Laurie-Ann and Tony Copple
Ministry trip to Migori, Kenya

In Kenya: July 5- 19
Out of Canada July 3 - 22, 2005

Journal   by Tony Copple                    Listen now                        Sponsor an AIDS orphan

30 June 2005
Final preparations
It's the calm before the calm. I know we are leaving in 3 days from now, but I feel remarkably relaxed about it. I have had this feeling before, when I have been outside my comfort zone for the Lord, and I believe it comes from the prayers of many people. I have prepared most of my Alpha talks, with notes in pencil filling a standard green Alpha manual. These notes should be sufficient for me to cover as many as 11 of the talks, depending on how much time we have. I have also prepared the "How to run Alpha" talks, which I have covered in trainings in Ottawa before for local leaders. The concept of combining the Alpha teachings with training leaders to teach the course is not common; for me it is certainly an experiment necessitated by circumstances, and I don't know how well it will work. We will be carrying with us the financial gifs of many supporters from Alpha and our church, meeting specific needs requested by our host, Bishop John Okinda, founder of the Migori Worship Centre.

Bishop John Okinda

Bishop John had visited Ottawa in November 2004 at the invitation of Vinita Baker, Ambassador Ministries in Covenant, and her husband Harry, of Russell, Ontario, and it was on that trip that he caught the vision of Alpha. He had spoken at St. Paul’s Anglican, Kanata, where we worship, and spent an evening at our home with other guests (when Laurie-Ann served him the traditional Kenyan dish sukuma wiki), and we had reinforced the Alpha concept. He had invited Meaghan Kidd, also from St. Paul’s, and Alanna Box to Migori for three months to help him prepare paperwork and sponsorship records for his AIDS orphanage, and he then invited us to Migori in July to be speakers at his “All People’s” conference scheduled from12 – 16 July. He wanted us to introduce the Alpha course, and we suggested expanding the scope to include coaching his pastors and lay leaders on how to run the course.

Laurie-Ann and I feel very blessed by this opportunity for service, even though, in my case, it's a bit like diving off the high board for the first time, but into lamb-infested waters.

Wed 6 July 2005
5:00 am, 1 hour out from Nairobi, and shortly overflying Marsabit, where Laurie-Ann has been on two previous missions. Kenya Airways is excellent: wonderful food and service, and for entertainment I chose "Ray" and "Cellular" the first time on any airflight for me the movie sound was stereo - Oh joy! We sat next to an English lady, Jean N, who is an Alpha leader near Leeds! During the night I dozed, imagining myself in front of a Migori audience. Hopefully I will be able to delivery my messages in a humble and meaningful way. Preparing the talks from "Questions of Life" has brought yet more insight to me, even though I have watched them all on video about 20 times.

We were picked up at the airport by Peterson, on the staff of the Anglican Church of Kenya Guest House, and went there for two days of rest and preparation. Lunch was our first Kenyan meal, with spinach, of course. We walked downtown for groceries and a cybercafe.

At dinner we met Bishop Victor from the Congo, here with two other Bishops on a course improving their English. He hadn't heard of Alpha, and after a brief description and a copy of a French "Why Jesus?" was quite excited about it.

Anglican Church of Kenya Guest House

After dinner L-A and I spent time in prayer, and I started making a second copy of my notes in another green Alpha manual, as revision, and so that I can leave one in Migori if appropriate. Tomorrow morning we'll confirm flights and arrange to visit Gathoni at the Alpha Kenya office to pick up the kiSwahili "Questions of Life" that we had ordered.

Fri 8 July 2005
On Thursday morning I walked downtown and spent a happy hour in the Cyber Dome keying in my first report for this journal to Tim Parris in Ottawa who posted it on the web. I also visited a bank to change some money (and see what the banks were like). Nairobi is full of elderly cars, vans and busses, and in a flash I fully appreciated the Ontario Drive-Clean campaign. At 2:00 pm we kept an appointment with Gathoni Hamilton-Foster, Sally Start’s opposite number in Alpha Kenya. She is delightful, and had collected 20 Swahili Alpha manuals and 75 English “Why Jesus” booklets for us. The Alpha manuals were augmented by material from “Questions of Life.” Gathoni confirmed that one of her Alpha leaders would be joining us in Migori after a few days. We next visited the Anglican Cathedral, and surprised Rev. Tom Otieno, Youth Pastor, who had been with Laurie-Ann on her Marsabit mission in 2001.

L-A with Gathoni Hamilton-Foster

At 6:30 Friday morning, Peterson drove us to the airport. We landed in Kisumu at 9:30, greeted by a shout from Meaghan and Alanna, who had come with Bishop John to meet us. The girls were in great spirits, and looking very healthy. Bishop John accepted Marsha's gift very gratefully. He took us for a good breakfast at a hotel. While we were eating, our driver Richard had purchased 48 blankets, donated by a dear friend Marsha, and they were stacked on the roof of the van.

We started on the three-hour drive to Migori. In many places along the way were makeshift stalls selling food and household goods, with people, goats and cows everywhere. The road was tarmac, but not too smooth, and we kept up a good speed. Alanna looked into my guitar case and saw with dismay that the head of the fretboard had snapped in two. Must have been badly handled somewhere after Amsterdam. Could I mend it? When we arrived in Migori we were able to buy some woodworkers glue. We passed the Migori Worship Centre on our way to Bishop John's home, where we were to stay the first few nights. No running water. Generator for power. A happy atmosphere with kids and a variety of animals. We met Pam, his beautiful wife.

Arrival at Bishop John's and Pam's house

They fed us and we unpacked. Laurie-Ann gave Bishop John the rest of the donations we had brought with us, to pay for food for the conference visitors, bicyles for pastors, kiSwahili Bibles and other essentials. At least I think that was when she gave it to him: she had organized every administrative aspect of this complex trip, and no stage were there ever any administrative issues.

Then we visited the Worship Centre. Inside it was large - room for about 800. He has half built a pastor training centre, and an orphanage called the Hope Centre, which Marshas's blankets were for. His vision is powerful. He believes that the Lord will increase his congregation significantly and he'll need a larger still facility. We came back to his home for dinner, and I glued up the guitar - left it to set. In discussion with Bishop John after dinner it transpired that from Tuesday morning to Saturday noon, at the conference next week, we will have 23 hours of teaching time, including Laurie-Ann doing her five talks. This is quite a responsibility, in front of the 200 (?) expected. I trust in God to ensure that we will deliver his word without damage or misrepresentation.

Inside the Migori Worship Centre church

Sat 9 July

It gets totally dark between 6:15 and 6:30. After that we were operating in torchlight in our room. Brushing teeth with bottled water and no mug and no spare hand to hold the torch was tricky, but once under the mosquito net we slept soundly. In the morning Alanna and Meaghan washed L-A's hair with hot water from a charcoal fire, and gave her a fetching French braid. I restrung the guitar, for which we had prayed for healing, and lo and behold the glue held with the strings in full tension. This was a real blessing because we used this guitar a lot during the next week. After breakfast of corn flakes and scrambled eggs (!) we were driven to the Worship Centre and I got the feel of the stage, speaking to an imaginary audience whose attention I am going to have to keep, or this will be hard for them and harder for me.

