This is a story about how a chicken became a church and a bag of change helped build multiple churches. I never cease to be amazed at the astounding ways God shows off His glory. I hope this story encourages your faith and inspires your efforts to participate in God’s global disciple-making mission.
A couple of years ago, Mud Creek Baptist Church sent a mission team to Kisumu, Kenya. We participated with North Carolina Baptist Men in their Houses of Hope project. Teams partner with local Kenyan pastors to build houses in rural villages. The village selects a widow or widower in need of a home. The team supplies the funds and labor to build the home. And the new home becomes a base for local Bible studies with the hope of planting a church in the village. As a missions pastor I love the partnership because local pastors return to the village regularly for follow-up and Bible studies with the hope of beginning a new church. It is a project where a mission team can successfully meet a need, engage in one-on-one evangelism, and begin a ministry built upon by indigenous pastors.
During that first trip, our team was sent to build a home for a widow named Irene. Irene had a number of children and one chicken whose eggs she used to feed her children. Some days, all she had to give them to eat was the eggs her chicken produced. In Kenya it’s customary for the hostess to feed guests. In this situation, the guests were our team.
She insisted on killing and cooking her chicken for our mission team. The team, understanding her situation, tried to talk her out of it. But she would not be dissuaded. That afternoon she fed our mission team the only source of guaranteed food she had.
The mission team could not get over her sacrifice and was equally burdened for Irene’s situation. They felt led of the Lord to return a gift to Irene. The next morning, our team bought seven chickens for Irene and gave them to her. Communicating very clearly that the gift was from the Lord, they used the opportunity to preach the gospel to the village.
A year later, we sent another mission team to Kenya. Upon arriving we discovered that the house church in Irene’s home was growing, and that God had continued to bless Irene. In between the trips, she wanted to give back to the Lord for blessing her.
So she deeded some of her property to the Kenya Baptist Convention to build a church building.
Recently, Pastor Shem Okello, the general secretary of the Kenya Baptist Convention and coordinator of Houses of Hope Project in Kisumu, came to North Carolina to visit. He shared at our church with our Awana children.
We discovered from Shem that the church, on Irene’s property, had not yet been built. So, our pastor, Greg Mathis asked if we could take up a special offering to construct the church. It would take $2,200 for the materials.
Aidan, one of our Awana kids could not make it the night Pastor Shem was to share, so he sent a bag full of change to make sure he could participate in the offering. Aidan’s gift became the foundation for an almost $6,000 offering for the church on Irene’s property and other projects in Kenya.
To make the story even better, Mathis was honoring a lifelong friend and fellow pastor, Jerry White, on the night Pastor Shem was with us.
White had surrendered to preach 50 years ago under the ministry of Mathis’ father, and was instrumental in recommending Mathis to Mud Creek Baptist Church. So, to honor White’s influence in his life, we have an opportunity to dedicate the construction of a Baptist church in a village in Kenya to White.
Now Kenya will have a new church because a pastor 50 years ago was instrumental in a teenager’s surrender to ministry, because Jerry White recommended Greg Mathis to Mud Creek Baptist Church, because Mud Creek sent a mission team to Kenya, because a godly widow gave her chicken, because a mission team gave back seven-fold, because that widow gave her property, because God will use a series of everyday events and situations to make disciples across the nations. God will use a chicken to plant a church. God will use a bag of change to build multiple churches.
What mission story is God writing through your church today?
Be sensitive to His leading and look for God working in and through your ministries. As for us at Mud Creek, we can’t wait to see what happens at White Memorial Baptist Church in Kenya.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chris Hefner is pastor of missions and evangelism at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville. This column originally appeared at the LifeWay pastor’s blog at LifeWay.com/pastors.)