God’s redemption and transformation of one man who was considered ‘hopeless’ by his neighbors has begun to change his entire village.
Kenya is making headway toward reducing severe poverty in their nation, working steadfastly toward their people have more opportunities. While some are worried that this work might become easily undone, the upward climb has brought great hope to many locals.
The World Bank wrote about Kenya’s economy and poverty levels, noting, “…[T]he agricultural sector was a key driver of poverty reduction in the past decade. However, this also implies progress in poverty reduction remains vulnerability to agro-climatic shocks such as droughts that can force households back into poverty. To avoid recurrent seasonal spells of poverty experienced by agricultural households, the report recommends that the country build resilience, including climate-proofing its agriculture.”
As these organizations seek a way to give people a more successful life, our partners who are Kenyan church leaders are working to offer people eternal hope and security.
The Bread of New Life
Barnaba Otieno was born in Muhoroni, a town on the border of Rift valley, and he would live through some of Kenya’s most turbulent decades. Tribal wars and unstable governments tempted some into a mentality of surviving one day at a time without much thought for the future.
We got to know Barnaba through Vincent Ouma who is his neighbor and a friend involved in community evangelism. Barnaba did not care about his own life, regularly drinking alcohol and smoking. He did not have a family but lived near a very old, poor lady whose daughters went to the city to work as prostitutes and left their children at their mother’s home. Many times, he was not able to afford meals because he spent his time with alcohol and not working for food. To make matters worse, his house was always flooded since the land is level and very close to running water.
He heard that community evangelist trainers were offering lessons in the nearby village and came to see the team, hoping that they might give him food. Without knowing his intention, our pastor partner asked him if he was hungry.
He told us, “He said, ‘Yes.’ So I brought bread and milk, and he sat down and started eating. Afterward, he asked us our names, looked at us then cried out, ‘Today, I want to received Christ as my personal Savior.’”
Planting a Seed of Change
Barnaba explained that he had become very tired with many things of this world, with his addictions and loneliness. He made the decision to follow Jesus. Our partner prayed with him straight away to receive Christ for the first time; he received new life in Jesus after he took some food and listen to the scripture that the team read from John 3:16.
In the time that has passed, he has stood firm in his faith and has grown into a strong Christian who leads in the local Christian fellowships and in his town. The community evangelism program has assisted him with starting vegetables gardens and keeping a healthy flock of hens.
This has created a big impact on his neighbors who knew him for his careless living and crimes and now witnesses him following Jesus. People in the community say that if Barnaba can be changed by Christ then anyone’s life can be transformed too.
The area chief confirmed that the work the church is doing in Christ has brought a real life change in the community. Many families have started following Christ in addition to helping some of the poorer children in the community. This has even led to the local chief coming to Jesus as well.
Throughout all of this, the church there wants to praise Jesus!