In a recent article, we shared about a plea for church-planting help from Rwanda – a plea that reached our brother, Bill Issa, in Uganda. Our leaders in neighboring Kenya received a similar plea for help from another needy East African country – Burundi. Naphtally Ogallo (left with Helida) is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Eldoret, Kenya. He shares HeartCry leadership responsibilities in Kenya with Sam Oluoch. In Naphtally’s latest report, he shares about another exciting open door in East Africa:
An Invitation to Burundi
“Kisumu Reformed School of Theology (KReST) runs a theological training program for pastors and those who desire to join the pastoral ministry. It is run by four churches under the association of Reformation Carried Forward by Kenyans (ReCFoK), and is using the facility of Grace Baptist Church Kisumu. Students (photo right)come from different denominations and churches, including international students from Uganda, South Sudan, and Burundi.
Jean Bosco Ngendakumana is from Bujumbura, Burundi and has been a student at KReST since 2017. This brother travels for over a thousand kilometers to attend KReST classes every three months! I have watched him grow from a charismatic, care-free chatterer to a deliberate, mindful, humble person who seeks to choose his words carefully and analyze things biblically. Bosco’s self-discipline is evident not only in the class. Coming from a French speaking background, he taught himself the English language which is now very useful in his theological studies.
Jean (below center with his wife) has often requested Sam Oluoch and I (KReST local faculty) to visit him in his homeland, a request we have always deferred. However, during the 2018 November class, we finally agreed to plan a visit to this brother in March 2019. Flying was not financially feasible, so we determined to go by road, fully aware that it would be physically costly. No sooner had we mentioned this plan to our wives than they consulted each other and came up with a real surprise – they would like to accompany us on this journey! Their plan involved a stopover in Kampala to encourage to Mrs. Pricilla Issa (wife of Bill Issa), followed by encouraging Mrs. Solange Bosco in Bujumbura.
Our marathon journey began on the Monday, 1st of April. My wife and I set off at 4am on a bus from Eldoret to Kampala, and Sam and Melly set off from Kisumu to Kampala at 2pm the same day. We met the next day in Kampala, Uganda. The journey from Kampala to Kigali (Rwanda) began the following day (Tuesday, April 2nd) at 7 pm and we arrived in Kigali at 7 am (Wednesday, 3rd). We traveled for another 3 hours to Kanyaru (The border crossing point into Burundi) and then got into a mini-bus for the 3-hour drive to Bujumbura, Burundi. We arrived there at around 3 pm, 2 days after departing Kenya, and we were received by Jean Bosco and taken to his house. It was no small joy to meet Bosco in his homeland, but also to see for the first time his wife, Solange, and their 6-month old daughter. We were fed well at his home and retired to a nearby guest house for some much-need rest.
On Thursday the 4th, after a late breakfast, we set off to the Burundian shore of Lake Tanganyika. There, with Bosco and Solange, we sat and discussed in-depth (above) the spiritual state of Burundi and what, in his eyes, could be done about it. As far as Bosco was aware, there is no Reformed work going on anywhere in the country. As a family, they have struggled greatly for spiritual nourishment in that city. Bosco’s great desire is to see a Reformed Baptist church begin in Bujumbura. There is no short-cut around this, and no easy-fix. Bosco needs a pastoral internship, along with his rigorous theological training at KReST, in order to actually experience life and leadership in a biblical church. However, the difficult reality is that this apprenticeship would only be possible at a church outside his country. Early on Friday morning (5th April), we prepared to begin the long trip back, confident that we left behind a genuinely encouraged family.
Kenyan Missionaries’ Annual Retreat
A week and a half later, all the Kenyan HeartCry missionaries held our second annual retreat in the city of Nakuru. All the missionaries were present for a day of mutual encouragement and prayer. After a morning devotion, each missionary presented their report summarizing the previous year’s ministry. Each report was then critiqued in a very mature and loving way, and then prayed for. We also discussed how we can better encourage and support one another in inter-church activities. We agreed and are now in the process of organizing our first joint Youth Conference which will take place in August in Nakuru.
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