by Chase Arndt
My perception of mission work was drastically altered the first time I set foot in Kenya. Somehow I had the skewed vision of being the enlightened crusader on foreign soil out to share the gospel in a dark land where there was no Light. However, I quickly learned that this was not the case. When I first went to Kenya I saw evidence of His work everywhere, ranging from a local entrepreneur giving up the corrugated tin to fix his own leaky roof, to the love and kindness of Maasai women inviting us into their homes to share a cup of chai, God was already there! I was left with my shaken view of missions and the question “Lord, what am I here for?” There are 60% of the Maasai that have not been reached with the gospel, but I was struggling to share with them. Was there a way I could be more effective in this diverse culture and language? In college I had been studying sustainable growth and development, focused primarily on agriculture. It was during this time, with sustainability on my mind, and my feet in Africa, I began to think about how I could most effectively be used to further the gospel.
The main issue I encountered while in Kenya, besides reaching the un-reached, was that of a distorted gospel. Most people were not able to study the Bible for themselves, whether that was an issue of language, reading ability, or knowledge of how to study something inductively. Therefore, many of these people were easily lead astray by false teachers or those in search of making a quick shilling (dollar). If we could train leaders in the community to combat this plague of false teaching, that were already more fluent in the language and culture than I could ever hope to become, we could reach people and places that I could never reach in quite the same way. In this way it seemed to me that discipleship was a more effective path than evangelism, that as in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, and Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” I was only a part of God’s work, and once these methods were taught and absorbed, for it to be truly sustainable, I would someday be working myself out of a job, for success without a successor is no success at all.
This is our vision in Kimana, Kenya. To establish a pastoral training and community development center that will be focused on meeting the needs of the whole person while teaching them to study the Word for themselves. So that, in this way, they, as James says, “may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We hope to be able to establish a place where local community members may come for any need they may have and that it will sustain itself within that community, long after we are gone so that we are not creating a dependency that will cause this mission to fall when we leave. Local pastors and leaders will pick up the torch and continue to let God do the growing.