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Drought in Kenya Creates Staggering Crisis

May 25, 2017

 Native missionary preaching outdoors in Kenya.
Drought has displaced church members in Kenya, but indigenous missionaries preaching Christ are planting new congregations.

Drought in Kenya has quietly hit millions of people suffering debilitating hunger, say indigenous missionaries with ministries already in place to help.

While the World Food Program (WFP) and partner agencies have planned a $30 million program of supplementary food in northern Kenya, reportedly only 10 percent of the funding has been pledged. At the same time, indigenous ministries have the contacts, distribution channels and shared cultural history to provide immediate help — if they had more funding.

The needs are staggering in northern Kenya and the Rift Valley, and under-funded native missionaries wonder if Western media have paid any attention.

"Have you been able to see this about Kenya in the news?" asked Justus Okoth of Evangelistic Outreach Africa. "Right now hunger is a national disaster; many people are starving to death because of lack of something to eat. It is so sad to see these nomadic people dying, and you cannot afford a meal to help save their lives."

"Both the livestock herds and the people who are pastoralist in the Rift Valley have been affected so much," the ministry director said. "Several people have died of hunger."

Some 3.5 million people in Kenya are at risk of famine and starvation, said the head of another indigenous ministry that Christian Aid Mission assists, the Rev. Elijah Wafula of Life Missions Ministries.

"Both the livestock herds and the people who are pastoralist in the Rift Valley have been affected so much," he said. "Several people have died of hunger."

More than 2.6 million people in Kenya were reportedly in urgent need of food aid when the government declared the drought a national disaster in February.

"About six of our church plants in the Rift Valley and western Kenya are affected in the midst of this famine," Wafula said. "We are trusting God for $1,500 to buy beans and rice for this emergency relief and pray that the Lord will sustain children and mothers who are severely affected by this crisis."

Life Missions plans to buy seeds and farm equipment for the rainy season, which is supposed to begin in June, in a long-term effort to mitigate the effects of the drought, he said.

Turkana woman.
Amid a national crisis, a Turkana woman receives prayer in Kenya.

Experts say recent flooding in Kenya may leave some people with the mistaken impression that the drought has subsided. Doing nothing to alleviate drought-related malnutrition among children, the flooding only reflected a lack of vegetation and soil degradation that sent water flowing away rather than seeping into the soil. The drought continues, and it is expected to continue after "short rains" later this year.

About half the country is suffering from drought, with many families reportedly surviving on just one meal a day.

"The drought in the country is displacing people from their homes, especially in northern Kenya," said the director of another indigenous mission, Timothy Kinyua of Cornerstone Evangelistic Ministry. "Some churches have been left with no or few members. We thank God that some of team members are making follow-ups."

Cornerstone recently dug two new wells that will help hundreds of people to access clean water, many of them migrating in search of the precious resource, he said.

While the drought has drained some churches dry, Cornerstone evangelists have recently established three new churches in two undisclosed areas, Kinyua said.

"We have been able to reach new groups of people called Pokot, Ichamus and Njemps living in the Rift Valley," he said. "First we had engagement with elders, and they allowed us to minister to them. The terrain is difficult because of the rocky valleys of the Rift Valley, but praise God that during our visits 163 souls have been saved."

The teams are praying that men and women coming to Christ in those areas will help them plant churches and proclaim Christ in villages.

"Pray for God to open more doors to reach many from those communities, because they are neglected," he said. "We have been praying God to enable us get those tribes, and He has done it this year. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers."

To help indigenous missionaries to meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call (434) 977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 500DIS. Thank you!

Disaster Relief in Kenya
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