Kurt Dillinger’s Notes from the Field: Kilifi, Kenya
I traveled to Kenya last month with my wife, Gail, to participate in the training of 66 church leaders in Kilifi, a town of about 30,000 on Kenya’s east coast, about 25 miles north of Mombasa. Our primary purpose was to be an encouragement to Bramuel Musya and the leadership team he had assembled after our initial March 2011 church leader training in Nairobi, Kenya.
This training in Kilifi was the third time Bramuel’s team has facilitated a CLT on their own, without LIFE staff involved. They are planning on hosting a training in each of Kenya’s 47 counties over the next two years—which will reach over 2,000 key church leaders—and they are still at the beginning of that ambitious strategy.
The participants were challenged each day with material that proved to be sometimes revolutionary to some local tribal customs. We ourselves were distressed to learn about some disturbing tribal practices, including:
- Children born outside of marriage are considered part of the dog family, of no value.
- Twins are considered an evil omen and are put to death.
- If a child is born feet-first, it is an evil omen, and the child will be put to death.
- If a husband suspects that his wife has borne the child of another man, he will poison the child.
- The firstborn male child is killed and offered as a sacrifice.
- If a child is born with crossed legs or arms, this signifies adultery, and the child is put to death.
While these customs should be disturbing to all, they may seem exceptionally extreme for North Americans, who generally have little exposure to such experiences. But the sad reality is that many countries practice varied forms of infanticide like these, often for purely superstitious reasons.
Throughout the week, the pastors were confronted with a biblical theology of life, including how to treat their wives and their children, and more than once we heard a pastor say, “Why haven’t we heard this before?” Read what some of the participants said:
“We have failed as church leaders. We are all about heaven while life is lost all around us. We are far behind the truth. We tell people to come to Jesus in order to go to heaven. I am very disappointed with myself! I am so good for heaven and so useless for here and the saving of lives. [Abortion] happened in my church and I tried to bury it so I could stay on a spiritual pedestal! We as leaders have forgotten to connect with the lives of people!”
“Let’s just face the truth: before this training, when pregnancy occurred as a result of rape or incest, our churches counseled abortion. Now we understand that God is the life-giver and we will respond differently!”
“This message is going to completely transform our churches. We are going to train all of our pastors on these issues using this training and we will not stop until all of Kenya is reached.”
At the conclusion of the event, Bramuel led the last session, and told the story of King David and his failure. Bramuel also told his own story—watch it here—that created an opening for the pastors to deal with their own stories. The entire audience was rapt; it may have been the first time they have ever heard a pastor openly tell his own story of a past failure. This is never done!
The men asked the women for forgiveness of the many sins committed against them that were life-taking. The women prayed earnestly. The men prayed over the women with prayers of blessing. Men cameforward for prayer because they have rejected children in their own homes due to suspicions that the children were not their own. Women came forward for prayer because of past abuses and abortions. Many stories that been hidden for a lifetime—because of the shame-based culture within the church—were shared and illuminated for the first time.
The host pastor, who is connected to all 66 church leaders, told me that this training has revolutionized the entire church network. He said they have been waiting for this kind of teaching, and have now been set free to be life-giving churches!
Bramuel is also integrating the CLT curriculum into each of his 23 Bible schools. His vision is to bring the life message to all of Kenya, and then to all of Africa. During the Kilifi event, Bramuel had several leaders who attended the past two CLTs who are being trained to facilitate their own trainings in other parts of Kenya. Discipleship and training of other leaders is a continual goal for Bramuel and his team.
In Kilifi we were able to witness firsthand the vision we have been praying for: the multiplication of our labors. I have often said that we want to see a global “life-giving virus” released throughout the earth. That is actually happening in Kenya! We trained Bramuel and his team, and now he is training other key church leaders who in turn are training more leaders and churches. Bramuel has even trained key leaders from eight other countries who are now training in their own nations! Praise the Lord!