“To know someone is
concerned, to know that someone wants to know them and know of their lives and
needs, to know that someone wants to be their co-workers — all of this is
highly valued in our country where guests are often treated as royalty,” said
Bert Yates, an International Mission Board missionary in Kenya.
Yates, along with her
husband, Jack, is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Kenya was recent host to
mission teams from North Carolina Baptist churches and leaders among North
Carolina Baptist Men.
Mark Abernathy, from N.C.
Baptist Men, went with Ted Menster, of Troutman Baptist Church, Jan. 18-29 to
explore mission opportunities.
He was looking at a pilot
project called Houses of Hope.
“I was very impressed with
the vision of the ministry, and we hope to send several teams a year to help
with this,” Abernathy said.
“It’s almost like our
handyman ministry where men go into our community and help with houses.”
Abernathy said they completed
two houses while there but most teams, which will have seven to eight people,
should be able to complete at least four.
Abernathy sees this as a
“church-strengthening project where men could get together and say, ‘We could
The project pulls the
community together to build a house for a widow or another family in need.
Around 50 homes have been
built so far, according to Bert Yates.
Often when a woman’s husband
dies she has no way to support herself so she returns to her village. Usually
accommodations are very meager.
Abernathy said local pastors
are involved in the planning and help with construction.
Volunteers work alongside
Kenyans to build the house.
The goal is for the local
pastor to followup house dedications with Bible studies in the new home.
Eventually, the leaders hope to plant churches in those villages.
Bert Yates observed a house
being built in a day.
In one of her e-mail updates
Yates said, “The two-room home we watched being built yesterday was the 50th
home built in the area in the same way — this one for a young widow with three
small children. Her home had been the thatched hut beside the building project
which had two special features — you could see the stars at night and unlike other
homes in her village, she had running water in the house, but only when it
rained — not the piped kind of water, but straight through the holes in your
Yates said Southern Baptists
enabled these houses to be built.
In June 2008, she said they
provided tin, nails and one day’s pay for a skilled carpenter. With that, a
village built a home of twigs, sticks and mud for a family who had lost their
home in a political crisis.
Yates said she was excited
to see a local pastor teaching choruses and Bible verses to the children in the
One of the local men who led
the Yates on a maze of twisting dirt roads to the village told them repeatedly,
“Your coming is such an encouragement.”
Teams have been going to
Kenya through Baptist Men since 2007. Most work at Nyeri Baptist High School,
which is where a team from Spruce Pine was working during the same time of the
North Carolina Baptist Men’s trip. Led by Robert Stroup of First Baptist Church
in Spruce Pine, the six-member team was working on facilities for the girls at
Classrooms and dormitories
are in process of being built. Abernathy said volunteers live at the school and
build relationships with the students and faculty.
For more about N.C. Baptist
Men’s work in Kenya, visit www.baptistsonmission.org/Projects/OutsideUS/Kenya.aspx.
There are no widespread
political problems in Kenya following political unrest after elections in late
Thousands of villagers were
displaced as villages and churches were burned.
Southern Baptists through
Baptist Global Response provided food and relief supplies for months as people
moved about the country.
Bert Yates said none of the
major players have been arrested.
Her concern is that if
something isn’t done that violence will escalate again for the next election in
Yates shares stories, prayer
requests and praises through her blog: http://bertandjackyates.blogspot.com/.
She also set up another site
chronicling stories from Kenya about how the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is
used (http://lottiemoonkenya2008.blogspot.com/) as well as other sites
highlighting work in Kenya.
“The greatest need is for
people to do door-to-door witnessing in areas that have few churches,” she
This serves as “an
incredible spur to get the local Christians who often feel they can do little,
to realize their potential for witnessing and sharing God’s love and
Another need is for teams to
help with follow-up.
“We have seen too many
discouraging examples of a church begun by a volunteer team, but no proper
plans were made for discipleship after the team left and the church quickly
disappears,” she said.
Houses of Hope Project
North Carolina Baptist Men
is assisting the Kenya Baptist Convention in a bold initiative of planting
1,000 new house churches in the next five years. One strategy involves building
houses for families in strategic areas.
Teams will also have
opportunity to minister with children who gather for the project. Volunteer
teams are also welcomed into the local public schools.
For more information contact
Mark Abernathy at [email protected]. Check
- Teams: Teams of 7-8 are
needed to go for 11 days. Ideally, some will work on the house while others
minister with children and adults. The team will be housed and fed at the home
of the Kenya
Volunteer Coordinator. A Kenyan foreman will work with the team on the
- Cost: Exact cost varies
depending on current airfare. Ground cost is approximately $425 per person
(based on 8-person team), includes food, lodging, in-country transportation,
bottled water; entry visa; orientation, and insurance. Airfare typically runs
between $1,300 and $1,800 depending on time of year.
- Dates of Service:
Almost any 14-day time frame can be worked out.
- Other costs: The cost of
each house (which includes materials and salary for two local craftsmen)
is $450. Cost for four houses will be $1,800. For now, NC Baptist Men will
contribute the cost for these houses for the first five teams that sign up for
the project each year.