By Sheila Allen
NW Baptist COnvention, NW Baptist Witness Newsletter
CRESWELL, Ore. — Business will be anything but usual after an international trip by a six-member team of New Hope Baptist Church in this West Oregon town. While the church championed mission efforts around the world for years, the personal experience of hands-on ministry in Kenya has altered the landscape of team members lives for the foreseeable future. Sam Morgan is in his 18th year as pastor at New Hope. During that time he not only served his congregation and town, but has given time as a trustee of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. While serving in that role, Morgan became acquainted with Bill Curp, longtime IMB missionary to Africa now serving as a director of missions in the United States.
“Bill wanted me to go with him to Kenya, as he organizes yearly trips to that country,” Morgan said. “He told me it’s a harvest field there, so two years ago I started to get serious about it.
“Our mission work took place about 300 miles to the west of Nairobi in Western Province in the Kakamega District near theUganda border. The people group we were working among are called the Luhya.”
What the team encountered as they traveled the area with ten others from Missouri, was an absence of the proclamation of the gospel, although other religious groups and many cult groups have a presence.
“We did one-on-one evangelistic work,” Morgan said. “We went to five different remote areas to plant a church, assisted by an interpreter.
“We went to as many homes as we could and for those who were saved daily, we invited them to a meeting that day to a new church beintg started in their area. Work had already been done by local missionaries to identify a pastor to lead the group.”
The results were profound. The team recorded more than 1,100 people who made a profession of faith in Jesus. Others that were not able to be verified were not included in that number. The trip had a life-changing impact on members Carla Goss and Janet Rabideau.
Goss, a member of New Hope since she was a child, had planned for her husband to go on the trip because of a pregnancy. But when she lost that child in a miscarriage, the couple decided she would represent the family.
“We had weekly team meetings to prepare for the trip, and took materials such as soccer balls, Frisbees, face painting supplies and other items, but we did not end up using much of that,” Goss said. “We spent the majority of our time going hut-to-hut making individual contacts with people. “
I definitely had culture shock, due to the primitive living conditions and poverty of the people,” said Goss. “For safety reasons, we had to stay at a retreat center, and it was jarring to go in and out of those conditions.”
Rabideau has only been a part of the church for two years, since a New Hope evangelism team came to her home and she accepted Christ.
“I had never even thought about going to Africa,” Rabideau said. “When I did begin to consider it, I did not have any idea how I would pay for it. But I knew I could collect bottles and cans, and that is how I paid for my shots and passport. I also sold a car and used some of those funds to go and I saw God begin to provide all my needs.”
The team encountered a frightening moment while traveling with a driver to a location when a political demonstration erupted on their route. With their path blocked by frustrated Kenyans, the team immediately stopped to pray.
“I definitely felt a ‘missionary moment’ of God’s protection over us, for at the moment we looked up after praying, ten public transportation vehicles opened a path for us,” Goss said. “They laid a branch on our vehicle which was a sign that cleared the way for us. I knew we were where God wanted us even though the devil’s presence was real. I had never dealt with that kind of aggression before.”
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