Transforming Lives & Communities

Past troubles pave the way for new leadership training program

May 14th, 2014

Missionaries love to share good news, but most will admit they are understandably hesitant to share their discouragements and struggles. Here CMF missionary Joshua Barron shares some past difficulties that have now led to some very good news.

A number of years ago, before we arrived in Kenya in January 2007, CMF founded Narok Bible Training Institute as a venue to train elders, pastors, and other leaders in the churches we were planting among the Maasai. This venture was not a success, but while it was quietly fading away, a CMF colleague of ours was laboring with some Maasai church leaders to establish Mission Institute East Africa. This had a top-notch curriculum and a wonderful missions emphasis, but unfortunately, this venture failed also. All of this was as frustrating and as discouraging as you might think. The only good news at the time was that in the far northern deserts, the Turkana Bible Training Institute was still going strong.

Eventually, the resulting dearth of ministerial training opportunities for the Maasai believers began to finally be felt. Maasai churches and church leaders began to recognize the need for their church leaders, elders, pastors, and teachers to receive quality training and discipleship to equip them for their ministries, and began to push CMF to help them renew this type of ministry. For our part, we pretty much refused to start something new, but we let them know that we would joyfully assist them in whatever ways possible in anything that they began.

So steam began to build. In 2012, Community Christian Church leaders sitting in a meeting with two CMF missionaries demonstrated a desire and a willingness to step forward. In that meeting, they requested that I should be the one to lead in helping with that task. The CCC churches formed a committee and appointed me to chair it.  (While we were on furlough, our teammate Joe Cluff took over for me.) A uniform curriculum for the new training institute was set and the Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI) is in the process of being born.

Turkana Bible Training Institute is the first campus for the new school. The church leaders on the steering committee of the Kajiado Training Center in Ng’atataek contacted the CCBTI committee and asked for help to establish another branch campus, Kajiado Bible Training Institute. Classes will begin there in January 2015. The best news is that the Kajiado Bible Training Institute budget is (at least on paper) self-sustaining, and will not require the large financial subsidies needed by the previous schools.

Seven of the Kajiado Training Center committee members have said they will be among the first KBTI students, and they are willing to pay the higher fees necessary for the budget to be met. Pray with us that in January 2015 a bright morning really will dawn for the new Community Christian Bible Training Institute and all of the CCC churches.

‘A day for rejoicing’ as two Mara North churches begin construction projects

May 5th, 2014

Two congregations in the Mara North Cluster of Community Christian Churches near the Maasai Mara Game Preserve in Kenya have recently broken ground for new buildings for their growing flocks, and expect to have the completed structures in use by July.

Mbitin is a young church that began in 2008, according to William Koya, a long-time leader in the Mara North Cluster and the Field Operations Supervisor for the Community Health Partners clinic.

“They used to worship under a tree, but now they are blessed with some funds to build a church,” said William. “The congregation is 218 members.”

The building will measure 30 by 50 feet and will be the congregation’s first permanent building made of stone, according to CMF missionary Lynn Cazier.

“This is being built with financial assistance from CMF of about $5,900,” Lynn said. “That is about half the total cost of the building. The rest of the cost has been raised by the Mbitin church and the others in the cluster. In well-organized clusters like Mara North, all the churches work together to raise funds for the next building on the list, and then move on to the next one.”

The Olkimitare Church, on the other hand, is a more established congregation with 260 members, said William Koya, and is building its second building.

“The first Olkimatari permanent building was constructed in 2002-03 and was one of the first built with cooperative assistance from the CMF church-building fund,” said Lynn Cazier. “Unfortunately, it was essentially built in a swamp on too much black cotton soil and has had many problems with settling and cracks in the walls and floor.”

The church has been discussing replacing or moving the building for the past few years, but each individual congregation receives assistance from CMF to build only one permanent building, so they knew they had to really step up financially for this project. They will also re-use some materials from the old building to construct the new one.

“What is so great to see about this one is that Olkimitare CCC and other churches in the Mara North Cluster have combined to raise nearly $20,000 to construct its new building, making this the first permanent CCC building constructed totally and completely without financial assistance from CMF,” said Lynn.

“This is truly a day for rejoicing in the ongoing maturity of the Community Christian Church, to celebrate with these believers and thank God for this accomplishment,” said Lynn.

Agri-Stewards’ trip to Joska: ‘God had something else in mind!’

April 15th, 2014

A team of 13 people traveled to Mission of Hope’s Joska Farm in Nairobi, Kenya, in March on a 10-day trip with Agri-Stewards of Lebanon, Ind., with “grand plans of planting nearly 30 acres,” said outreach leader Brian Smith. “But God had something else in mind.”

Agri-Stewards, a non-profit founded to teach “Farming God’s Way” principles to families and communities in third-world countries, has sponsored many such trips to Kenya, and last year arranged the donation and transport of a container of mechanized farming equipment – including a tractor — to the farm. But the team’s plans to put the tractor to work this year were halted by unexpected early rains totaling nearly five inches over three nights.

“Our plans would have allowed only a couple of days’ work at the farm at Joska with the ag team, with the majority of our time spent at Ndvoini and the 24 acres,” said Brian. “We quickly had to draw up a new game plan. We firmly believe that God’s desire for us was to work side-by-side with the MoHI farmers.”

So instead, the group cleared and planted two greenhouses, repaired the tractor, planted fruit trees, mulched, started a compost pile and started planting sweet potatoes.

“All of this work with the Joska team led to numerous teaching opportunities explaining the advantages of conservation agriculture versus the traditional Kenyan farming methods,” said Brian.

