Beauty for Ashes


About ten years ago a group of enthusiastic Christians set out to build a new church in an area of Nairobi called Kayole.  They faced some challenges because the area is a very poor part of town on the extreme edge of the city.  It is also an area densely populated by Muslims, who by and large are not friendly toward Christians.  The Lord blessed this group of people with enough money to put up the shell of a large auditorium, but when they finished the roof they ran out of money.  They tried and tried to complete the project but finally had to abandon the project leave it.  It didn’t look out of place because there are unfinished building everywhere in the city of Nairobi.

The building sat idle for a few years until an enthusiastic young pastor named Peter Omwanda was given the opportunity to pastor the church.  Things did not start off well for Pastor Peter because while the property sat idle for a few years a number of squatters moved onto the land and built little houses and even a row of apartments.  Peter’s first challenge was to try to get these people to move.  Things got tense when Peter and his elders consulted the local courts for their assistance.  After some tense months, Peter and his staff decided just to let the squatters stay where they were and to complete the church around them.

We first met Peter two and a half years ago.  We were planning a medical camp at a large church East of Nairobi and two weeks before the camp the pastor called us and said he had to back out of the camp.  Pastor Peter heard about this because he is a personal friend of our CEO, Osborn Obayo.  As a matter of fact Osborn was his Sunday School teacher some 20 years ago in the city of Kisumu.  Pastor Peter called Osborn and begged him to come to the Kayole church for a medical camp.  He pledged that he and his little congregation would do everything possible to ensure the success of the camp.

Our team went over to take a look.  The shell of the building was up and had a roof on it, but the floors were still dirt, the walls were still unplastered and there were no windows.  They did however have another building on the sight with 5 or 6 rooms that they were using for a preschool.  We prayed about this and finally we decided to bring our camp there.  The facilities were primitive but the need in the community was very great.  From the moment we set up our medical camp we could feel that something good was going on here.  The facility was crude, but the spiritual climate was great.  Pastor Peter had built into his congregation a genuine heart to serve the community and a genuine love for others.  There were a number of young people at the church who were very enthusiastic about sharing the Lord with others, so when our medical camp came they had the bright idea of setting up little circles of chairs (2 to 4 to a circle) and while people were waiting for their medical examinations the young people invited them to sit down and prayed with them.  They also shared their faith stories with them.  During our first camp over 400 people prayed to receive Jesus.  They young people also got their names and contact information for follow up.  We now use this system of Prayer Circles in all of our camps.

Since that first medical camp two and a half years ago the Lord has just opened the windows of heaven above the place.  First of all, all the neighbors, including the Muslims have completely changed their tune about the church.  Everyone in the community was so touched by the fact that the church would serve them and provide medical care and free medicine to anyone who needed it.  The church doubled in size after the first medical camp and doubled again after our second medical camp.  The people of this congregation have an unusual sense of unity and purpose.  In just two years the building has been transformed into an absolutely gorgeous facility with tile floors, stained glass windows, lovely drapes and a sea of chairs.  They have done all of this without a single cent of support from anyone from themselves.  More than half of the people tithe.  How do we know this?  They take two offerings every Sunday; one for those who wish to give an offering and another for those who tithe.  When it came time to tithe all the tithers lined up in the front of the church and prayed over their gifts.  Now this may sound utilitarian to you, but believe me it was done in the most precious way.  These people were truly giving to God.

Pastor Peter told the team that since our first medical camp two of his young people have gone into medicine and his wife now has a vision to start a medical clinic on the property to serve the community.

This is my forth time to the Kayole church and as Valerie and I sat with our Northwest University team of nurses in Pastor Peter’s office, I commended him as “a kindred spirit” because this young man truly has a servants heart and he is in no way in this for himself.  I am so touched by the fact that the Lord has brought us into partnerships with so many people like Pastor Peter pastors who are willing to sacrifice their time, talent and treasure to serve God, serve humanity and serve each other.

We had a great time.  Also I can tell you that Pastor Ben Sterciuc, who is leading the Northwest University team, really knows how to preach to Kenyans.  He was so animated, so passionate and so anointed!  The Kenyan’s just loved him.

Another great day in Kenya

Bless you all back home

We love you
Richard