Kakuma Refugee Camp: “Now, Where is the Water ?”
Part of the Kakuma Refugee Camp that stretches way into the distance, providing for some of the 968,790 refugees in Kenya
Every time I start packing up for a trip to the ecclesia at Kakuma Refugee Camp, I get engulfed in memories of the long and exhausting 900-km road journey ahead; but all of a sudden thoughts of smiling faces of brethren, sisters and contacts eagerly awaiting Â“the feet of those who bring good tidingsÂ” cross my mind and get me enthusiastic for the journey.
Bro Lovis Mbongo joined me on a 5-day visit to Kakuma Refugee Camp. As always, the journey to Kakuma is never uneventful; our trip Â– this time round coincided with a terrorist attack carried out at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi and so we had to put up with several security checks at a number of roadblocks set up by the police (where all passengers had to get off the bus and present their identification documents) in an effort to apprehend the perpetrators of that heinous act. There have been allegations Â– by Kenyan authorities Â– that the said attack had been planned and masterminded by some refugees in the Kakuma Camp; therefore every one travelling to and from the camp was considered a suspect.
Bible Studies and Baptisms
The first activity of our visit started late in the afternoon on the same day of our arrival, with a Bible study session where Bro Lovis was the main speaker. He refuted the belief in the trinity which attracted a heated discussion from the audience that was made up of many friends who believed in it. Due to a good number of questions which came up during the debate, we decided to extend the question-and-answer session to the following morning. As expected, the ecclesial hall was full to capacity. We took great pains to answer to so many questions mainly about the basic teachings of the Bible (God, Jesus, Kingdom, Satan/ sin, Israel, baptismÂ…).
Bro Lovis Mbongo leading the Bible talk
The climax of the trip came after conducting interviews with ten of those who had expressed the desire to be baptized, eight of whom gave a good confession of their understanding and belief in the name of Jesus Christ and the things concerning the Kingdom of God. Immediately after the interviews, I told the eight that they qualified for baptism and nothing could prevent them from being baptized. I could see their faces shining with joy and one of them asked me a pertinent question: Â“Now, where is the water?Â” I kept silence for a few seconds because I thought having travelled all the way from Nairobi I was the one who should have asked that question. It was a sharp contrast from the account in Acts 8:36 where the Ethiopian eunuch said: Â“Â… Look, water! What is stopping me from being baptized?Â” I felt challenged and had no option but to devise a solution; thus, came the idea of digging a hole in the ground. But as soon as water was poured into, the sandy soil swallowed it up. A friend suggested we put in some water-tight material first and then pour water in. We gave some money to buy a plastic sheeting which was promptly brought and fitted in the hole. The plan finally worked out well and the baptisms were carried out.
The makeshift baptismal pool. Sis. Regina Asende emerging from the water of baptism.
Our new brothers and sisters
So, the mission was crowned with eight baptisms: three brothers and five sisters were added to the number of the LordÂ’s family at Kakuma. They were given the right hand of fellowship and then welcomed to partake of the emblems during the memorial service held on Sunday. The two following days were spent on a door-to-door preaching campaign to the homes of many friends who had shown interest in learning the Truth.
Our visit came to an end after a meeting with the ecclesial committee who shared with us stories of the ups and downs of life in the camp as Christians; most importantly, the progresses and challenges facing the ecclesia.
Kakuma: An Ecclesia on the move
On our previous visit the main mission consisted of helping brethren put up a meeting hall following an incident whereby Somali Muslim refugees had destroyed and vandalized the ecclesial hall claiming that it was built in an area they termed Â‘theirsÂ’. We managed to present our case to the administrative authorities who dealt kindly with us by granting our request for a different site where a new meeting hall now stands. I was amazed at the unshaken resolve of Kakuma brethren to have a meeting place despite the challenge they bravely faced without dispiriting their stand in the Truth. From that backdrop, the ecclesia at Kakuma has moved from strength to strength and as a result has seen an increase in the number of both those baptized and those interested in the Truth.
Every time I leave Kakuma, I always feel happier than when I arrived there because of the warm welcome from brethren and how people, in such harsh living conditions, are responsive to the good news of the Kingdom of God unlike those in urban setups. That makes me more than willing to go back there over and over again knowing that Kakuma is a field where the Â“harvest is plenteousÂ” awaiting labourers.
May the Lord, who Â“is able to save completely those who come to God through himÂ”, strengthen their faithÂ“for it is God who worksÂ… to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.Â” Amen!
Singing to the Lord
Bro Innocent Baruani (Nairobi, Kenya)