In February we reported that thanks to the generosity of Christian donors in the USA a borehole was drilled and a pump installed to provide a supply clean fresh water to Tongaren for the first time.
It was hoped that this might be positioned alongside the church; however, Machakha Church of Christ led by Pastor Johnstone stands on land which is immediately alongside the village school, and it was therefore considered to be inappropriate to use the present grounds of the church for this purpose, with a constant traffic of people using the pump, which would quickly become a social centre.
Accordingly the school provided new land for the church some distance away, in straight exchange for the land on which the church building
presently stands, with the agreement that the corrugated iron roof of the old building could be reused for the new building.
This, however, left the need for concrete for the floor; and bricks and cement for the walls.
Pastor Johnstone has manufactured the bricks using the local clay soil, and the Potter’s Wheel has provided the funds for the remainder of the build.
It is hoped that the well and the church will satisfy both the physical and spiritual thirst of the community for many years to come; acting as a hub to reach into the surrounding area, with transformation of communities, improved health, strengthened families and freedom from all those things that would spoil peoples’ lives, such as addictions; through preaching and teaching by Pastor Johnstone and his team, revealing the knowledge and love of Jesus.
Last week Pastor Johnstone suffered an accident while riding his motorcycle, which he uses when visiting the large number of recovery groups he supports; another motorcyclist struck him from behind.
As well as being badly shaken he has suffered painful injuries to both legs, which bled quite freely; thankfully no other serious injury was sustained, such as a head injury.
He is making a good recovery, but has required the prescription of antibiotics in addition to pain killers.
The distances that he has to cover to visit the groups are considerable; roughly a radius of 125 miles from his home. The roads are very bad with deep ruts and loose surfaces. In the rainy season many of the roads are impassable.
The Highway Code in parts of Kenya is more a matter of a “shared understanding”, than a system of rules to be rigidly observed; and there is often considerable inventiveness, both in terms of right-of-way and what might be reasonably carried on a motorcycle in terms of goods and passengers.
Livestock such as pigs are not uncommon; up to 5 adults and children are unremarkable; a load comprising a sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table is not unseen.
In addition there are many other hazards not commonly encountered on our roads, such as roaming livestock and wild animals.
Please pray for continued growth of the Recovery groups and of the churches.
Also in the light of this accident please remember to include in your prayers Pastor Johnstone’s rapid recovery, and protection for the pastors as they travel on hazardous roads with difficult surfaces, unpredictability of what might be encountered, and with the potential for collisions with other travellers.
Pastor Johnstone continues to strengthen and grow the Recovery groups in Kenya, based around Churches of Christ in Tongaren.
He reports that another new church has formed from one of the groups in a village called Ambichi.
Once a month he brings churches together for a time of fellowship and teaching. This month brought together the new church, together with Machakha and Kakamwe congregations.
On the 13th March it is planned to have a day of Women’s Seminars.
At such events people come together to discuss the problems and fears that they have in common as well as to learn. A common fear is that their partner might continue to drink or use, or may have a slip or relapse, starting their old habit once again with the chaos that may bring. Together as they meet they can draw strength and hope from one another.
“A day at a time” is a commonly used slogan in recovery programs worldwide, especially in early recovery.
May His Spirit lead them, guard them and give them peace.
Despite the pandemic Pastor Stephen and his wife Rebecca continue to visit and strengthen the groups who are following the 12 Step program of recovery form addiction.
Wonderful testimonies of freedom and healing
Chris Wanyakala says in his testimony that he had been a drunkard since 1996, until last month when he felt convicted by the Spirit of Jesus and a calling to proclaim His name.
He speaks of having seen many accidents and deaths in his community during his lifetime. The Spirit showed him people who might die, and he engaged with them, praying for them that they should live.
He has embraced the 12 Step program and obtained sobriety. His wish is to join with Pastor Stephen and engage with the work to spread the message of hope throughout Uganda.
May he remain strong in his conviction and see the fullness of the harvest of rescued souls he has been shown.
Another testimony is that of Veron Katenya. Although he is young, and just left school, he became a captive to addictions.
His life has been transformed by the 12 Steps, and through membership of the “Exodus” group in Mayenze; he makes a living now by making bricks from clay.
Projects created to provide a focus for the groups, to learn new skills and to provide an income continue to flourish.
As well as the manufacture of bricks, there is bee keeping and rabbit breeding. It is important for people to learn not to pick up rabbits by their ears!
Praise the Lord for healing of individuals, families and communities. It is to be hoped that young people in particular will learn from the testimonies provided, and that many will see the transformation obtained in the lives of the “Overcomers”!
May Pastor Stephen and his wife Rebecca be strengthened and blessed in all they are doing, not just among those who are addicted, but also their school and orphanage.
Pastor Johnstone reports that that at last there will be a supply of clean, fresh water in his village of Tongaren, Kenya.
This has been made possible through the amazingly gracious donation by a Christian NGO called Anidaso (www.anidaso.org) based in Dallas, Texas. They have engaged another West Kenyan NGO, called Hope Water Africa, to drill bore holes and instal pipework and pumps to provide a clean water supply.
Diarrhoea the big killer
In the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic it is easy to loose sight of the biggest killer among diseases: diarrhoea.
This kills over 4000 African children a day.
The generous donation by Anidaso and the splendid work of Hope Water Africa will certainly reduce this figure.
Great celebrations were possible this year at Pastor Stephen’s church and orphanage.
As well as celebrating the recovery of so many sufferers, his daughter Susan has given birth to their first grandchild; her first Christmas!
Many orphans who are cared for by God Cares Foundation, led by Pastor Stephen and his wife Rebecca; as well as pupils at the school, enjoyed the feast.
Review of recovery groups
Pastor Stephen continues to regularly visit as many of the groups as he is able in the face of lockdown because of Covid 19.
In general the projects are doing well, including the bee project with which there was some uncertainty initially in many communities, owing to lack of knowledge of harvesting the honey safely. This appears to have been overcome.
In December Pastor Johnstone made an eight hour journey, travelling 260 miles to Lodwar, Turkana, where his sons Michael and Emanuel have been experiencing some challenges as they serve in church mission.
Turkana is a very hot semi-desert region in North-West Kenya, where there is a great deal of poverty, although it is very rich in minerals, including gold; and also oil reserves.
Johnstone found that the culture of the region had changed since he had left 47 years ago, and that the advice which he had given to his sons, with respect to the approach to adopt, was no longer appropriate.
Alcohol abuse proved to be just as much a problem here as elsewhere in the world, perhaps even more so due to the high temperatures (37*C). Johnstone reported that the women were in general receptive to what was being taught, but that the men were more reserved.
A traditional god called Aguchi continues to be a focus for worship.
It is hoped to visit this area on a return trip to Kenya.
Annual Conference of Kenya Church of Christ in Nairobi, December 2020
Pastor Johnstone was able to travel to attend this annual meeting of the network, of which his church is a member.
One of the main agenda items at the conference was the problem of drug and alcohol abuse, in particular how it affects the youth. This is acknowledged as being a huge problem throughout Kenya.
The best solution to the problem was recognised to be the Twelve Step program with reference to scripture.
There was no opportunity for Johnstone to share his experience, as no time had been allocated for delegate discussion; but he was able to speak to many of the pastors present, who had never heard of a recovery program such as the one we are operating.
Clearly there is great opportunity for wider out-reach, and much work which needs to be done.