Alanna & Meaghan outside the main door of the church

Two half-built structures are very apparent to the side of and behind the Worship Centre church: the future pastors' training centre, and the future orphanage for the children of AIDS victims - the Hope Centre. These are testaments to the future based on the harvest being reaped in the present. Bricks to build these are baked on site from clay dug from the ground beside the church. At present the only voices in these buildings are those of goats, but within the next year - if sufficient donations come, the voices of children and trainee pastors will glorify God.

You can sponsor orphans!
During their time in Migori, Meaghan and Alanna would create 80 sponsor packages with photographs for orphans whose current guardians have no option but to see them enter the orphanage. These sponsorships will be available to Canadians and Americans for a monthly financial contribution. This money will pay for food and care for the orphans. If you may be interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact either Alanna Box via
e-mail or call 613-533-8610, or Meaghan Kidd via e-mail or call 613-828-4151, for details and information on the children. These children are in a desperate plight, but you can make a huge difference to them.

There is enormous potential at Migori Worship Centre, given the funding. The completion of the orphanage and the pastors training centre are just two of the ongoing projects, as funds arrive from supporters and people hearing about what has already been achieved. This fall a large youth conference is planned when new young workers for the Lord will undoubtedly receive the Holy Spirit in their lives. The organizer of the youth conference, Pastor Boniface Abanga, asked us specifically to see if we can encourage financial support for it.

The girls and I walked into town with their friend Washington and we went to an Internet facility. For 40 minutes I typed away at this journal and then there was a power failure. Luckily I have just saved my work. I had a chat with the manager, Peter Onyango, who told me he had been operating two years. I am writing

now as I wait for the power to return. Outside the window in pleasant sunshine the manufacture of metal bunk beds is underway on the sidewalk. Further along, bicycles and cars are being repaired, also on the sidewalk.

Pastor Peter Kebaso Onkangi from the Worship Centre, turned up with the Worship Centre microbus and took us to lunch in a restaurant, where we had chicken, chapitis and baked beans. After driving back to the Worship Centre, I had a chance of a lift to return to the Internet facility.   With Peter Onyango's cooperation I retried the

file I had saved on one of the hard drives, completed it, and purchased a diskette to take it with me. I wasn't able to e-mail it.

Around 6:30 we bussed back to Bishop John's home where he outlined plans for the Sunday service, in which we were to have a role. Then he offered to let us use his laptop, and I was at last able to e-mail yesterday's report via his cell-phone computer connection. Isn't the combination of techology and simple living so elegant! And we were again blessed to be surrounded by his loving family.

Sun 10 July
Sunday worship
Spontaneous singing. Listen nowClick, then minimize

The 3-hour Sunday service started with the Migori Worship Centre (MWC) worship band: reggae style guitars, drums and keyboard, with 6 vocalists. All pastors and church elders were dressed in jackets and ties, as were we and many of the congregation; Kenya retains a strong formal dress sense in business and church life. Bishop John introduced his guests from Canada, mentioning that Laurie-Ann had served him sukuma wiki there, and it had touched his heart! He invited me to to give "African Greetings". I told how we had met him in Canada, and accepted his invitation.   I then gave the 10 minute version of my Christian life story. I was translated into kiSwahili by Pastor Charles Odero Onyango. Then Bishop John invited L-A up and she gave her teaching on Christian Unity. After more music from the mainly men's - then the mainly women's - choirs, and later in the service the youth choir (see photo), there was a remarkable testimony from a man, Mike, whom Bishop John had met on Friday, suicidal. He told how he had now decided to follow Christ, after a life of violence and trouble. His wife also spoke, having committed her life also. These were the first of many conversions from the predominant native spirituality that we heard of during the week. The testimonies led to an extended very loud and intense altar call ending with people lying all over the place.

Washington (Jim), Alanna, Meaghan + youth choir

At 4 pm, the girls and we, with Pastor Charles and Richard as driver, left in the Microbus for Maasai Mara. As we turned left down the same very rough road that we took to Bishop John's house, I was surprised when we didn't take the turn-off to his house, but continued down this road. In fact we then continued down this track for the full journey to Maasai Mara! It was a tour de force for the vehicle and a lesser one for its driver and passengers. As we approached our destination, we saw an occasional scarlet-clothed Maasai striding on his way with his traditional canes.

This is one of the finest game reserves in the world, some three hours from Migori. Bishop John had worked his cell phone hard to find us some very scarce rooms in one of the Maasai Mara camps, Kichwa Tembo. Even before we arrived we saw zebra, giraffe and dikdik. Kichwa Tembo is something else. In comparison with our recent accommodation this was luxury. I immediately took my first shower in 5 days - bliss. Meaghan and Alanna had their first shower in 6 weeks!

We had an excellent dinner with a Tusker. It was buffet style: "all you can eat". The service we impeccable. After dinner representatives of the the local Maasai gave a display of dancing (and Meaghan danced with them!) They looked fierce enough in their red clothes with headdresses and spears. When the dancing was over they chatted with us and they were all gentle friendly people with names like Ben and Jane. The women Maasai then unrolled their robes to reveal a selection of local artifacts and jewelry, which they laid out in a circle, and we were invited to bargain with them. I bought a charming trinket container to give to Debbie next week. We returned to our rooms and slept soundly.

Mon 11 July
Maasai Mara

Woke at 5:30; coffee came at 6, and by 6:30 we were ready to safari. The six of us plus driver Bernard and guide Elly set out in a modified Land Rover towards the broad plain of the Mara River. Almost immediately we saw a lone elephant. The CB radio reported that rhino had been spotted and we turned about and drove with several other Land Rovers to see two rhino. Since there are only 40 in Maasai Mara this was quite exciting. Shortly after we saw a herd of zebra, and many Thompson gazelle, and some topi. The plain had many tracks, but our driver was quite ready to go cross country on the grassland when necessary, avoiding the odd anthill. At a bend in the Mara River we were rewarded with several hippo and two crocodile. Shortly after we came upon a herd of 6 elephant, and then 4 ostrich, with warthogs in attendance. We were told by Elly that warthogs have poor short term memory, sometimes forgetting that they are being chased by predator, and stopping to eat. We saw no lion (neither did anyone else that day) and at 8:30 returned for a terrific and welcome breakfast. We had seen a lot of animals and were thrilled. We then rested till lunch time in our Maasai hut-style luxury room.

Lunch: another feast, with for dessert the best Crème Brule L-A or I had ever tasted. For Meaghan and Alanna, having not even had a shower for six weeks, and little choice of food, the whole experience was a well deserved mighty special treat, and they were in great spirits, singing and laughing non stop. In fact we have been so impressed with their attitude to everything; I believe they could more than survive abroad in almost any circumstances. Immediately after the Crème Brule we went in the Land Rover to visit a traditional Maasai village. The circle of cane and cow dung houses was between the outer and inner thorn fences. In the inner circle, where the animals stay at night, we were shown how the Maasai make fire, with soft wood rod and hard wood base. We also learned about their diet of milk, herbs and blood, and how they extract blood from living animals, without harming them, to drink, either neat, or mixed with milk. Maasai warriors compete to attract women by jumping - see photo. The highest jumpers are considered the most eligible. We were allowed inside one of the houses, with beds and fireplace. Finally we saw all of their special wares, laid out in a circle of the women, and I bought an ivory tusk on a chain, and L-A bought guess what? - earrings.

