North Survey Trip
The North survey trip, that we have been praying about and planning for, was amazing! We had a great trip and I want to share some of the trip details. First, I want to say thank you to our pastor, Chad Graves; our associate pastor, Ryan Copico; our campus pastor, Daren Clements; and Pastor Aaron Johnson from Life Point Church, Washington, PA, for coming and being a part of this survey trip. You guys were awesome and made this trip a total success not to mention you encouraged and energized John, Clayton, and me.
Nairobi and the Rift Valley
We started our trip off spending the weekend in Nairobi and taking some time to enjoy the country a little before we began our survey work. We went to the Rift Valley and climbed Mount Longonot straight out of the gate. We visited a few other sites near Nairobi then got the vehicle ready for our trek to Garissa. On Sunday morning we attended services in a few of the churches in Nairobi to greet them and encourage them. It was a great prelude weekend to our survey work.
GarissaWe left Nairobi Monday morning and headed toward Garissa, not knowing what was ahead or what we were going to find. The drive was very good with nice roads, although we still had one flat along the way. We could see Mount Kenya for much of the day off in the distance. As we got farther away from Nairobi the scenery began to change and the style of housing as well. An hour or so from Garissa we began to see Orma bomas (homesteads) and women pulling buckets of water rather than carrying them on their heads. We were crossing over into new tribal areas for all of us and the trip was becoming real. We passed through several checkpoints before crossing the Tana River and entering Garissa Town.
We wasted no time after arriving in Garissa; we immediately did a once through of the entire town. It was obvious that we were not in “Kenya” anymore, at least the Kenya we all are used to. The main populous in Garissa Town is Somali. We found a church back up in one of the areas of town, went in and were able to visit with the pastor. Pastor Fred of the Agape Church was our first contact and through him we were able to get another contact, then from that contact another contact. It was amazing how God directed our steps and led us from place to place and person to person.
The most sobering visit we made was to the AIC church that was bombed back in 2013. Terrorists came on the compound on a Sunday morning and killed the guards that were supposed to be watching over the church services. They then blocked the church doors and threw a grenade inside. The explosion killed 17 believers including the pastor’s wife. We met with Pastor Eliud who came once the church was reopened after the attack. He was very helpful but was very fearful. During the recent attack on the university in Garissa. Pastor Eliud and his family locked themselves in their home and could hear the gunfire until the attack finally ended after 12 hours. The attack left 147 dead and 79 injured. The AIC church and Pastor Eliud’s home is only a ¼ mile from the university. Being in the church and knowing it was a site of martyrs and seeing Pastor Eliud’s faith was very challenging.
We also visited with Pastor Joseph of Church on the Rock in Garissa Town. He is the head of the local pastors association. He shared with us that there were some twenty churches in Garissa but only 6 were in Garissa Town; and the others were on the other side of the river in Mororo and Madogo. Pastor Joseph provided us with several contacts to follow up with. He was also very helpful in understanding more about Garissa, especially since he grew up in Garissa and had lived in the area for nearly 22 years.
Mororo and Madogo
Another one of our visits was on the other side of the Tana River opposite Garissa Town in an area called Mororo. We met with Pastor Samuel of Upper Room Baptist Church. Pastor Sammy was also very helpful and welcoming. He shared that once you cross the river it is not nearly as dangerous as it is in Garissa Town because you are dealing with “Kenyans” again. Sammy took us to Madogo where he lives and most all the other pastors as well. We met with Pastor Lazarus in Madogo and passed by Pastor Sammy’s house.
The day before we planned to leave Garissa to head south we met with one last pastor named Boniface. We had gotten Boniface’s contact from Pastor Sammy. Boniface proved to be a very valuable contact and contradiction. He was a contradiction because much of what he shared with us was very different from the other pastors. He was very valuable because he connected us to Jason Witt, a missionary who has been working and living in Garissa since 2008.
We contacted Jason and decided that it was worth staying another night in Garissa to meet with Jason and filter some of the information we had gotten from all the pastors. Jason came and visited us at our hotel and even took us to a farm that he has outside of Madogo. His wife, children, and missionary partner’s wife came and had dinner with us. Jason helped us process a lot of the information that we had received, as well as confirm some of the things that we were told. Jason was a kindred spirit from the get go; and we are planning to have him and his family in Malindi with us for a week in June.
Bura and Hola
Once we left Garissa it was a long day of driving on some of the worst roads in Kenya. We made our way down to Bura en route to Hola. We stopped off in Bura to see the town. Bura is built around a huge irrigation scheme sponsored by the government. This town has no churches in it. Back in 2003 all the churches in Bura were burned by Muslims over the arrest of a Muslim cleric and have still not been rebuilt. There was a spiritual void in the area for sure.
