Into the bush, Part 2
There are memorable days, and there are unforgettable days.
Thursday was unforgettable.
I could jump right to the big ways we saw God move, but I won’t. Step by step seems to be the best way to tell this story. Why? Because our loving Lord moved in the little things all day, repeatedly reminded us that his ways are greater than ours, and put us on a collision course to see his grace and mercy change the life of a man and a village.
Hang on. The ride into the bush can be anxious and scary. But the peace that passes all understanding was flowing through our team, keeping us focused on the hope that we would eventually get to share the gospel.
The drive into the Pokot area of the bush was full of potholes, mud holes and dirt roads that bounced us like the most turbulent of flights and seemed to lead to nowhere. When we awakened Thursday in the church yard in Lomut, we discovered a flat tire. Our ninja-like van had succumbed to the rough roads.
No worries. Manu replaced the tire, and Aggrey called in a man with a motorcycle and sent the tire back to Sinor to be repaired. Yes, I said he made a call. There is a cell tower near Lomut. The Kenyans were able to make phone calls all the way to Kamanau. God provides in the most unexpected ways.
We loaded up the van and brought along a new friend. Luca is a church member in Aggrey’s small church plant in Kamanau. When we arrived at the spot that had been impassable the night before, Luca went to work with his machete.
We needed to clear a 50-yard swath wide enough for the van to bypass the deep mud. Luca, a small and wiry man of the bush, swung his blade again and again while others cleared the brush out of the way. Soon we had clear passage to Kamanau. The path we cleared was as long of a straightaway as we saw in the bush. The Lord was indeed making our paths straight.
About 15 minutes later we pulled into Kamanau next to the church that remains under construction. The first sound we heard was a hissing one coming from the spare tire. The valve was leaking. But it wasn’t long before our tire runner returned with the repaired tire. Another quick answer to prayer.
We set up camp, broke out some snacks for lunch and met some church members. There was disappointment in the camp that we had not gotten here the night before to show the “Jesus” film. Because on this day we were supposed to be deeper in the bush showing the film where it had never been shown.
Then God turned everyone’s disappointment to joy. The most prominent elder in the village and surrounding area came by the church, presumably out of curiosity. Losikal’s three sons are members, but he is not. He has a violent past as a militia leader in tribal warfare in the bush. He has served time in prison, fled to Ghana on foot and is now back home.
Tensions and violence in Pokot and the neighboring bush area of Turkana have greatly decreased. This is why we are here and Aggrey is planting churches farther into the bush.
Losikal has been exposed to the church and Christian ways. But when we met him he had not turned his life over to Jesus. So Aggrey saw an opportunity and asked Brian if he would share the gospel with him.
Inside a cement block church under a metal roof with no finished doors and windows, no permanent pews and no pulpit – the humblest of places – Brian sat on a plank for a pew held up by cement blocks facing Losikal. Dustin and I sat on either side of them forming a square. Aggrey stood by the window and translated.
Brian shared a straightforward gospel that included God the creator, original sin, the crucifixion, the resurrection, forgiveness and repentance. Brian asked Losikal lots of questions. Losikal said that he had been changing his ways because he thought it was a good thing to do, not because of a belief in God. He said he had done a lot of bad things that he was sorry about. He said that he was glad the church was there and that his family was involved.
After Brian had presented the gospel, Losikal showed his understanding of God’s sovreignty. He said he could see how God worked everything out for us to be there from America for just this moment. By this point, Dustin and I were praying and failing to hold back tears.
Brian asked Losikal if he would like to pray to receive Jesus as his savior. He said yes and remarked that this short conversation had organized much in his mind. He said all he knew about God before now was that he assumed there was a God because of creation. And now he was hearing about Jesus. Finally, it all made sense.
Brian led Losikal in a repeat-after-me prayer through two translators. Aggrey translated into Pokot, then one of Losikal’s sons, who knows Pokot even better, translated again. They wanted to be sure Losikal got the best understanding possible in his heart language. It was a beautiful moment.
After the amens had been said and while the angels were rejoicing, everyone in the room took turns hugging everyone else. And we took pictures to commemorate this most significant event in Losikal’s life and in the life of the village.
Brian said it well when he expressed that he could go home now. And Aggrey’s countenance said it all. He and others had planted seeds and watered them in Losikal’s life. He smiled at Brian and said, “And you came from America and scored.” We all laughed, knowing that God had, as Losikal said, orchestrated every step that led to this moment.
To sit and watch Losikal be saved was as humbling as it gets. It more than reminded me that everyone is equal at the foot of the cross. I believe that more than ever. No one is a lost cause.
And God was just getting started on the day.
Our next task was to minister to about 100 kids in a mission school in the village. Dustin used us to represent people in his illustration of the woman at the well – I got to be the woman – and presented the gospel. The kids know enough English to understand, but Aggrey gave the invitation in Pokot.
Afterward we had fun in the school yard with the kids. Brian led them in camp songs and Dustin played tag with a little boy. Dustin has good wheels for his age, but he never caught that kid.
The villagers prepared a goat for us and we enjoyed a traditional meal.
The big attraction of the “Jesus” film in the Pokot language brought over 300 people to a large open area next to the church. Brian gave a gospel presentation and invitation afterward, and we saw lots of hands raised for salvation.
We ended the evening well. Our group and some of the local church leaders circled for prayer. I had the privilege of praying for requests of the village. And one of them prayed for us in Pokot. Those are 10 minutes I will never forget.
Please join us as we continue to pray for discipleship of Losikal and the others who professed faith after the film. Aggrey and his church members are sincere in their commitment, but life in the bush can be harsh, so they need much prayer and encouragement.
Also pray for Aggrey to either have his motorcycle repaired or replaced. Right now it’s a three-hour walk from his home to Kamanau .
We rose at 5 a.m. the next day, pulled out at 6 and arrived in Eldoret for lunch. It was the same bumpy ride. But with Thursday’s events still fresh, the ride didn’t seem so bumpy and long.