We then drove back to the game park for another hour and saw a sizeable herd of buffalo, and finally two giraffe, which Charles spotted at great distance through field glasses. We took some good photos of many things we saw that day, some of which will end up on this page. As Richard then drove us home, the sense of peace at having spent some time in this heavenly place with beautiful animals in their natural state was very strong as it wafted over me, and it gave us strength for the days about to start.

Arriving around 7 at Migori, we had supper, and then returned a last time to Bishop John's home to collect our stuff. From now on we would be staying in a room in the future pastors' training seminary. That night both L-A and I were asked to speak at the evening service. Even though it was a small congregation there, it gave me exactly the initial confidence at the right time for the conference to start the next morning. It was this evening that we were introduced to Elder Moses, a very special leader in this community who we came to love.

Tue 12 July
Conference Day 1
Now that we were living beside the Worship Centre, I should have expected it, but when the music and prayer and preaching began at 5:30 am it came as a surprize awakening. But as I write this I am receiving insight that what was happening was exactly what I would shortly be exhorting them to do - praying always. As they are Pentecostal, tongues and singing in tongues were much used. They wouldn't expect the conference to work without prayer, and neither should we. As Morning Glory ended and they played some music on the PA, I went over and seeing Moses at the audio panel asked if he would like to play our CD of Ottawa singer David McDonald - "Life is the Only Choice". I felt the conference might benefit from a theme song, and particularly "Multi-Nation Generation". At 7:15 Alanna brought us hot and cold water (the taps remained dry all week) and we rose. By breakfast time at 8 most of my fears of day 1 had evaporated. I put on a smart shirt and pants, a red tie, and my light jacket, and continued to dress smartly throughout the week, as is the custom there, although in the evenings I lightened up. Since it was winter, the temperature was not too hot, and humidity was low, so dressing smartly was not a problem for us.

The numbers at the beginning were less than expected so instead of using the Worship Centre church we decided to use one of the rooms in the future seminary building. Since we correctly anticipated larger numbers a little later in Kenya time, I decided to start with "Why and How should I read the Bible" and "Why and How do I pray". I was very relieved to find that with the translation time by Pastor Edward Nandi, the notes I had prepared and written up in a copy of the green Alpha manual were to the right degree of detail that I was able to complete in about 45 minutes. We started each session with a praise song, for which I played the guitar which had been glued. As I watched the audience with people in it from Kenya, Tanzania and Congo, a powerful insight began to form in my mind. Migori is at the place were three countries meet (approximately) - Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Furthermore, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo are within striking distance. Could it have been chosen by God for Bishop John's ministry because of its proximity to these countries...? Is it geographically strategic for the Lord's purposes?

At the end of session one I demonstated the concept of the discussion group by asking if someone would ask a question, and then asking what anyone else might think on the subject. Then after asking for a third comment, the original question had been answered very well, telling me that the things could work out in an Alpha small group format. After session 2, I asked them to form groups of 10 by the back 2 rows working together, the next two rows, and so on. We didn't have any group leaders, but by the grace of God the discussions happened, and using this approach we had about 10 minutes valuable discussion time after each session for the rest of the conference. Sometimes the groups had questions they couldn't resolve, and really wanted to know the answers, so they brought them to us and we gave some insight.

Small group discussions

By now the numbers had grown to about 50 when Laurie-Ann started her talk on friendship evangelism. L-A glows as she teaches this subject matter which she loves and has researched so fully. After lunch in Bishop John's office in company with Bishop David from Tanzania, who had been very attentive in the sessions and I used as a feedback check as to whether the material was going down well. In fact he was already enthusing about it and asking about Alpha.

Bishop David, from Tanzania

After lunch we went down to second main venus: the Migori Showground where the sessions were in clear view of passers by, some of whom came and joined us. Many from the morning sessions were there but the 80 - 100 in attendance included new people. With this larger audience I covered "Who is Jesus?" and "Why

did Jesus Die?" As the crusade continued with praise music and more preaching, we returned to the MWC in Bishop John's car, feeling tired but elated that the key elements of the Alpha recipe were working well.

At dinner, Bishop John asked us to play some songs for the evening service. I played one of the electric guitars and the girls and L-A provided vocals. We were a lot quieter and less upbeat than their own band, which followed us, generating huge enegy in the room with powerful repetitive singing and playing. Then came Bishop David, preaching in kiSwahili with translation to Luo, with the regular preaching style, starting normally but building up to quite a frenzy. I would never have thought it was the same gentle man I had shared dinner with earlier. After some of this we retired to our room, made final preparations for the next days teachings, and slept.

Pastor Edward Nandi, translating, and I

Wed 13 July
Conference Day 2
I had slept with air plugs, but "Morning Glory" today wasn't using the electric instruments. At 7 am I was well rested; in fact I was really well. We'd been taking our malaria medication, and of course Pharmanex LifePak for Women / Life Esssentials, Overdrive and BioGinkgo. This morning I did "How to be Sure of my Faith", and "How does God Guide Us?" which I had prepared from Questions of Life the day before after realizing we were getting more time than we had ever expected. They went even better than Day 1. L-A then gave her talk on Evangelism and Commitment.

It seemed very soon but we were up to the Holy Spirit trilogy. So I tackled "Who is the Holy Spirit?" and "What Does the Holy Spirit Do?" at the showground that afternoon. I knew the third talk would be to the somewhat different group the next morning back at the Worship Centre, but there was no alternative. My prison Alpha experience has shown me that each talk stands up very well even if an audience hasn't seen the full sequence - although this is not ideal. On this mission we were giving two almost different audiences half the course each, but we could tell from their feed

Crusade at the Migori Showground
-back and from their faces that all the teaching was valuable to them, giving logical backgroud to the semi-continuous diet of preaching that they receive. During the afternoon talks the description of the church came up as being 30,000 spectators desperate for exercise watching 22 players desperate for a rest - and Edward my interpreter cracked up and couldn't continue for a while! Then he told the story in both kiSwahili and Luo.

