Last year John spent much of our time here teaching church and cell leadership how true cells should operate. He was under a real handicap in that he taught in English, with no translator most of the time, and we weren’t certain how much they REALLY understood – even though they said they did. By what we can see this year the learning curve is pretty big. Additionally two of the prospective elders are no longer part of the church, leaving a leadership gap. However, new on staff is Kennedy, the assistant pastor, recently graduated from Bible school. He has taken up the reins and a big chunk of responsibility for this rapidly developing church. (Kennedy the Pastor to the right)
The cell groups in the village are all made up of very poor people, a large percentage of whom are widows. The one in Kisumutown is made up of professional people - the only one of its kind (so far). The Kisumu group periodically collects money for outreach and recently came up with a plan whereby they would visit needy people in the village. They were going to distribute some aid and also going to a house where a man was said to have "jiggers" - a flea type of insect that especially attacks the legs. They were taking medicine to treat his skin (one of the cell group members is a retired nurse) also exterminating equipment/spray to get rid of the jiggers in his house (a difficult task in a house with a dirt floor). As it turned out, the man doesn't have jiggers - he has leprosy!!! Back to the drawing board! On Sept. 18 the cell bought him a mattress (he was sleeping on a pile of rags on the floor) a blanket and some sheets – they were delivered that afternoon. There is also a plan for having his leprosy treated. More about him below.
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE MINISTERS: The villagers have never been part of a church that teaches and trains its members to be ministers and servants of one another and to the world. This is one of the core values of RCC and it is being imparted slowly and steadily to the church.
John has recently taught them about being servants and ministers based on Ephesians 4:11 . It has been being taught to them in different ways for at least 18 months. However he took it a step further and gave a brilliant message on practical body ministry that involves NO MONEY (something they don’t have, or is very limited) but requires their time and the use of their gifts. It was really great and struck home – we are certain.
Another core value being taught is that they do not have to depend upon and expect the West and people from outside the village to meet their needs – but to be involved in meeting their own needs, and learning to depend upon the Lord to provide for them in any way and through whom He wishes. Here in RCC these values are being taught by Kenyans to Kenyans and merely being re-enforced by the wazungu (white people). This concept requires a paradigm shift!
We also try to get across to them that all people from the West are not rich. This is a common misconception amongst Africans. It always brings a rather startled reaction from them when we tell them that there are poor people and street children/people in America and England. They have a hard time grasping that there are widows with very little to get by on in the West, but that some of them give us from what little they have to help the widows in Kadawa. We try to go into a little detail of how and where we get the money that is used to help them.
THE LEPER: Subsequent to the visit by the Kisumu cell group, the man with leprosy came to at church in Magwar (the first church plant of RCC- it meets outdoors) and told about the people who came to his house to help him and how thankful he was. It was very touching - even in the translation. We saw leprosy for the first time. The man had on sandals and had only 1/2 his toes. He had all 10 of them as far as we could tell, but only half a toe each! He is a Kenyan, but his toes were very nearly white and very thick and crusty. Staggering! We have no still photos as none of us had our cameras. Probably just as well!
THE WIDOW AT ANTIOCH: We went to a relatively new cell group (named Antioch) in another village, several miles away. Pastor Hesbone had visited the house when they expressed interest in getting involved in RCC; this was only the second time he went. They have not had the advantage of the "Everyone is a Minister" teaching and basic cell-life principles. Pastor Kennedy has been assigned to that cell and another one about 4 miles away; the young pastor has a big job ahead of him. This time here was a widow there, named Margaret, who is ONE YEAR OLDER than Marty, but looks 20 years older. She is seriously in need of a new house, and Hesbone was not aware of the situation. This widow is in desperate straights and needs help big time. The two pastors did some explaining to the group about some simple basics on caring for each other, and now a plan is formulating to give hands-on training to this group in terms of assisting the widow. It is an ideal situation for training in body ministry and also on not expecting the mother church to do the job - although the people in the mother church will also become involved to an extent. We are excited about the expected outcome. A plus in this situation is that she has land with trees on it, so she will be able to supply the uprights and the saplings for the frame work for the mud. The only cash outlay will be for the tin roof, nails and a carpenter. Up until now, all the money for houses has come from us through supporters and Marty's women's fund; however, we have already designated our "housing" money, or we would build her one. See Margaret below - that's her "house". She has put on her best dress for the occasion of our visit - as the ladies do for any special event. Most likely, the next time we see her she will have on the same dress. But if we had paid a surprise visit to her she would not have been dressed that way - but more likely in tatters.
The Cost for tin has sky-rocketed and the cost of a house - one where the uprights, roof frame and tin sheeting has to be bought - has nearly doubled in two years. It does vary according size and if the widow can contribute any materials. The global economy's tentacles reach everywhere!
ANOTHER CELL - ANOTHER CHICKEN STORY: After we visited Antioch we went to Samaria. This cell group greeted us in the traditional style for that area. Most of them were outside awaiting us and began to sing and dance a welcome ceremony, after a bit they turned and led us in singing and dancing all the way into the house and then once inside continued the ceremony. It was awesome! They did the same when we left. This time Marty joined in with them - amidst much pleased laughter.