A Bump in the Road

A short-term missionary’s experience in Kenya

From Message magazine issue "Set Free"

There are memorable days, and there are unforgettable days. Recently, ABWE North America missionary Brian Hanson had an unforgettable day in the Kenyan bush.

Although Brian serves in North America, he goes on at least one overseas mission trip per year, and this year, God led him to Kenya with the hope of ministering in a region that has barely heard the gospel. Tensions and violence in the Western Kenyan bush had greatly decreased in recent years, opening the door to take the gospel deeper in to unreached regions.

“We’ve all heard missionaries talk about how events on the mission field build their faith and trust in Jesus, but for those of us who are not missionaries in harsh environments, it’s hard to appreciate what it is like to live and serve day after day, year after year,” said Brian. “These trips give me a glimpse.”

Immediately, Brian got to experience the daily struggles of Kenya’s roads, and by day four, Brian and his team were a full day behind schedule. After mending a flat tire, they bumped over muddy potholed dirt roads into the village of Kamanau to set up camp. Their disappointment that they had not arrived the night before was palpable, as that day they had planned to be deeper in the bush showing the “Jesus Film” where it had never been shown before.

They were disheartened, but God quickly reminded them that no labor in the Lord is in vain when Losikal, the most prominent elder in the area with a violent past as a tribal militia leader, came by the church. Losikal had served time in prison, fled to Ghana on foot, and was now back home because tribal tensions had calmed down.

Although he had been exposed to the church and Christian ways, Losikal had not turned his life over to Jesus, and the team seized the opportunity to share the gospel with him.

Inside a cement-block church under a metal roof with no finished doors or windows, no permanent pews, and no pulpit, Brian sat on a wooden plank and told Losikal about God, as a Kenyan pastor named Aggrey translated.

Brian shared a straightforward presentation of gospel that included God the creator, original sin, the crucifixion and resurrection, forgiveness, and repentance. When Brian finished, he asked Losikal many questions, and this tribal war leader shared that he had been changing his ways, but only because he thought it was a good thing to do, not because of a belief in God.

I have done a lot of bad things that I’m sorry about,” Losikal said. “Now, I see how God worked everything out for you to be here from America for this moment.

Brian asked Losikal if he would like to pray to receive Jesus as his savior, and he agreed, saying that this short conversation had brought clarity he had never had before.

In order to make sure Losikal truly understood in his heart what he was about to do, Brian led Losikal in a repeat-after-me prayer through two translators: first, Pastor Aggrey translated Brian’s prayer into the local language of Pokot, and then, one of Losikal’s son, who was even more familiar with Pokot, translated it again.

“To sit and watch Losikal be saved was as humbling as it gets. It reminded me that everyone is equal at the foot of the cross,” said Brian. “I believe that more than ever, no one is a lost cause.”