Thu 14 July
Conference Day 3

Laurie-Ann had decided to divide her all-important talk on Ministry of Lay people into two parts, and this morning began with part 1. This is a vital discipline to impart to a community where new Christians are being converted on a daily basis, so that the pastors are not burned out by carrying out all the ministry themselves. It is also a strong feature of Alpha. After L-A's talk I then tackled the 'big one': "How can I be Filled with the Holy Spirit?" building in to it a teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which I had listed on a large blackboard both in English and (with Edward's help) kiSwahili - also the fruits of the

Spirit (Gall 5:22). Because my Pentecostal audience was generally familiar with tongues, and because Pentecostals see tongues as a gift that is a pre-requisite to salvation I decided to leave it out from this talk and instead with L-A's assistance introduce several others of the gifts. I had given a lot of thought to how to provide the ministry that comes after this talk, but what actually happened was a take-over of event by the Holy Spirit himself. After giving the invitation for Him to come in power, I explained that at this time we would only be able to pray with one or two. Immediately there was a line-up, with a young man called Sampson first up, who wanted to receive the gift of healing. As we prayed - clearly audible to the others - the power in the room was electric, and the 10 or so now gathered at the front seemed all to be included in the praying. We prayed with three, and their eyes and hearts were opened to The Lord. Future potential leaders of Alpha courses, and Bishop John, were all witnesses.

As we were finishing, L-A received a word for an elderly man, Steven, who we had seen at many of the conference events. The word was that the Lord would use him as an evangelist for elders who had not yet been brought the Word. L-A asked me to lay hands on his feet. She then prayed for health and strength for him to be able to carry out the work.

Laurie-Ann gave Part 2 of her Ministry of Lay People talk at the showground, giving that audience the benefit of part of this vital topic. After, we stayed down there for an hour of great worship music for a crowd of about 150 all having a joyful time with the Lord. When the preaching started we returned the Worship Centre service, since it wasn't given in English, and we heard that there were many who gave their lives to the Lord that afternoon.

That evening we Canadians  were  asked; to do half

Pastor Lemech

an hour's worship, and among several songs that went down well, they particularly enjoyed a pretty good and loud version of Trading my Sorrows.  We had been

Guitars below, keyboard right, singers above; Shaira LHS
Listen now - from MWC Choir CD: Tembea na Bwana Yesu

asked by Pastor Lemech for music and words for several of our songs,   and later copied him a selection for safe keeping for the Worship Centre. As evening service progressed to the sermon, we were able to under- stand Bishop David's message since Pastor Boniface kindly came over to us and translated for us. We went to bed full of gratefulness for all that the Lord had done.

Fri 15 July
Conference Day 4: How to run Alpha

I was gently awakened by Morning Glory, and this time decided to get up and be there. After gingerly dressing in the dark I walked into the church to find about 70 praying and singing, including Alanna, a regular. Moses was there, at the audio panel. I sensed something - or someone - special there and a restful feeling of confidence that the Lord was doing His work among us. After a few minutes it seemed so natural to be there, yet a privilege. I would not have wanted to miss this experience.

At the end, I asked Moses to play our CD of Ruth Fazal's "Inside Your Heart", bought personally from Ruth at "An Open Door" conference in Toronto a few weeks before. It was audible to the whole community staying at the Worship Centre, and people were standing in great peace outside the church listening. "Inside Your Heart" is a beautiful album suitable for 'soaking' worship, and is totally different from any other music we heard at MWC. Moses loved it.

At dinner the previous night I had proposed that we use Saturday morning to teach the principles and practicalities of Alpha to the leaders. This morning Bishop John told us that two of the key leaders would have left on their long return journeys by Saturday, and suggested that we do this special training today. I had prepared three hours of material on the 'How to run Alpha' subjects that I have taught often in Ottawa, and so we got started. The concept of teaching a man to fish in order to feed him for a lifetime was appreciated by my audience of about 30, including two bishops (David and John). I told them that primarily I wanted to inspire them with vision rather than drown them in detail. I included adequate teaching from the Alpha Leaders' Training Video on Leading (and helping on) small groups, pastoral care and ministry. By now most of them knew my teaching style and the transfer of knowledge was no less efficient than with Canadian audiences without a need for translation. I am partially persuaded that the translation of a sentence or two as one teaches is actually an advantage for a speaker, requiring more care in the choice of words, and giving time to plan the next couple of sentences. The photo below was my view of the class.

Fred Omondi, Alpha Kenya

During the morning, Fred Omondi of Alpha Kenya arrived from Nairobi. We were about to experience the power of Jesus through a remarkable young man, (22) whom, as I type this, I have just said goodbye to, and I would be proud to have as our friend for the rest of our lives. Fred told them of the second Nairobi Alpha Conference scheduled for 5th and 6th October 2005 at Nairobi Pentecostal Church, Valley Rd. (Cost Ksh 1,500 + accommodation/meals Ksh 3,000 per night; contact 272-9354/5, All agreed that a party from Migori Worship Centre, headed by Bishop John, should attend the conference.

At the end, we distributed most of the Alpha materials we had brought to the leaders, and also Laurie-Ann's talks, one of which, Christ and Culture, she had not delivered, yet we wanted them to have a copy of the text. These materials may find their way via Kenya to nearby countries, any will bless anyone who reads them.

At the showground in the afternoon the shedule had slipped and we got started on "Does God Heal Today?" about 30 minutes late while the attenders had their lunch (provided freely by MWC). In a way this made it more like the Alpha recipe, since shortly after their meal they had a praise song (photo above) from us followed by the teaching. As you see, Laurie-Ann dresses in local style on missions and has been told that this endears her to her new friends. A woman in pants is a cultural faux-pas in these parts. Many pastors and leaders wear jackets and ties, so I followed suit, which was OK in the Kenyan winter.

I knew that there would be people desperately in need of healing in our audience, since many have never seen a doctor. At the end of the talk L-A had not received any words of knowledge. After praying I asked any who wanted to ask God for healing to come to the front. L-A and I, plus interpreter Pastor Joseph Maina formed one ministry team, and Fred was a second. Three men lined up in front of Fred and seven or eight women and one man in front of us. We prayed for each in turn. L-A received words of knowledge for almost all of the women, including information about their ailments, which included parasites causing stomach pains (for years), walking pneumonia, leg and back pains, and female problems. One lady spoke a strange language that Joe didn't recognise, and he found someone who did, so we had double translation. We prayed for two Marys, Rosa (below), Consoletta and others. Our final supplicant was a manic depressive without any access to medication.

The elderly man, Steven, whom L-A and I had prayed for yesterday had come to us and said he wanted to give a testimony. While we were praying for the individuals, Steven gave his healing testimony to the group. As reported back to us, immediately L-A had prayed for his health and strength and I had laid hands on his feet, there was heat in his shoulders and feet and "something dropped out of his body" related to poisoning that he had had for some time and hospital visits had failed to cure. Steven was full of joy and danced in front of the band when it struck up later, though it should be added that his joy had not begun at the healing; I had seen him dancing before. Several times after he had asked me to thank "Mama" (L-A) for being the conduit (my word) of his healing.


After "Healing" I taught "Telling Others". Because of the late start I shortened it. We had covered part of the material in Laurie-Ann's talks. However, as I ended I regretted not covering all the material I had prepared for this talk. Nicky's talks have exactly the right amout of content in them.

