A New Frontier for POM

By:  Reuben Mariakol

“When I went to southern Sudan about six years ago, I saw people whose dreams and livelihoods were shattered by war. I saw the returning refugees that had fled to different camps in East Africarueben come back to their country with great anxiety and agony in their hearts when they thought of how to resettle.

I saw spiritual drought and vacuum in the lives of many returnees. Muslims were propagating their Islamic faith, as well as African traditional religion, which is predominant in Africa, were trying to fill that vacuum.

Many organizations were coming in at that time to help the humanitarian situation but many still asked where the preachers were? We therefore felt challenged to do something.” – Remarks by Rev. Julius Murgor of Pokot Outreach Ministries (POM).

The above introductory remarks are actually the cradle of the upcoming mission in South Sudan. While Julius, along with Harvesters partners, was praying for several needs of the Sudanese people, God was already answering their prayer and was in His sovereignty preparing us for the upcoming ministry in South Sudan.

POM realized our calling to ministry and took the burden of paying for our education at Scott Theological College. I join Scott in 2005 and Loice, my wife, joined a year later. I studied theology with a major in Missiology. Loice studied the same with an emphasis in Christian education. We were, therefore, adequately trained for mission work and practice.

In college, God united our hearts and we always felt that God had a special assignment for us. I realized that Loice has a special calling for cross-cultural mission work just as I do. What God kept our hearts to expect a special assignment from Him has finally come.

In 2008, I was sent by the college to South Sudan for a three month internship on mission experience and practice as a requirement for my mission courses. The three months opened my eyes to several realities that Julius mentioned above. While I was still in college and after graduation, I was praying for Sudan, but did not think of serving there any time soon.

During my visit there in early 2012, and upon Julius sharing with me what POM and Harvesters had been praying for, my burden to labor for God’s kingdom in this new country grew very strong. I began to see all my experiences anew. I saw that our calling to ministry, four years of college training, three months of mission experience in southern Sudan (learning Juba Arabic and acquainting myself with the country and the people), God bringing Loice, were all meant to prepare us to serve in Sudan.

I know that the upcoming mission is a result of the prayers of many Christians whose spirits resonate with God’s will and divine plan of making disciples of every nation. South Sudan is a country that has suffered for many years from one the most severe civil wars in Africa.

There are many who, as a result of the war, are maimed, orphaned, widowed, and hopeless. Many are sick spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically, and are faced with enormous challenges. It is, therefore, a time to pray, just as other missionaries prayed; that “God, let our minds be minds that you think through; let our voices be voices that you shall speak through; let our hearts be hearts that you will love through; and let our hands be hands that you will help through.” It is our prayer that as we all partner to present Jesus Christ as the only hope to the new country that was born out of bloodshed.

When Jesus was on earth, he met the needs of his hearers holistically. He first met the spiritual need by forgiving then of their sins and told them to believe in him as the only way, the truth, and the life. This should also be our primary task in the mission field. We will present Jesus Christ as the only hope to fill the God-shaped vacuum in every person’s heart.

Jesus, however, did not command us to just make converts, but disciples. A disciple is a believer who has put his undivided trust in God, having count the cost of following Jesus and constantly overcomes sin and the temptation of falling back.

There is always a challenge of falling back to idolatry and belief in traditional African religions. They seek solutions for their problems from spirits and powers of darkness.

Finally, a disciple is a believer who lives in the power of the Holy Spirit and feeds on God’s word for his growth, not by outward constraint, but by inward compulsion. This is the kind of Christians that we envision in our ministry.

Jesus also healed those who were tormented by spirits. He healed those who were physically sick, accepted and welcomed social outcasts and restored their image by grace. He also fed the hungry. Jesus is seen as a loving, merciful, compassionate, gentle, and caring savior.

Our second task is to help mitigate the problems and challenges facing the people in the spirit of Jesus in practical ways that will give them an opportunity to experience His working just as he did in his ministry on earth. This is by having programs that will speak to the hearts of orphans, widows, children, and adults who are suffering from diseases, some of which can be prevented through improved hygiene and diet.

Many people whose hearts were broken as a result of the war are left with scars that constantly remind them of their sore past. Some are conditioned to that hard life; they need someone to listen to them and to help them heal.

Loice and I have seen that this is the reason why God is sending us to the South Sudan.

We therefore welcome your prayers and support as we prepare to serve God in South Sudan as He makes provision.

