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Kenya soul-winning campaign registers 34,226 decisions

NAIROBI, Kenya (BP)–More than 34,000 people registered decisions for Christ after Southern Baptist and Kenya Baptist volunteers teamed up for two 10-day evangelism campaigns in western Kenya this summer.
The large response to the gospel is expected to jump start Baptist work in a part of Kenya where Baptists are not well known.
The West Kenya Baptist Evangelistic Effort produced 125 congregations and 34,226 new believers, said Sam Turner, an associate director in the International Mission Board’s volunteers department. The effort teamed up 258 Southern Baptist volunteers with 844 Kenya Baptist workers.
“Baptist work in Kenya is stronger in some areas than others,” said Turner, a missionary in Kenya for 25 years before joining the staff at the board’s Richmond, Va., headquarters. “Our goal was to start new churches, rather than get large numbers of decisions.”
But volunteers found people ready to open their hearts to Christ, he said.
“Kenya Baptists are a people of prayer,” he said. “Some of the volunteers who worked in the Bungoma area reported everyone they talked to wanted to accept Christ.
“When they asked why, they learned the Kenyans had fasted and prayed on a weekly basis for several weeks and then for three straight days before the volunteers arrived. They were just really spiritually prepared.”
Kenya Baptists were stimulated by pre-crusade training and relationships developed with the Southern Baptist volunteers, said Bob Allen, one of about 15 IMB missionaries who worked with Kenya Baptist leaders to coordinate the effort in 17 associations.
“Pastors and church members were trained in witnessing, and leaders of new preaching points and many new Christians were trained in basic principles of Christian growth,” Allen said. “Pastors and church members were encouraged by being with volunteers, seeing that time spent in evangelism is valuable, productive time.”
To minimize the strain of discipling new believers, each new preaching point was tied to an established “mother church” that will help with follow-up and provide ongoing support for the new work, Allen said.
The western Kenya project is the third of four planned for the country. A 1990 crusade in Kenya’s coastal area resulted in 55,000 decisions; 1995’s crusade in the capital, Nairobi, registered 11,257 professions of faith.
A fourth evangelism campaign targeting eastern Kenya is set for 1999.
Since 1982, when Kenya’s 505 Baptist churches set a goal of having 6,000 congregations by AD 2000, the number of Baptist congregations in the country has more than quadrupled in number.