We both felt tired after the teaching and healing and did not attend the Friday evening service, though we could hear it easily enough from our room, and it included deliverances of two women from evil spirits. I spent most of the time making use of Bishop John's laptop computer. He was generous to us with it throughout our stay, enabling me to type up this journal regularly and e-mail the update files to Tim in Canada for posting on the web. It was a comfort to me to receive messages from Lynn my assistant that business matters were OK while we were away. Meaghan and Alanna had been able to e-mail regularly since their arrival. I would add that Bishop John's ownership of and facility with the computer plays a significant role in the work of the Worship Centre. On our last Sunday, Meaghan and Alanna were using it in the church recording the names of the new Christians and those being baptized that day.

Sat 16 July
Conference Day 5 + Prison visit
On the this final morning of our teaching, three Alpha people shared the program. Fred, L-A and I walked to the classroom as they were all singing one of the songs Listen now we had come to love over the past week, and following their tradition the song gave way to a prayer and a time of all speaking together in tongues before L-A and I sang "Lord I Lift Your name on High". I began "How can I Resist Evil?" to a packed room of nearly 100. This is an important subject in Africa where hardcore witchcraft is still prevalent, and I lumped it in with divination, spiritualism, astrology and horoscopes as forbidden practices. The gifts of the spirit were still up on the blackboard in English and kiSwahili from Thursday's Holy Spirit talk, adding to the armour of protection around them as we discussed these matters. My last words before prayer and discussion were to remind them that God is huge and Satan tiny in comparison. I had given 12 Alpha talks in 5 days and it had been no heavy burden - such had been the effect of the prayer support I knew I had been receiving.

Laurie-Ann's talk was "Christian Maturity", with our trusty friend Edward translating. At one point she demonstrated the infilling of the Holy Spirit using a dry sponge placed in water, and then showing by the water falling from it that we need to be repeatedly filled.

Then Fred spoke, giving a strong talk that summarised key concepts emphasized by Alpha, and ending by describing the role of Alpha Kenya and how they would support future Alpha in Migori. It had taken him a few seconds to win his audience's confidence and respect. His presence added Kenyan reinforcement to everthing we had been projecting, strenghthening the legitimacy of Alpha's packaging of the gospel in this community.

At noon, with enthusiastic support and translation from Elder Moses (right), Bishop John gave prayer and warmly thanked the three of us publicly for our teaching at the conference. He told them that all of the conference food had been the gift from our Canadian supporters. He then announced the names of the recipients of 10 of the 15 bicycles that had been purchased from the Canadian donations. Edward received one. Bishop David will take one to Tanzania. Pastor Wyclif and another pastor who had been mugged during the week after evening service, and their bicycles stolen, received replacements. As people left the room they saw the pristine new bikes lined up, and the new owners gratefully taking possession. These pastors will now be able to reach remote areas for ministry and conversions, a great increase in evangelistic efficiency, and demonstrating one of the many practical ways in which MWC fulfills its mission.

Pastor Peter Kebaso

Pastor Peter has ministered in Migori jail for three years (as I have in the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre). He was very keen to take me there, where 500 male prisoners live in cramped conditions without even beds, sleeping seated on benches. Peter, Fred, Edward and I took a three-wheel motorbike taxi to the jail, which did not appear to have any significant escape-proofing. Peter knocked on the green gate, and we were ushered into a small reception room where Peter asked the very friendly guards whether it might be possible to see the inmates. We were there at a different time from his normal visits.

A warder named Gilbert Mogesa Mogere arrived whom we had met two days before at the crusade, where he had come to Christ this week. Peter's ministry has been to guards as well as inmates, and all those we met were comfortable speaking openly about their faith. There was a MWC calendar on the wall. Soon we were taken to the Superintendent's office. It transpired that Superintendent Martin Akwanyi and his wife were regular attenders at MWC. He greeted us in excellent English as honoured guests and we chatted for 10 minutes during which time the prisonners were being assembled. We were then taken to them, about 450 sitting closely together on the ground, ages mainly 16 - 35.

First the Superintendent spoke to them, warmly and with much Christian content. Then Pastor Peter spoke: a 10 minute encouragement sermon translated by Edward. Peter then introduced me. Before speaking I walked along the line of the front men, shaking 10 or so by the hand. In Kenyan culture a handshake the first time you see someone in the day is normal. The men responded warmly. Then I brought greetings to them from my inmates in OCDC; this went down even better. I then held up the Cursillo cross round my neck and following Nicky's approach at the beginning of "Why did Jesus Die", explained how an instrument of execution had become the symbol of Christianity as a result of the atonement we can claim through Christ's death. Using another illustration I felt they could relate to I told the story of the ransom paid by the judge who's old friend comes before him for sentencing. My purpose was to reinforce the unique Christian concepts of forgiveness as entry point to eternal life and to joy and peace in this one. Finally Fred spoke to them in kiSwahili, many his age, who clearly responded to his messages. Before returning to Superintendent Martin's office I again shook a few hands including that of a young man who had encouraged and helped me as I spoke by his winning smile. We had been with them about 40 minutes.

In Martin's office I was asked to give a blessing to him and his senior staff. I thanked God for the gift of encouragement that Martin and his staff clearly provided to the men. I do not believe it was just for our benefit. I have not seen such attitudes in my limited experience in Canada. Martin then took us to where he plans to build a church within the prison grounds. The funding, the labour and the ministry will all come from prison staff. I felt that this whole prison was already a church. Pastor Peter referred to the Superintendent as Bishop Martin! I asked Martin if people attempted to escape, since the perimeter fence was simple barbed wire, and he said few people ever tried.

We returned to MWC by a different route, because I need to go the the Internet facility. As we walked along we came upon a young man lying still on the ground, with bloodstains from his mouth. Peter thought at first he was dead, but when he touched him he moved. He was able to speak, explaining that he was epileptic. We all laid hands on him and prayed. Soon he seemed in a better state, and after giving him a little money and hearing that he was not alone in the town, we continued on our way.

There was no evening service, but I found Elder Moses in the church, adjusting the chairs to be all perfectly in line. His attention to detail in the Lord's service colours his many ministries. I gave him my guitar for the use of the music teams, since he is mentor to the band and PA system engineer. It had been given to me by Ray and Lorna Brule in Ottawa, for just such a purpose, and I had bought two sets of strings. Its "healing" added to the significance. Moses and I discussed the physics of whether these strings could be used for the electric guitars. He was truly blessed by the gift, and also when I gave him some new AA batteries for the CD player. He was also so grateful when I gave him the CDs by David MacDonald, and Ruth Fazal, which he had played after "Morning Glory". I believe Ruth's album will be used by God in the MWC community to help them hear the whispered voice of his peace (Elijah in the cave). The next night Moses told me he had listened to it all at his home where he has a special prayer room, and treasured it.

Sun 17 July - Laurie-Ann's birthday
River Baptism

If we had expected this final day in Migori to be either a winding down, or a day of relaxation, we soon discovered otherwise. L-A knew that she would bring the Bible message to the morning service, but it was only as Bishop John prayed with us at breakfast that I realized that he was also expecting a talk from me,  and that he had not

been joking when he had mentioned it on our first night in Migori! I was led to think of Revelation 3: 15,16.

