Long before COVID-19, a native missionary in Kenya was known as the one villagers went to when they had any problem, but the four robbers who stopped him earlier this year saw him only as a lone target in the dark.
A pastor of a native ministry’s church in the area, Emmanuel Mwangi* spent most of his days listening to and praying for all manner of people with myriad problems, and he was returning home from a recent visit with such a group of villagers in the dark of night, the ministry director said.
“Four young men ambushed him and wanted to rob him, but after one recognized him, he stopped the other three,” the director said. “He told the other three, ‘This is a pastor who prayed for my mother who was sick for three years, and since he prayed for her, she was healed.’”
Pastor Mwangi and his church are bright lights during a dark time in Kenya, not only proclaiming Christ but encouraging people to trust God enough to try new businesses to make up for income lost to the pandemic. People who never imagined themselves involved in dairy and poultry farming or catering have begun such endeavors and seen the Lord bless them, he said.
“Pastor Mwangi has really done a lot to help people in the community both spiritually and materially,” the director said. “Some of those he’s helped have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, others promise to come back. Young men and women are transformed, and though not all are saved, there is peace and stability as they get involved in activities that are helpful to them.”
The pastor has also helped many parents learn the value of education, rather than putting their children to work to contribute to family income, he said.
“We thank God for the privilege He has given us to reach people in urban and village places through evangelism and also by acts of mercy,” the director said. “Through all these we have won souls to Christ.”
When souls are won to Christ, the director said, workers visit their homes for Bible study and prayer – now with COVID-19 precautions – encouraging them to stand firm and to refrain from turning back to old ways.
“We observe social distancing and put on masks,” the director said. “We strictly don’t exceed five people in the group. We have seen this method working well.”
Depending on funding, local missionaries provide Bibles. New converts or seekers who read them at home can then ask questions when they meet with workers, he said.
“A 75-year-old man who was once a primary teacher received a Bible and has been studying it for quite some time, and now he is also teaching his family what he has read and found out from the Bible,” the director said. “They are having a one-hour fellowship as a family before they go to sleep, and this has changed their lives; he has a son who is a drunkard, but he encourages others to believe God and to pray for him that he may change.”
Local missionaries make home visits to share the gospel for those who will allow them in, he said.
“In some homes we are welcomed, whereas others don’t with reasons that it is COVID-19 season, and they cannot allow people to come in,” he said. “We thank God because absolutely nothing can hinder the gospel, and wherever we have been welcomed in, we have seen signs and wonders following us as there are souls won to Christ, the sick being healed and delivered.”
Among some people who still fear attending church services, especially the elderly, workers worship with them in their homes, he said.
“They are so encouraged,” the director said. “One testified that whenever we have a fellowship in his house, healing comes to every sick person, and there is peace and breakthrough in so many things that were bound. He requested us to be visiting and having fellowships more often.”
Pandemic restrictions on large church gatherings moved another ministry to intensify its efforts to plant house churches.
“So far every house fellowship is planting another church as people grow,” the ministry director said. “We have now planted 35 house churches and cell groups, and we are raising leaders of those fellowships.”
The ministry has also established mission beachheads in strategic market centers that enable workers to reach wide areas, and they are training, carrying out discipleship and establishing prayer centers, he said. Workers have planted 10 house churches in one cluster of needy areas in spite of pandemic lockdowns.
“During our village-to-village evangelism we encountered huge spiritual warfare and breakthrough at the same time, as we reached out to people of the dark occult,” the ministry director said.
Workers encountered a sorcerer who had been using witchcraft on children and kidnapping them, he said.
“We shared the gospel with him and prayed for deliverance for over four hours,” the director said. “The power of the gospel came, the power of God invaded his life, and he surrendered his life to Christ. We burned all of his materials that he had been using for witchcraft, and the power of the gospel set him free in totality.”
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*Name changed for security reasons