Team members also had various opportunities to share with the science and agriculture classes at Joska about careers in farming and bee-keeping.

“Our goal is to broaden the minds of the girls that farming is not just swinging a hoe in the hot sun,” said Brian. “There are multiple opportunities to use math and science in the field of agriculture.”

The team was also able to broaden its ministry to the young women of Joska on this trip through Bible lessons and craft projects presented by a teacher, Jodie Lamb, and a nurse, Betty Brandenstein, who accompanied the group.

“Jodie and her assistants did a wonderful job sharing with 250 high school girls how God loves and cares for them,” said Brian. “They combined Bible lessons with crafts to build up and encourage the young ladies, some of whom have come through very difficult experiences while growing up in the slums of Nairobi.”

As always, the team members felt that they were the ones who received the blessings on the trip.

“We were all touched by the stories we heard, and saw how God is at work through MoHI, transforming the Mathare Valley,” said Brian.

 

Nurse Betty Brandenstein and Lebanon, Ind., farmer Dave Chance help a member of the Joska ag team start a new compost pile.

  

Tony Richardson, Lamb Farms, Lebanon, Ind., and Farron Miller, a mechanic from Veedersburg, Ind., work with the Kenyan mechanics to fix a tractor problem. The tractor became important as a “mud runner” instead of a field worker.

 
  

Lebanon, Ind., farmer Dave Chance teaches Joska farm workers the basics of soil health and the ‘why’ behind the way “Farming God’s Way” works.

 
  

Team members and farm workers load the tractor-pulled trailer with food supplies for the Joska Boys’ School, located about three miles away. The rain made it impossible to travel without using the tractor.

 
    

 

 

‘We can’t keep up with number of baptisms and new churches!’

April 9th, 2014

Students in CMF’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) are taking their lessons to heart, planting two new churches recently and making plans to start seven others.

Francis Yenko, a Maasai who was mentored in DTS and trained to lead the classes, recently shared some of the amazing work his students are doing in the Elangata Enterit cluster of Community Christian Churches.

“Praise God with us for the new church planted a week ago by the DTS students at a place known as Naitiami,” said Francis. “This is a very remote place where there had been no church before, and these men prayed over 85 people last Sunday who gave their lives to Jesus. We plan to send people from Olepishet Community Christian Church and other DTS students to Naitiami each week to encourage and teach the new Christians.”

Another new church was opened recently in the village of Olashaiki, added Francis, and an elder from the Olepishet CCC, William Masiyioi, was commissioned to serve as its pastor.

DTS is a five-to-six-month, full-time program that gives participants an opportunity to discover their passions and their part in God’s purposes for the world. It includes both lecture and outreach phases. Frances is excited about the changes he has witnessed in his students, and appreciates CMF’s role in the work.

“You are all part and parcel in what God is doing in Maasailand,” he said, “and especially in this discipleship training school.”

The work of Community Christian Church in Kenya continues to expand through committed and capable national leadership, according to David Giles, CMF’s Director of Church Catalyst Ministries.

“Francis went through DTS and was later mentored to lead DTS by a missionary, and now he is leading DTS and his students are planting churches!” he said. “The goal of effective church planting movements is to ‘entrust to faithful men and women who can train others,’  and it is so encouraging and exciting to hear stories of how what was poured into faithful men and women in CCC is multiplied as they train others.”

“There is so much God is doing in the more than 170 CCC churches that we cannot keep up with the number of church plants and baptisms,” added David. “Please continue to pray for these faithful workers.”

 

 

Pediatrician comes to aid of young Nairobi burn victim

March 5th, 2014

Four-year-old Natalia Ochieng didn’t know it, but the day she walked into the medical clinic at Missions of Hope’s Bondeni Center in Nairobi, Kenya, was the turning point in her young life.

Natalia was burned and severely disfigured at age 3 when she fell into a pot of boiling water. The man leading the clinic that day was Dr. Alvin Hartness, a retired pediatrician from Fayetteville, N.C., and a member of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, which is a partner with CMF in Bondeni.

“Our hearts immediately went out to her and her mom,” recalled Dr. Hartness. “Children like this are shunned. She may not have much of a life if she has to live with these disfigurations she has.”

Dr. Hartness, a veteran of many medical mission trips around the world, felt a real burden for Natalia’s situation. When he returned to the U.S., he began praying and searching for people and funds to help her. Through a series of medical connections, Dr. Hartness found a plastic surgeon, Dr. Peter Nthunba of Kijabi Mission Hospital about 30 miles north of Nairobi, who could do the surgeries right there.

“Dr. Nthumba and I emailed back and forth, and he said if I could raise the funds, he believed he could do all of Natalia’s procedures there at Kijabi Mission Hospital,” he said. “This act of compassion saved thousands of dollars in medical and transportation costs.”

Dr. Hartness and his wife Shirley went right to work, contacting friends, relatives and church members, and by the end of November has raised more than $4,000 and wired it to the hospital.

“Natalia had her first procedure Dec. 17 and tolerated it well,” he said. “She is now in the stage of stretching the skin with saline infusions. George Kimani, the nurse who has been shepherding Natalia and her mom from Mathare to the hospital, says she is a very good patient.”

Natalia has also now been accepted into the MoHI school in Bondeni, and is sponsored by a Sunday school class at Snyder Memorial church.

Things are going well, but Dr. Hartness emphasizes that the family needs continued prayer and financial support for additional surgeries, transportation, meals, and other logistics. If you are interested in helping support Natalia and her family with your prayers and funds for her ongoing plastic surgeries, please contact Dr. Al Hartness at unclealpal@gmail.com for more information.

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