N.C. Baptists aid Kenyan churches through homes
    March 15 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    “To know someone is concerned, to know that someone wants to know them and know of their lives and needs, to know that someone wants to be their co-workers — all of this is highly valued in our country where guests are often treated as royalty,” said Bert Yates, an International Mission Board missionary in Kenya.

    Contributed photo

    A Kenyan pastor, left, teaches children songs and tells Bible stories while workers build a home for a widow in a Houses of Hope project with the North Carolina Baptist Men. Leaders hope the home will become a future church plant.

    Yates, along with her husband, Jack, is based in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya was recent host to mission teams from North Carolina Baptist churches and leaders among North Carolina Baptist Men.

    Mark Abernathy, from N.C. Baptist Men, went with Ted Menster, of Troutman Baptist Church, Jan. 18-29 to explore mission opportunities. He was looking at a pilot project called Houses of Hope.

    “I was very impressed with the vision of the ministry, and we hope to send several teams a year to help with this,” Abernathy said. “It’s almost like our handyman ministry where men go into our community and help with houses.”

    Abernathy said they completed two houses while there but most teams, which will have seven to eight people, should be able to complete at least four.  

    Strengthen churches
    Abernathy sees this as a “church-strengthening project where men could get together and say, ‘We could do this.’”

    The project pulls the community together to build a house for a widow or another family in need. Around 50 homes have been built so far, according to Bert Yates.

    Often when a woman’s husband dies she has no way to support herself so she returns to her village. Usually accommodations are very meager.

    Abernathy said local pastors are involved in the planning and help with construction. Volunteers work alongside Kenyans to build the house.

    The goal is for the local pastor to followup house dedications with Bible studies in the new home. Eventually, the leaders hope to plant churches in those villages.  

    Contributed photo

    From right, Jack Yates, an International Mission Board missionary, Ted Menster of Troutman Baptist Church, and Mark Abernathy with North Carolina Baptist Men, pray with Kenyan church leaders and a widow for her new home to be a blessing.

    One-day construction
    Bert Yates observed a house being built in a day.

    In one of her e-mail updates Yates said, “The two-room home we watched being built yesterday was the 50th home built in the area in the same way — this one for a young widow with three small children. Her home had been the thatched hut beside the building project which had two special features — you could see the stars at night and unlike other homes in her village, she had running water in the house, but only when it rained — not the piped kind of water, but straight through the holes in your ceiling!”

    Yates said Southern Baptists enabled these houses to be built.

    In June 2008, she said they provided tin, nails and one day’s pay for a skilled carpenter. With that, a village built a home of twigs, sticks and mud for a family who had lost their home in a political crisis. Yates said she was excited to see a local pastor teaching choruses and Bible verses to the children in the neighborhood.

    One of the local men who led the Yates on a maze of twisting dirt roads to the village told them repeatedly, “Your coming is such an encouragement.”

    Teams have been going to Kenya through Baptist Men since 2007. Most work at Nyeri Baptist High School, which is where a team from Spruce Pine was working during the same time of the North Carolina Baptist Men’s trip. Led by Robert Stroup of First Baptist Church in Spruce Pine, the six-member team was working on facilities for the girls at the campus.

    Classrooms and dormitories are in process of being built. Abernathy said volunteers live at the school and build relationships with the students and faculty.

    For more about N.C. Baptist Men’s work in Kenya, visit www.baptistsonmission.org/Projects/OutsideUS/Kenya.aspx.  

    Political climate
    There are no widespread political problems in Kenya following political unrest after elections in late 2007.

    Thousands of villagers were displaced as villages and churches were burned.

    Southern Baptists through Baptist Global Response provided food and relief supplies for months as people moved about the country.

    Bert Yates said none of the major players have been arrested. Her concern is that if something isn’t done that violence will escalate again for the next election in 2012.

    Yates shares stories, prayer requests and praises through her blog: http://bertandjackyates.blogspot.com/. She also set up another site chronicling stories from Kenya about how the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is used (http://lottiemoonkenya2008.blogspot.com/) as well as other sites highlighting work in Kenya.

    “The greatest need is for people to do door-to-door witnessing in areas that have few churches,” she said. This serves as “an incredible spur to get the local Christians who often feel they can do little, to realize their potential for witnessing and sharing God’s love and salvation.”

    Another need is for teams to help with follow-up.

    “We have seen too many discouraging examples of a church begun by a volunteer team, but no proper plans were made for discipleship after the team left and the church quickly disappears,” she said.   

    Houses of Hope Project
    North Carolina Baptist Men is assisting the Kenya Baptist Convention in a bold initiative of planting 1,000 new house churches in the next five years. One strategy involves building houses for families in strategic areas. Teams will also have opportunity to minister with children who gather for the project. Volunteer teams are also welcomed into the local public schools.

    For more information contact Mark Abernathy at mabernathy@ncbaptist.org. Check www.baptistsonmission.org/Projects/OutsideUS/Kenya/bHousesofHope.aspx.
    • Teams: Teams of 7-8 are needed to go for 11 days. Ideally, some will work on the house while others minister with children and adults. The team will be housed and fed at the home of the Kenya Volunteer Coordinator. A Kenyan foreman will work with the team on the construction effort. 
    • Cost: Exact cost varies depending on current airfare. Ground cost is approximately $425 per person (based on 8-person team), includes food, lodging, in-country transportation, bottled water; entry visa; orientation, and insurance. Airfare typically runs between $1,300 and $1,800 depending on time of year. 
    • Dates of Service: Almost any 14-day time frame can be worked out.
    • Other costs: The cost of each house (which includes materials and  salary for two local craftsmen) is $450. Cost for four houses will be $1,800. For now, NC Baptist Men will contribute the cost for these houses for the first five teams that sign up for the project each year. 
    3/15/2010 5:55:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 2 comments

Bert Yates
Thank you for sharing how God is at work in Kenya. Thanks also for all the North Carolina volunteers who are serving as "Wafanya Kazi Pamoja na Mungu" or "God's Fellow Workers" in Kenya!
3/16/2010 2:11:44 AM

Thomas Kiker
Great to hear of this project. I know Ted Menster personally and rejoice in his heart for missions and the nations, along with the great people at Troutman Baptist Church!
3/15/2010 7:19:26 PM

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