The Incredible Story of an African Pastor

The story starts several years ago when Luke Miedema, formerly of The Crossing but now in seminary in Chicago at Trinity, spent a year in Kenya with another of our missionaries, Scott Shannon. During the course of the year, Luke developed a relationship with a Kenyan couple whom we’ll call Joe and Sue. They ran a small business and an orphanage that provided education along with basic physical needs to some of the orphans in a small town named Igoji. When Luke returned to the U.S. and joined our staff, he helped our church partner with this orphanage. Over the years The Crossing supplied teachers, educational curriculum, food, and much more.

But then a couple years ago Sue developed an illness and died unexpectedly. She had been the one who really ran the orphanage. Now that she was gone what would happen to the kids? The hope was that her husband would step in and provide the necessary leadership. But that didn’t happen.

What we didn’t realize was how much Sue was the heart and soul of the orphanage. When she died, all the good things that were happening fell apart. Her husband Joe didn’t have any interest in maintaining the work. But even worse, he saw it as an opportunity to line his own pockets by keeping up the facade of the orphanage so that he could keep the western money flowing in. His plan didn’t work. Because the ministry came to a halt, so did the money.

Into this mess stepped a pastor named David Kimanthi and his family. Sponsored by a group associated with The Crossing called Kenyan Christ Like Leadership Project (KCLP), David moved his family to Igoji to plant a church and help the orphans. Before Sue died, she was very excited that David was coming because she knew her small town needed a gospel-believing church. But after she died, Joe turned on David, blaming him for the loss of American funding.

David has persevered in ministry through some difficult times. Not only was he in a new city to start a church, but his wife was recovering from cancer and he was making a once-a-week, six-hour roundtrip commute to Nairobi to finish his seminary degree. On top of all that, Joe started to blame David for the fact that The Crossing stopped sending funds for the orphanage. To retaliate, he roused up a lot of opposition to David within the community. Obviously, that isn’t the way that most church planters want to start their ministry.

But through all of this, by God’s grace, David has established a church in Igoji. While he was in the process of doing that, people in a town nearby called Nkubu heard about the new church and started walking 30 minutes each way to attend. They asked David to come to their town and start a church there. He said yes, and now on Sundays drives back and forth trying to pastor both churches.

Here is a small portion of the most recent update that he sent to us. English isn’t his first language, but I don’t think that you will have any problems understanding what’s happening.

Whatever we have achieved, and the courage we have had in church work in Igoji, is because we knew God is on our side and you together with many other God’s servants were on their knees interceding for us. We admit that, from August 2009 to April 2010 was not easy for us. The church work was going on very well and we were very much encouraged; but there was a severe external opposition from few people. It was life and death. It reached a point when we had to shift from living to Igoji to come and live in Chogoria in a house where there is security and many other people are living with us in the same compound. This shifting happened because we feared the group which was organized to kill the pastor, might come at night and accomplish its mission. How those plans got stopped is that I had to involve the police, the area chief, and the community together with the parents/guardian of the children we are helping. We had to talk plainly and it was announced by the local leaders that if anything bad happens to the pastor or to any member of his family the mentioned people will be accountable. As a pastor and servant of God, who is supposed to love and serve all equally, I didn’t like this public method of solving the problem by unveiling people names to government officials, to their neighbours, and their names being announced publicly to a big gathering. I feared I might be creating more enemies. But through my little knowledge and wisdom this has helped a lot. We now have peace. We can now walk into the villages without any fear. Some of the two people who were one of the masterminds came into the church (their are two ladies, one retired primary school teacher – single mother, and another lady). It was very hard for them to be embraced by the church members because they were thought as if they have come into church to monitor pastor’s movements. I have no problem with them. I love them and I am open to them. They one day told me that, they don’t understand why I didn’t take them to court and yet I had enough evidence of their plans, and I also had witnesses. I told them there was no need. Even though I am with them in the church, I am very conscious about their movements. I have to be very keen to listen, and allegorically analyze every word which comes out of their mouth. I am also encouraging church members to admit them as one of their sisters, but it is taking time.

I don’t know about you, but reading David’s letter was humbling and it has encouraged me to pray more for him. I hope that you too will remember him, his family, and the churches when you pray.

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