We continue this series on Pokot, Kenya, with another Cliff Barton article explaining graphically what is involved in missionary work in remote tribal areas.
Here in Kasepa, where gospel preaching began in 1980, they have built a church in true Pokot style – a rectangle of upright sticks, and sticks and branches for a roof. It cost them nothing except the labour, although it will not keep out the rain. In the past many have moved away from here because of the problem of water. Non-salty water is only available at the bore holes in Kamketo over 4km away.
Most of the people who come now are recent converts and it is the only place where older men come to hear the word of God regularly. The only man who is literate is the nursery teacher. There are about 20 members but no leader. Pray that these brethren might be stable and have someone who can lead them in the word.
Thomas Lokerisa is the leader of the church in Kamketo and he has completed his training in Nairobi. There are a few wage earners and business people in it. It is the best established church of the six churches we minister to, with over 30 members. The majority are illiterate, yet gave biblical testimonies about their conviction of sin and trust in Christ alone. What a joy to identify with them as brothers and sisters in Christ!
Some six years ago, brethren from all six meeting places assembled at Kamketo. For some it meant at least a three-hour walk over the steep hills. Including young people from the two schools, there were at least 100 crammed into the food store, the largest room available.
In the afternoon they celebrated the Lord’s Supper for the first time! It was astounding when Andrew said that he had never before witnessed the Lord’s Supper being celebrated, and he had become a Christian in 1986 and was a church leader for many years.
On a later occasion there were a couple of evening sessions on Ephesians 2:1-10 and many questions were asked. It was encouraging to get doctrinal questions like ‘Why preach if God has chosen who will be saved?’ ‘Why does God only choose some people?’ Humanly speaking, the work is hampered by illiteracy, lack of a Christian background and confusion that other, less well grounded churches are bringing.
Four years ago there was a women’s rally with over 85 women present. We had to deal with the problems of widowhood and polygamy in this society. ‘Why do co-wives always hate one another, even those who are saved or educated?’ ‘My husband and co-wives are non-believers and hate me because I am a Christian, so I get discouraged. What should I do to live in peace?’ ‘How can I, as a Christian widow, escape being forced to marry an unbelieving relative?’
Three years ago a visit was made to the animal market (by the dry river bed) for open-air preaching. There is usually another group there who make a lot of noise but they had been asked to give way. Even so, they started monotonously beating a drum and then singing and jumping.
Keith chose to speak from Hebrews 12:28-29 to show why we do not make a lot of noise. There were about 100 who gathered round and he was told later that his message was much appreciated. In the many conversations afterwards it was obvious that there is a great ignorance of the gospel, especially with men who stay on the plains with the animals.