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Caleb’s Story


Graham and Sally Jones work in Western Kenya, partnering with local churches to train and mentor their pastors. Caleb is one of the pastors they seek to help.


‘This is Caleb,’ said Pastor Daniel. ‘He’s the new pastor at Nyakwaka. He is married to one wife and speaks English.’ A young man shook my out-stretched hand. He looked down in respect. ‘Does he know any theology?’ I asked Daniel. ‘Little,’ he replied, ‘that’s your job!’ Daniel and Caleb both grinned.

The year was 2007. Paul had been the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church (TBC) Nyakwaka, but was dismissed for taking a second wife. Half the church went with him. Caleb was one of the few left in the church who was saved, had only one wife and who could potentially lead. He was appointed as the new pastor. It was good to meet him.

There were seven Trinity Baptist Churches in South Nyanza (a very rural part of Western Kenya). We agreed to visit three times that year to do a training programme for the church leaders. It was a six-hour drive from Kisumu. Each time we took our tent and stayed for three days. Each time Caleb was there.


Marriage

During one of those visits we discovered that although Caleb was ‘married’ he was not really married. He had never paid the dowry in the ten years that he and Pamela had been together. During this time they had two children. We talked with him and the church, and agreed that he, the church and we would each give a cow to Pamela’s parents. We gave our cow.

A few years passed. The phone rang. ‘They have taken Pamela and the (then) three children’, Caleb said. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘The church did not give their cow.’ ‘Did you give yours?’ I asked. There was a long pause. ‘I had no money.’ ‘What happens now?’ I asked. More silence. We prayed and he agreed to go and plead with Pamela’s parents for more time.

The same thing happened a couple of years later, until finally Caleb was able to give his cow. They now have six children and Caleb is properly married to only one wife, Pamela.


Training

In 2007 Caleb started the correspondence courses that Sukesh Pabari (then a GBM missionary) had written, going through New Testament books. Soon after, Caleb came to the pastors’ fraternal in Kisumu and brought his answers for course one. They showed that he was beginning to understand Christian teaching. He returned home with the next course and a Christian book.

At the fraternal in January 2010, Caleb brought his answers to the last of the eight courses. I gave him a certificate of completion and copies of the GBM Bible Surveys. ‘I’ve got a bit of a library now,’ he announced. But what he seemed most taken by was the certificate. He explained that he never finished primary school, because his grandparents who raised him could not afford the fees. This was his first ever certificate. There was silence as we both appreciated the significance of the moment.

Caleb started on the three correspondence courses from GBM Radio’s Sound Words series, looking at the character of God. He completed them in early 2012. Another certificate. I gave him a systematic theology book to add to his library and help him keep learning.

A text message appears on my phone. ‘Greets. Did the devil know God’s mind? Gen 3:5, Gen 2:17 compare.’ A few weeks later another one came. ‘Grts. The Roho people use names when they pray for the sick – like Gabriel, Michael, and others, Joseph, Samson. Does this mean they have a relationship with both the holy angels and God’s people Moses, Joseph etc? Are they right? Caleb.’ Each time I answered the best I could. It was encouraging to see Caleb’s spiritual appetite.

Caleb started the Moore Theological College course in November 2012. He did well with the six units over a three year period and came top in the unit on Mark’s Gospel. He explained, ‘I preached through Mark using that PPP (Pray Prepare Preach) book you gave me.’ He was awarded a Preliminary Theological Certificate from a registered Bible College. ‘I was not able to do school, but I have now done theology … thank you’. Another significant moment.


Family Income

One day the phone rang. It was Daniel. ‘Caleb’s left the church. He’s taken a job in Migori town. What do we do?’ As Daniel talked, the situation became clearer. The harvests had been poor and so Caleb had gone to look for paid work to feed his family. He was only in Nyakwaka church once a month. Daniel agreed that on three Sundays a month, after preaching at his church, he would preach at Nyakwaka.  

After a while the church called Caleb back, and agreed to find some support for him. Caleb returned but was disappointed again. Caleb took another job, this time in Homa Bay. I visited him several times and encouraged him that when he became financially stable, he would be able to get back to ministering in the church.  

This pattern continued off and on for several years. One year the rains were plentiful and he had a very good harvest. He had a donkey he ‘rented’ out. He set up a tailoring business. Sometimes we supplied him with second-hand clothes to sell. The daily struggle was and is part and parcel of the regular pattern of life for him and his church members.


Bibles and Hymnbooks

‘How is the church?’ I enquire. ‘It’s growing,’ says Caleb, ‘more people are coming. We have some needs. The people know three hymns. They sing them well. We sing them every week. We could do with some hymnbooks.’ We discuss the way forward and agree that next time we visit, we will give a gift of Bibles and hymnbooks in Luo to help the church.


Church Stability

In late 2015 when Caleb was away working, the members at Nyakwaka decided to withdraw from Trinity Baptist Church and look for registration and a (paid) pastor from another church group. A year went by and no pastor arrived. After strenuous efforts by Daniel and others, seven of the Nyakwaka members decided to re-join TBC. Another text message arrived in September 2017. ‘Grts. God has answered our prayers for restored Nyakwaka TBC. So I am at home as from mid-July to date, so pray for us. Caleb.’

And what happened to those Bibles and hymnbooks…?


‘God made it grow’

God has been faithful. Over the years Caleb has grown in faith, in godliness and in perseverance. ‘There have been many problems but God has been there’, he said.

Another text message arrived in July 2019. ‘What now?’ I thought. ‘What is today’s issue?’  The text read, ‘Grts. How are you both? We remember you in our mid-week prayer of today and we pray for you. We are fine under God’s care. We do pray for the missionary work you are doing. God will carry you in his hands, as he did the Israelites Exodus 19:4.’



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