My Journal of Visit to Kenya to Preach the Gospel - Vernon Johnson

Preliminary Report:
As most of you have requested that I keep you updated on the events of the meetings with the brethren in Kenya, I am making this first prelimary report before I leave tomorrow to fly to Kenya. As most of you may know I began to communicate with a Martin Onyoni from Kenya after that he first contacted me by email with a desire to have me help him and a few others with their spiritual growth. After an initial email discussion I began to furnish him preaching tapes, study tapes, King James bibles, song books, along with essays, articles and other writings by Primitive Baptist on scriptural subjects. This has continued for over 20 months. What started out as about 8 people listening to the tapes and reading the reading materials has grown to groups in five different communities listening to the tapes and reading the reading materials, I have furnished to each group approximately 500 preaching sermons by sound Primitive Baptist preachers, about 100 study tapes outlining the basic primitive baptist beliefs and practices. The preaching tapes have been of numerous preachers and I have screened them all so as not to have any preaching or teaching that I considered unsound. The study tapes I have done myself. The reading materials contain most of what I have attempted to write over the years, as well as many capable writers and again I have screened what I have sent them so as to exclude knowingly sending them any thing that I consider unsound. These writings include doctrinal articles, historical articles, practical articles, and scriptural expository articles. After about three months of furnishing the above, Brother Martin told me that the groups desired that Primitive Baptist churches be organized and constituted in Kenya. He has indicated to me that several (I don't know how many) who have been listening to the tapes and reading the material have indicated that they believe they have a burden to preach. While I am in Kenya on this trip, there will be no church constituted, there will be no ordinations, and any baptized will be first screened to determine if they are qualified to be members of the Primitive Baptist Church. I am to meet with Elder Obey MWakalonge at Nairobi on Friday and will be met by Brother Martin Onyoni and the driver and another study participant at Nairobi airport on Friday night. We will spend Friday night in a motel in Nairobi and travel to Nyachenge, just outside of Kisii on Saturday. Our first worship service will be on Sunday morning in Nyachenge. All who may be baptized will become members of the Dar Es Salaam Primitive Baptist Church of Tanzania of which Elder Obey is the pastor. It will be Elder Obey's and the Dar Es Salaam Church's responsibility to determine when a preacher is ready to be ordained and when a group is ready to be constituted into a church. I will continue to furnish them with tapes and writings and bibles. In addition to preaching and baptizing, we plan on having extensive discussions with those who believe they may have a burden to preach. Also, I plan on discussing with each group the process that will be required for that group to become a fully constituted church. It is my intention that nothing be done hastily, but that all may be done decently and in order. I do ask each of you to continue to pray for these people and that God will bless our efforts to preach and teach His word to His name's honor and glory.

Friday, 2 February 2007
I arrived at Nairobi airport and checked through customs and then went to pick up my bags. The bag with my clothes had not arrived. It was left in Amsterdam. I had brought an extra change for just an emergency. I was told that the bag would be at the airport the next morning. After picking up the one bag that had been sent, I went to meet Elder Obey, Brother Martin, Brother William, and the driver. We then proceeded to pick up the rent car. We had problems with the rental agency as they had not reserved a midsize car as I had requested, but a small car that would be inadequate for our needs. Since I had problems with communications with the lady at Budget Rent a Car, the driver negotiated for me. We had to use the small car that first night, but got a larger car the next day that was actually a little cheaper than the one that I had reserved for our use. We spent the night in a hotel in Nairobi. Unfortunately there was a "club" next door to the Hotel and they played extremely loud music until well past 2:00 a.m. I got very little sleep that night. Also, the plane ride over had been very exhausting. It had been a 2 and one half hour trip from DFW to Detroit, and an 8 hour flight from Detroit to Amsterdam, and an 8 hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi and by the time I arrived in Nairobi I was physically exhausted. I had very much pain in my back and legs.

