Reaching the World’s Newest Country through a Faithful Student


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

May 30, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Well, out of the last 18 days I have been sick for 13 of them. First I had malaria, then a few days respite, and now for the last few days I have been supposedly battling a bad case of food poisoning (at least that’s what the clinical officer surmised after she ruled out all of the other big hitters like malaria, typhoid and amoebas). I even went to bed at 8:30pm last night. 8:30pm!  Well, the power had been out all day and I felt terrible, so, why not? Even as I sit and write this my stomach is rolling and rumbling.

But this update is not all about sick stomachs. No, I’d like to also tell you about one of my hermeneutics students. I have the privilege of teaching some up and coming pastors and church leaders hermeneutics (the principles of properly interpreting the Bible). I do consider this a great privilege and an extremely important task because most Kenyan pastors I know do not know how to properly interpret the Bible. They take passages wildly out of context, allegorize passages to the extreme, and twist the meanings of other passages way out of proportion. In short, the majority of Kenyan pastors completely destroy the original meaning of texts. Not all, mind you, but most (Yes, American pastors do it too!). So, what could be more important than teaching pastors how to properly interpret the Bible for their congregations? Well, one of my students this month wasn’t from Kenya. He is South Sudanese. His name is Samuel Majok and he is from the newest country on earth. Not that the South Sudanese haven’t been there for centuries but just a few years ago they gained their independence from the Muslim run country of Sudan. Since then they have been plagued with civil war as warring tribes strive to gain control of the country. As a result, Samuel and his family have been refugees living in a refugee camp in the desert of northern Kenya for the last five years. He is from the Dinka tribe of South Sudan and speaks the Dinka language. He is from a small fishing village on the banks of the Nile and comes from the Gam (Faith) Yornom (Baptist) Panabuna (Church) in that village. Samuel is a big man with a warm and generous smile. His English isn’t great but he uses it to speak intelligently about his home country and culture. I will never forget the day Samuel approached me after class one day with that generous smile of his. He shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said: “Thank you, Mwalimu (teacher). Now I know how I have been teaching the Bible wrong. Now I know how to interpret the Bible properly. Now I can return to my village on the Nile and properly teach my people the words of the Bible and how to properly follow Jesus. Now they will be able to properly pass these truths on to the next generation of Dinkas and the next generation of Dinkas will also be able to follow Jesus”. How this thrilled my soul. To know that not only can I make an impact on the Kingdom of God in Kenya but now also what I do here can also impact the Kingdom of God and the next generation of Dinkas in South Sudan. You never know, beloved, how and where your ministry and the work you do will impact the Kingdom. Paul said to Timothy, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2). And in this way the gospel and Kingdom of Christ spreads throughout the whole world. By the way, I’ve also been invited to come and teach in a Baptist church in a small fishing village on the Nile in South Sudan. I would love to go and if the Lord permits, I will. What an adventure for the Kingdom that would be!

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 & Chloe)

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