Samaritan’s Purse evangelism and discipleship training in Kenya leads to growth in a rural church and its pastor
Reverend Samuel Chai first connected with Samaritan’s Purse a little more than two years ago when our ministry team introduced him to “The Four Spiritual Laws,” an evangelistic booklet used for outreach.
He has since used this simple resource in his rural church in Mariakani, Kenya, to train dozens of young people how to go out and reach others for Jesus Christ.
This is a significant accomplishment for a man who has come a long way to get to this point in ministry.
It seemed unlikely that Samuel would become a Christian, let along a minister, from the day he was born 46 years ago, the second and last child his parents ever had.
“Immediately after I was born my mother became very sick,” he said. “That is why we are only two, me and my elder sister, which is very rare among the Giriama community. Most families will have about seven children on average.”
His mother’s deteriorating condition scared Samuel’s father into taking desperate actions to save her life. One drastic decision in particular proved impossible for the entire family to recover from for years to come.
Blessing from Sickness
“My father brought my mother to many witch doctors for treatment, which impoverished the family,” Samuel said.
His mother received outlandish remedies prescribed by these so-called doctors. With her health was still failing, she finally reached out to God in desperation for healing.“After being sick for about 12 years, my mother decided to go to church, where she was prayed for,” Samuel said. “By the grace of God, her condition drastically improved for the better, softening my father to allow her to take my sister and I to church.”
The Giriama community is a paternalistic culture—the father must give consent to nearly everything. Samuel’s father was not a believer. The fact that he allowed his family to attend church was a major concession that gave them all an opportunity to grow up as Christians.
“Even though the church was far—we had to walk for more than two hours—we did not stop going,” Samuel said.
A Call to Ministry
God used that time to prepare Samuel’s heart for his life’s work.
“In 1992, I felt a call to join the ministry as a pastor,” he said. “I struggled with the call for two years. I feared being a poor pastor of a rural church. But I decided to trust in God for his providence.”
The church he was called to lead is located in Mariakani, a rural community about 40 kilometers north of Mombasa City. The building was small and made entirely of mud bricks. Only about 20 members worshipped on any given Sunday.Three years later, the church building was completely destroyed by torrential rains. But by God’s mercy, Samuel had trained as a mason before receiving the call to ministry. He had the skills necessary to build another house of worship for this small congregation.
“We managed to construct another building,” he said. “My skills as a mason became handy.”
Teach Others Also
Like the building, the spiritual leader of this church also needed to be built up. Many pastors in rural parts of Kenya have limited training in evangelism and discipleship, and Samuel was no exception. He had only attended one six-month course.
Then he participated in a Samaritan’s Purse evangelism and discipleship training program, which includes this key verse: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2, NKJV).
“My eyes were opened to see the importance of evangelism and discipleship in the growth of the church,” he said.
He witnessed the amazing power of multiplication in action, watching as his church members shared with others how to follow Christ and share their faith with family and friends.
“I trained a few members of the church and soon four fellowships were started in the neighborhood, each headed by those who I had trained,” he said. “These leaders trained others as well, and the church began to grow.”
Samuel knew he needed to reach the next generation of believers as well.“I also worked with the youth in the church, and they started inviting their friends to church,” he said. “We have been able to have an evangelism session in the local primary school, where I minister regularly to the pupils.”
Samuel has become one of the facilitators for the Samaritan’s Purse program. He has been instrumental in training more than 360 pastors in villages across the region, while enjoying growth in his personal and ministry life.
“I praise the Lord who opened my eyes to see that indeed the harvest is plentiful while the harvesters are few,” Samuel said.
He is grateful for what he has learned from Samaritan’s Purse and is eager to teach other pastors how evangelism and making disciples can grow the church.
“I have personally learned that when I give out my time to the Lord, he in turns rewards me with a lot of peace,” he said. “We have been going out to train pastors in very harsh conditions, but I feel fulfilled knowing that my efforts will assist in equipping others to work for the Kingdom.”