Saturday, 3 February 2007
We had breakfast at the Hotel and then went back to the airport to get my bag. However, it had not arrived. Was told that it would arrive that night. We then went to the Rent a Car and picked up our car. Driving in Nairobi was quite an experience of "Chicken." I would not recommend any American to try it and I was glad that I had hired a driver to do all the driving. The roads from Nairobi to Kisii were terrible. On most of the road there appeared to have been no maintenance for years. Potholes were everywhere and in some stretches the pavement was non-existent, just rocks and dirt. An average FM road in America is 10x better than the major roads that I had seen in Kenya. Our drive to Kisii and then to Nyachenge took most of the day. The roads actually got much worse after we left the main highway. Our arrival that night at Nyachenge and Bro. Martin's house was wonderful. We were extremely warmly greeted by many who had gathered at Bro. Martin's house awaiting our arrival. There were many testimonials that night about the blessings God had sent to them through the materials I had furnished to them. In addition, there were several questions asked and answered concerning scriptural teachings and practices of the Primitive Baptist. The living arrangements are much more primitive than I am used to. There is no electricity, no running water, and the old outdoor privy and bath house. Bro. Martin had well prepared for our coming. We had mosquito nets for our beds and locks for our doors. The temperature is warm during the day and cools off a bit at night. This is their summer. They are having an unusually rainy February. Most of the people of Kisii subsist on Agriculture. The economy is extremely poor. The land is beautiful farm land on rolling hills and mountains.

Sunday, 4 February 2007
We prepared for worship services and walked a few hundred yards to a beautiful clearing where services were to be conducted. When we came up to the clearing the most beautiful Primitive Baptist hymns were being sung by many who had already arrived. After song services, Bro. Martin offered prayer and Elder Obey preached first. He preached to the people in Swahili and was warmly received speaking on the freedom that comes from knowing the truth. I followed him and Elder Obey interpreted what I said in Swahili for the benefit of those who didn't know English or had trouble with my accent. I preached on Rom. 8:1 showing four different condemnations taught in the scriptures and how we are delivered from those condemnations. The message was warmly received. Afterwards, Elder Obey opened the door of the church for receipt of members through water baptism. I would estimate approximately 50 people came forth. These will be baptized, and become members of Elder Obey's church in Dar Es Salaam which has extended an arm to Kenya for the receipt of members. We broke for lunch and had services again Sunday afternoon. Elder Obey spoke on grace and I followed speaking on Rom. 8:2. Again the messages appeared to be well received. Later at Bro. Martin's house, several came by and had questions to which we gave scriptural answers. These people appear to be genuinely interested in the truth and in serving the Lord.

Monday, 5 February 2007
We set aside a day of discussion with the leaders of the five groups. During this time we instructed them on basic doctrines and practices of the church. We had many questions not only about doctrine and practices, but also about how to handle many situations and conflicts that come up in life. There were 11 leaders present and I asked them if they had a burden to preach the gospel and all 11 said that they did.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007
We traveled to the Nyarenda Group where we conducted morning and afternoon services. I preached on the "love of God" in the morning and on the "new creature" in the afternoon. The messages were well received. I really can't tell what Elder Obey as he spoke in Swahili and Brother Martin interpreted in Kisii. Kisii is the tribal language and Swahili is the common language of all the tribes in Kenya and in most of the southern half of Africa. The majority of the people in Kisii area are somewhat fluent in three languages! These are a somewhat educated people, but extremely poor in material things. They send their children to schools where they live during the week and return home on weekends. The schools have 12 week terms, then the children are home for four weeks until the next 12 week term begins. The last 12 week term is followed by 2 weeks of testing and then they are home for 6 weeks. The singing is definitely Primitive Baptist. They have been using the Old School Hymnal #10 that I furnished them and singing the words in Kisii. The hymns are recognizable by the tune and the sound is heavenly and by observing their expressions as they sang, they were singing from the heart. They sang for an hour before preaching services and then many stayed around to sing while lunch was being prepared. They love to sing the old hymns and joy filled their hearts as they did. It was an emotional day for many. There were about 50 present for the services with about a dozen who had been at the meeting at Nyachenge. At the close of the morning service 5 came forth requesting to join the Primitive Baptist church and to be baptized. During the lunch break the leaders gathered around for a question and answer session. On a personal note, my clothes bag finally arrived. Unfortunately, my notebook computer had been removed. I think this probably happened at Amsterdam. Travel to Nyarenda was extremely difficult because of the awful conditions of the roads.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007
We traveled to the Neburunga Group and were warmly greeted upon arrival. At all the groups during the week, the school age children are in school. They live at the school and come home on the weekend. In the morning service I spoke on the "humility of Christ" and on the importance of God's people to be humble. At the close of services, 6 people came forward requesting to join and be baptized. In the afternoon service, I spoke on the subject of God's choices. This was received with much rejoicing. At the close of the afternoon service, four more came forward asking to join and be baptized. When we returned to Brother Martin's home, I had a very long talk with the driver. He told me that he and his wife were 7th Day Adventist. He also said that there was something different about the Primitive Baptist and he wanted to know more. He also requested I send him 5 song books so that he, his wife, and three children could learn the songs. Also he wants both tapes and essays that he may learn what Primitive Baptist believe as he thinks he would be interested in joining the Primitive Baptists. Clearly, he has been touched and moved by the Holy Spirit. Praise God! These people in Kisii have a strong desire to carry the gospel throughout all Kenya, but they need much teaching and training before they are ready to do so. Elder Obey has his work cut out for him. Elder Obey will train the leaders, who will in turn train the other people according to the words of Paul to Timothy, "The things you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." In my lifetime, I haven't seen such a general moving of the Spirit among the Lord's people in the U.S. as I am observing in Kenya. I have heard stories about this type of moving of the Spirit in previous generations. I pray that God would move upon us in the U.S. in this manner once again.