From Bura we continued on to Hola. Our time in Hola was short but productive. We met with Pastor Amos of the AIC church in town. We were not able to meet with Pastor Amos long because he had a meeting to attend. We spent a good deal of time with Pastor Franklin who works with Samaritans Purse Ministry in Hola. He and his colleagues are doing various projects to help the community and build relationships to share the Gospel. They even have one of their staff members doing farming in the area as a means to make bridges into the local tribes.
The week following the team’s departure Clayton, John, and I went to Garsen to meet with an Orma believer named Bocha Hussein. We heard his named mentioned several times during our various meetings, and it was great to get the chance to meet with him. Bocha is our first contact with an Orma and a Christian at that. Bocha was saved when he was a teenager as a result of a volunteer teacher that worked in the secondary school he attended. The volunteer was a Christian who worked in the school specifically to try and build relationships and to share the Gospel. Bocha has been to Bible College and is now back in his home area trying to be a witness and mobilize the churches and believers in the area to be witnesses to the Orma and Upper Pokomo. We really enjoyed our meeting with Bocha and look forward to more opportunities to visit with him in the future.
What Does it all Mean?
We learned so much during our time with all the contacts we made and all the places we visited. This is an extended report and I wanted to mention each of the places and names of those we visited so anyone who reads this report will pray for each of the men and places specifically. Pray also for these tribal groups by name: Munyuyaya, Orma, Malakote, Pokomo, Wata, Wardei, and Somali. All of these people groups need a gospel witness. In every area we went we found churches but they are primarily ministering to the Christians that are working in the cities and not reaching the local population.
Every minister we spoke with shared of the dangers of working in the midst of a dominant Islamic culture, but all of them said that the call is what keeps them going. We are praying that God will make his call clear to us as we process all that we have seen and heard. Two other things stood out to us as we talked with various people that are trying to reach these unreached group, that is: Integrity and Patience. Reaching into these unreached people groups is going to require time, patience, creative access, and persistence. Bocha, the Orma Christian, said, “People need to see the Gospel and see that we are different.”
We are praying and processing all the information that we have gathered and will continue to pursue contacts that we have. For the next year the Howells and the Straders will be working on language and culture adaptation. Our family will soon be on furlough and will be thanking the churches for supporting us and the work for another 3-year term and also sharing the vision for the future. God has great things in store for our team. Please pray for us all that God will give wisdom, discretion, and discernment.
If you would like more details on the events mentioned in this report you can read our blog at http://missionarytaylor.blogspot.com/
James Taylor PO Box 811 Malindi, Kenya 80200
Phone 011-254-713289014 firstname.lastname@example.org
This month was a month of accomplishment. The kids prepared for and took their first ever standardized tests. Ashley did such a great job preparing them and administering the test. We made it very official, complete with testing signs all over the house. It was a huge relief once their testing was over. Then they just had a couple of weeks of school left. They worked hard and finished all of their lessons for the year. Ashley and Lindsey surprised them with a field day on the last day. They didn’t know what a field day even was. Ashley posted a video of their reaction. She thought they would all get excited as she told them. It was funny because in the video Samuel knows he’s supposed to be excited, but he’s just not quite sure what the excitement is for. When she explained they were very happy. She had t-shirts made, I made walking tacos for lunch and everyone enjoyed the games including Gertrude, Mama Cedrik, and Safari. In the evening Ashley organized an awards night. Gertrude even gave out awards for Swahili class. Josiah has officially graduated from Swahili. He is now fluent in the language. Actually a couple of Sundays ago, Josiah was plagued by Pastor Nicolas’ translation of Brother Chad’s sermon. Nicolas was having a hard time following Brother Chad, and Josiah has gotten so proficient that it was killing him at how many mistakes were made. They are all very glad to be done with school. This has been one of the best years we’ve had. We owe Ashley a great deal of gratitude for all she has done.While the guys were gone on the North Survey trip, Ashley and Lindsey helped the kids with Mother’s Day gifts. I woke up to breakfast in bed, homemade cards, and signs all over the house. It was a very nice surprise. I have been blessed with the sweetest kids.
James and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on the 23rd. Ashley watched the kids for us so we could spend the weekend in Mombasa. We had a nice couple of days away just relaxing and enjoying a couple of nice restaurants in Mombasa.
Josiah turns 14 on the 8th of June, and he wanted to go do Paintball with some friends in Mombasa to celebrate. But since they were leaving to go to the states for the summer, we decided to celebrate a little early. So on the 30th we all went to Mombasa to play Paintball and ride Go-Karts. Everyone had a lot of fun, and we even had time to go see the new movie San Andreas. It was a fun day.
Now we are in furlough preparation mode. We have been cleaning out closets, clothes, toys, and all kinds of junk. The Straders will be staying in our house while we are gone, so I don’t have to pack up much, just our personal belongings that we don’t take with us. We are excited and nervous about furlough. Staying in Monticello for the year will be very different for us. I look forward to what the Lord does over the next year.
For those who have been praying for my sister, thank you so much. She finished her last round of chemo and will be going for a scan in a couple weeks to see the progress.
Thanks for reading and praying.