Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It was about the time of our mid-term break at the Bible College of East Africa, that I went out to visit BCEA alumni. I used to visit those in Nakuru or Namanga, two or three hours by car away from Nairobi. This time, I made contacts with the alumni in the area of the western border of Kenya, about eight hours by bus from Nairobi.
Migori was the first place of the visitation. Downtown Migori was smaller yet cleaner than Nairobi’s downtown. The ladies and men in the city dressed in long skirts and trousers respectively, and looked conservative, somehow similar to people in Tanzania. The many fish that were displayed to sell on the roadside told how near the place was to Lake Victoria. This is the place of the Luo tribe, known for their high intelligence. The former American President Obama’s father was from this tribe. The alumnus “W” who lives here used to serve in the Junior Youth Fellowship in the campus church. He came to the Bible College of East Africa from the ACK (Anglican Church of Kenya), and went back to the church after graduation. When visited, he was no longer serving in the church, and had many complicated reasons for doing so. One of them was his doctrinal standard as a BCEA graduate, which differed from that of the church. Now he was studying to be a land surveyor to support himself in the future. He was the eldest son with younger siblings still in school and with a widowed mother. Even then he hustled to support the family. “W” desired to plant a church. But he was hesitant, asking me how to start. Though I feel for his situation, yet I preferred rather to remain quiet on the issue. I feel he should be seeking God’s guidance on the matter, instead of asking me.
Busia was the next place to visit. Busia was just next to the western border of Kenya; the border to Uganda. The major tribe there is Teso. The climate is favorable to grow peanuts and huge jackfruit trees. Alumna “V” used to serve together with me in the Sunday School in the campus church. Now she is back with her ACK and serves as a teacher of the Bible. It was a Sunday that we were here, and joined in worship, and it was my first time to be in a ACK service. There, I was surprised twice. The first one was because of their beautiful singing of classic English hymns. They were so well sung as if they were musically trained for many years! They sang and sang. My second surprise was that out of three hours of worship only about ten minutes was spent to share God’s Word! In most of their service time they read from a prayer book or sang. I used to hear many BCEA Alumni say, “We struggle in our churches because we have learned so much of God’s Word and doctrine, but back in our churches the practices are far different.” Eventually, I could see with my own eyes what their struggle was all about.
From Busia I moved to area called Kapsabet. The Nandi people are living there. The region is made up of huge farms with tea plantations. Kapsabet was not too far from Busia, yet the climate changed too soon, from hot to cold, because of the high elevation. The place reminded me of the green pastures talked about in Psalm 23. There was a nice breeze, green tea plants, and tall trees everywhere. The AGC (African Gospel Church) is the major denomination in the area. Here I met with “F”, who married while she was a BCEA student. She moved to this area because her husband was serving there in the AGC. Now, she is a mother to a baby boy and a pastor’s wife. Her husband is still studying in BCEA, so she is alone taking care of the family and church. “F” showed me around and introduced me to her church members. Seeing a foreigner in such a remote area was something! Now when I was given a chance to share God’s Word in the primary and secondary schools nearby, the children looked happy and very attentive to hear an Asian trying the Swahili language to share the gospel. I used the Wordless Book and told the story of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace.
Kipkelion was the last place of this journey. The area was hilly and green, more or less like Kapsabet. The majority of the people are Kalenjin, the best long-distance runners in the world. At this place I visited a pastor, a BCEA alumnus, who had graduated before I joined BCEA. He had sent one of his church members, as a newcomer, to BCEA. The newcomer, “B”, has now graduated from BCEA and remained in Nairobi to serve in a newly planted church. She accompanied me on this this entire journey of visitation. Along with Pastor “P”, we went for a Friday fellowship in a church member’s place. Passing through a steep, narrow, hilly road, we walked about 30 minutes until we reached a house at the foot of a mountain. I have been in Friday fellowships for many years in our campus church. But the Friday fellowship in this area was different in a sense that they use their own dialect and customary practices that were unique to their church.
All of the visitations mentioned above were done within one week, using public transportation. I paired up with “B”, a female alumnus in this journey. Sometimes we slept in the bus overnight, and also used motorbikes to get around. Obviously the journey was not smooth all the time, yet it was safe. Experiencing climate change within areas and the beauty of God’s creation, I thought of my God who is so big, and of me, as just a tiny creature. The main purpose of the journey was to encourage those in the ministry and introduce BCEA ministry to the local people. I made sure to pass on school application forms with the alumni that I visited.
Friends of BCEA, I request that you pray for the ministry of the Bible College of East Africa, and the graduates on the fields of service, to be strengthened in the Lord.
In His service,
Bai, Eun Young