Crossing cultures in Kenya

Gerald and Louise Mwangi

TransformD is a gap year programme for Kenyan school leavers, run by Gerald and Louise Mwangi. In April, the young people took part in a cross-cultural mission trip….

The long awaited journey finally came! Many were filled with joy for the adventure and at the same time they were filled with anxiety. They’d heard about Samburu from the media or people who had gone there before. Now their feet would walk this land, and for a good cause: to preach the gospel. 

The journey to Samburu took 17 hours. Samburu is in the north of Kenya and is hugely marginalised. The people there are nomadic pastoralists and are among the many in the country that are unreached with the gospel.

The purpose of the trip was to help the young people understand God’s mission, learn about other cultures, and see some of the unique needs that are faced by communities there.

The team taught at a children’s and youth camp and got involved in outreach to local villages. Although language was a huge barrier, they were able to teach with help from translators. The children were sharp minded and easily memorised verses about the Kingdom of God. The team grew in confidence and boldness of teaching the gospel and, as a result, they grew in their faith. 

Many team members came to appreciate the kind of abundance they have back in their homes, and realised how God is sovereign in providing for the Samburu people despite the scarcity of resources. 

It was a surprise to many that these people – though they had so little – were very hospitable. However, it was sad to learn that the Samburu people hold tightly to less positive traditions and practices. Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages for girls are still prevalent. Also, there are not many churches where the people can go and hear the word of God. There is great need for the gospel.

Team member Lydiah writes, ‘I was struck by the Samburu culture. Most of the people wear maasai shuka – a traditional red striped cloth. The ladies decorate themselves with the shangas (beaded necklaces) which made them very attractive. Livestock are seen as a source and sign of wealth - these included camels, goats, cows and sheep. I really enjoyed their wedding celebrations – in particular watching the morans (young male warriors) as they jumped and sang, and how they decorated their bodies with red ochre. Through observing the Samburu culture I was reminded that God is everywhere and reaches out to his children no matter where they are. God is everywhere, even in the places that we think he cannot be. He provides for all his precious children, even in the remote areas of Samburu. It was humbling to learn that our cultural advantage is not a prerequisite for salvation. However, I also saw that culture can hinder people from being followers of God. Women and children are the majority in most Samburu churches. The men hold tightly to their traditional cultures and women can’t question their actions. The Samburu culture makes men have the final say. But, during this trip I have learnt that salvation is for all. We should try to reach out to people and preach about salvation - as Christians we have been commissioned to do so. Even people that are viewed as the least in the community also deserve to hear the good news of salvation.’

Pray that all the young people will build on what they learnt on this mission trip and that, in the years to come, they will devote themselves to the Great Commission.

You can join this gap year programme. Find out more.