Thursday, 8 February 2007
We traveled to the Gakero Group. This is led by Brother Thomas. We were warmly greeted by a small group that grew some as the morning progressed. I would guess this group consists of about 15 people and we had about 10 visitors from other groups. A school was near by and a large group of students would come and sit down to see the "white" preacher. This happened about three times then they would be called away to go back to classes. Throughout my trip, I have been a fascination to the children. Most all of them have never seen a white man before. They rejoice when I waive to them. They are ecstatic when I take their picture. In the morning service, I spoke on the new birth. At the close of the morning service 6 came forward asking to join and be baptized. One, however, will not be baptized as he has three wives. In the evening service, I spoke on Rom. 10:1-4 and at the close of the service, 4 came forward and asked to join and be baptized. Between services, we again had a Question and Answer session with the group leaders that were present. After services, we traveled to an outdoor garage where we had some work done to the gas tank of the car as it developed a leak. Total cost - $15. We had further discussions that night with the driver whose name is Wycliff. He marveled that Bro. Obey's message and mine fit together so well. He asked if we had talked together before hand and coordinated what we were going to preach. We told him no. I told him further that I didn't even know what Bro. Obey had preached as he spoke in Swahili and Bro. Martin had interpreted in Kisii. We told him it was the leadership of the Holy Spirit. His interest grows deeper every day.

Friday, 9 February 2007
We were to travel to Etanda Group led by Henry Oruta Onguti. We were delayed by more problems with leakage of the gas tank in the car. This was fixed and we began our journey around 2:30 P.M. We arrived about 3:30 and it began to rain. We conducted services in Brother Henry's home with about 20 people present. Bro. Obey spake from John chapter 3 about Nicodemus. I spoke on the subject of "predestinate." It appeared the messages were well received and 6 came forward requesting baptism. At the close of the service, the rain stopped and Bro. Henry informed us that there were some at their regular meeting site waiting for us. We climbed about 2/3 of the way up the side of a mountain to their regular meeting site. About 30 people were gathered there including several young children. I preached on the subject of discipleship and five more came forward requesting baptism. One elderly woman was overcome with joy and hugged my neck about a dozen times. She was so excited that the true gospel had come to Kenya. We were informed, that others had left early as we were too late in arriving and they had to go home.

Saturday, 10 February 2007
We met with the leaders of the various groups to answer their questions and to give them instruction on basic bible doctrines. We did this in a preaching service with singing, prayer, and preaching. Bro. Obey went first and preached in Swahili with Bro. Martin interpreting in Kisii on the subject of leadership. I followed preaching on the subject of Federal Headship and Total Depravity. In the afternoon, we had an additional service with Bro. Obey preaching on the administration of the church and I followed preaching on the doctrine of election. After each service, we had a question and answer session. The leaders seemed to have a good understanding of Federal Headship and Total Depravity. They also indicated they understood the doctrine of election. Many of their questions centered around the administration of the church. They seemed satisfied with the answers. While we were having services the driver, Wycliff, took the car to pick up some needed supplies for the baptism service and communion service to be conducted on Sunday. While returning he was involved in an accident. The car suffered some damage to the front end and on the passenger side. It was still driveable. Wycliff and Bro. Martin went to report the accident to the local police. Now we will fill out an accident report and the police report and give it to Budget Rent A Car. Thankfully, I purchased the insurance for the car. We are most thankful that no one was injured in the accident and offered our thanksgiving to God for watching over the car occupants.

