We have done and seen many things since I last posted on this blog. Since leaving Kisumu on Thursday, we have visited the Lutheran seminary in Matonga, traveled to Kisii, participated in a rural outreach event, visited a prison with the message of the gospel, traveled overland back to Nairobi, attended worship services there, and spent an afternoon with missionaries Shauen and Krista Trump and family. On Monday we enjoyed a closing lunch with our ministry center staff and headed for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Our Nuru Media Ministry Center had been working in a village outside of Kisii since Wednesday, conducting an evangelism training seminar and leadership training. The local rural parish consists of nine congregations. Each congregation is served by an “evangelist” under the direction of an ordained pastor, who overseas the nine congregations. It is a very remote place, which took about an hour to travel to over an extremely bumpy road. In fact, when we returned we hit a sharp rock that punctured one of the tires on our vehicle. There we were in the middle of the night, in the “middle of nowhere,” so to speak, changing the tire.
To cap off the event on Friday evening, President Mick Onnen was asked to help award the certificates of completion to those trained in evangelism. Afterwards our drama team put on a professional performance, depicting a family whose father consulted the local witch doctor, but whose daughter had become a Christian, to the disdain of the parents. Several hundred people from the village gathered to see the drama.
On Saturday we were able to visit the Kisii prison, a mid-level security facility. Our primary purpose in going was to hand out certificates to several prisoners who had completed our Bible Correspondence Courses. We were let into a compound that held about 450 prisoners, about 150 of whom came to the event. All the men were dressed in typical striped prison garb, but were well-behaved and attentive to our presence. The prisoners were crammed into three main buildings, and sleeping was on a thin foam mattress on the floor. I was asked to share the word of God with the prisoners, which really caused me to think about what kind of word I could bring to these men. I was told that what these men needed to hear most was the gospel—the assurance that God could and did still love them and that Jesus had indeed died for their sins, so I focused on the universal nature of the forgiveness of Christ, that he “died for all,” and that God “so loved the world,” and that all people, no matter how bad a sinner, were included in the term “the world.” Most of these men were serving terms of 5-10 years. While the facilities were primitive and difficult, my understanding is that there is not the kind of gang violence that you often hear about in a U.S. prison. The certificates were distributed to around 25 graduates. We were not allowed to take pictures in the prison.