The church in Northern Kenya has remained in its infancy for over forty years. Overseas missionaries have been working in the region since the colonial times but there has not been much success in reaching the local communities effectively with the gospel message and subsequently equipping believers for ministry to their own people. This has resulted in gospel work remaining in the hands of outsiders, something that makes the gospel and the church remain foreign to the local people.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this:
1. The way the gospel is presented to the pastoralists
Pastoralists are moving people for whom stone church buildings are a stumbling block to Christian faith. Church leaders dressed in suits or robes giving sermons in formal settings are also alien to the pastoralists.
Pastoralist communities need to hear about the Lord Jesus in their own natural circumstances and in their own languages.
2. Concern among pastoralists that the gospel message is in conflict with their culture
The gospel has often been presented in a way that portrays the pastoralists’ way of life as needing a complete overhaul. While it is true that there are certain cultural practices that the gospel must speak to, most aspects can still be maintained by those who follow Christ.
This problem calls for the training of careful handlers of the gospel to enable it bring life and not condemnation to the hearers.
3. A lack of continuity and follow-up
Gospel work has not been a sustained effort except where there is a missionary nearby. As a result, the hearers remain with unanswered questions and are often left confused.
The solution to this is the training of local people who can effectively respond to this challenge.
4. A lack of appropriate encouragement of local believers for effective Christian ministry
More often than not, those who are given an opportunity to train in Christian ministry end up moving to other places when they have finished their studies.
Local believers need to be supported and encouraged to go back to their communities to preach and teach the gospel.
5. The prevalence of Islam in the region
There is fear among Christian workers of confrontation with Muslims who are the majority in the region.
Christian workers need to be equipped with understanding of the Islamic faith so they can respond fruitfully to the questions and arguments that Muslims use in their rejection of the Christian faith.