Praise be to God who opened my eyes to see his purpose for the humanity and how he is reconciling with the lost people from all nations by his redeeming work through his children who believed in Jesus Christ the savior of the world.
Our team of eight university students, 4 men and 4 ladies, left Kigali to Nairobi on Wednesday 9th July 2014 we visited MCN (Mission Campaign Network), FOCUS(Forum of Christian University Students) and JKUAT(Jomo Kenyata University of Agriculture and Technology) in Nairobi. Sunday 13th July we traveled to Kargi and came back in Nairobi on Wednesday 23th July where we visited Trinity Fellowship center, Nairobi National Park and IDC church. On 28th July we traveled back to Rwanda where we arrived on Tuesday 29th July 2014.
How did the trip idea come?
My eyes were opened to the mission work through different teachings and seminars organized by GBU and missionary James MATUKU in the academic year 2012-2013 my first year on campus. When I did Kairos course about mission in May 2013, my heart and mind were challenged to realize how we believers are so selfish to the extent we produce several bible versions in one language when other languages of unreached tribes have no single chapter in a language they can understand and we don’t care. Faith comes by hearing the word, how will they believe?
I was asked to join the teams that would go for a mission exposure trips in July and August 2013 but I had no convictions to go. When the next trip was announced I thought I need to resume the idea but I kept praying about some doubts I had.
Support raising for the trip.
I wrote down a long list of around 23 people that I thought would support me with money and started texting and calling them. None of them discouraged me, even if some had nothing to give or promise they said that they wished me well. The people I didn’t expect are the ones who gave much; I had no much expectations in my local church but they contributed around 70,000Rwf in 168,000Rwf I needed. One night I only slept for 1.5 hours because I had a transcription job to get some money for the trip. In support raising God taught me to trust and wait on Him for Himself speaks to the providers.
My expectations of Kargi.
Going to Kargi I didn’t expect to find a decent house, shops and even a church. I thought that Kargi is still behind in all aspects but I have seen 4 built churches, one mosque, one modern shops, several solar panels and more than 3 TV sets. Some people can speak Swahili and English, network can be found in a less than 10m2 area. Thank God who has started his work amongst the Rendille people and facilitated their reach.
Kargi the mission field
The mission station of CITAM (Christ Is The Answer Ministry) that hosted us is located in Northern Kenya, Marsabit county specifically in Kargi where Rendille people live. CITAM is led by Pastor John Ndegwa whose wife and four daughters live in that desert place. It is a very dry area with sand and stones, there is neither farming land nor trees except the acacia spiny trees. The temperature is so high that between 12pm and 3pm there are no people movements for the sun is burning. There is a very small trade center surrounded by Manyatas, villages of around 10 small traditional houses each.
The Rendille people
The people are pastoralists, illiterate and religious. The Rendilles are pastoral nomadic, all men look after their cattle (mostly camels). Their religion closely resembles the old testament Jewish religion; they celebrate Passover that is called solio by sacrificing animals four times a year, they celebrate new moon festivals, they honor Sunday greatly, they pray towards heaven, etc. We believe this is what God has prepared to facilitate evangelism amongst them. Almost all of them, they are around 10,000 people, have no idea about God the creator. They have only two public primary schools and one Islamic school. Their daughters marry at the age of eight and practice female genital mutilation.
Our time in Kargi
From 14th to 23rd July 2014 we were in Kargi. In the Mornings we would do evangelism in the Kargi smaller trade center and in the afternoons we shared the gospel with the people living in Manyatas surrounding the center. In the evenings we had fellowships with the missionaries and their families.
Rwandan Muslims in Kargi.
I was surprised to find there two Rwandan builders, one of them is my neighbor in Biryogo. They are committed to spread Islam in the name of building a house in Kargi. Muslims are growing in number due to the efforts of some Muslims. Some are paid to confess, others are isolated and supported financially after their confession but still most converts are confused about Islamic faith.
SOME REALITIES AND CONVICTIONS I GOT.
It’s a reality People are lost and not reached.
I had always desired to sit next to and talk with an unreached person in his home village so I can know how the people live without an idea about the savior. Looking at the Rendilles lifestyle I have realized that it is possible for a person to be born and die lost with no clue about the savior because he had nobody to witness to him. From their birth to their death, the Rendille people all they know is to fetch water, making their bead jewels and looking after their camels. They think they are at peace with God when they have sacrificed an animal.
It requires time.
