Riots and Risks: Is It Worth It?

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,

A few events that occurred over the last month have caused me to stop and once again think about my current situation here in the country of Kenya.

First, I was traveling home from a supply trip to Eldoret and I was passing through a town about 15 miles from our house. Up ahead I saw a van stopped in the middle of the road and was annoyed with the driver as I drove in the ditch to get around him. As soon as I got around him and back on the road I noticed why he had stopped. A hundred yards ahead the road was blocked. Old tires had been hauled up onto the road, the smoke of their burning ascending into the sky. Dozens of men were gathered around them, yelling, jumping, and shaking sticks and clubs. It was a riot of some kind and I knew immediately and instinctively that I should not be there (Don’t worry, I live through this ordeal). One of the first things you learn when you come to live in Kenya is to avoid mobs and riots at all costs. They can be very dangerous. So, I immediately got off the road and turned around. I was surrounded by people (friendly people, mind you, but nerve-wracking nonetheless) who told me I could not continue up that road because there was a riot. That seemed obvious. They told me about a side “road” I could take to get around the riot to the other side. I should have just turned around and gone back to Eldoret, even if I had to stay the night there. But I decided to take the side road. All seemed well at first and the side road looked like it was taking me around the riot and would eventually take me back to the main road which, indeed, it was doing. I was following another car ahead of me which seemed to know where it was going, so this gave me some confidence. After about ten minutes I was about 1/2 of a mile from merging back onto the main road when I saw up ahead that this side road was also blocked by men and tires (not burning). They stopped the car ahead of me and I saw there was no place to go. After talking with that driver for a minute they pulled back the tires and made a path for him to pass through. Then they came towards me and I cracked the window open so I could talk with them. As soon as they saw me they began yelling and jumping and screaming to the men on the road up ahead “FUNGA NJIA!  FUNGA NJIA!  FUNGA NJIA!” (Close the path, Close the path, Close the path!). I didn’t wait to find out what they had in store for me once the path was closed. I took off while the men up ahead scrambled to get the tires back across the road. I drove off the road and through a field to get around their roadblock, raced as fast as I could back to the main road, got on the main road, turned toward home and left the mob, yells and smoke behind. Exciting missionary life, right? Right!  

The second thing that occurred happened right here in our own neighborhood where we live, within a half mile of our current house but only two doors down from our previous residence where we lived for 10 years. At only 8:30pm some men broke into a mission compound of some missionary friends of ours. Fortunately, this is only a mission station and no one actually lives there. Anyway, very early in the evening, certainly before everyone on the street was in bed asleep, the men broke into the compound, tied up the night guard and stole some things. Very unfortunately, before they left, they violently murdered the night guard. Dead men don’t talk. Exciting missionary life, right?  Right!

A third incident did occur as well (that I don’t have space to report) that turned out to be completely harmless but made me extremely nervous at the time.

When these things occur I wonder if I’m sitting on a powder keg that could go off at any time. I re-evaluate what I’m doing here and whether I should be putting myself at risk. Then I remember that there are risks and dangers everywhere, both here and the US. That many of you often put yourselves at risk as well. And I remember how much this fallen world needs the gospel and needs the love and saving grace of Jesus. I remember the cross and that Jesus came to redeem us. I remember that I and the Kenyan people need to trust him, love him and serve him. And then I remember that this is where I need to be.

Blessings to you all,
Roger, Julie & Chloe


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

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
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