BEGINNING AND NOW
Rev Joseph started this church started under an acacia tree with one man (area chief then) and his 5 wives in 1991, and by 2015, the church has 200 worshipers women and men on Sundays. The women and children constitute 70% of attendance and have branched out to start 5 more other places of worship in other villages.
About July of 1987, a Korean man, Mr. David Park, and his family came to our village of Mailwa. They came from a Los Angeles-based Christian organization known as world Mission Crusade for Christ. They were looking for a place to establish a church and by divine direction, they came to our village. My brother, Stephen, and I were both in seventh grade. He came to visit or school Mailwa Elementary school which I was attending at the time and watched us play soccer for a while before he decided to join us. Later that evening, he invited me, along, along with other friends, to his tent where he was living at the time. As the conversation progressed, he opened up and asked for help. Joseph carrying the bag
He needed someone to translate his preaching from English to Maasai so the local people could understand the message he was trying to deliver. He was looking for a companion and translator and needed young, local man to accompany him and act as a translator. Since I was there and needed the work, I agreed to help him. Every time he preached to the local Maasai huts, I accompanied him. During our work together, I opened up my heart to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the savior of my life and opened my heart to hear his message. He taught me the Bible for the first time and raised me up in the Lord to fill my soul.
Then one day, after observing me passionately translating his sermons for listening villagers, he told me that he felt I could be a very good preacher. He recognized my love for teaching others and felt my passion would be contagious to others and would help spread the word of God. I was just fourteen years old. He told me that when I finished the eighth grade, he would pay for me to attend college. A year later, he paid for me to go to Bible college of East Africa in Nairobi to train to be a pastor. Because I was open to his message and he offered help. He changed my life. That help became the corner stone of my life and with the seed of ministry he planted in me twenty-one years ago.
Rev Park giving Joseph guitar lessons
Reverend Park not only paid for my tuition, but he paid for my boarding fees as well. He allowed me to make new friends and to learn more than I ever imagined possible but after two years, he ran out of money and could not pay for my two remaining years of college. Things seemed to be over for me. While I was contemplating how to graduate with a two-year certificate.
In May of 1990, after just a few months of prayer and believing, a new principal to the college, Rev. Mark Kim, a Korean missionary from Singapore, called me to his office. He had been born and raised in Korea and later had been educated in Singapore. The Independent Board from Presbyterian Foreign Missions, the organization that owns and run the Bible College in Nairobi, had appointed him to be the principal.
When he received the letter from Reverend Park, who was in England at the time, he called me to his house and we met in his living room. “What are your plans, now that your sponsor is no longer able to support you?
“To be honest, I don’t know, I am praying for an answer, but so far, one has not appeared to me.” His next statement made my jaw drop.
“The faculty met last night and they have decided to give you a full scholarship to finish your four years of college.”
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. “Wow! Thank you so much!” I sobbed with joyous tears
“Tell me more about you and what your plans are after finishing this college?”
“Well I hope to finish training then go back to Lenkijape/Eluanata.” His interest in my village surprised me. Well, during new education, I want to give back to my community, not only as an outreach, but with something more long lasting. I want to share with them the love and joy I have found in the Lord’s word but I have no money to start the Church they need. I want a vehicle to spread God’s message and to allow them to share their faith.”
He then offered to buy me bus tickets every week to go from college to Lenkijape/Eluanata to hold services over the weekend and to return on Mondays to school. Again, I was amazed. We became very close and I continue what I called my “weekend ministry”
From Nairobi to Lenkijape/Eluanata was about 180 km. By bus, it took three hours one way, for a total of six hours round-trip. “Lenkijape/Eluanata Church” was two hours off of the main road, so I was traveling a total of eight hours every weekend, plus the time necessary for my sermon preparations and college assignments. I often wondered what I had gotten myself into, but whenever I would question it, I would remind myself of the desire and prayer in my heart. As the saying goes, be careful for what you pray for because you might get it.
I preached under a tree just outside our local chief’s home every Sunday for two years. During the week, I continued My Bible College Study. On November 22, 1994, I graduated with a four year diploma in theology from the Bible College of East Africa.
One day, Reverend Kim decided he wanted to visit my small congregation to get a feel for what I was doing. I informed my village elders, whom I referred to as my church committee, of his impending visit. For me to be a leader to the same people who had been running the village when I was a child was a privilege and a gift. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house, is a prophet without honor.” Mark 6:4
In my case, it was different. People respected and held me and my ministry in such high regard and they showed me that my ministry was truly a gift from God. To welcome our guest, we slaughtered two goats the local elders had donated and boiled a lot of rice. Many people showed up out of curiosity, more than anything. The revival meeting was held under a big acais tree because there was no suitable building. The Maasai didn’t have buildings in their villages so it didn’t bother them, but it did bother my new friend, Dr. Cheh.
On June 21st, 1991, a miracle happened-my special guest enjoyed my new ministry. After he left, he shared his experience with his people in Korea and Singapore. They were fired up and shared excitement with their friends and relatives who also got excited. Their excitement led to action. He notified me that they wanted to help me build a church for my congregation.
The only problem was I did not have a place to build a church. I brought the problem to the chief of our village, Mr. Samarek Kakuro, who then called a general village meeting to present the idea to my village elders. Mailwa was just starting to be demarcated-divided so each person could have little piece of earth to call his own. I was given twenty acres to build my church.
The elders believed in me, as did Dr. Chesh. He even helped me raise the funds for y ministry from his home, Glory Presbyterian Church of Korea. To honor his efforts, I named Church Lenkijape Glory Church. It now accommodates 300 people and a Christian elementary school-also known as Eluanata Primary school. It schools from first through eighth grade.
To God be the glory, and great things he has done. This all took place because God brought our lives together and we opened up our hearts and our lives to God and to one another.