Pilot Daniel Loewen-Rudgers queues on the taxiway behind safari aircraft bound for the Maasai Mara. His journey today takes him to an area few Kenyans, let alone tourists venture.
In the air, tidy streets give way patchwork fields then a rolling expanse of dusty yellow. An hour and a half later, the distinctive round dwellings and circular bomas (homesteads) come into view as we approach the remote northern town.
Homes are punctuated by acacia trees that give shade and thorn bushes that provide protection for 2,064 households.
Amongst the tin roofs of more permanent structure is church where a service is in progress. They eagerly await the single item of cargo we’ve brought. A celebration cake!
‘One of things you notice about our Kenyan society is that we have wonderful culture. We have very beautiful culture, wonderful traditions, great ideas. This is a culture we should not leave!’Senior Pastor Dr David Oginde
Christ is the answer
CITAM, (short for Christ Is The Answer Ministries), a big Nairobi Pentecostal church, has captured a vision to reach out to the arid north. They have missionaries based right across the dusty north. The event, marks the final stop on a week-long tour by members of the Nairobi church.
Pius Cokumu shares how the Kargi church started. ‘This is our eleventh year,’ he explains, ‘but when we came there was a lot of opposition from the community.
‘We had to build two churches because the clans were not agreeing,’ Pius continues. ‘There was clan conflict. They have some boundary across the community,’ he says, drawing an invisible line with his arm. ‘They were saying, this is the boundary, they worship here. We worship the other side.’
The church grew as Rendille from both sides of the divide responded to the Gospel. Still they refused to set foot on one another’s land, even for church.
‘We had to teach them, slowly by slowly, the Gospel of peace and unity so that they could come, then later on we united them and now we’re ready to come to worship together. We are happy at what God is doing.’
The new church building is airy with cream walls and orderly rows of plastic chairs. At the front where leaders offer prayers and testimonies, simple decorations pick up the colours of the Kenyan flag.
‘One of things you notice about our Kenyan society is that we have wonderful culture,’ shares Senior Pastor Dr David Oginde, looking around. ‘We have very beautiful culture, wonderful traditions, great ideas. This is a culture we should not leave!’
‘But I want to tell you also, that some of our culture is very bad,’ he says, talking of the challenges here, in Nairobi, and in the secular world. ‘Some of our practises are contrary to God’s Word. We came away from those bad things
so that we come into Jesus.’
‘When they sing, in their own language it is an expression of who they are. If they praise in their own way, they will get more of the Holy Spirit!’ Philemon
Age and honour are written in the intricate lines of stunning beadwork worn by older women Rendille women. Younger women with babes in arms, are likewise adorned. Grey haired elders wearing colourful shukas (cloth wraps) and carry ceremonial staffs listen patiently to the message in Translation.
Later, many brightly painted staffs, gifted to honour the CITAM leaders will be loaded onto the MAF plane. It is a reminder that this mission is a partnership of Kenyans in the Body of Christ.
The CITAM cake flown in by MAF is presented at the front, then cut and shared around like a communion loaf. There has been worship throughout but in the final minutes the ladies find their voices and their feet.
‘When they sing, in their own language it is an expression of who they are,’ explains Philemon another CITAM church member. ‘If they praise in their own way, they will get more of the Holy Spirit,’ he says.
Now we’re ready to come to worship together. We are happy at what God is doing! Pius Cokumu
Some of the younger CITAM members will make the return journey by road arriving late tomorrow evening with an overnight stop. Two MAF planes are ready to fly the rest of the CITAM visitors back home, after a busy week, in just an hour and a half.
I share with one passenger, Paul Kamanbugwa, how the pilots love flying for mission. ‘They do?’ he replies, ‘Well of course, that’s your mandate, to fly to remote places and help people, especially Christians. You people are doing a good job. We are very happy with the services of MAF!’
‘You people are doing a good job. We are very happy with the services of MAF!’ Paul Kamanbugwa