Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [March 2013]

The Tate Family has served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is indigenous church planting.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I’m doing something just a bit different this month. I’ve included a chart/picture that will hopefully give you a good idea of the happenings in Kitale and might clarify some of the thoughts in my head. More on that in a minute.

During my first term in Kenya, God began to show me that the traditional missionary approach (an approach I myself was following) was an approach that needed tweaking here in Kenya. If we were ever to get past the dependence and paternalism inherent in Kenyan Christianity and Kenyan churches we had to change our model. I didn’t want to go away from Biblical models. I, in fact, wanted to get closer to Biblical models. When we returned to Kenya after our first furlough we began to implement this new model. We started groups in people’s homes. We taught them simply from the Word of God. We trained local, lay leadership. We taught them self-governance and independence.

We taught them how to reproduce themselves without Western aid. Most of these groups slowly dwindled and faded until they had to fold. Only one of these groups became a struggling, small new church. Was it because the model was flawed that the groups dwindled and failed? No, I believe in this Biblical model now more than ever. I think what precipitated this group failure was the weekly presence of the white missionaries (Roger and Nathan) in the groups. The people would come to the meetings believing they would receive free handouts from us and when they realized they would not see their expectations fulfilled, they left and the groups faltered.

Now look at the chart/picture I have provided. I want to describe what is happening in this chart.

In one of the groups that we started was a young man by the name of Titus. Titus became very excited about the Biblical principles we were teaching and adhered firmly to and accepted our Biblical model for church planting. However, instead of us going with Titus and working directly with him in the village to start a new group, we taught and modeled for Titus the Biblical models, principles and teaching on church planting. Then we sent him out to do the work himself.

You can see from the chart the results of Titus’ work. First, he started a group in a village called Kipsongo. That group quickly grew to have about 30 members. From that one group, five other groups were started in five nearby villages: Kibomet, Shanti, Folkland, Matisi and Rafiki. One of those groups even began a new group in another nearby village called Bikeke. As you can see from the legend on the chart, all of these groups are progressing very well. The Kibomet group now has over 60 people attending the worship and Bible study every week. The most exciting part is what is becoming of these groups. We spent many weeks teaching Titus about what a church is (as opposed to just a Bible study group) and on how to organize and start a new church. Titus took these teachings and started teaching the Kipsongo and Kibomet groups on how to organize into a New Testament church. They are very close to being ready now to organize into New Testament churches. In a separate weekly session he has been teaching the leaders of the other groups the same Biblical teachings and principles.

All of this has been done without the presence of the white missionaries in the groups, a presence we have found can be damaging and preventative. We have been in much prayer about these happenings and believe God might be leading us to focus our church planting approach down a slightly different path (same Biblical model and principles just with a different path). Please be in prayer with us about these things.

Until next month, beloved.
May God’s peace and joy be with you.

For the glory of God in East Africa,
Roger & Julie Tate (and Emily, Amy, & Josiah)
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
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