Although the service started for earlycomers at 9, with music, we three joined it at 10, and L-A delivered her end-times teaching: "Things to come: The Glorious Appearing". This is a subject I have seldom before heard as a sermon, sadly, yet crucial to our faith.

By the time I was asked to speak, the congregation was at SRO capacity - approaching 1000, including many who had been attracted by the crusade. I started with St. John's explicit condemnation of the Laodicean church: neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm - and should be spewed out. I then re-stated the verses as if St. John had been referring to the church at Migori: I know your deeds and your thoughts, and you are HOT! I told them of the Pentecost-like event in Pond Inlet, Nunavut in 1999 when the Holy Spirit came like the sound of a jet plane, recorded on tape, and said that they too could receive their own Pentecost event. I then asked that if there were any who had not specifically asked the Lord into their lives, that they would come up and could do so in prayer with us at the end of the service. Finally I told everyone that it was Laurie-Ann's birthday and Bishop John led the congregation in singing "Happy Birthday".

Bishop John preached on "Call Your Father" whenever you are bewildered or in need, and he will never let you down, and it was a message that in style, content, and in volume still rings in my ears. After his sermon, he repeated my altar call and 6 young ladies came to the front and L-A and I led them in the sinners' prayer, with Edward interpreting.

At the end, there were several groups at the front of the church including 7 for baptism, and a larger group of first-timers at the church, with Alanna keying in their names and ages into the laptop as new members. Fred, L-A and I joined the baptism party and we piled into the MWC van and drove to the river that bisects Migori town. Pastor Peter and Edward waded gingerly into the brown water. In turn, the seven new Christians were baptized by immersion. Among them were prison warder Gilbert, and Hilda, wife of Pastor Boniface. I found the whole event powerfully calming and meaningful. Pastor Peter had the presence of a latter-day smart John the Baptist. It was as if we were at the River Jordan, and a fitting climax to our time in Migori.

As I watched the baptism, it came to me that I could "cast" about 20 of our new dear Migori friends in the roles of Jesus, the apostles and others from the gospel, and it is as if they are living their lives modelled on the saints.

Leaving Migori was like leaving a new part of ourselves. As L-A had experienced several years before, I now had Kenya in my blood, and I had the community of Migori Worship Centre in my heart. How can I explain the pureness of character of Elder Moses, who had given up a rare local government job with all the benefits, for his full time walk of faith with the Lord here? Where did Pastors Charles and Peter and Bishop David from Tanzania find such exquisite humanity that it brings tears now as I write? And where did Peter's charming and articulate wife June  acquire   the  simple  purity  of   Martha  as  she

served us our meals? Many others I could similarly portray, and the only answer is that they truly have come to be like Jesus in this wildly successful result of Bishop John's vision to win ever more souls for the Lord. This is not the end; it is just the beginning of what will surely come. Also, how did Meaghan and Alanna in a few short weeks become treas-ured members of this community without losing any of their special exuberance which continues to win the hearts of their hosts?

Mon 18 July
Nairobi de-brief

At 4:40 am, Richard brought the MWC van to our room. Fred was returning with us. Bishop John was up to see us off. He would be working that day on his next five radio talks and would drive to Nairobi on Wednesday to record them. Meaghan and Alanna had insisted on coming with us to Kisumu to see us off. We had already said goodbye to his dear wife Pam, who had been responsible for much of our welfare and food throughout, while running a women's clothing and school uniform business in Migori town. The journey was mainly in the dark, passing early risers on foot and bicycles and women bearing water and other goods on their heads. We were in Kisumu by 7, and flew the one hour to Nairobi, where Peterson was at the airport to bring us to the ACK Guest House.

Bishop John

Gathoni and Anastasia came there for a de-briefing with us and Fred over lunch. By chance Bishop Victor from Congo was around and he joined us. L-A was able to give him French Alpha materials. Gathoni was excited that Western Kenya would now have an Alpha hub, and we talked about its potential, not only in Kenya but also in Tanzania, Uganda and Congo. For all lay leaders and pastors from these areas who might by then have been exposed to Alpha, Gathoni emphasised the importance of attending the Nairobi Alpha Conference 5,6 October 2005. This would cement the work we had done and increase their vision for the potential of the course significantly. I pointed out the advantages in the remote communities of not using (English) video talks, but delivering the talks verbally. Adjusting my words to the needs of the particular audience had worked well in Migori. The notes I had made in the green Alpha manual had proved detailed enough, and any experienced Alpha leader (and certainly Alpha Advisor) could do this. I had left the second, ink, copy of the annotated manual with Bishop John as a guide for future presenters - though I said to him that the discipline of generating the notes is precisely the preparation needed, and for me extracted additional meaning as I précied "Questions of Life", substituting stories more relavent to the local culture when appropriate. I am confident that Bishop John's pastors would be able to replicate this process, particularly with the availability of the kiSwahili versions of the manual including Question of Life material.

I believe there is a great need on the frontiers of Christianity for the teaching that Alpha provides (just as in the rest of Christendom). The Alpha "surprize" is the high acceptability of this material in different cultures and backgrounds. Add to this the concept of discussing questions of faith in semi-formal small group environments, which we found worked well even without group leaders! The questions which floated up to us from the discussions were just as poignant as in other Alpha situations, stimulated by Alpha's logical progression through life's great issues. Even though in this case we had split Alpha between two different audiences with about 20% crossover, each audience benefitted from the portions they received. On the misssion field, some compromise and tactical decision making is bound to be required.

As I write these final words I am 35,000 ft above the Atlantic on our homeward journey. It's five days since that last service at Migori Worship Centre, and during that time we visited my son James and daughter Debbie, and her daughter Jasmin, in Norfolk, England, as well as seeing my mother and sisters in London, at a time when London was attacked the second time in two weeks by terrorists. I had made the mistake of packing two bottles of liquor in my suitcase, and as we sat in the departure lounge I asked a friendly looking stewardess if there was anything that could be done at this stage to lower the risk of breakage by baggage handlers. She said no, but then offered us an upgrade to business class on the flight. We thoroughly enjoyed the luxury. We had come from brushing our teeth in the dark without running water, to first class food and service, in less than two weeks. I felt God may have been pleased, and that told me that He would help the seeds we had planted to grow in good soil. I had remained totally healthy throughout, and L-A had been pretty fit. Best of all however were the warm friendships that will remain in our hearts though we have said goodbye to our new Kenyan friends, and particularly with those friends we helped draw closer to Jesus.

Pastor Joseph Maina on his way

Your prayers are asked for Bishop John Okinda and all his pastors
Please remember the plight of the orphans, for whom sponsorships are available
For the continued growth of Migori Worship Centre
For increase in the harvest of souls coming to the Lord and lives changed forever there
For those in neighboring countries who are within reach of the Migori ministry

We want to thank all of those who supported us financially and in prayer for this mission. Your generosity was appreciated so much by our new dear friends in Migori. There is enormous potential at Migori Worship Centre for an increase in the Christian harvest, given the funding. The Migori Worship Centre is a work in progress for the Lord. That progress is advanced with every financial gift that arrives. Your gift may be sent to Rev. John Okinda, Migori Worship Centre, Box 1150 Suna 40400, Migori, Kenya, Tel: (Mobile) 0722 676902 From North America: 011-254-722-676902

Rev. Brian and Diane McVitty were on a mission trip in Kenya, and happened to see a copy of Alpha News, sent out to friends from England. They had never heard of Alpha, and were intrigued enough to research it, and then introduced it in their church in Pickering Ontario. This was the first course in Canada. Hail the power of Alpha News! Brian and Diane were financial supporters to us in this trip.

