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OCMC News - Planting More Seeds Among the Turkana: The 2016 OCMC Evangelism Team to Kenya

by Alex Goodwin (Posted 4/4/2016)

OCMC News - Planting More Seeds Among the Turkana: The 2016 OCMC Evangelism Team to Kenya
The 2016 OCMC Evangelism team to the Turkana of Northern Kenya shared Orthodox Christianity with nearly 400 people in three villages. Many of them had never heard the Gospel message. Team members shared their Faith through skits, talks, movies, and fellowship.

In the face of 100 degree heat, the shade offered by the large tree we approached was welcoming, but would the 90+ people already gathered beneath the tree be as welcoming? We had traveled by truck for more than four hours, a group of students from Holy Cross Seminary, a priest, a former missionary to Albania, several OCMC staff members, and the newly-ordained Bishop of the Kisumu Diocese, His Grace Athanasius, to share the Orthodox Faith with people in three villages OCMC had never before visited. We’d learned from experience that these first meetings can go many different ways, from joyous celebration to suspicious hesitation.

The people of the first village we visited knew we were coming, but we could tell that they had questions about who we were and why we were there. Thankfully we also had three Turkana Orthodox priests with us as well to help with first introductions. We greeted the elder men first, then the women, and then the youth and children, as is customary in Turkana society. We shared about ourselves and where we were from. Common bonds like the fact that we had children and that we were people of faith helped us open up to one another. These bonds, however, were sealed in the most beautifully Turkana way imaginable – through song and dance. That is where it all began!

The Turkana teach through story. We came with the story of Christ – His life, death, and resurrection. We presented what we could from the Gospel in the form of skits. Some of them elicited laughter, others fear, and still others questions. Each skit was followed by a time where the stories could be more fully explained. More questions followed, we enjoyed a meal together, and slowly the idea of Christ as God was shared – an idea further planted by the showing of a movie about Christ’s life translated into the Turkana language.

For three days to the people of three villages, nearly 400 in all, we planted this seed, and we saw our prayers answered. We are Orthodox. We know that coming to the Faith is a journey. We were not expecting to convert these people. We just wanted to invite them to embark on a journey toward Christ. Thankfully, as we prepared to leave, each village asked that we return to continue sharing about this Jesus Christ!

With this invitation, the Turkana Orthodox priests said they would come again. Over time, a year or more, those who want it will be catechized. The richness of the Orthodox Faith and its fulfillment of their own beliefs will be revealed. Then through the sacrament of Holy Baptism, they will join our Orthodox family.

This is how it has happened in more than 15 Turkana villages since 2007, and it has seen more than 1,500 people come into the Faith. The work must continue! Each team, each missionary, each donation, and each prayer plays its part in welcoming people into the Church and transforming lives forever.

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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