Kenya (MNN) — After several years of drought, 12 people groups in northern Kenya have had to adjust to a new way of living.
Executive director of World Mission Greg Kelley says, “It has caused so much difficulty for the 12 people groups that live up there. In a real practical way, so many of them have abandoned their pastoralist activities of having goats and cows because there’s just not the vegetation or the grazing grounds.”
Now, the people are raising camel instead because they are the only animals able to sustain the harsh conditions.
Kelley says that in order to find good water, they have to travel miles a day. That’s why World Mission has been working with them for over 12 years to drill water wells for the people groups.
And through this ministry, World Mission discovered a new way to minister as well. They’ve been distributing Treasures for about ten years. These solar-powered audio Bibles present the Gospel to the people in one of the twelve languages of the groups that live there.
Kelley explains that the drilling is essential for these people to be open to the Gospel. While they might appreciate the word, if they have physical needs pressing down on them, they might not be at a place where they can listen.
Over the last 12 years, World Mission has drilled 100 clean water bore holes for wells. “It’s been transformational to provide clean water,” Kelley says.
With clean water, World Mission has been able to address a different sort of drought: the lack of knowledge of Jesus.
In northern Kenya, the number of religious influences is remarkable.
“These people are in the neighborhood of about 5% Christian, and so the majority of them are animists. And then from the northeast, the Somalia influence is bringing Islam, and so Islam is pressing into these areas,” says Kelley.
He continues, “We’ll go in, we’ll do a water project, and then we’ll distribute Treasures so they have access not only to clean water but the Living Water.”
This is the mode of operation for Zoe Waters, a division of World Mission. Zoe, Kelley explains, means life. The organization recognizes that to effectively share the Gospel, physical needs have to be addressed hand-in-hand with the presentation of God’s Word. Zoe Waters has found acceptance of the Gospel where it was previously ignored.
One of the 12 people groups that Zoe Waters is currently working with is the Rendille.
Joshua Project describes these people as animistic with Jewish influences in their religious practices. They’re thought to be descended from the Israelites. The group is very traditional. They practice polygamy–the number of wives symbolizing a man’s wealth. Joshua Project says they primarily pray to the moon and also offer up animal sacrifices during a drought. Witch Doctors are essential. Despite this, Joshua Project says they are quite responsive to the Gospel. An estimated 4.2% are evangelical Christians.
Kelley says the Rendille have to walk miles to get water from a remote, hand-dug well shared by baboons.
“It’s just such a difficult situation because […] the people are dying just en route to get their water,” Kelley explains.
World Mission recently drilled a well, but the water is too salty. They are determined to find better water, and your prayers are greatly appreciated.
Kelley says due to the conditions of northern Kenya, each drilling costs about $4000-$5000.