A Garden in the Desert

Steve Voyen

The Community Transformation ministry located in Western Kenya reaches hundreds of people spread across the Rift Valley region with the transformative power of the gospel.

Many of the Rift Valley community members have experienced salvation in Jesus Christ as a direct result of their involvement with World Challenge’s partners.

Pastor Philemon, his wife Agneta, the team members and volunteers all know very well that people in Kenya can quite literally perish for lack of information. In this part of Africa particularly, poverty is very real and can be demonic.

One woman with whom the team has worked knows this all too well. Her name is Helen, and she and her husband have nine children. The family had been struggling with food scarcity. Life for them was a relentless challenge. In their region of the Rift Valley, residents depend on fishing to survive since the surrounding terrain is semi-arid, rocky and difficult to farm.

Toiling Over Rocky Soil

Not long ago, Pastor Philemon and the CHE ministry team visited Helen’s community. Helen explained their plight to the team, illustrating it with the tale of her children’s most recent fishing trip.

Three of her children had gone out fishing like they normally did each day. They labored for a full eight hours under the blistering sun, hunting food for the family. By that evening, they trudged home with only one fish to show for the entire, miserable day of work. One fish was the only meat she had to feed the 11 people in her household that night!

In response, Pastor Philemon and his team began to train Helen’s family in how to cultivate a garden to supplement their diet. First, they set about removing the stones and turning up the soil to create a good garden bed. One week later, the team returned to bring the family some bags of seed that everyone planted together. Helen and her husband were instructed to fetch water regularly from the lake so the garden could flourish.

On a return visit after only two months, the team found the family enjoying vegetables from their very own garden. It was a wonderful success, but the work had just begun.

The Lord’s Fruitful Harvest

After the success of this simple food security activity designed to “save the body,” the team then asked Helen to begin providing the same gardening lessons she’d been given to others in her community to help them address their food security needs. As she had been blessed, so she could live as a blessing to others.

This biblical rhythm of life opened the door to discussions about why they were asking her to do this. In the Bible, John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that he gave himself to save it. In the same way, we are called to love and live sacrificially, to love God and bring heaven to earth through his Spirit.

At first when she heard the gospel, Helen’s heart was as hard as the rocky ground of the land around her. She did not want to accept Christ as her Savior. The team travailed in prayer over her soul, and Helen began to soften toward God’s Word. Eventually, she was submitted herself to her Lord and was born again. Now she is studying the Bible, sharing her testimony, has led many to Christ, has become a pastor and has even planted a church in her community. What a testimony!

Instrumental in all of this has been her ability to share how she managed “to get vegetables in the desert,” a story of God’s fruitful work in her own life and heart.

What Exactly Is CHE in Missions?

  • CHE is “Community Health Evangelism,” and it helps people broaden their perspective on how Christ called us to love God and love our neighbor in practical ways.
  • Community: World Challenge and their partners strive to work through local people who know the culture and have steady, ongoing relationships in the area where they are working.
  • Health: Often people are not open to the gospel until they see the outworking of God’s love for them through believers who are serving the community.
  • Evangelism: Not only are people brought to a saving knowledge of Christ, but they also need continuing discipleship to help them grow into maturity, which is where evangelism links back to community!