothers and sisters thirst for cost only around $5 to print. Now, church leaders there have asked LHF to translate another dozen titles for them. You can make a difference in the lives of people like those pictured at right!