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Church raising funds to buy motorbikes for Kenya pastors

August 31, 2018

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Opelika pastor Hamlet Barnes Jr. thought he had entered a time capsule, one that carried him as far back as the 1950s, the moment he set foot in Bungoma, Kenya.

Taking in the sights of green farmlands worked by villagers living in small homes sealed with mud, Barnes also watched as animals roamed freely, including some chickens who entered kitchens of houses lacking screen doors. Villagers fetched water from wells, relied on outhouses and used kerosene lamps due to the lack of adequate electricity.

But it was also during Barnes’ 2017 mission trip to Kenya that he observed villagers’ major reliance on motorbikes to haul goods and complete tasks. Many bikes even supported three or more people as they rode from place to place. Thinking about the pastors and families of Bungoma’s Seed Faith Ministries, Barnes knew what he had to do.

“I came back with a plan, a vision to help those pastors,” he said. “This is what was pressed upon me. I believe God said, ‘Help those pastors get motorbikes.’ We can get them a motorbike to get back and forth to church and take care of the family. They can take that motorbike, and it will help them to generate funds for their families and home. Because a little bit of money is a lot to them, for the pastors to be able to take back home to their families and get sugar or buy flour to eat, or even a little oil to cook with. It means a lot to them.”

Supporting those with less

Since around 2015, Barnes’ church, Mustard Seed Faith Center Ministries, has given financial support to churches within Seed Faith Ministries in Kenya. Earlier this year, the church was able to send $1,000 to help buy a $1,200 motorbike for one of the eight pastors.

More money was sent on Aug. 24 to help get another bike. That leaves six more pastors in need, and Barnes is hopeful that hearts within the church communities in Lee County will rev up their willingness to assist in the effort.

“The Bible shows at times that the Christians that were more financially able than others, they would support those that had less, to get them on their feet,” Barnes said. “Because they just need some help to get on their feet. Once they get going, then they can handle it from there, because their goal is to help others.”

The pastor who received the first bike, Bernard Nato, was very grateful, said Bishop Caleb Wanjala Peter of Seed Faith Center Ministries. Peter spoke to an Opelika-Auburn News reporter on via telephone from Kenya.

“He’s so happy,” Peter said. “He gets to the church better, early, and that motorbike is helping him put food on the table every day. He makes three dollars every day.”

Having access to a bike also helps him take care of his children and pay for their schooling, Peter added. Naturally, it helps him spread the word of Christianity through the village easier as well.

“Where a car cannot reach, a motorbike can reach,” Peter explained.

If given the opportunity, the other pastors would benefit similarly in being able to provide for their families financially, as well as attend to the spiritual needs of villagers.

Appreciative of the generosity shown by Barnes’ church, Peter said the assistance they’ve received “is a great, great help that has changed the lives of these pastors.”

“One was even giving up in the ministry,” he added. “But through that encouragement, now he’s so happy in the ministry.”

‘They love the Lord’

While preaching at Seed Faith Center churches within Bungoma, Barnes was stricken by the immense faith of the villagers who have so little.

“Boy, they are strong,” he said. “They love the Lord; they love the Lord.”

Realizing the need for continued encouragement, Barnes’ church set up a GoFundMe account to help collect donations for purchasing six more motorbikes. The church is asking pastors and churches throughout Lee County to please help with the effort, and Barnes is hopeful that enough money can be raised to buy a bike each month.

“It’s not that the God that we serve can’t bless them. But He uses us, who He’s blessed to where we are, to be able to help them,” Barnes said. “We’ve just got to do it.”

The sheer gratitude of the villagers in Bungoma is certainly memorable, Barnes said. Recalling how the pastors and their families warmly welcomed him into their homes and expressed joy during his fellowship with them, Barnes said a pastor and his wife gave him a special gift he’ll never forget as he made one of his last stops.

“She presented me a live chicken that was out of their yard,” he recounted with a smile. “That’s a meal for them, but they were so appreciative of me being there, and they were just elated at the fact that I came there to see them, and then came to their house to sit and eat with them. They just never had anybody to do that, coming from America in there to see them.”

The pastors are very appreciative of the kind hearts that are able to help with the purchasing of motorbikes, Peter said. Hoping to get the names of those who are able to assist, he further remarked that donors and their families will be remembered and prayed for every day.

“This will bring a lot of joy and the peace to these pastors,” he said.

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Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/

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