Tue 19 July 2005
Today's Daily Nation, purchased in Nairobi airport, reports that in an opinion poll by the Steadman Group, 98% of Kenyans are opposed to homosexual church leaders and same-sex marriage. A third reject homosexuality, viewing it as a negative influence from the West, and 96% say it is against their religious beliefs. Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams made a one-day visit to Kenya the next day (dining at the ACK Guest House). There is no way I would have been moved to bring God's word here had I been a sympathiser with Canada's attitude to these matters and a follower of the new liberal religion being promoted by Western churches. God bless Kenyans, who walk in the light, and God help Canadians.

Mission to Migori 2005

Some subsequent correspondence with Bishop John

31 July 2009
Msomi Resource Center Project
Announcement and appeal
It is so good to see such good work being done for the Kingdom in West Kenya. See if your heart and the Holy Spirit are nudging you to support this.

16 May 2008
Dear Tony & Laurie-Ann,
Greetings to you from Pamela and I, we are trusting that you are doing fine.
I wanted to ask you for prayers to China, with the earthquake claiming over 20,000 people so far, this is too bad.
This year we mark the completion of at least some of our projects! Praise the Lorld. I know some of our friends have been unhappy with the unfinished projects, I hope this report will encourage them.
With the help of friends, we report the completion of a 2 storey building currently hosting 150 kids who are orphans and most needy, they live here and go to school here we call this project MSOMI ACADEMY. The only small work remaining is plumbing, ceeling board and painting, with the front painted already.
Thanks to all who helped and also to our friends in Australia who have committed to make sure that entire building is finished.
We host 150 kids but we can do up to 200 inside this building. The Government want us to put a seperate building for either girls or boys for they will not allow both to share the same building, I have talked to a friend who is willing to help us put a foundation of the second building soon. This we might do a 3 storey building for it will have a 300 seater dinning hall for the kids. If you would want to help in this please let me know.
We need both short and long time Missionaries and workers who can work with orphans and school. We still need school suppliers, blackets, sheets etc.
We report a finished water project, as I write we have a clean water 330 ft with a hand pump filled, this is all paid for. Thank be to God for our friends who did this project.
Training center work is going on, I was able to secure a bank loan to finish this 2 storey building, as I write we are plastering the inside and fitting the windows, it is coming a long very well. This is where we train the ministers with our second graduation coming on SATURDAY 14th June, I wanted to give the graduants a study Bible and a bicycle each. A word from you to them will be a great inspiration, and I will read it to them on the graduation day.
In September, we are starting a grade teachers training college, these are Christian teachers, besides a P1 certificate which they get after 2 years training, our Bible school will also award them a Diploma in Biblical studies. I therefore,would want to finish the training center and fit it with 100 beds and mattresses also tables, if led to help, please let me know.
Friends, I must submit to you that God is so good to us in Migori, this is a great year for God's work here, and thank you for your wonderful support.
Please consider praying for:-

  • Building a 5,000 seater sunctuary.
  • Buying a van or a truck to help with the orphans.
  • Furnish the pastoral training facility which will serve a teachers training college.
  • The upgrade of electricity to serve the current population and the coming population.
  • Pray for the next 3 storey building to catter for another 150 orphans.
  • Pray for the building to catter for our 10 branch churches, currently meeting in school building and under trees.
  • Pray for our farm equipments to be shipped from the States, to help our crop production.

To finish, I would like to inform you that my Assistant Pastor Rev. Boniface Abanga will be in the States for few weeks, if you would want him to visit you or your church, please let me know. He will be in South Carolina as from 27th May. Am also sending him to Pinecrest Bible Training Center, NY. For I would want him to work on his paper work which will enable him to go there for school come next year.
I will be in the States as from 5th July, I wanted to share more with you tKhen. Please let me know if you can slot me in your program in July, only July. The purpose for the trip is to raise some funds towards the foundation of the Migori Worship Center 5,000 seater cathedral.
Some opportunities which need your attentions,

  • We need guest speakers for some of our annual conferences such as:-
    (a). A world Changers Conference in every April
    (b). Ladies Conference in every April
    (c). Fire Conference with all people in every August
    (d). Holy Ghost Explossion every Dec.
    (e).Youth Conference every Dec.
  • Crusades,all year round.
  • Working with orphans and school, all year round.
  • Medical teams , all year round.
  • Work teams, all year round.
Thank you and be blessed,
Bishop John Okinda.


14 May 07

Dear Tony & Laurie-Ann,

Greetings to you from Migori, Kenya East Africa. Praying that you and your family are well.

Time goes quickly! In one month's time, am graduating our first Bible School students! Glory be to God forever.

We shall have our first graduation of Migori School of Ministry International on 9th June 2000, 10:am right here at MigoriWorship Center, these guys have been here for 3 years covering 1560 class hours which translates to 130 credit hours what an achievement.

We shall be graduating 22 students, 3 ladies and 19 men.

As a friend, I wanted to ask you for a word of encouragement to these men and women which I will read to them on the graduation day. All these men and women are pastors in their villages.

I had a dream to bless them with a bicycle each and a study Bible each, but it seems to me that I may not be able to do this because of finances, but wanted to ask you for a small donation to make this dream become reality, please pray about it.

As I write to you I have gotten all the funds to do the celebration, feeding about 2,000 guests and the relatives of the graduants, printing all the Diplomas and Transcripts and am very happy with the achievement so far.

To give each one a bicycle and a study Bible will cost me a total of 2,850 US. Dollars.

Please kindly pray with me for a financial miracle. We are all so happy to see this come to pass. Thank you so much for everthing.

Yours in Him,
Bishop John Okinda.


19 November 06

Greetings to you from us here in Migori, praying that all is well with you.
Here things are moving and the Lord is taking Migori Worship Center in a different direction. Since I came back the Lord spoke to me to call all members of the church here for prayers; for the last two weeks we have been praying and fasting at the church for a whole day, Tuesday to Saturday. We ended last week in a high note with the Lord speaking to us many great things! Yesterday we had a service which cannot be described, the power of God was so real thar resulted in 40 people healed and delivered before our own eyes. We are still moving on with prayer and fasting Tuesday to Friday and then coming back to church Friday night 8pm for a whole church Overnight prayer meeting.

The Lord spoke to me to do a 40 days prayer and fasting. I don't know what will happen but there is a great revival here, please pray for us that the good Lord will speak to us and revive Migori. I will be reaching out to all churches in Migori with these prayers but at the moment it is at Migori Worship Center. Please join me in prayers so that we may hear the heart of the Father.