Sunday, 11 February 2007
We awoke early and prepared for the day. We went to the Nyarenda site where we had services and a very large crowd had gathered. This afternoon the first baptisms in Kenya would take place. Bro. Obey and I both spoke on the subject of Baptism. After services, we went down to the river. With great joy by all, we began the baptizing. I don't yet know the final number who were baptized, but I guess it was around 70. As we came up out of the water, the people began to sing hymns of praise to God. After we were changed into dry clothes, we gathered back at the site of the morning service and went into the communion service that only could be participated in by baptized believers. We took of the unleavened bread and the wine, but before we could wash one another's feet the rains came and we had to leave for refuge from the rain deluge. Many had to leave to catch their matatus to go home because of the lateness of the hour. Therefore, we were unable to take of washing of the feet. Elder Obey will return another time and commune with them. Also, there were some that were ill and some who were unable to get transportation at that time who want to be baptized. Bro. Obey promised to return to baptize these and others who join in the meantime. When we returned to Bro. Martin's house we received a phone call that Elder Obey's wife was ill and was taken to the hospital in Dar Es Salaam with malaria and that he was needed to come back home. We made plans to leave early on Monday morning for Kisumu where there is a national airport and Bro. Obey can fly to Nairobi and there catch a flight to Dar Es Salaam.

Monday, 12 February 2007
We arose at 3:30 a.m. and prepared for the day and left at 4:30 to drive to Kisumu which is a 2 hour drive. We arrived at 6:30 and stopped at Bro. Martin's eldest brotherís house and ate breakfast. From there we went to the airport and bought tickets for Bro. Obey to return to Dar Es Salaam. His flight departed on time and we went to drop off Bro. Martin's brother at his work place. We visited with him for awhile and then went to the Budget RAC office in Kisumu to report the accident. From there we filled up the car with gas and went to see Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is a very large, but dirty and polluted lake. Some shipping takes place between Kenya and Uganda over the lake. We observed some large sailboats filled with charcoal that had been shipped from Uganda to Kenya. Next, we went to the national museum at Kisumu. Unfortunately, I had left my camera at Bro. Martins' house. Kisumu is a much more prosperous city than Kisii and a large portion of the people have jobs. Some even have electricity and running water. We stopped and purchased some supplies at the Nakumatt, which is a supermarket common in Kenya. We then ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant in the same building. From there we departed back to Kisii. We stopped in Kisii at some roadside markets where Bro. Martin purchased some vegetables and sugar cane for the next few days meals. We returned to his home and arrived around 6:00 p.m. I was exhausted.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007
I went for a walk with Bro. Martin's father and had a delightful visit with him. He is teaching me a few Swahili words. This afternoon we journeyed to a subgroup of the Etanda Group. I expected we would probably meet with 8-10 people as this was a subgroup. However, about 40 people showed up for afternoon service. I learned later that most of these had only recently started attending their studies. Two of this group had joined and been baptized at the river on Sunday. I preached on seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. This seemed to be very well received. At the close of service, 3 came forward asking to join and be baptized. They will be baptized when Elder Obey returns. Afterwards we had a question and answer session with the people who seemed very satisfied with the answers. Several asked me if I could come back and preach to them again before my departure. Unfortunately, our schedule will not allow it. The group of people will need much teaching as most of them are coming from other orders of people. The 7th Day Adventists have a strong presence in the Kisii area. However, none of the other orders are preaching the whole counsel of God. Also, they seem to adulterate their beliefs with the ungodly customs of the people. The people I am seeing want to be taught the truth and in my opinion, the Primitive Baptists will have a very large presence in Kisii and throughout Kenya.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007
We went into Kisii to effect some repairs upon the car. The spark plugs were fouled and it had water in the gas filter. The cost of the spark plugs was $9 for 4 plugs. The labor was $4.50. This was slightly less than American garages! We took lunch at a hotel restaurant and then viewed a couple of hotel rooms. A single bed with bathroom with running water, commode, and shower is $15 a night. A double bed with the same amenities plus a sitting room is $22.50 a night. That afternoon we went to the Keburunga group. I answered many questions about the church before services. During services, I preached on the miracle whereby Jesus fed the multitude with 5 barley loaves and two small fishes. It was well received and one sister came forward as we sang the closing hymn and requested baptism. Again, she will be baptized when Elder Obey returns in a few days. The Lord is adding to the church daily such as should be saved.