With the help of translators and sometimes with our broken Swahili, we had difficulties communicating a single point as we were sharing the Gospel with Rendille people. Sometimes we had Swahili translator and Rendille translator and the concentration of the audience is very low, 15 minutes maximum and one has to keep repeating the same thing for many times so that they may understand it. From this I understood that mission work requires time, even lifetime. I also found it not easy with short termers to effectively communicate the gospel to the unreached people especially when they are illiterate and without a bible in their own language.
Bible translation and literacy
I had not understood the relationship between bible translation and literacy. When I preached to Rendille women in Kargi CITAM church who knew neither to read nor to write I realized that even if we may manage to print bibles for each of them we will still have a big task of teaching them to read and take notes. On the other hand as I was sharing with educated people we could talk in English and they could read the bible for themselves. Apart from the pastor’s house I saw no single bible in the Rendille community. They have no complete bible in their language. I had convictions about bible translation before and I will keep praying about it. I will also keep on doing research and get involved when God calls me to.
The need for discipleship
Looking at the Rendille people who are involved in church activities, it is not easy to tell from their lifestyle that a person is born again or not. There is a great need of discipleship for the people who received Christ among the unreached group to be transformed and equipped to be able to complete the remaining task.
I had not understood identification with the community you are reaching with the gospel until I met Mr. James Thiga. As Jesus had identified with the disciples to the extent that He was confused with them, as I looked at Thiga for the first time I thought he is a Rendille beggar who comes to Pastor Ndegwa’s house. He has identified with the local people in two years that he’s been there. He always wears kikoyi like them, he has learnt Rendille language. He has named his firstborn Kargia after Kargi and is known as Fundi by most Rendille people who are his friends. I have learnt how a person can communicate the truth of the gospel without appearing religious.
Godly marriage ministers
By Pastor John Ndegwa’s family life, I understood how a godly functional marriage models the real Christian life as it welcomes people to come and see their relations, ways of parenting, and disciplining the children. This has changed my family view and my ways of praying for my future marriage so that my wife, children and I will be effective communicators of the truth of the Gospel by our successful marriage.
Different ways, one purpose
Through several encounters with missionaries on the field I came to realize that there exist different ways of reaching the unreached with the Gospel and each is a God’s unique calling that brings a huge impact in the kingdom of God. For instance brother Dickson Wanyonyi reaches the deaf children amongst the Rendille people with the Gospel. Others minister through relationships, parenting, manyata to manyata evangelism, Jesus’ film, profession, service and schooling.
When we had gone to visit brother Wanyonyi Dickson who has been to Kargi for one year. He was very excited and encouraged then I realized how missionaries on the field are and how encouraged they feel only by one visit or call. He told us that it affirms what they are doing.
God deals with the family challenge.
I used to have fears about how my family would respond when God calls me for ministry. Hearing from Mr Thiga and Wanyonyi how God helped them to overcome such strong challenge and helping their families along the way to get an understanding of what He is doing. I felt encouraged because God himself deals with that and I knew that ‘’the best help I can give my family is to obey God’’. From this I learnt to help my family, pray for them that they may put their trust in God and know that God alone is not their help not their son or any other thing is.
Prayer for missions
Brother Wanyonyi and pastor Ndegwa taught me to pray for the mission work by just observing them and I realized how my prayer for missions was kind of a joke. The remaining task will be done by the prayer warfare behind the field work. I will personally keep on praying for Mr Thiga’s family and the work they are doing in Kargi.
Welcomers in mission
I learnt the role of welcomers and what hospitality means in the mission work as I observed the families that hosted us. I remember the day we were to leave Nairobi to Kargi, Muciri Kimani and his wife slept at around 2am and by 5am they were out to prepare breakfast for us and they considered it meaningful to God.
Different ways, one God
Through different discussions we had with MCN staff, FOCUS Kenya staff, TF staff, JKUAT workers I learnt that there are several ways of serving the purposes of our one God. The work of the Lord will also be done by the people who are committed to volunteer by learning from Jesus Christ and that God provides the necessary for His ministry to be successful.
Leading the team to Kenya
The journey to Kenya started on Wednesday 9th July 2014. Though I was familiar with the team of seven I went with, being chosen to lead them was not easy because I was the youngest of all and none of us had been to Kenya before. I realized my leadership weakness and God taught me to prayerfully depend on him and consult him for simple matters.
For the next trips, I would recommend the exposure among Muslims in another context with few missionaries on the field.
I would also recommend the common understanding about the trip program where possible.
I thank God for GBUR staff that organized the trip so that I can have a glimpse of what God is doing cross culturally. May the Lord bless you indeed!
Glory be to God, the savior of all nations who designed this trip and completed it.
NTAWUHIGANAYO BAHATI Elisee
University of Rwanda, GBU Huye campus: 2nd year Biotechnology