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Weaving together Kiwis and Kenyans – part a (Issue 20)

New Zealand once sent more missionaries per capita than almost any other country. The work of faithful Kiwi missionaries (along with the work of the Holy Spirit!) has seen dramatic results in many nations around the world, including Kenya. Today over 80 percent of Kenyans identify with the Christian faith. Kenyan Christians believe it’s time for New Zealand to experience for themselves the fruit from this incredible harvest. They believe it’s time they ‘return the favour’ of the Kiwis who preached the gospel to them by bringing that same message to Aotearoa this year as we celebrate the gospel’s arrival on these shores.

The first team of twelve Kenyan evangelists spent two weeks in Dunedin in April. They shared the good news of Jesus in churches, community groups, sports games, cafes, the farmers market, the Octagon, malls. They preached, conversed, listened and simply ‘hung out.’ They performed African dance and music, sharing their culture as they sought to learn about ours. Some even joined the Bishop Kelvin’s hikoi round Southland.

What were the results? Already our efforts have borne more fruit than we could have anticipated. I’ll highlight a few here. One of the team members had the chance to pray with many people going through challenging issues. A school was open for a Bible in Schools programme to be started. The media shared about the Kenyan missionaries in a positive way, drawing attention to the power of the gospel. Someone received divine healing after being prayer for. Church leaders realised that believers were experiencing a new found confidence in the gospel and boldness in their witness. People accepted Jesus as Lord for the first time. Churches worked together to provide great hospitality and plan events, and there was a new unity. And one of the golden oldies went to share the gospel with a Kenyan evangelist. She was so impressed with how natural sharing her faith was that she asked herself “Why don’t I share the gospel like this every day?”

As I spent time meeting with Dunedin pastors to debrief the team’s visit I was encouraged to hear that this was just the beginning – plans are being formed to further empower the Dunedin churches in their gospel witness.

One key lesson we learned from this first Kenyan team is that the harvest is indeed plentiful. If we would just make more of an effort to engage we would discover an abundance of ordinary Kiwis who are open to talking about our glorious Lord and Saviour, Jesus!

Why not have a go at sharing your faith with a neighbour or work colleague during this month?

 

Originally published in Intermission (July-August 2014).