Mired in Traditions

The Tates have served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

As I write this a traditional circumcision ceremony is progressing just outside my fence. The boy who is to be circumcised (usually between about 10-15 years old) strips himself pretty much naked, paints himself all over with a grayish-white body paint and collects a number of his close friends and older “brothers”. They collect a drum and then start proceeding through the streets beating the drum, dancing, and chanting. If you try and stop them (which I wouldn’t dare) they will “throw insults at you” as my friend would say (and probably rocks and sticks as well). You just have to wait until they go away.  Then the boy/young man is circumcised in a more private (but not completely private) ceremony and a circumcision party will be held for him. He has to face the final event as a man, with courage and with no crying or showing any pain. It becomes his rite of passage into manhood. 

This circumcision is most likely just a traditional ceremony with not a lot of other implications in the boy/young man’s life. However, a lot of Kenyan people are still mired in traditional religion, traditional practices, and traditional superstitions. This includes such things as witch doctors, curses, spells, and magic. If you want to curse someone, make them sick, make their business or their marriage fail, or even kill them you can go to a witch doctor and get this done for a small fee. And, yes, many people here really believe this. If a series of bad things happens to them, they will seek to find who has cast a spell on them and then seek to get themselves out from under its curse. This seems hard to believe in our day and age, especially since Kenya is not an uncivilized nation and most of its people are literate and educated. What is even more devastating is that these beliefs and attitudes permeate the churches and Christian community as well. There is much superstition and traditional mentality in our churches here in Kitale. Many Christians still live in fear of curses and witch doctors, attributing sickness and suffering to it – and many of their pastors encourage this mentality.

All of this is a contributing factor to my having started the Upper Room Baptist Chapel. Here in Kitale we need more Biblical teaching and training in the gospel and in following and loving Jesus as the Son of God and King of the earth. I fear too many Christians here are Christians simply as an alternative to traditional superstition, following Jesus for the power over the spirits that he can provide for them. At Upper Room Baptist Chapel I am still trying to teach and preach Biblical messages that will help those who will come to know the Bible, know Jesus and how to follow Him, and know God in a real way. I only wish that more people (even my own Chapel people) would come to learn about Jesus with me. Our numbers are still few and I am not able to compel any others to come. We have had a couple of new visitors over the last month, though, so that is good. But even when times are tough, we can still sing and praise God and trust Him with our ministries, our families and our lives.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie, Amy, Josiah & Chloe


Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200

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