Lemoru, Kenya: A Beautiful Story of Community Transformation
In the late 1990s, a group of elders from a small rural community in western Kenya approached World Hope Ministries International with an unusual opportunity. They proposed to reserve a part of their family lands for the common good of the community. They specifically were asking WHMI to help develop part of that land to assist the community in caring for “at-risk children.”
After much prayer, the leaders of WHMI agreed to help the community accomplish this goal. Beginning in the early 2000s, a variety of projects were accomplished as WHMI worked beside the local people. These included a children's home, schools, and a variety of agricultural projects intended to help the community toward more self-sufficiency. We saw significant benefits (at-risk children were cared for, schools - where there had been none - provided education, and agricultural projects helped provide funds for the children).
Yet, we were not seeing the kind of transformation that would propel that community outward, themselves becoming Great Commission catalysts to other communities. During these years, this community also requested help to train the many pastors in the region who needed theological education. As a result, from 2007-2011, Lemoru became one of the test locations for World Hope Bible Institute. Over those four years, we saw something amazing begin to happen. Though separated by denominational and, sometimes, tribal lines, the men began to fellowship deeply with one another.
By the time graduation occurred in 2011, something extraordinary began to happen. They were ready to launch ministry together to other locations. In addition to helping birth new locations of the Bible Institute, they have engaged in numerous projects far beyond their community. And, on the home front, they are now aggressively pursuing various means to become completely self-sufficient. As one of them recently said to Stuart Sheehan, WHMI President and CEO, "The child has grown up." Indeed, it has. The reach of this one small community is clearly the work of God!
The Lemoru story has become a parable of a very important truth: it is difficult to see community transformation without transforming the leaders of the community. Because God's plan is to work through the church, it is crucial that those who lead the church have a theological foundation from which to operate. The success at Lemoru helped us define what God is calling us to do; it is sequential. We train pastors in order to help churches become healthy and grow. Through those healthy churches, God transforms communities. The training of the spiritual leaders in the community enhances the value of all other Kingdom investments. All glory to God!