A former Muslim answers God’s call to dedicate his life to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in Kenya
It’s rare for Pastor Abass Kashasha to find any reason to sit down. The thin, energetic man moves constantly and with purpose as he talks to church members or finds ways to keep improving the newly constructed house of worship.
But this was an occasion for Abass to share how God has transformed his life—an opportunity the young evangelist never passes up.Support Projects in Kenya“I was still a Muslim when I attended an agricultural meeting held by Samaritan’s Purse,” he said. “It was there that I first heard the Word of God.”
As Abass moved to escape the blazing afternoon sun and sit under some nearby shade, it was hard to ignore the large half-moon and star emblazoned on the back of his plastic chair. Islam dominates much of Kwale County, a region of Kenya that is said to be nearly 90 percent Muslim.
For years it dominated Abass’ life.
In 2010, Samaritan’s Purse teams were teaching dry-land farming and other agriculture techniques to local farmers in the area. As is the case with all of our training throughout Kenya and around the world, our teams use this opportunity to also share the Gospel in hopes of reaching people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Robinson Masongo serves with our team in Kwale County. He remembers vividly the kind of person Abass was when they first met.
“He was very harsh, immoral, and he was taught to hate Christians,” Robinson said. “His father used to say, ‘Christians are like chocolate coated in gold. Muslims on the other hand are like gold coated in chocolate.’”
This distrust of Christians didn’t stop Robinson from becoming a disciple to Abass. And over time, the two men developed a genuine friendship built on trust and mutual respect. Only then did Robinson present Abass with a Bible.
“He didn’t accept the Bible I gave him at first,” Robinson explained. “But then he thought he could study it and use it to become a better critic of Christianity and argue against the Gospel.”
Instead, God’s Word transformed Abass’ heart and changed his life forever.
“What Abass found out was that the Bible is the truth,” Robinson said. “That’s when he asked Jesus into his heart.”
From Critic to Crusader
The love shown by Robinson and our team is what encouraged Abass to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse, even more so than the advanced technology that helped farmers enjoy one of the greatest harvests they had seen in generations.
Abass was willing to help and anxious to share with others about becoming a faithful follower of Jesus.
“I helped screen the JESUS Film and preached,” he said. “We celebrated the glory of God in the area as many came to Christ.”
Abass’ tireless volunteer work led to him being hired as a livestock program assistant with Samaritan’s Purse. His many duties included visiting 12 different villages that were participating in the program. Training these men and women on how to care for their goats presented Abass with a natural occasion to also share the Gospel.
“When we were done training, I would sit with the groups under a tree and discuss faith with them,” Abass said.
Abass was so engaged in his work that one morning he awoke and jumped out of bed thinking he was late for a meeting with one of the groups. Abass didn’t know what time it was, so he jumped on a bike and rode as fast as he could through the darkness.
“I got to the village, but no one was around,” Abass said. “I went and knocked on a door. The person who answered was bleary-eyed with sleep.”
As it turned out, Abass had called on these beneficiaries at 2:00 in the morning. But instead of riding back home in embarrassment, Abass took this opportunity to gather people for a Bible study.
Abass saw several people make decisions for Christ in each of the 12 villages he visited. One of the groups even planted a church with Abass serving as its spiritual leader. What started with five livestock beneficiaries has now grown to 200 members.
A Growing Ministry
Abass soon realized that for him to lead this new church, he needed formal training to become a pastor.
“I saw a need in myself,” he said. “I needed to know the Word better so as not to say the wrong things and lead people the wrong way.”
Abass took discipleship and evangelism education courses through our ministry program. Later he received more schooling in Nairobi. He did all of this while continuing to work with our livestock program.
Over time it became obvious to Abass that he needed to make a choice. Would he continue working with Samaritan’s Purse, or did he need to enter ministry full time? It was a difficult decision.
I am forever grateful to Samaritan’s Purse for everything they have done for me,” he said. “This is God’s calling in my life and my full commitment allows me to reach out to people better.”
Becoming a full-time pastor wasn’t easy at first, Abass admitted.
“I entered into a situation where we had no paycheck,” he said. “There was no extra income to fall back on.”
And yet God had anticipated this financial need when He opened the door for Abass to join Samaritan’s Purse. He not only helped run the livestock program, but he was also a beneficiary who had received goats of his own.
“We were able to sell some of our goats to help pay for things,” he said. “The money we made helped build much of the main church and provide some of the finishing details and furniture.”
Abass left Samaritan’s Purse and became a pastor in 2012. In just two years, his small church has produced five new churches, which have multiplied into 20 churches. Today more than 2,000 people attend houses of worship that can be tied back to Abass and his ministry.
Muhammed Madula became a member of Abass’ first church in 2009.
“Pastor Abass helped me accept Jesus Christ,” he said. “But my family rejected me for becoming a Christian. I lost friends and was judged by my neighbors. Being discipled by Pastor Abass helped me grow strong in my faith.”
Muhammed’s parents are still Muslim, but now they have accepted their son after seeing how his faith in Jesus has changed his life.
Muhammed has helped his brothers and sisters make decisions for Christ. And he is ministering to seven others who are part of a fellowship he leads in his village. Abass has had such a significant impact on Muhammed that he too plans to start a church of his own this year.
“I am so grateful to God that Pastor Abass didn’t give up on me,” he said. “I still go to him for advice and encouragement and am thankful to him for his assistance and being available.”
Reaching Out in Faith
Kwale County is a difficult place for churches to operate. Not only do they have to challenge long-held beliefs passed down through generations, but they must also stand in opposition to laws of the land. Just recently, the Kenyan Parliament passed a bill that made polygamy a legally recognized form of marriage throughout the country.
According to Robinson, Abass and his church will face other challenges as well in this predominantly Muslim land.
“Mosques teach materialism and focus on the physical needs of poor people by providing them with basic needs like food, clothes, and even these plastic chairs,” he said. “Abass is working within the culture to build a strong case for Christianity.”
The case Abass is building grows stronger by the day as more and more people are attending his church and coming to know Jesus Christ. But there is still much work to be done.
“Please pray for us as we continue our mission of reaching this entire region for Christ,” Abass said. “Our joy is to see that we complete the church body and do the work we are called to in Isaiah 1:17: ‘Learn to do good; seek justice, and rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, and plead for the widow.’”