“Who wants to get saved?” The voice of the crusade preacher echoed through the crowd gathered on a summer evening in Kenya. Ronald Kogo was the first to raise his hand. Ronald was promised, along with many others, everything would be okay now that they were Christians.
Despite this promise he desperately wanted to believe, Ronald still struggled under the weight of his sin. So he kept going to crusades, kept raising his hand, and kept being disappointed by the empty promises of prosperity gospel peddlers.
One day Ronald decided he was tired of raising his hand at crusades. Instead, he set out to read through the Bible. When he read the third chapter in Romans, as it explained the nature of our sin and how Jesus is our only hope, his eyes were opened and he believed! He knelt in his home and prayed, “These words which I’ve read are very true about me. Forgive me all my sins.”
Ronald Kogo is one of the many church planters within the Acts 29 family. He’s a Church in Hard Places apprentice and East Africa cohort leader. He’s committed to teaching others the freedom he’s found in Christ. He’s now pastoring his third church plant, Covenant Baptist Church, in Nakuru, Kenya, which is about 100 miles northwest of the capital city of Nairobi.
One of the most daunting challenges Kenyan church planters like Ronald are facing is ministering during a pandemic. The experience of citizens in developing countries during COVID-19 drastically differs from those in the West. For example, while our nations’ students are back at school, either virtually or in limited-capacity classrooms, Kenyan students aren’t in school at all.
Virtual learning is impossible for students with little or no access to technology and Wi-Fi. Social distancing is unrealistic for already overcrowded classrooms. Proper hygiene is improbable for many living without clean water and sanitizers. Because their hospitals are ill-equipped to handle a national health crisis, the Kenyan government has canceled school until 2021. This decision comes with dire consequences.
The experience of citizens in developing countries during COVID-19 drastically differs from those in the West.
Many poor families rely on school meals for their children. But with no school to go to, kids aren’t getting enough to eat. Hunger, disease, and malnutrition abound. There’s been reports of mothers killing their children because they can’t bear to watch them slowly starve to death. Additionally, the illegal practice of child marriages is increasing. Children’s rights advocates believe poverty and school closures due to the coronavirus are playing a major role in this rise. Some parents are too tempted by the prospect of a dowry which can be used to buy desperately needed food, so they marry off their daughters to pedophiles.
Economic hardships have also led to an increase in domestic abuse. Some children are being forced into grueling manual labor. Crime is on the rise as gangs recruit young boys and girls with nothing to do. There’s been a significant increase in underage pregnancies. Young girls at home all day are being preyed on by evil men, content to hurt them for their own pleasure.
Pre-pandemic life was already difficult in Kenya with high unemployment, but COVID-19 has magnified this problem and school cancellations have removed a safety net many parents and guardians relied on. Life is becoming increasingly unbearable for many Kenyan families. How can church planters respond to the many problems created by the coronavirus?
Amid so much suffering and hopelessness, we bring the good news of God’s salvation! As our enemy propagates fear, we proclaim Christ.
Ronald Kogo believes God has gifted the church with enormous opportunities to evangelize a fearful society. He says, “God has given us the opportunity to do good. We get to go to starving families and help them out with food.” Ronald’s church not only feeds the hungry, they befriend them. They proclaim gospel truth. When they see children loitering in the streets, they talk to them about God’s kingdom. Ronald says, “We’re getting to know more people in this time of isolation than we ever did before.”
In this season of great suffering, there’s an abundance of gospel opportunities. Amid so much suffering and hopelessness, we bring the good news of God’s salvation! As our enemy propagates fear, we proclaim Christ. The mission continues. God’s kingdom advances.
Acts 29 is a church-planting network united in raising the worthy cause of Christ around the world. Will you join us? Join us by praying. Join us by giving. When you give to Acts 29, you’re investing in church planters like Ronald Kogo who are spreading a message of hope to weary sinners. What joy is ours to sacrificially give so others might worship King Jesus!