Monday, February 16, 2009

Eternal Legacy

The Apostle Paul was not above boasting, or at least giving humble thanks to God for the work that He did through himself. Whether it was the faithfulness of the church in Philippi or his claim on the life of a slave named Onesimus, Paul often took human credit for the work of the Gospel. Likewise, I cannot help but brag about what God has done through the work He allowed us to do in Kenya. The rewards of service are not always in the by-in-by, sometimes we get to see the fruit of our labor here on earth which allows us to realize maybe we did a few things right in the ministry God gave us.

Paul Gichuki was just a twenty-three year old kid selling used clothing in a small town called Makutano back in 1977. I was thirty years old, green as grass as a missionary who had little understanding of culture but had a passion to take the message of Christ to those who had never heard. In my nativity I started meeting in a rented school building, playing my mandolin and reading my Swahili sermons every Sunday morning. At the conclusion of my first sermon a Kenyan came up to me after the service and told me in English that I needed an interpreter as no one was going to understand my Swahili. My response was that whether anyone understood me or not I was going to learn the language and I wasn’t going to depend on an interpreter.

Paul was one of the first men to accept Christ in those early years. I met with these young converts, often three days and nights every week, discipling them in a mud hut and by kerosene lantern. I continued to preach in my broken Swahili each week, but after nine months Paul took the lead of the small congregation at Makutano.

Thirty-two years later, Paul is still the pastor of this first church. In spite of the hardships that come with being a pastor - being run out of the Pokot district because he is a Kikuyu, suffering the death of his wife, Paul has remained faithful. He travels 40 kilometers at least twice a week to Makutano, is the dean of the Bible Institute and has been instrumental in helping start over 200 churches since I left the country twenty years ago. His church now runs over 300 every Sunday, has sent a missionary from his congregation to the Sudan and has two Pokot chiefs as a part of his congregation.

My part in this remarkable story is small as it truly is more about the faithfulness of Paul than it has to do with me. But I can’t help but boast in Christ that I had at least a small part in what God has and is doing in a remote part of the world in northwest Kenya.