In Britain today we live in days when the gospel is being attacked from many sides. Some churches face decline. Some have grown. Efforts are being made to revive declining churches and also to plant new ones.
There are both discouragements and encouragements. The church is violently under attack in some parts of the world with some believers suffering and some even losing their lives.
But in other parts there has been remarkable growth. I have made several trips to Kenya over the last 10 years. There many are under the influence of the so-called prosperity gospel, which is not the gospel. By the mercy of God, some have been rescued from it.
Elly is one such pastor who realised that he was not converted and is now leading a ministry amongst some of those who have been similarly caught up in this deceit.
There is a growth in reformed teaching and men are being raised up with the gifts and understanding to bring this teaching to a country where so many think they are a Christian but do not understand the need to be forgiven of their sin through faith in Jesus Christ.
I have been privileged to see these developments and also to visit the region of Pokot North in the north west of the country where roads are very often not much more than dirt tracks.
The area is mostly arid and bushland. It is dry. Water is scarce and in some areas people have to dig down into river beds and then carry it back to their homes. They may have a few animals like goats, cows, sheep, camels or chickens. In the past the people have been involved in cattle raiding.
Many still live in mud houses. People are poor. Medical care is limited. Even though it is against the law female circumcision is still practised.
Although primary education is free in Kenya not all children are able to attend school in this part as there may not be one near enough for them to go to, and attendance can be very erratic due to nomadism.
Some are in classrooms made out of mud and some even learn under a tree. Some have no desks. Blackboards are often old. Books and other materials are scarce. Yet there is a desire to learn.
Churches may also not have a building to meet in. Sometimes this is because they have outgrown their existing building or it has to be used for some other purpose such as accommodation for students or teachers.
In the recent trip I made we visited nine churches and the schools associated with these churches over a period of nine days.
As we were representing the sponsor we had the freedom to preach the gospel in each school and the delight to meet with believers in each place. They are warm-hearted and generous. We had meetings sometimes late in the evening in the dark.
In the past I have reported on the church at Wasat. This is a place you will not find on a map. Yet, over the past 10 years something remarkable has been happening there.
In October 2008 we had made our first visit there to preach the gospel at the request of people living there. At that time the government had done nothing at all for the area. The people had begun to hack a ‘road’ through the bush and, having driven as far as we could, we had walked the last couple of miles.
Some of the men had sat on their traditional Pokot stools, while the rest sat on branches and the women sat separately on the ground. They listened attentively as the gospel was preached clearly.
Their priority then was that there should be a church there, where the Word of God would be preached. This was above the need for a school or anything else. Thanks were expressed to us for coming to preach the gospel there.
Then, in October 2010, I was able to return again. This time the road had been completed. A school with two classrooms was being built, paid for by the government. In the late afternoon, the gospel was again preached in the open to about 50 people.
In October 2013, I was able to make a third trip back to Wasat. The Government had by now built three classrooms for the school, and it was in one of those that we were able to sleep over the two nights we were there.
After eating, we started a late night meeting at 10.40 pm, with about 30 people present in the moonlight when the message was on ‘Giving thanks for the day’.
There had been a raid a couple of weeks earlier, and there was a sense of insecurity, so much so that an armed guard had been sent to the area. They wanted to know how they could protect themselves now that they are Christians and have left the old ways.
They were told that the gospel should be preached and not to take revenge. They responded that, if they do that, the enemy will think that they are weak and will attack again and again, and will take their animals and maybe kill their sons.
It was answered that God could have taken his revenge on us for our sin, but instead he sent his Son who was killed, even though he had done no wrong.
Wasat has regularly been visited by others over the years and there is now a resident leader in training residing there. In August 2018, 54 people from several churches in the area were baptised, including 30 from Wasat.
Then in October more than 50 walked for hours the previous evening through a rain storm for a ceremony when six men were set apart as pastors in three churches.
Do we have the same commitment and enthusiasm for the spread of the gospel? Pray for the continued growth of the church there and the surrounding areas.
Cliff Barton serves as a deacon at Belvidere Road Church, Liverpool. He may be contacted through the registered charity TRAIN(Kenya) by emailing [email protected] The charity raises funds for churches and schools in Kenya to pay the pastors and teachers, and to assist in the construction of buildings and the provision of other needs.