Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine
By Bill Oberlin, Pastor of Global Outreach
In February 2012, Global Outreach pastors Bill Oberlin and James Misner traveled to Turkana, Kenya. Bordering South Sudan, this rugged region has recently suffered drought and a malnutrition rate reaching 30 percent in some places.
How thrilling it was to be on the ground among the Turkana people, whom WBC helped through our 2011 MissionsFest Giving Project. I knew the region would be arid, expansive, and impoverished. I was less sure what it might be like to interact with the people. Would they be suspicious? Indifferent? Would we be able to connect and communicate meaningfully with them?
As we touched down on the short landing strip in Lodwar (the only asphalt I recall in the town), we were greeted by Kenyan World Relief staff. Within hours we were meeting with government officials who urged us, “We need your help! We welcome you to help empower the Turkana people.”
Over the next few days we visited half a dozen Turkana communities. We saw the faces of those fed through emergency relief. We watched a new water borehole being drilled by World Relief. We talked with villagers eager to grow better crops to reduce dependence upon others.
We met Turkana pastors—all of whom knew enough English to carry on direct conversations with us—prayed with them, and visited their churches. They spoke of the struggles of their people, but even more, they spoke of their vision for how Christ might work through His Church to bless many people and bring them to allegiance to Jesus.
At the same time, I was struck by the openness of the Turkana people and the passion of the pastors there. We were impressed by a Nairobi church’s commitment to reach fellow Kenyans and build disciples, and of the tremendous potential of responding to their invitations: “Come!”
I found myself imagining, How might God’s Kingdom be realized in a fuller way in Turkana, and how can our church play a part in this process as we look to the future? After all, isn’t that what Jesus taught us to pray? And doesn’t He command us to translate faith into action?