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Fifty years, fifty countries: Kenya

14 Jun 2018

Kenya is a nation of contrasts. On the one hand there is the country’s incredible natural beauty, thriving tourism industry and modern development; on the other hand, there is drought, hunger and poverty.

To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Kenya.

Kenya is a nation of contrasts. On the one hand there is the country’s incredible natural beauty, thriving tourism industry and modern development; on the other hand, there is drought, hunger and poverty.

The population, roughly 47 million people, is predominantly rural and relies on farming for daily income – despite only 17 per cent of the land being suitable for growing crops. Natural disasters such as droughts and floods can be crippling, not just for food supply, but also income.

Unless more action is taken, it is anticipated that poverty will worsen in the coming decades due to climate change, increase in population, rising urban migration, corruption and poor management of public debt.

Churches united against poverty
Tearfund has been working in Kenya for more than thirty years, and we’ve seen the church start to step into the gap between Kenya’s great natural wealth and the everyday reality of its people.

Central to our work is the use of Bible studies to encourage and equip churches to release the potential within their communities – an approach that was pioneered in Kenya in the 1980s and is now a key part of our work worldwide.

Working through local churches is incredibly effective as they are already rooted in the community; they normally have a physical space and people-power to put into use; and they are committed to long-term support, both practically and spiritually.

Untapped potential
The church in Badassa, a small rural community in northern Kenya, has shown the power of this approach.

‘Before the training, we viewed ourselves as a poor church that needed aid to survive,’ the pastor tells us. ‘We were not able to support the needs of the church or even the community around us.

‘After the Bible studies, our eyes were opened. We realised that the land that the church has is a resource. Before, it was used for grazing cows and nobody bothered about it. We fenced this piece of land and started selling grass and surprisingly we now make Ksh. 20,000 [roughly £150.00] a year from selling grass.

‘We also had three rooms on the land that were not being used. These, we realised, are a resource that we could tap into. We refurbished the rooms and started renting them out… giving the church a regular monthly income.’

Blessed to be a blessing
‘We then realised that we can only fulfil our Biblical mandate if we have good relationships with the community and other denominations,’ the pastor continued. ‘Before, we were competing with other denominations, but now we have interdenominational fellowships in the community.... One of the denominations here, the Glory Outreach Assembly, was worshipping in a tent but we have supported them to build a church.

‘We have bought four bulls used by church and community members to plough their land. We have been lending them to Muslim families, who are the majority here, and this has enhanced our relationship.

‘During [the training], we addressed the issue of peace. We now have peace between the Rendille and the Borana [ethnic groups], which the police and politicians had tried bringing in vain.’

All of this amazing work, simply because one church was shown that they have the power to change their community.

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