When Vaughn Ross, mission team member at First Baptist Church of Waxahachie, received word from Pastor Simon Mwangi in Nairobi, Kenya that the three-year drought in North-Central Kenya was transitioning from severe to acute, he reached out to his church and Texas Baptists for support.
Mwangi, pastor of Koinonia Baptist Church in Nairobi, reports that immediate intervention is needed for close to 54,000 Samburu people who are facing starvation. Koinonia Church and FBC Waxahachie have a partnership to minister to the Samburu people in Maralal and Mwangi has been updating the Texas church on increasingly dangerous conditions for the Kenyans.
Most of the semi-permanent water sources and pastures have dried up and many of the livestock are dying after the brief rains of October failed to come, Mwangi reports. While people living in the semi-arid region are accustomed to many months without water, the extended period of three years without adequate rain has caused extreme devastation. Men in the tribe are traveling for days, seeking water and forage for their livestock, leaving women and children at home with little-to-no resources.
FBC Waxahachie is sending $10,000, including $2,700 designated by the Christian Life Commission through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program funds, to Koinonia Church as they seek to meet immediate needs in Maralal. The money will be used to purchase corn, rice, beans and cooking oil in neighboring cities. The supplies will then be transported to Maralal to be distributed by leaders of the 14 church plants, to assist 400 households, which is about 3,200 people.
Leaders are praying the food will help families survive through March before anticipated rains come in April, Ross said.
“We are so thankful Dr. Ross and the FBC Waxahachie Missions Committee brought this crisis to our attention,” said Ali Hearon, hunger and care ministries specialist for Texas Baptists. “What a blessing it is to partner with FBC Waxahachie and Koinonia Baptist Church of Nairobi to provide food to the Samburu people. As followers of Christ, we must be quick to respond to our brothers and sisters in crisis.”
Ross and his wife served as International Mission Board missionaries in Kenya from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s when the Samburu were identified as an unreached people group. They helped plant the first church – Maralal Church – which has, in turn, planted many churches in the region. They returned to the states several years later, but always held a love for the Samburu people.
In 2014, FBC Waxahachie began a partnership with Koinonia Church to provide literacy and church leadership training for new church plants in Maralal, which is 250 miles from Nairobi. FBC Waxahachie sends teams each year to provide pastor training, women’s ministry, youth ministry and evangelism. Koinonia Church also sends about nine teams a year to work with the Samburu people.
There are no Baptist missionaries in the region, which makes the partnership between FBC Waxahachie and Koinonia Church even more significant.
“This is an equal and mature partnership in ministry between two churches which allows both of us to fulfill our Great Commission goals,” said Ross. “We knew going into this there would be great benefits to both churches. One of them is learning to love across cultures. We have become deeply in love with them and they have with us. It also allows us to experience the fullness of church – the body of Jesus – as partners in ministry around the world.”
Ross is also thankful for the joint support from FBC Waxahachie and the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program to respond to the dire need.
“Our church participates in giving to the BGCT Cooperative Program and other areas of ministry,” Ross said “We have taken this project on ourselves and ask others to join us if they are willing and able. It’s good to see CP funds applied directly to an area where we ministering.”
Ross and members of FBC Waxahachie are praying for the anticipated rains to come soon to provide relief to the region. They also plan to send a mission team later this year to continue their work ministering and sharing the Gospel to the Samburu people.