Thursday, 15 February 2007
We met with about seven of the leaders and we had prayer, sang a song, and I preached to them on the subject of the new birth speaking for about an hour and a half. Before this service, I answered many questions on the meaning of many passages of scripture as well as questions about how to apply the scriptures to their personal living and what they should do about many of their customs which conflict with the teaching of the scriptures. The answer to the latter, of course, is to cease practicing the custom, to which, they said they would. That afternoon we rested and then walked down to the local market as it was market day in this general community. There was lots of foodstuff and clothing being sold as well as other items. There seemed to be many more sellers than buyers.

Friday, 16 February 2007
We had our final scheduled leaders meeting. We began with prayer and a song and I spoke to them about our communion service, showing them why we use unleavened bread and wine and why we wash feet. The message was well received. Both before and after the service there were many questions asked about the meaning of different scriptures. These questions came from throughout the bible showing me that they are doing much reading and studying. That afternoon we went to see the soapstone factories and shops, which was very interesting.

Saturday, 17 February 2007
We went to Gakero Group on the afternoon. We were warmly greeted by about 20 people who had waited a good while as we were again delayed by needed car repairs. After song service and prayer, I preached on the Word and the word. The message was warmly received and during the closing song, three came forth requesting baptism. These will be baptized when Elder Obey returns in a few days.

Sunday, 18 February 2007
We set forth to go to the Nyarenda group. 19 members of this group had been baptized the previous Sunday. This was the furtherest group away and it took us about an hour and a half to get there by car over very rugged terrain. We arrived there around 10:30 a.m. and sang till about 11:00. After public prayer I spoke outlining the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ along with His calling and sending the 12 apostles and 70 other preachers. I would estimate there were 35-40 people present and the message seemed to be very well received. As we sang the closing song, an opportunity was given for joining the church through water baptism but no one came forth. This was the first time day we had services that no one joined or so I thought. We had lunch and the group wanted to say their goodbyes to me. While this was happening, they requested I preach to them one last time. I spoke on Rom. 10:1-4. At the close, three came forth requesting baptism. A total of 10 have requested baptism since the baptismal service the previous Sunday. In addition, there were some who had requested baptism before and were not able to get transportation to the site. Also, some have been sick who have requested baptism. I suspect when Elder Obey returns he may have as many as 20-25 to baptize. There is a great zeal among the people to know more about God's word. They want to be taught the truth. Bro. Martin has interpreted every sermon I have preached from English to Kisii and every sermon Bro. Obey preached from Swahili to Kisii. After my last sermon, his voice gave out. His voice lasted until after my last sermon, I believe, by the providence of God.

Monday, 19 February 2007
This day was set aside for goodbyes. As it turned out several of the leaders came by Brother Martin's house and asked many more questions about the meanings of various scriptures and about Primitive Baptist practices, both why we do things and why we don't do other things. These are the same questions I have answered many times to inquiring people in the U.S. I was also informed that after we left Nyarenda on Sunday afternoon that 2 elderly men who had only recently began attending their meetings asked to be baptized. This brings the number who have requested baptism since the previous Sunday to 12. We also visited a couple of sick people and had prayer for them. We visited some of Bro. Martin's neighbors who are members of the church also.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007 and Wednesday, 21 February 2007
We spent these two days visiting sick people and people in the hospital. Also, we had several people stop by Bro. Martin's house who had questions about scriptural teachings to which we gave answer.

Thursday, 22 February 2007
We began our trip back to Nairobi taking a longer route, but the road was considerably better, but still not very good. It took us a little over 6 hours to get to Nairobi and then we had to endure about an hour of traffic jams before we got to the airport. We delivered the car back to Budget RAC and had our parting remarks to Brother Martin and his wife Annah who accompanied me back to Nairobi, and to the driver Wycliff. The last thing Wycliff said to me was "When you return I want you to baptize me. The flights both to Kenya and returning are by far the most physically taxing part of the total trip.