Read the latest news from Mombasa Mission. You can find out more about the work in Kenya on the Mombasa Mission website.
It is our privilege to write to you again to update you on the work of the mission here in Kenya. No doubt it is becoming very cold in England! The seasons here have been unusually linked together this year, and rather than a distinct long and short rains there has been a prolonged season of (not infrequent) showers. In the last few weeks there has been some particularly heavy rains leading to very poor road conditions. The road going through our village has been completely destroyed with the flow of water, and now more closely resembles a canyon! It is starting to get hotter again, and our hottest season is from January to March, in which time we expect no rain at all. There are definite positives to the dry season which we look forward to, namely the reduction of insects (especially mosquitos) and the reduced humidity which at present is very energy-sapping.
The rain has affected the amount of building work that has been done, but since the last newsletter we have been able to concrete a large area in front of the main building which keeps a lot of the mud away. We have just started on the other end of the road, digging down a few feet and filling with rocks, as the rains and passing of the land rover have created such deep channels as to make it difficult to pass safely when wet. 53 labourers worked to create the tracks on Monday, making the task of cooking dinner much harder for the resident cooks! We are thankful that the continued rain has kept the water tank filled and we have had no shortage of drinking water.
The church is still meeting week by week despite the rains, and we are thankful to see a steady increase of men coming to the church and bible studies. This is particularly encouraging since for a man to come to church is considered ‘weak’ in this area, and most churches are therefore largely women. We are now in preparations for the annual Sunday school event which we hope to hold in December God willing. Due to the extent of the age range in the Sunday school and the great number of children, a youth class was recently started which splits the group into two. Elsie takes the younger children, and James takes the youth class. Sadly, on certain weeks (depending on the weather) some of the children are not allowed to come and are made to work in the fields by their parents who do not value the Lords day.
We are doing our best to learn the language and have studies in the morning on three days a week. It is challenging without a teacher but there is none around us with sufficient grasp of both languages to teach us. We are following a book and have ample opportunity to practice with the local people.
We are thankful to say that we have now completed a small building just outside the Maasai camp in the area of Mbita. In this building we hope to hold Bible classes once weekly. Our hope and prayer is that one day we will be able to see true gospel preaching in the camp on a regular basis. There is, at present no hostility to the prospect of biblical teaching, although some people of the camp are manifestly uninterested. There is only one boy who speaks (very good) English and thankfully he seems to be one of those who are keen. On a recent visit there had been an ‘initiation’ ceremony a few days before, and the children all bore the marks of branding on their faces. God willing, the classes will start within the next month or so. You may remember in the last newsletter that we described how the rains had failed in the area and there was widespread hunger. We were thankfully able to purchase about a tonne of maize which was distributed amongst those families struggling the most. The rains have since reached the area and the struggle has eased somewhat.
We are also hoping to start a further two classes, one about an hour’s drive by motorbike and the other 3 hours away. Both of these arrangements have been made through the people hearing of us by word of mouth. Representatives were sent to our church and reported back to their respective churches, and it is our understanding that there are quite a lot of people in these areas who desire to understand the word of God. The understanding of the scriptures we take so much for granted in the UK is sadly lacking all over this country, and yet there are those who hunger to know the truth and will often go to great length to attend these meetings. Even in the current class, there are two of the ladies who walk for 1 1⁄2 hours each way to attend every week.
We have recently become aware of an island (about 35 minutes’ drive and 15 minutes boat trip away) which is 100 percent Muslim with pagan beliefs, which is to our knowledge entirely without Christian witness or the sound of the truth. We have been there twice so far with our church deacons to see what it was like. We spoke to the elder of one of the villages on the first occasion and also managed to speak to the chief. Sadly, although they were very keen on other forms of assistance, they wanted nothing to do with Christianity and shut down the conversation quickly when we explained that to be the reason we were concerned about. The island has a population of around 6000 people, and being off the mainland and without good medical facilities has a high infant and child mortality rate. On the second visit, they were somewhat more receptive to the suggestion of us purchasing land there, in that we could ‘do what you want with it, but we don’t have any interest in your religion!’ It is becoming clear that although they claim to be Muslims, they are more pagan than anything else, heavily involved in witchcraft. We are prayerfully concerned about this place, seeking direction as to what we ought to do, and we invite your prayers concerning this situation of a place utterly in darkness. It is rather an unusual situation in sub-Saharan Africa to find a place utterly devoid of any kind of current or previous Christian influence or witness. There are numerous potential difficulties, but none which the Lord cannot remove in a moment. Even were we to be able to set up something there, it could only be a fairly temporary witness at present due to there being no one who could remain there for any significant time. The whole of this area is desperately in need of faithful followers of Christ to be sent into the field of labour, which is indeed overwhelmingly large. ‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’ In addition, there are initial costs of land purchase (the picture above is the only available land which we were shown on the second visit) and a means of transport (some kind of boat) to get to and from the island.
We are very thankful to have been continually involved in distribution of bibles, kindly supplied by the churches. This is a fundamental part of the work, and many of the people have never had the oppourtunity to read the bible, let alone have a copy of their own. We know and see evidence of how God is able to enlighten hearts entirely separate of all other means beyond the word of God.
The children are all keeping happy and well, although this is the season of boils/abscesses! Josiah loves the animals here, especially cows and ducks! He is entertaining us with his new words and loves being carried on daisy’s back. The Gudgeon children are getting towards the end of the home-school term and are very excited as we hope to spend the Christmas week at Fame Mission, Mwingi (east of Nairobi) with our new friends Aaron and Grace Dunlop and their 5 children, who are roughly the same ages. We have enjoyed fellowship together in recent months and Aaron came to preach here at a conference in October. It has been helpful and encouraging for us to be in contact with another reformed mission in Kenya.
Most of you will be aware that Sam’s work permit has now arrived, for which we are very thankful. The wait has been very long and fraught with difficulties, yet God has heard the prayers of many who have appealed on our behalf for this great need. We are hoping the container will not be long now in coming from England. We would like to sincerely thank all who have given of time and substance to help in the logistics of this huge task, and for the prayers offered by many. As most of you will be aware, Sam and Hannah are expecting a second child, if the Lord will in April next year. Due to previous complications with Josiah they are hoping to return for a few months surrounding the due date, with Hannah returning first and Sam a few weeks later around the end of March.
Thank you all for your kind prayers and support for this work, and we hope you have a lovely Christmas time and New Year.[A00124 – 25/11/2019]