South African missionary couple Wilco and Lydia Venter were in the right country. But they were not yet on their main mission. Lydia shares how God began to open strategic doors for them in Kenya
One of the things the Lord told us before we set out to Kenya, was to reach the unreachable, touch the untouchable and love the unlovable. We had attended all the “Love Southern Africa” conferences in the 90s, so our hearts were deeply drawn to people groups who had not yet heard the Gospel of the Good News.
We also knew that our first assignment in Kenya — teaching at Njoro Bible College — would not be our ultimate destiny, but rather a platform to establish ourselves in this beautiful country. So, we were still expectant to see how the Lord would lead.
Shortly after we arrived, we became involved with the Boni people in the Lamu district, who were – and still are – considered an unreached people group. We attended monthly prayer meetings in Nairobi and at the time we were earnestly trusting God to open up the way for a Kenyan couple (whom we’ll call *Simon and *Alice) to settle among them. The previous missionaries – a German couple – were almost killed and, after the women was brutally raped twice, they decided to go back to their home country. One can only imagine the heartache and sense of failure they must have felt.
Even though the prospective replacement couple were Kenyan, they were still not fully trusted and accepted by the Boni people, even after they had spent seven years trying to build a relationship with them through business partnerships.
Although committed to praying on behalf of the Kenyan couple, we secretly desired closer interaction with an unreached group. A step in the right direction came through our friendship with a wonderful German man, Freddie, who made the most delicious sausages. We stopped asking Freddie if we could buy sausages from him because he simply refused to take any money from us. But we would visit him to play chess and hang out. And time and time again we would leave his place with hundreds of rands worth of sausages. Sometimes I would run back inside after Wilco had already started our vehicle, and I would just put money on his washing machine. What great memories we have of our friend who passed away some years back.
Anyway, one time we started sharing with Freddie about our desire to connect with an unreached group when he told us about the Dorobo (or Ogiek) tribe who live in the Mau Forest not far from us. We were delighted, especially when we learned that they were considered to be a semi-unreached people group!
One day after my missiology lecture, we felt led to pray for the Dorobo people. During our prayer time the Spirit of God came upon one of our students, Peter Ndirangu. I’ll never forget the powerful word that was released that day. God said that, just as Mephibosheth was lame and had sat at the table of the king, so the Dorobo would receive favour from Him, and sit at His table and enjoy the goodness of Jehovah the King over their lives.
By that time, we were holding monthly leadership meetings among the Kalenjin people in Teret, a settlement at the foot of the Mau Forest. One day the Lord directed Wilco to teach about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As we laid hands on the 11 leaders after the teaching, nine of them received the infilling of the Holy Ghost. One leader, John Rutoh, testified that he was a pastor of the Church of Christ who – in essence – did not believe in the Holy Spirit. “I’ve been leading my people astray for seven years”, he proclaimed emotionally. “Today I experienced the Holy Spirit for myself. I repent and ask God to forgive me.” Thank You, Jesus, for Your saving grace!
Later we learned that, 1, brother John was a Dorobo (the very tribe that had been seeking connection with and faithfully praying for) and 2, that he had been secretly attending our meetings out of curiosity, as his church did not allow members to fellowship with other congregations. This occasion marked the beginning of a very long and interesting journey.
Although John invited us to speak to his congregation about the Holy Spirit, he felt convicted by God to leave his church after they rejected our message. He immediately wanted to open another church, but we advised him to start studying the Word as he first had to unlearn a lot of wrong doctrine.
After praying about John’s situation, we felt we wanted our new brother to go through training at Njoro Bible College, But money was an issue. I addressed the need in a newsletter which one of our friends forwarded to someone in America. This resulted in six students from the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, deciding to sponsor John through his entire three years in college. All glory and honour to Abba Father!
John Rutoh was the first person in his clan to go to college. Through this God opened doors for us to connect with the Dorobo people and to start ministering among them. Numbers 23:19 declares: God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?
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