I didn’t learn enough superlatives in school to describe our time in Kisumu. For me, it will probably rank as the most memorable time of the town the Msafara visited. Local pastors had organized a many car convoy to meet us. Together we wove our way into the city, led by a pickup with loudspeakers announcing our mission. Depending on what part of town we were passing, I could see various emotions in people’s eyes. Curiosity, surprise, indifference, even outright hostility. Later learnt some people may have thought we were a busload of Mungiki militants! Our convoy ended up at the Jomo Kenyatta sports ground. And there we found…
The surprise party! There were tents set up with people in them, an amazing praise team and band on the dais. The music was fantastic. As soon as the buses stopped, wasafiri poured out of them to join in the praise party. For around 30 minutes, that’s all we did… dance! People here know how to have a good time! As long as the day had been, we could have gone on for another few hours. Everyone was disappointed when the music stopped! The pastor’s fellowship welcomed us to Kisumu, prayed for us, and we were off to our guest house for dinner.
Then, the pastor’s fellowship the next day… If I thought Eldoret was something, Kisumu was off the charts! Many, many local bishops and church leaders in attendance…Like LD, Kisumu suffered a lot as a result of post-election violence. There was much pain here. We knew the issues to discuss would be heavy. And they were.
But somehow God cut through all the formalities. Bishop Njiri of the KAG church is respected as one of the church leaders who refused to take political sides during the 07 elections. This leader stood up and offered a heartfelt repentance on behalf of the Kikuyu believers for all that had transpired between the Kikuyu and Luo since independence. And the God-moment came. There were few dry eyes in the house. Many leaders on their knees bawling their eyes out… including yours truly. Archbishop Silas Owiti, a highly respected church leader here, accepted the repentance and embraced his counterpart. As if that was not enough, Bishop Njiri confessed that Bishop Orao (another respected leader here), had once worked under him and they had been close friends but parted ways many years ago in a way that had hurt their relationship. He publicly repented of his part in their disagreement and asked his former colleague to forgive him. Bishop Orao also asked forgiveness for his part and as the two hugged, Bishop Njiri prayed a prayer of blessing for him as a son in ministry.
Okay, you get the picture. Things were out of our control from that moment and in God’s hands! For me, this meeting and the visit to the church in Kiambaa were worth all the work that has gone into Msafara. I saw visibly something I’ve always believed – that the church is the hope of the world. What we experienced in that room was not calm (the absence of war) but genuine shalom or peace.
The rest of the wasafiri had a chance to visit displaced peoples in Kisumu. The national violence has had a huge toll here and family structures are under great strain to support relatives from other parts of the country. We handed over a lorry of food and another of hygiene packs to the pastor’s fellowship to distribute. So far we have donated 5 tons of food to Naivasha, and roughly 24 tons each to Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu, in addition to over 25 tons of clothing and hygiene packs. We have handed these to the various pastor’s fellowships to distribute especially the displaced who are not in the camps.
In the afternoon, the Kisumu prayer rally took place. Local pastors and bishops led in prayers of repentance for Kisumu and Nyanza. Intense time of prayer… At the end of it I was exhausted in more ways than I thought possible. But the local pastors were just beginning! They announced another rally the next day (Sunday) at the same venue.
May my heart never forget the things my eyes have seen these last few days.