Over the summer, after the completion of my second year of studying Veterinary Medicine at Bristol, I had the amazing opportunity to see, experience and learn more about cross-cultural mission from Eddie and Rachel Andersen. They live in Dukana, Northern Kenya, sharing Jesus with the Gabbra tribe. I was massively struck over the five weeks I spent in Kenya by Matthew’s words in chapter 9, verses 36-38: ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.”’
I was amazed at the receptivity of the Gabbra people to the good news of Jesus and their hunger to learn more of who he is.
Whilst in Dukana, I had the opportunity to see and help in the various ministries that Eddie and Rachel have initiated. This included going on outreach with some of the Gabbra church members themselves, Baracko, Abdoob and Duba, as they went to rural families and villages to teach through Genesis. I was amazed at the generosity of these villages, sharing their chai and often what food they had, their eagerness to hear God’s word and their questions to learn more.
In the afternoon I helped to teach 11 women the basics of farming using AIM’s ‘Farming God’s Way’ course. This is a programme where we discussed creation through bible studies and how we can serve God as stewards of his creation before relaying this into practically how best to farm in such a hostile environment of rocks and sand.
The Gabbra tribe are predominantly semi-nomadic pastoralists, chasing the rains with their herds of camels, donkeys, sheep and goats. Arable farming has never been part of their culture and is very difficult in the deserts of North Kenya. Having been raised and worked on arable farms, it was a privilege to be able to share the gift of practical knowledge both in animal husbandry and arable agriculture. It was wonderful to build a relationship with these women over the weeks, helping to dig, plant, and water, opening God’s word together and sharing the joy of growth spiritually for us and physically for the crops.
Reflecting on my time in Dukana, I go back to Matthew. They long to know more and have a hunger to know Jesus, but the workers are just so few. Even the radio program, Chalbi FM, that Eddie instigated, led by Baracko and Mwambi, faces hundreds of questions that are phoned in each night. It was astounding after the years of hard work and prayer of the Andersens and previous generations of missionaries, to now see the surge in curiosity and searching that is seen amongst the Gabbra as God is changing hearts.
I went out very naïve to mission. I knew going would be a massive learning curve for me in a short period of time, but I didn’t fully appreciate just how much I would learn and love. Yes, the culture is massively different to anything I’ve experienced before, and yet I was still struck how we are all children of the same God, all in desperate need of Jesus and with God calling us all to himself. I learnt so much about mission, the power of God’s word and what that looks like to open it up with others. And I have come away, now midway through my third year at Bristol, with a new heart for mission and a burden for unreached people that need Jesus and do not yet know him.
I pray with renewed energy and eagerness for missionaries in the field, including the Andersen’s and their work in Dukana, and for the calling up of new workers.