Also TODAY MONDAY WE ARE STARTING ALPHA; we have registered 64 people and we are doing course no. one, "Christianity, Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?"

Please pray with me , God is doing something special for us here in Migori!

I wanted you to ask my friends there for special prayers for both the revival, prayers and fasting and also for the Alpha. These prayers were birthed in my spirit when you guys took me to the National house of prayer, the Lord then impressed in my spirit to come back and call the entire church for prayers, and the Lord has answered me. I thank him. Please, I am in great need of a TV and a vedeo deck, please tell all of our friends both at Alpha and Ambassador that I need their help so that I may buy a TV and a VCR for my Alpha here.


25 March 06

Dear Tony & Laurie-Ann,
Greetings to you in the name above every name Our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus!

Time goes quickly, my last report to you was in January, ever since some great things have happened, we give all the glory and honor to the Lord.

  1. The villagers plus our church has been able to finish the first classroom of the High School and form I's (nineth graders) were admitted at the beginning of February. As I write, we have 42 students, 30 boys and twelve girls, am so happy to see these young people begins their High School what a miracle! Please pray for this High School and help me to finish its building particularly we need a library so that these kids begin to understand the important of reading. I wanted to share this with you and to see if you can help in putting up this one room, we as village, we will be honored to dedicate it to you or your relatives or your friends who has gone to be with the Lord. Since the vilagers and church will offer the labour all remaining cost of this building will be US Dollars 6,000.
  2. Praise the Lord! The canning jars did arrive Aprox 29,000 jars with water filters, water bath canners, canning lids and bands-It was all jubilation when the track arrived in Migori Town, the Governor of Migori was here, the Agricultural Officers and other leaders were here, this was historic. Very soon we are going to start canning. Clean water is the major problem, but thank God, friends in Ohio( Dellroy team) have bought us a drilling Rig. What ablessing! Pray that the Lord will bless us with funds to ship a container and money for duty. Your labour here is NOT invain, am so honoured to know you and to see what the Lord is doing.
  3. World Changers Conference. The has given me the wonderful opportunity to minister to young people in a world changers conference, we had a great one last year. This conference brings together, orphans kids, Colleges and elementary together, I use it to minister the love of Christ, this year am expecting 500 kids coming here at migori Worship Center, they will be here for three days arriving Thursday 13th ending on Saturday 15th April, this is going to be during Easter as we have focus on the Love of Christ. US Dollar 5 (five) is enough to sponsor one kid to attend the conference, enough also to me to print a shirt for a kid, pray with me for financial miracle of US Dollar 2500 to cover the whole conference. If you feel the sponsoring a kid at 5 Dollars, that would be wonderful.

Other developments include,

  1. Roofing the first half of the Training Center, it is beautiful! Am praying for the other roof.
  2. We have a total of 29 orphans who have sponsors giving 35 US Dollars a month, we still have other 35 who need sponsor.
  3. We have planted Ragana Worship Center, this is the village where Pam and I live, it has a membership of about 150 people including children. We are still meeting under trees at our home. Please pray for a shade like a tent or a tin roofed building.
  4. The Bible College is on with 42 students.
  5. Our first two daughters, Betty and Maureen are graduating from High School at the end of the year.

I want to sincerely thank you for the partnership and please continue to pray for the ministry here.
I will be honoured to hear from you.
Yours in Him,
John and Pamela Okinda.


23 January 06

Dear Tony & Laurie-Ann,
Greetings to you!

Since I mentioned to you of the Ragana Community's vision for the High School, am so so happy to report to you that for the last three (3) weeks the community has worked day and night and all the walls are up and they are on the roofing stage. Next week we are admitting 9th Grade (Form One) students for the first time! Praise the Lord!

With what the Lord has enabled Pam and I to do, both in Migori and Ragana, the community has honored me by naming the High School- BISHOP OKINDA RAGANA HIGH SCHOOL. What a great honor, as if that is not enough they said my Church will offer all spiritual guidance both to the teachers and students, what a blessing! to me this is an outreach.

Please kindly help us by donating anything to go to the roof and general finishing.

This high school will help me in absorbing our orphans as they finish their elementary or Primary education. I thank God for such a wonderful provision at a time such as this.

Please kindly help me to thank God for this miracle!

Yours in His Service,
Bishop John Okinda


30 December 2005
Dear Tony & Laurie-Ann,
Greetings in the holy Name of Jesus Christ!
The Lord has been so good to me, my family and the Churches, the Bible school has come along very well.
I want to thank you for making this year a success in a way that I have never seen before.
Touching orphans by the end of last months out of 70 kids selected needy orphans, we had 25 of them having sponsors giving US$ 35 a month. Pray that the home be finished so that we can bring the orphans, also pray that the remaining ones get sponsors.
The canning project has come to its fruition, the container was shipped with about 29,000 canning jars and other assorted goods to go with it, with a modern canning building going on right now at Migori Worship Center.
The shipment shall arrive here on January 18th 2006, the excitement is great!
The training Centre
After a long silence with not much work going on, donations given up to last month, now we are putting up the roof covering the first half. Thank you for your help. Pray that we be able to roof the first half, pray for financial miracle.
The Bibles
We have been able to avail Bibles to new converts through the help of special friends like you. Please keep it up.
Pray that we may be able to ship computers which were donated to us in Dulaski , N.Y.
Pray that we be able to ship 2 tractors and farm equipments already donated in Ohio.
Pray with Bill Sheckler and friends in Ohio, as they plan to ship us a water drilling rig for the villages.
Pray for the finishing of both the roof of the center and the hope Center orphanage.
Thank you for your Partnership over the years.
Please note that any donation to any of the above mentioned is Highly welcome.
Thank you and have a happy, prosperous new year 2006 (Mungu akubariki sana)
God bless you very much
To the sponsors of the orphans, I wanted to say a big thank you for your commitment.
Yours in Him,

John Okinda

4 September 2005

Dear Tony & Laurie-Ann, Shalom! Praying that all is well with you,
Am so sadened by many lives lost and lots of property destroyed by the Haricane Katrina, our prayers are with the American people at this time of difficulties.
Back to us here, the churches are growing, we had a wonderful Fire Conference last month, the one week event was well attended, our Sanctuary was well packed for 7 days.
We ended the fair at the show ground with thousands coming to hear the word, after 4 days we recorded 780 adults giving their lives to the Lord! All honour and Glory goes back to the Lord!
This fair has brought one problem. These people who gave their lives to the Lord, some of them live just around the fair grounds. remember this is just the other part of Migori town. Now they are asking for a church on the fair grounds, and you know what? The Municipal Council has given us a property and we have put up a structure already and God willing we shall start our first service the last Sunday of this month.
Please pray for chairs and sound system for the Stadium church, whay a witness to the entire town of Migori.
With so many new converts am in great need of Bibles in Luo, Kiswahili, Luyah,and Kuria languages. Please pray.
I want to sincerely thank you for being part of what the Lord is doing in Africa.
I will be very glad to hear from you.
Yours in Him,
Bishop John Okinda.