The Joy of Saying YES

By:  Emma Rider

I started going on mission trips because I was the little sister who always tagged along with her older brothers. This was before I realized that I had a heart for serving others. I have come to realize a lot since 2008, when I went on my first mission trip to just visit my brother, Nathan, who was working at WaterStep (www.waterstep.org).

joy of yesWaterStep is a nonprofit organization committed to saving lives at risk from waterborne illness anywhere in the world. A couple of years later on another mission trip with WaterStep, I heard about the world water crisis. Startling statistics such as “a child dies every 15 seconds due to water borne illnesses” and “when adults are added to this number it’s like a 747 plane crashing every half an hour and every person on the plane dying” got my attention. These statistics are what started the conversation with WaterStep about how I could help.

WaterStep told me that one of their major forms of fundraising was collecting shoes. Funds are raised by selling the shoes to recyclers or exporters. The money is used for manufacturing water chlorinators and training ordinary people, like you and me, to install these chlorinators in third world countries. This is when I decided to go back to Delaware and do something.

I set a goal of collecting 4,000 pairs of shoes, which at the time was enough for one chlorinator. At that point it seemed like a hefty goal, maybe even unrealistic for a thirteen year old girl. But I was constantly encouraged by my family, friends, WaterStep, and my favorite Bible verse, 1Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

Here we are two and a half years later and over 60,000 pairs of shoes have been sent to WaterStep, this is the equivalent of about $30,000. WaterStep appreciated my work and allowed me to choose a missionary to receive the gift of a chlorinator. Since I had already formed a relationship with Philip, a native Kenyan who runs Grace Outreach Mission, a church, and an orphanage in partnership with Harvesters International, my family and church decided that it was time for a mission trip.

The big realization happened when our flight landed in Nairobi, a few days after Christmas in 2012. Philip greeted me with a hug and whispered in my ear “Emma… Welcome home.” Though I had never been to Kenya, I was made to feel like we had been best friends since birth.

One night after dinner while we were waiting for the chlorinator to finish its cycle, we decided to have some praise and worship in the courtyard. Immediately, Grace, one of the orphans that I had become close with, came up to me, put her arm around me and her worry-free smile that looked up at me was larger than ever. I was so touched to know that she trusted me. If there was any question she wouldn’t have come near me… those kids could read us like a book.

Later when we were all still hanging around outside and Grace was still leaning up against my chest, Tina, a daughter of one of the ladies cooking for us wanted me to hold her. I felt as though I was at home, that I fit in perfectly with those two Africans that were nestled by my sides. We were content and felt loved by each other without even speaking a word.

I had gone with the intentions of bringing clean water to an orphanage, but God was using me in bigger ways than I could have ever imagined. As the week progressed we taught the women and children about health and hygiene and we used our training from WaterStep to install the water chlorinators. It was exciting to hear all of the women teaching others what we had passed onto them. I was humbled as the African men approached me, an American teenage girl, with technical questions about the chlorinator. They were listening, our words were important to them, and they were praising God with every new piece of information they gained. Through their actions I was learning about how God can empower a whole community, whether in Delaware or Kenya, when just one person is willing to say “yes.”

Their Labor is Not in Vain

During the opening session of the 2nd annual Pokot Outreach Ministries Pastor’s Conference, Reverend Kiokio Mwangangi powerfully pointed us to the Jesus who builds, owns and protects his church (Matt 16:18).

As I looked around the large classroom, more than 90 Pokot pastors were laser focused on what Rev. Mwangangi had to say. Hearing the pastors admitting faults, talking about new ideas, confirming truths, and laughing loudly reminded me what this is all about.

not in vainEach evening of the conference the pastors would give updates on what has been happening through the churches in their region. These pastors face many hardships like the lack of clean water, funding, housing, children’s school bills and transportation, all the while attending to their pastoral duties like weddings, funerals, preaching, Sunday school, the church building and much more. I felt as though I was in the presence of the early church as it was beginning to gain momentum all across the known world.

The work of Pokot Outreach Ministries (POM) is extensive and spread out all over the Pokot region of Kenya. Many of these pastors never see each other except for conference like this and they each celebrated in hearing about all that God is doing across their land.

These pastors reminded me of Nehemiah 4:19-20 because they knew it was God who would see them through. God will fight for them, God will build the church and protect them as they help to advance the good news about Jesus.

Still many of the pastors were visibly convicted as Rev Mwangangi reminded them not to be consumed with building, owning or protecting their church, as that is the job of Jesus alone. It can sometimes be hard to remember who is building, who owns and who protects the church when you have so many concerns to address every single day. As I heard this, I too was convicted of all the plans and possessive statements I have made about my church and my ministry back home in Michigan. What a relief to know that I am not the builder, owner or protector of the church!

