A native missionary who pastors a new church recently led an evangelistic outreach in an undisclosed village in Kenya where he met a man who appeared deeply troubled, forlorn and shunned.
The 25-year-old villager, Benson*, was just happy that someone would speak with him, the leader of a native ministry said. He had a desperate air about him that the missionary, whose name is withheld for security reasons, did not understand.
In time the missionary found Benson had charisma, charm and an engaging laugh; why did villagers avoid him?
The pastor quickly became his only friend, returning to visit him regularly for about a month. As they were talking one day, Benson swallowed and told the pastor that he used to steal whatever he could. Unproven but true accusations mounted against him for about a year before an indignant mob caught him hiding in a thicket with some stolen goods.
“He was beaten seriously by the mob,” the ministry leader said. “He stayed in the hospital for a long time; fortunately, he did not die. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.”
After he was released, the community treated him as an outcast, he said.
“He had reached a point of giving up,” the leader said. “The brother counselled and encouraged him to have faith in God.”
The native missionary talked and prayed with him for weeks.
“This pastor continued to pray for him every day,” the leader said. “Later he accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.
In areas where witchcraft and other occult practices are common, evangelists in Kenya are called to minister amid all manner of evil.
In one area, villagers believed an entire elementary school was beholden to an evil spirit. At times all the schoolchildren would beat each other, screaming, and at other times they would all fall asleep, the ministry leader said.
“We, the pastors in that region, were called with immediate effect to go and pray for the children in that school,” he said. “We all went there together with other brothers who had been invited, too; we held overnight prayers when the children had gone home. Fortunately, some of the school’s teachers are Christians.”
In concerted prayer, they rebuked evil spirits until 4 a.m., all the while sensing an evil presence, he said.
“Elders testified that dark powers had been in that school for many years, which kept many teachers from staying and the children’s performance poor,” the ministry leader said.
“When pupils and teachers reported for normal classes, we held a service first before they could start,” he said. “People from the neighborhood joined us, and we all sang praises and worshipped God.”
The power of the Holy Spirit came upon them, and the service went from 7:10 a.m. until 10:45 a.m.
“Pupils and people from villages who came were delivered from satanic powers, and others were saved confessing Jesus as their Savior,” the leader said. “Elders in the community testified that dark powers had been in that school for many years, which kept many teachers from staying and the children’s performance poor.”
No child had ever succeeded in the school, the community elders said, testifying that they would just drop out and start getting drunk, with many of the girls marrying as young as 12 or resorting to prostitution.
“These elders claimed that witchcraft practice was the reason for all those troubles,” the leader said. “From that day until now, we do evangelism house-to-house as we pray for deliverance to people, and some have surrendered their lives to Christ; we have started a church in one classroom where we daily hold evening prayers in that school, and we have seen great transformation.”
Many churches in Kenya are riddled with false doctrine. Native missionaries find they are often called to do battle with animistic beliefs that have crept into worship, theological error or plain complacency, the leader said.
In areas where the gospel of eternal life in Christ has penetrated, he said, some teach that pursuit of holiness should not be preached because no one in this world can live a holy life, he said. Realizing that many have slipped into harmful habits as a result, native missionaries recognized spiritual warfare was assailing the church and joined hands with other brethren to earnestly pray against evil spirits attacking them as they embarked on evangelistic outreaches.
“Christ has transformed many lives as people willingly surrender their tools of witchcraft, weapons used to steal, herbs used to kill and destroy businesses and education, and even to cause others to live confused lives and not excel in anything they do,” he said. “And many other things related to dark powers have been surrendered as we continue preaching and reaching many.”
Ministry workers saw 370 people put their faith in Christ out of more than 680 people who heard the gospel during one six-month span, he said.
“We thank God who has transformed these places, as churches have been planted, there is the light of God, people are now prospering in their businesses, children excelling in their education and cases of witchcraft are very minimal,” he said.
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*Name changed for security reasons