Discovering God’s Word Together

Steve Voyen

The church in Sub-Saharan Africa is growing, and evangelism is continuing as people find new ways to connect in the ongoing pandemic.

New lockdown restrictions are being enforced in Kenya “after the COVID-19 positivity rate jumps to 22 percent in two months,” Voice of America reported.

That was in March, and matters have still not improved months later, as county after county is declared a hotspot zone of new infections and hospitals are struggling to keep up. Reporter Mohammed Yusuf noted, “Health officials have warned the country may witness another wave of cases in July if people continue to disregard health protocols designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.”

The real question comes, though, as ministry leaders consider how church should respond to governmental and medical restrictions. Scripture commands, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV). The Apostle Peter, on the other hand, was directed by the Holy Spirit to write, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (1 Peter 2:13, NIV).

The church in many parts of the world, including Kenya, must negotiate, “So how do we honor both commands?” 

A New Type of Church

World Challenge partners across Sub-Saharan Africa have been grappling with how to continue church during this heartbreaking time, and when Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) emerged as an option, they enthusiastically embraced this innovative approach to ministry.  

Rural teams in particular are engaging small groups anywhere between 10 and 20 people. They encourage people to gather with family members who have an internet connection, drawing loved ones and coworkers to study God’s Word and building something akin to online house church gatherings. World Challenge leaders zooming into these studies walk closely in relationship with partners, overcoming the barriers created by COVID-19 and thousands of miles of physical separation.

DBS is challenging our partners to apply God’s Word to their day-to-day relationships, to share what they’ve learned with others and to put Biblical truths into practice. 

Gerald, our partner in Kenya, wrote, “When I first reached out to you, I didn't have something like this in mind.  Thank you for your obedience to God's voice, and see what we've got? Many nations together studying God's Word… Praying for multiplication.”     

The Growth and Blessings

One participant in the DBS, whose focus is on outreach to those being persecuted for their faith, testified how his sharing the lessons has resulted in salvation experiences.  The first was with a lesson on 1 Corinthians 13, which helped five acquaintances fully realize how God is their Father. He was also involved in a prison outreach where he once again had an opportunity to share what he’d learned in the studies and guide another group to a saving knowledge of Christ. 

During a recent DBS meeting, the small group prayed for a young girl who recently came to Christ and is in need of legal counsel. Her family rejects the Christian faith, and her father, a powerful leader in his religion, is holding her captive inside the family home. He is making plans for her to be married off to a much older man whom he greatly favors. The group is praying fervently for her situation. 

Another member of the groups shared, “With the help of World Challenge leaders, a biweekly Discovery Bible Study has been running since January, bringing at least 15 people in every meeting. More and more people are getting interested.”

Community has never felt more urgently needed than after a year of isolation and distancing. These Bible study groups are helping people connect and respond to one another’s needs, even if they live in areas that are still closed because of the pandemic.