Near the end of the conference, one of the lead organizers of the conference who’s name is Reuben told the pastors of his hope to be sent out by POM as a missionary to the South Sudan. As I saw all the pastors cheer and affirm Reuben I realized that they know on a far deeper level than I, who it is that builds, owns and protects his church and they were just happy to be a part of it!

As they closed the four day gathering with communion, song and prayer, I was reminded of the verse that was shared with us the previous night after we had watched some video’s of all that has been done in and through the Pokot to advance the Gospel in the last few years. “Therefore, dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain “ (1 Corinthians 15:58).

As you assess all that is going on in your life and begin to feel spread out like the church in Pokot, remember what we have learned both from Nehemiah and the pastors of the Pokot. It is Jesus who builds, owns and protects his church and you and I are able to be a part of it. So whatever part it is that you have to play in building God’s Kingdom remember that ‘your labor in the Lord is not in vain.’

 

Pokot Ministry Update

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings from my trip between Kenya and the US! Kenya was good when I left in mid March, but is still in a general election mood. I was running for senate, which I lost to a lot of money being poured by former president sponsoring my opponent.

As a family, we sought God’s will for the senatorial seat that win or lose we wanted to be God’s will. Therefore, we take it that God wants us to fully concentrate on the ministry. Of course, God gave me an opportunity in the government to witness to the congressmen and I was made the Bishop of Parliament.

The nest for us is periodically empty except for my wife Rachel who is warming it up for us when we go back to it. Josephine is doing well in college at Rochester College in Michigan. She went home to Kenya in December and plans to stay in school in summer trying to work to meet some of the financial expenses. Pray for us on the financial needs of our children both Josephine and the other three in boarding school. Rebecca is doing fine both academically and also in athletics. Miriam is keeping with music. Jumboy (Jared) is a fan of soccer, especially Manchester United. Rachel continues teaching the word to women groups on Tuesdays and Saturdays in addition to teaching third graders.

CHURCH PLANTING & EVANGELISM

The Women and Youth Conferences of August and December gave our ministry a lot of spiritual uplift. Karita, Naparokoscha and Kalowani area in Uganda are full of evangelistic activities as a result of the conferences headed by Peter Ngoleruk. Peter Siwa, who used to be a leader of cattle raiders and killing whoever crossed his path, headed the direction of Turkwel, Kaptolomwo, Kasey, and Korpu area. I had the opportunity to speak in their huge final meeting two weeks ago where a good number of people came to the Lord.

Between the Pokots and Turkanas are the East Pokot who constantly kill each other over water, grazing land, and resources in general have found a solution in the Word of God. The inward changing of the Gospel has made Ugandan government recognize POM for this and have invited us to take over schools that they have established with preaching of the gospel.

ORPHANAGES

pokot update2Kodich orphanage did not do too well on the national exam of last year, 2012. That made it necessary for the head teacher, Yona, to be replaced by Mark Lolem. We have several students going to secondary school from Kauriong orphanage. Spiritually, pastors Solomon in Kauriong and Simon in Kodich continue to lead the kids to Christ, which establishes good character and discipline in the lives of the young people.

We are grateful for the ladies programs in Kodich and Kauriong that as they do the projects they have, there is teachings of the Word of God. Along side with it is the Anti FGM (female genital mutilation) headed by Rebecca at the office. Girls will benefit from this program in an area in which female circumcision is very high and results in many girls marrying at an early age.

Chemolingot orphanage is doing well. Our older kids still go to a nearby elementary school but we hope that we will grow the kindergarten school we just started recently.

WATER DRILLING

God has given us a lot of success in water drilling and it has become a very effective tool in the ministry. The process of drilling water gathers people together in unbelief that water would actually gush out of a dry ground, so they come to see it for themselves. As water comes out of the hole, there is an acknowledgment that God has had mercy on the particular village where the borehole is. In the past two months, we have drilled twelve boreholes and we have succeeded in all of them except two.

I was recently in Losam, an area that generally has no source of water. After being given a bowl of water to clean my face in the morning, I took the first scoop in my hand and put on my face, by the time I went for a second scoop, the bowl was filled up with bees and some were on my hands and I knew that the next would be my wet face, so I took off without completing my morning cleaning.

One borehole accomplishes so much:

-Settles people near the well

-Makes it possible to establish a healthy church

-Makes it possible to establish a school

-Provides rest for the women who no longer have to walk long distances looking for water

-Helps reduce miscarriages on pregnant women

-Reduces the conflict among neighbors

-Provides clean drinking water for the people

-Helps improve the health of the people by cutting down typhoid and other waterborne diseases

Pray that God will provide for this effective tool in our ministry. Thank you for your faithful support, which is such an encouragement to me.