News Articles

American volunteers partner with Kenyan students

[SLIDESHOW=41462,41463]WEST POKOT, Kenya (BP) — Volunteers from Washington state developed a partnership with Kenyan students and saw 28 people baptized when they traveled out of North America for the first time to share the Gospel with an unreached people group in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Looking back it was just, it was awesome!” said Kevin Melone, one of the volunteers. “It was physically challenging. It was mentally challenging. Man, it was awesome how God just gave us the strength to do it.”

Melone traveled earlier this year with David Wells, associate pastor of Terrace Heights Baptist Church in Yakima, Wash., to partner with Chad Pumpelly, former church member and the International Mission Board’s student ministry leader in Nairobi, Kenya. See related story.

Pumpelly invited the pair over to share Christ in West Pokot, plant new churches, encourage the four existing pastors in the region, and help train students from the University of Nairobi who are catching the vision for church planting among unreached people groups in Africa.

“I think the ultimate goal of the trip was to just really be hands-on funders and catalysts and evangelists all in one,” Wells said.

In five days the team of volunteers and students saw 15 people saved and 28 baptized. Melone, who works with The River Church, a small church plant in Moxee, Wash., was overwhelmed to see the river baptisms.

“The closest thing I could picture would be people lining up to John the Baptist at the river to be baptized. It was awesome! It was raw and just great to see –– like my whole church getting baptized at once,” he said.

Within the last year, 120 people have come to Christ and four churches have been planted. Wells and Melone hope to help bring the Nairobi students alongside the work as missionaries-in-training.

“We are just one step in that process of evangelizing and getting to see God work by giving the students from University of Nairobi the opportunity to both translate and specifically share the Gospel,” said Wells, who saw firsthand how monies raised for his and Melone’s trip were also used to give the students the opportunity to participate.

Current church leaders in West Pokot are praying for a good partnership between Southern Baptist volunteers and students like the one attained on this trip. Melone noted he is eager to go home and cast the vision for his church.

“I would like to return [to Kenya], and I don’t want to return alone,” Melone said. “I think this would be a great opportunity for our church to, over several years, do mission trips like this.”

Wells, too, wants to challenge his congregation to take the next step in reaching the lost.

“Is everything I’m doing, that I have to offer, being most effectively used for the glory of God in His Kingdom expansion? That’s a question that we should all ask ourselves,” he said.


— Pray for the Washington churches involved in the mission trip to follow God’s leading in future partnerships with Chad and Kenyan students.

— Pray students in Nairobi will respond to the Gospel and catch the vision to take the Gospel to the unreached people groups of Africa.

— Pray for the four existing pastors in West Pokot to continue in wise leadership and a passion for their people.

    About the Author

  • Nicole Lee