After six long months without rain, the animals have grown very thin, and the Pokot people of northern Kenya have little to feed their families. Goats and camels clomp through the dust of a wide riverbed, lapping at the mud on the edges. John Nambair stands under a new roof in this village called Those Shallow Wells, playing an In Touch Messenger for a gathering of young children.
The church is just forming, and Nambair is seeing to its life, while his mentor, missionary Art Davis, attends to a bore hole being drilled a few kilometers away. This drilling will result in a permanent source of water for the Pokot, bringing many people to the area. And those people will need a church.
“Everybody is needed in the church,” Nambair tells the boys and girls. He invites them to come every week for Sunday school, where they can worship and praise God. Nambair is a pastor, evangelist, and district leader for the African Inland Church in this region. He says that wherever he plants a church, the first to come are always the children. “And they will continue attending that church until they become big. They serve that church.”
When he was a child, Art and Mary Ellen Davis came to Nambair’s village, preaching the gospel. And every morning, he and his friends would run to the Davises’ house to get biscuits and sweet oranges. With a captive audience, Mary Ellen would begin to teach the children the Bible.
After a time, Nambair developed a problem with his hip. “I was unable to walk, so I was just crawling.” The Davises brought him by mission plane to the city for treatment. “I prayed seriously to God,” Nambair says, “that He help this leg to get well.” And it wasn’t long before he was better. “Now I’m using my legs to walk and preach the gospel.”
Today Nambair is 50 years old, and the Davises are in their late 70s. “They are my spiritual parents,” says Nambair. “They’ve grown old, so I’m helping them continue [sharing] the gospel and maintain the administration of the church.”
To equip the Pokot wherever he goes, Nambair uses both the Bible and Dr. Stanley’s sermons stored on the Messenger audio device. He gives Messengers to the chiefs and leaders so that as they minister to the community through the fair administration of water, they have something even greater to share. “We give to them so they can feed themselves as well as those under them.”
So far, the gospel has reached only a small number of Pokot communities along the roads. But as water is brought up from the earth, more people will come. Churches will be planted. And when young children encounter leaders whose servanthood and love resemble that of Jesus, they will continue the church, as John Nambair has done.
Photographs by Audra Melton