The Need for a Public Meeting Place
Nakuru is a church-plant of Grace Baptist Church Eldoret. HeartCry missionary Joseph Okech is one of the elders in the new church. (photo left – evangelizing near their new meeting place)Last year they faced several difficulties with hosting church meetings in their apartment, including the hostility of their neighbors and skepticism from people they invited. We began the search for a public meeting facility late last year (photo ).
Early this year, a carpenter’s ‘shop,’ with one whole side open and exposed to the weather, became available. With a few hundred dollars from HeartCry donors, Joseph and his co-elder John were able to make some improvements to the carpenter’s shop. The improvements included a smooth cement floor, a partition wall, a fresh coat of paint, and a canvas wall to block sun, wind, and rain (see the photo gallery below). In his last report, Joseph wrote about the mixed emotions of moving to their new worship venue. He also explains that not all their challenges in evangelism have ceased with the new move.
Mixed Emotions About the Move
“I praise God for the new month of April, and for God helping us transition our fellowship from my home to a public place. It was an exciting moment for the church in general to see us move. One of our biggest challenges until now during our evangelism and invites was to direct people to our home. People tend to see a house-gathering as a private and personal thing, so people tend to shy away. So we praise the Lord very much for the opportunity to serve God and worship outside of a house. Sunday, 7th April, marked our first Lord’s Day in the public place, and how we trust Him to sustain us there until someday we get our own property. Every Sunday since the move we get visiting guests and that is very encouraging to us.
Surprisingly, my family felt sad at the same time, because receiving people in our house every Sunday has ended. My wife loves visitors and she does accommodate as many as possible. Actually that is her strength and we give God glory for that, because hosting families in the house for worship every week was not very easy. This calls for a large heart, patience, and a heart of hospitality.
Evangelism – Easier and Harder
Since our move, we have intensified our outreach in neighboring communities. One thing we thank God for is that in these new areas not as many gates are closed as where we live. (Many African homes are surrounded by security walls and locked gates, making door-to-door evangelism a challenge.) Fewer gates gives us opportunity to go inside the compound and knock on as many doors as possible. Just pray with us that our efforts will bear fruits which shall remain.
One of the very discouraging things we hear from a number of men and women is that the churches and so-called pastors have lost all credibility. The image many have of churches and ‘men of God’ is truly sad, and we are ashamed. We met two women who were very open to us, and who claim to be believers, but they have literally stopped going to church. They have been robbed, tricked, and misused by these so-called ‘men of God’ and they are very bitter. We managed to encourage them by seriously reminding them that it is only Jesus who died for them on the cross, not pastors or so-called bishops. Their disappointment with churches won’t be a valid excuse before Christ in His judgment day. They promised to come to our church. Please pray for these women, and others like them, to join us. We trust that God will prove to them that He is still having His remnant who fears His Name in spite of the many disappointments they may have.”
Before his current role at HeartCry, Robert served several years in pastoral ministry, and a few years in Zambia, Africa as a missionary. He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps. Robert and his wife have been blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They live near Christiansburg, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, where he enjoys deer hunting and fly-fishing for trout.More By Robert Shepherd