Kisumu Story Part 1:
From jail cell to church planter.
I’m struggling to finish my warm coke as the Kenya Airways captain announces our short flight from Nairobi has come to an end. It was a bumpy one, and I find myself in Kisumu on the Rift Valley in Kenya in the Nyanza Province.
Kisumu is a Luo word that means ‘a place to look for food’. The Luo tribe that originates from here would often greet you with “Adhi Kisuma”, to mean “I’m going to trade”.
It is a port city that borders the mighty Lake Victoria and is the 3rd largest city in Kenya with about 650 000 people. The rift valley’s total population is closer to 15 000 000 people, though. As the name suggests, Kisumu has highly fertile land, with variations in temperature and rainfall with two rainy seasons a year across the region. It provides a suitable environment for a broad range of agricultural crops. The Kisumu region has approximately 1.6 million hectares of agricultural land. However, it is estimated that only 58 percent of the land is currently utilised.
We arrived in rainy weather, warm and humid. Kenyans are friendly by nature. “Jambo!” we hear several friendly voices ring through the air. It’s our first time meeting the Bishop and his delegation. As is the custom in Africa ….. we become friends within the first 2.5 seconds of our greeting. We immediately got into action as we meet the 23 church planters chosen by the Apostolic Church.
And then I met Alexander. Alexander is a young man from the Luo tribe and was born in Kisumu. He had a tough upbringing as so many African children do. His quick temper got him into trouble many times – not just in school – but also in his family. “I wanted to sort out my troubled mind with my fists”, he said looking me in the eye. “I had no purpose …. even the church could not give me what I was looking for! I was unhappy, angry and lived a loveless life. My lifestyle caught up with me and I ended up in jail due to my violent intent. I fought and kicked myself into jail.”
He stops there ….. and seems hesitant to continue. “It was in jail that a fellow inmate told me to put my fists in my pocket as I was to be killed using them in jail. He said to me ‘Rather lift up your hands and call on the living GOD to make your hands weapons of love.’ I didn’t understand but in a desperate moment I lifted up my hands, fell on my knees and met the true living Jesus, the Son of God …and I was changed. After serving my time in jail I kept on seeking God and learnt a lot. But my life was still without purpose. The church became my family, but I needed more. Most churches - I felt - were sleeping and didn’t share this powerful Message of deliverance. And then I heard about the Harvesters Church Planting model and that they were planting churches all over Africa – and the globe. Blood rushed through my veins immediately and I knew …this was it. I was invited by Bishop Wilfred and I was never the same again. I am planting churches on the Rift Valley. I see lives changed. For the first time in my life I have a vision and a plan!”
We made sure we didn’t just teach theory and took 23 church planters into the marketplace on a busy Sunday afternoon, to show them how to plant a church and bring wonderful seekers to Christ. My eyes followed Alexander but what was about to happen …… blew me away.
wait for Kisumu Story Part 2 for a great miracle!