From resistant to persistent: a Kenyan church planter’s story

Kenya (MNN) — The Turkana people group in Kenya is the second largest pastoral group in the country. Pastoral people groups are characterized by herding and shepherding lifestyles and are often nomadic. Their small villages are far-flung across the vast Turkana territory in northwest Kenya.

(Photo courtesy of Kip Lines via The Joshua Project)

Currently, 48 percent of the Turkana people identify as Christian, with 20 percent specifically Evangelical Christian, according to the Joshua Project.

However, when Benson, a church planter and evangelist, first entered ministry over 15 years ago, the Turkana people were considered unreached with the Gospel — less than two percent of the population.
Back-and-Forth with God
Benson felt the call to go into ministry at a very young age, but his story is one of going back-and-forth with God. When he was born, he had a swollen head and a missionary named Emily cared for him.

“I was operated [on], and through Emily, she taught me things of God.” Then, says Benson, “I had a vision when I was young of the Lord saying, ‘Go, speak, and heal the nations of the world.’”

At first, he thought that God was calling Him to evangelize outside of Turkana, Kenya. “Little did I know that He had called me to reach my own people. Many times, I would like to run away from being a missionary or a pastor or evangelist in our village. I wanted to run away from home. And God helped me to understand that He has called me to my own people.”

This realization led Benson to attempt to bargain with God, as he wasn’t yet fully committed to the Lord’s call to a lifetime of service in ministry.

“I told the Lord, ‘If I plant, I will help you to plant 100 churches. Then please, because I am still young, you will leave me to go and enjoy my life like other young men.’”
Equipped with Tools for the Great Commission
But God was not done with him. Benson went through a discipleship-mission training program operating in partnership with Global Disciples, and from there the Holy Spirit grew his passion for the Great Commission in Turkana. The discipleship-mission training using the Global Disciples model equipped Benson with the tools to make disciples and plant churches so he could reach the unreached with the Gospel.

(Photo courtesy of Global Disciples)

Along with discipleship-mission training, Global Disciples also provides small business training and leadership training to Christian leaders in Kenya and all over the world so they can have sustainably-funded ministries, and ensure that newly-planted congregations can grow in spiritual maturity and outreach.

From there, Benson helped train local Christian leaders, and lead them in reaching the rest of Turkana.

“[In] about seven years or eight years, we planted 100 churches. It multiplied in 15 years…and right now we are at 400-plus. Nowadays, we don’t count because God is amazing us in a great way!”

However, he says the evangelism work in Turkana is far from finished, and the process to go through each village is arduous.

“We do person-to-person [evangelism]…. People live in long distances. So I walk in each village spreading the Gospel of Jesus. It’s not something like a crusade [where] you can make a crusade [and invite] people to come, or you put up posters and advertise on the television, ‘Come and see!’ No, you just go one-by-one and it takes months, weeks to reach these people and to make them to know Christ.”
Interceding for Kenya
Benson says the biggest thing you can do for the Church in Turkana, Kenya is to pray for and with them. Their community — along with the rest of the country — is facing food shortages, political corruption, and increasing levels of religious persecution from Muslim neighbors.

(Photo courtesy of Compassion International)

“Pray for the government of Kenya. You know, we are marginalized people. At this time in politics, many people take advantage of our people because they don’t know much of what is going on in the country and how things are being done.

“Also, pray for the Muslims now. Muslims want to come in and take advantage of the poverty of the area to get children and sponsor them and get them to be Muslims. Pray that God will strengthen the Church and the Body of Christ.”

Finally, asks Benson, “Pray that in the midst of the challenges of droughts, the challenges of sicknesses, that God will show Himself with all these challenges for Him to be known, because there are so many who have never heard about Him. We don’t see the circumstances, the pain, the anger, the lack of food. We see that at the end of the day, they need to give their life to God.”

Please also ask God to bless Global Disciples, that their ministry and trainings would continue to fuel the outreach of evangelists like Benson. Pray that more communities would be transformed — from being unreached with the Gospel, to being transformed witnesses of Christ’s hope.