Gene Morden, a member of CMF’s team in Turkana, Kenya, recently shared amazingly good news regarding church growth in the area over the past year: 13 new churches were planted and 1,026 new believers were baptized into Christ.
A large part of the success of the church planting movement in Turkana, Gene believes, is due to CMF’s heavy involvement in community development projects.
“When I talk to church leaders they tell us that wells, farms, and CHE training have had a major impact on the church,” said Gene. “In the last three regional council meetings of the church I have seen the attitude of the church leaders change from ‘what do the missionaries want to do?’ to ‘how we can work together using our resources first and asking the missionaries to join us?’ ”
CMF has developed a reputation among the Turkana for having a genuine interest in the long-term physical and spiritual well-being of the people. “When the local Minister of Parliament comes around to woo them, for example, the people say, ‘You don’t care about us. Look what CMF has done. They care about us,’ ” said Gene.
This care extends to other areas, too. “The number of nursery schools has increased, and through CHE (Community Health Evangelism) the Turkana are developing life skills in the village and in business,” he added. “They are learning how to organize and plan. But the key in everything is that Jesus is always praised, petitioned and thanked.”
The well-drilling team, for example, is strongly evangelistic, and has a one-hour Bible study every day for village volunteers and anyone else who cares to attend. “Before the team even begins to drill,” Gene said, “they dedicate the well to God, and when it is finished and the pump is bringing up fresh water, the team and community commissions the well to God’s glory.”
The irrigated farms, also, are begun with prayers to God and thanks for the American church (seen there as CMF) that provides the funds. “Farms are begun with Bible lessons about God’s part in the farm and proper stewardship of the farms to God’s glory,” said Gene. “This has increased with the incorporation of the ‘Farming God’s Way’ lessons that were begun last July.”
“I think the best farms are the ones where the local pastors are part of the (cooperative) farm,” added Gene. “They make the farm the center for Bible study, literacy studies and the Church. They also distribute their produce to their needy friends and neighbors, who ask, ‘When can we have a farm so our children aren’t hungry?’ We are working hard to get local pastors immersed in the biblical teaching at the farms because we know it makes better farmers and Christians, while lending credibility and respect to church leaders.”
Of course, Gene hastens to add, not everything is “peaches and roses,” as he puts it. “We have a long way to go for the church to get the upper hand over the traditions handed down by the forefathers that bring glory to Satan, but with prayer and preparation, the church will continue to grow.”