NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The words of the chorus — “Baba wa mbinguni, Hakuna kama wewe” — floated through the warm air as two African women sat waiting for the worship service to start. They prayed together as other members trickled in, praising God for the hundreds who had already been saved in their small Kenyan village.
The service was one of many led by a nine-member evangelism and church planting team from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention that traveled to Kenya from June 17-30.
The team helped start six new churches and led 917 Africans to Christ.
Three LifeWay employees, Jim Shamblin of the information technology department, Bob Metcalf of publishing services and multimedia and Barbara Metcalf in advertising and promotion went on the trip. They were joined by Matt Metcalf, son of the Metcalfs; William Crowell of New York; and Jamie Dunham, Patsy Crooke, Ron Sheppard and Rena Smith of Harpeth Heights Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
“A large part of this trip also included some follow-up work,” said Shamblin, who had been to Kenya three times previously. “We traveled one day to a church in Kithamani where [LifeWay President James T.] Draper evangelized last year. They now have 30 members and are preparing to purchase land for their church.
“We also received an update on the Bible School in Busia that LifeWay helped start,” he added. “They had their first graduating class in October and are now a seminary extension.”
This was Barbara Metcalf’s fourth trip to Kenya. She dreamed of traveling to Africa since childhood and said LifeWay had helped the dream come true. She has traveled to Kenya with both of her sons, but this was the first year her husband, Bob, made the trip, which he described as “just amazing. My family had been begging me to go for years, and I’m so glad I did.”
He said traveling to Kenya was like living in the 29th chapter of Acts.
“If you look in your Bible, there is no 29th chapter, but the last verse of chapter 28 is about proclaiming the name of Christ, and that is what is happening in Kenya. The people in those indigenous churches are just living that, and every day hundreds of people are coming to Christ. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their problems, but they are so connected to the Holy Spirit.”
Shamblin also noted the passion of the Kenyan people.
“A lot of the time here [in America], our choruses are empty, and we’re just going through the motions. These people were full of emotion through their praises.
“I think a lot of the people on the team recognized that we’ve lost a lot of the essence of worship, and through the trip I believe we grew and attempted to rediscover that. You go on these trips attempting to reach people, but without exception God works on you.”
Shamblin emphasized the need for pastors on mission trips. Although laymen are very effective, Kenyans greatly respect those with seminary and pastoral training.
Bob Metcalf, meanwhile, expressed his desire to see more young adults get involved in missions. “It’s disappointing to see how few young people go on these trips,” he said. “I don’t think they realize what a ministry-shaping opportunity this is. Whether you’re a consultant, an editor, or someone in advertising, this offers a level of training you simply can’t get at seminary.”
Barbara Metcalf noted the cross-generational interaction the trip provided.
“We had 20-year-olds and 80-year-olds working together,” she said. “That doesn’t happen often over here. The group just gets really close as we work together. It’s truly a learning experience.”
LifeWay volunteers will go on two other trips to Kenya this year and one to China and one to India. Earlier trips were to the Gambia, Armenia and Mexico.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CARING IN KENYA and FAITH TRACT.