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Missionary Spotlight – Ministering the Word in Kenya

November 1999 | by Naphtally Ogallo

I became a believer in 1971, but did not grow much in the knowledge of the Scriptures during the first years of my Christian life. It was not until 1975 that I came into contact with the doctrines of grace. I became a member of a Reformed Baptist church in Nairobi when it started in 1978. The Lord gradually laid on my heart a call to the ministry and, recently, I completed theological training.

I consider myself greatly blessed by the Lord to have had the opportunity of receiving Reformed theological training. My view of the ministry is now very different from what it was. The desperate condition of the lost is made clear from the Scriptures and God’s divine purpose, to save spiritually dead sinners through the death of Christ, is a source of great encouragement in preaching.

I find systematic expository preaching from the Bible to be the best method, both for teaching the whole counsel of God and for helping the congregation with difficult but important aspects of Christian truth.

Opportunities

There is a regular attendance at our church of about 150 people every Lord’s Day morning, and forty for the evening service. About a third of these are active Christians, united to this church. Another third have made no profession of faith. The rest profess to be Christian, but are not joined in church membership. Gospel preaching characterises each Sunday service.

The congregation is made up of a wide mixture of educated and uneducated people, employed and unemployed, refugees and local folk. Sunday school attendance averages eighty. Mid-week Bible studies are conducted on different estates, and a church prayer meeting is held on Thursday evenings. Vacation Bible schools and camps provide extra opportunities for instructing the youth during the school holidays.

Difficulties

Trying to teach and preach the gospel of God’s grace faithfully is not appreciated by most Kenyans. The majority of churches in Kenya do not preach the biblical gospel. Easy believism, decisionism and the ‘health and wealth gospel’ are rife. Many see Reformed Christians as being dull and ‘puritanical’. Even with those who attend our preaching, we find it an uphill task to undo the false teaching that they have held for so long and impart to them true teaching from God’s Word.

For most people, secular employment is difficult to obtain, and those who have it find life hard in the city, where salaries are low. Some are forced to seek affordable accommodation far from the church. Few own a property in the city, and this often means that families eventually retire and return to the villages. This means the church is robbed of mature believers.

But in all of this, as the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1; ‘since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart’. We make it our aim to manifest the truth, ‘commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God’.