Culture shift

Jomo Nderitu

In January 2019, Jomo moved from the busy, cosmopolitan city of Nakuru to the remote, Muslim region of Marsabit. He shares about the challenges he faces in this new environment:

Marsabit is the largest diocese in Kenya yet the least reached with the gospel. My wife and I work closely with the 18 trained clergy in serving the 53 churches. They’re all sparsely scattered and - even with a properly functioning car - it would take six hours to drive between them. Sadly, our car has been having recurring mechanical problems. In a year we can only visit each church once - so you can imagine how hard it is to do good follow up! 

The temperature ranges from 28°C to 35°C. It is not surprising to see people without clothes on. The whole area is quite marginalised and almost 80% of the population cannot meet their basic needs. Water for drinking and bathing, three meals a day and good clothes are a luxury in some parts. But how do you bring the gospel to the hungry? So often we incur the cost of feeding people’s stomachs before feeding their souls. We’re not planning to operate a feeding programme or to use food as bait, but this is a need that has to be addressed. When preparing our budget before we came to Marsabit, we didn’t factor this in and so we are now stretched financially. 

People are very communal here. Joy and sorrow are shared with the whole community. When someone faces a problem, it is the responsibility of the community to pull resources together to help them. Harambees (fundraising events) are compulsory and bring a sense of belonging. We are happy to be a part of this but it has financial implications that we would not have faced if we had stayed in the city. It is also time consuming and often takes up a portion of our family time. 

It breaks our hearts that in Marsabit unhealthy traditional practices still take place – such as female genital mutilation and arranged early marriages. A few weeks ago we received news that two 14 year olds we know got married to Muslims. Very painful! There is also lots of drug abuse, radicalisation, violent ideologies and tribal conflict. 

Despite this, it is a joy to take part in what the Lord is doing here. We draw strength and encouragement in knowing that we are ‘God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand’ (Ephesians 2:10). Nothing else moves our hearts more than opening God’s word with young people and seeing them treasuring it, growing in their knowledge of our Lord, being transformed and bearing fruit for the glory of God.