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Outreach in Kenya records 22,000 decisions for Christ

NAIROBI, Kenya (BP)–The line was long but no one seemed to mind. It was worth the wait just to get the neon green sticker tacked on a shirt.
The sticker itself didn’t cause the excitement. It was the message on it — “Jesus Loves Me” — that provoked the frenzy. It was a message many had never heard before but now believed with all their hearts.
More than 22,000 people received Christ as Savior during the Eastern Kenya Baptist Evangelistic Effort in late June and early July. The outreach drew 332 volunteers from churches throughout the United States and saw 132 congregations started.
The month-long project was divided into two phases, each lasting two weeks. Teams were dispersed to seven cities or regions along the eastern coast of Kenya. The areas of concentration included Kilifi, Malindi, Magarini, Mombasa, Mitito Andei, Ukambani East and Ukambani South.
Volunteers worked hand in hand with local Kenyan church members to spread the news of Christ’s love. International Mission Board missionaries Clay Coursey and Jim Musen used the volunteers in direct evangelism and to help start new churches. Some of these same volunteers will return in February to participate in a follow-up workshop for the new churches.
Kenyan pastor Samuel Katana worked closely with the volunteers and team leaders. He not only saw many of his neighbors trust in Christ, but he also saw church members become active evangelists as they worked with the Americans. Katana and Coursey agree this zeal for evangelism is one of the most important results of the evangelist effort.
“It feels so good to work and do what God commanded all Christians to do — to go teach and baptize,” the Kenyan pastor said. “The people here are very open and receptive to the gospel right now. Our goal is to start enough churches so that everyone is within walking distance, and we are getting a good start on that now.”
Ron and Bonnie Burgess of Vine Grove, Ky., trudged through muddy paths to a new church that met under a mango tree. It was just one of 132 new churches started during the evangelistic effort.
The couple spent most mornings sharing Christ’s love and inviting people to the tree for Bible study. One day, they prayed with more than 20 people to receive Christ.
“We weren’t sure how many of them would follow through and come to the Bible study,” Bonnie said. “When we got to the tree for church services, they were sitting there waiting on us, eager to learn more about their personal Savior.”
Loaded down with bottles of water and extra Bibles, volunteers and local church members walked through villages and stopped to talk to anyone willing to listen. Bethany Hale of Roanoke, Va., loved the time spent in the small villages.
At one family cluster of three homes, Hale was surrounded by 20 children and two mothers who insisted on hearing the same story she had just told their neighbors. As she explained what sin was, the group was silent. The crowd hung on every word concerning Christ’s sacrifice. When she asked those who believed to repeat a short prayer, she was surprised by the response.
“Every one of them said the sinner’s prayer,” Hale said as she placed a neon-green sticker on a child. “I have never heard anything as joyful and sweet as 20 children praying to God at one time. Not only was their life changed by that prayer, but so was mine.”