Whether it’s providing shelter to Central Americans seeking asylum, welcoming Afghan families in the wake of the Taliban take-over or supporting Ukrainian refugees in Europe, a global community of churches is responding to the world’s most pressing problems and creating change that lasts.
In East Africa, converging climate and political crises put millions at risk. Kenya, for example, hosts over 600,000 displaced people from a dozen countries. In recent years, hundreds of thousands face food insecurity due to prolonged drought in the Turkana region of the country.
Pastor Victor Kimani leads the missions department at Parkland Baptist Church in Nairobi, Kenya. He spoke to us about how his church has been called “from the comfort zone to the challenge zone” in joining World Relief to respond to the needs of their neighbors in Turkana.
Welcome Pastor Victor Kimani. Let’s begin with why did you feel compelled to respond to the crisis in Turkana?
I believe the strength of a church is in its going capacity, not in its sitting capacity. The number of people in the pews does not necessarily speak to the strength of the church. The strength of the church is known by the outreach it does.
Also, the Bible says we are the salt and the light, and this light must shine. It doesn’t shine where there is already light, it shines in the darkness. John chapter one says the light shines and the darkness cannot comprehend him. This is Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Turkana is one of those places where we feel we need to serve in the fulfillment of Matthew 28, where Christ commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. We wanted to respond there long-term so that we can see a community reached, a community transformed for the glory of God.
How did Parkland Baptist’s partnership with World Relief start, and why World Relief?
It started about 11 years ago when we first responded to the droughts in Turkana by providing famine relief. We were able to reach out to the community, but we were only able to help a small number by giving food like dry cereals and some cooking oil for a few days.
It was important for us to look at our efforts for the long term while ministering to their needs. We partnered with another church in the U.S., Wheaton Bible Church, who then introduced us to World Relief.
Our vision for Turkana is the transformation of the whole person, and we share this vision with World Relief. It’s based on John 10:10 where it says, “[Jesus has] come that they may have life, and they might have it more abundantly.” So we think about it holistically – we are seeing physical, spiritual and emotional transformation. We are not just reaching with the gospel but we are also ministering to their needs.
What does this partnership look like practically for your church?
We send groups regularly to do service in Turkana. They help with food security activities, such as digging boreholes (for water) and helping on special farms developed by an agronomist we work with through World Relief.
We also ask people to pray, to give money and to welcome people from Turkana to Nairobi if they are able. This is how we invite people to support the ministry from whatever space they occupy and with whatever they can offer.
We also built in regular support for this ministry into our church budget. So we are commiting with our time, talent and treasure.
What have you witnessed through this partnership?
Since 2011, we have enjoyed our partnership which has really grown through the work. We thank God that we have seen people receive Jesus Christ as Lord. Just last year we had 110 baptisms! Through World Relief, we’ve witnessed expectant women get maternal care who used to have to walk 80 km to get medical attention.
We have seen 200 children go to school, and we have seen the building of new farms and economic growth. We give glory to God for a whole community transformed through the years.
What would you say to other churches in your area that are considering partnering with World Relief or serving in this way?
My plea to the local church in Nairobi is we need to reach out to all. Jesus ministered to the poor and the needy. We are the “light of the world”, we are the “salt of the earth”. Through this partnership, we have seen that scripture being realized.
Partnering with a global organization like World Relief also puts trust in an area in Kenya that is vulnerable. In Turkana, we have one of the largest refugee camps in the world, Kakuma. We are able to reach Ethiopians, Egyptians, we are able to reach the people in the north in Chad and in Libya.
I would encourage more churches to partner with World Relief. It is because of World Relief we are able to fulfill God’s purpose for our church and our communities.
As global crises converge in Turkana and elsewhere, putting millions in vulnerable situations, we invite you to join this global community and create change that lasts by giving today.