Where the wind blows
Just outside the village of Kitale in northwestern Kenya there are an old abandoned set of railroad tracks that used to be where most people dumped their trash. The poorer people in town would rummage through the trash, looking for leftover scraps to eat. This is where Richard Makani and his wife Hellen decided to ‘pitch their tent’ and start a church over 15 years ago. Picture an old canvas tent about 30 feet wide and 60 feet long. For years,
Richard and Hellen would drag chairs and a sound system out each Sunday to preach the gospel and minister to the people of this area. They went there because that’s where the people were who most needed Jesus. They fought constant battles with rain, wind and heat. Violent storms tore through the tent on multiple occasions. The wind would blow it down, they’d put it back up! A thunderstorm would rip holes in the tent, they’d patch the back up and keep on preaching!
Over the years the small tent church began to reach people. Richard and Hellen found favor with the city because the area around the church began to be cleaned up. As people gave their lives to Christ their attitudes changed, and they found work and no longer relied on secondhand trash for their food. Several years in Richard and Hellen had to find a bigger tent because the first one couldn’t hold all the people coming to hear the Word of God preached. Richard negotiated a 99-year lease for the property where the church was standing and then Richard began hosting lunchtime teaching sessions during the week to reach the businessmen in town. As God blessed their efforts, something wonderful began happening. Small businesses began springing up around the property and the ‘neighborhood’ transformed from a desolate garbage dump to a thriving marketplace. As all this happened around the church Richard and Hellen were able to minister to the growing crowd and many came to faith in Christ.
Of course, all this didn’t stop the wind and rain from damaging the structure. So, the church came together and gave sacrificially. First, concrete walls were constructed. Then, an “iron sheet” roof was installed. Lastly a tile floor and electrical connections were installed. This morning a portion of our team was privileged to worship with this congregation in their “new tent church”! The praise and worship team had it in high gear with joyous singing and prayer. Sam brought a lesson from Hebrews on running the race and the legacy of the “great cloud of witnesses”. This was especially meaningful for both Sam and the church members because seven years ago Sam lived in this community for a summer. The experience here helped solidify Sam’s calling to medicine. The congregation raised the roof with praise when Sam told them he would graduate med school in May!
A physical building is not necessary for worship to happen and for the Word to be preached. But this building is a
testament to faith. The people believed God would provide a more permanent structure and he did! Let the rains come. Let the winds blow. This congregation’s faith will not be shaken!