Fires in Kenya

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

March 9, 2023

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ,

Last month I mentioned the drought that is currently plaguing Kenya. We have now entered the time of the short rains, but it has not rained. Yes, it rained a couple of times but then stopped again. We have not received the rain we should be getting in the short rainy season and the situation is no better. The students are back on campus, but we are now having to truck in water from outside sources and fill our water tanks in that way. It is still extremely dry throughout the country and that leads to the adventure I don’t want to experience again, and I’ll recount in the next paragraph.

We live in the middle of the Kijabe forest, half-way down the escarpment into the Great Rift Valley. When I look up the escarpment, I only see forest. When I look down the escarpment, I only see forest. With no rain, the trees, leaves, and ground all dry up. The forest becomes a tinderbox. We have no-burn policies right now because of the threat of fire. But most Kenyans cook their daily meals over open fires just outside their front doors and burn their trash to dispose of it. Here in Kijabe, the wind also races up and down the escarpment at a furious pace sometimes. The scenario provides for many unwatched fires which can then lead to, you guessed it, forest fires. About two weeks ago I was at the school, looking out my office window when I saw smoke rolling off the next hill over. I went over to the classroom block for a better look and saw half the hillside covered in smoke. I knew it was not a good sign, but I went home and didn’t hear any more about it. Later that night, Julie looked out our kitchen window and said, “Is that a fire?” I looked out and up the hill, and sure enough, it was a large fire. It looked like it was about 150 yards up the hill. I immediately began thinking about what important things we needed to grab before jumping in the car and getting the blazes out of here. We began making some quick phone calls and found out that what, in the night looked like a couple hundred yards, was in reality on a ridge about a mile away. A bit more comforting, but not too comforting. I walked back up to the classroom block for a better look and saw that the entire ridge on the hill next to ours was engulfed in flames, with the nighttime wind whipping around like crazy. I watched it for a few minutes, not knowing in what direction it was going to go – down the hill, away from us, or towards us? We spent a couple of restless hours waiting to hear what direction the fire was going before we heard that it was currently heading in the opposite direction. We eventually went to bed and went to a somewhat restless sleep, knowing that people in the area were staying awake to keep an eye on things. As a person who has always had a small fear of fire, I really didn’t like that experience and don’t want to go through it again. PRAY FOR RAIN IN KENYA.

On a happier note, I always like to know I’m doing something or involved with something that is making a difference and doing some good. Sometimes in ministry it can be hard to rate if you are making the kind of difference you desire. Julie reminds me that long-term change is generational. It can take a long time to make real changes. I oftentimes wish it was more like constructing a building where you can watch the progress and see the growth. But sometimes you get little hints that what you are doing is making a difference, and sometimes it comes in unexpected ways. In this case, I needed to go up the hill to “the city” and go to the bank, but Julie had the car. So, I asked one of my students who owns a car for taxiing purposes to drive me to the bank and back. We got to talking while he was driving (as he was driving very fast, I might add). He comes from and grew up in a church that teaches a wealth and health gospel, where the pastor needs to be the example of receiving God’s blessings by being rich and prosperous, and where church leadership/pastorate is a lucrative job opportunity funded by unsuspecting church members. My student Samuel (pronounced Samwel in Kenya) confessed that is what he thought the ministry was all about. Now, however, he says that he has learned that ministry is not about that, that ministry is about teaching the Word of God, sharing the gospel of Jesus, loving people and helping them know about salvation and following Jesus, and equipping the church for discipleship and reaching the nations. Now he wants to return to his own village and take the true gospel of Jesus back to a people who go to church every week but never hear about the true gospel. Making a difference one life at a time, folks. PRAY THAT SAMUEL’S NEWLY FOUND CONVICTIONS WILL STICK AND PERSERVERE UNTIL HE REACHES HIS VILLAGE WITH THE LOVE OF JESUS.

Blessings to all,
Roger, Julie & Chloe


Roger & Julie Tate
Moffat Bible College
P.O. Box 70
Kijabe, Kenya 00220

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
or click here to donate to BFM online.

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