Meet our Partners- Robert and Mary
By Kate Berkey - June 14, 2018
Posted in Partnerships, Global Impact, Stories from NMC
Pastor Robert and Mary’s village lies just over 100 miles from the Somalian border, a country known for its ever present threat of terrorism. The main road to their village is littered with police check points, and as people drive on it, they recount stories and scenes.
”Do you remember when the government official was killed on this road a few months ago? It happened right there.”
“Did you hear about the IED that killed people travelling this way? That happened just last week over there.”
Do you remember? Did you hear? Did you know that person? It happened last month. It happened last week. It happened yesterday. The name Al Shabaab is not a distant threat for them. This terrorist group is present and real. Their violence is not an occasional event. It is frequent; the threat of terrorism is constant.
This is their reality. This is their home.
And they will not abandon it.
In May of 2014, Robert and Mary heard the Lord whisper a new place—Witu, Kenya. This place cried out for the gospel, and as it cried out, so did their hearts. Along the Kenyan coast, 85-90% of the population is Muslim. Most of the remaining people belong to traditional tribal religions, and a few are Christians. The coast of Kenya is a region in our world that searches for hope and truth and light. It searches even when it doesn’t know who it seeks.
When Robert and Mary decided to take a step of faith and move to Witu, they understood the implications. They understood the dangers. They understood the social, spiritual, and physical challenges, but even still, they followed the Lord. They followed because they understood the soul’s desperate search for a Savior, its cry, its desire for wholeness. How will they hear if no one tells them? How will they see if no one shows them? How will they find if no one leads them?
Their hearts ached for people, and since moving to Witu, Robert and Mary have faithfully invested in relationships with those in their town—Muslims, those practicing traditional tribal religions, and Christians alike. They have served and loved others, slowly building trust. A teacher by training, Mary started a school for kids in kindergarten through second grade. Here, children learn how to read, write, and do simple math problems, among other things. They eat lunch together and build relationships with the teachers. And at this school where the majority of kids are Muslim, they also learn about a man named Jesus. They learn about the Father, a God who loved them so much that He sent His son to bear the weight of our sins on the cross. They learn about love, grace, freedom, and forgiveness. They learn about a God who accepts them as they are, not for what they should or could do.
As a pastor, Robert focuses on building relationships, discipling people, and leading a house church. Since 2014, this church has grown from a small group of believers to two groups of 35 members. They study the Bible together twice a week and gather on Sundays for worship, prayer, and teaching. They meet even when there is a threat of danger, because they are hungry and thirsty for more of the Lord.
Robert and Mary’s journey is a lot like the road they must travel to reach their town. It has been and still is full of challenges and roadblocks. There are threats from every angle, enemies hiding in the trees. There are dark nights and even darker days, but still they have a hope that is anchored in the Father.
Recently one of NMC’s own, Wycliff Keter, was able to visit Robert and Mary for the first time. He travelled the road to Witu, stopped at the police checkpoints, and saw the places where blood has been shed. He visited the school where children not only receive an education but also the gospel. He sat with Robert and Mary in their home, drinking tea with them, and as they sat together, Wycliff had the chance to hear the aches and groans of their souls.
As church leaders and planters, Robert and Mary are very much physically alone in Witu. They pour out day after day, discipling, caring for, and serving others in this place they love deeply. Though they feel alone, Wycliff reminded them that they are not. Standing beside them are members of a church in the United States. These people believe in them. These people love them. These people want the best for them and for their community.
NMC, we are those people. As Robert and Mary carry the gospel in this dark and dangerous place, did you know that we play a key role? We support them through grants, prayers, and encouragement. As members of the Body Christ, we stand with them through in their victories and challenges. It’s not just Robert and Mary who have a stake in this village near Somalia. We do, too.
Here’s how you can support Robert and Mary:
- Prayer: Pray for wisdom as they discern which leaders to pour into and develop in this next season. Pray for doors to open to plant more churches over the next three years. Pray for favor with people in their community. Pray that the Lord would multiply their efforts in astounding ways. Pray for safety. Pray that the truth would become obvious to people, that it would shine like a bright light in a dark room.
- Encourage: Notes of encouragement can be the lifeblood of those working on the frontlines of ministry. Send an email of encouragement with the subject line “Robert and Mary” to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write a physical note of encouragement and bring it to the Ministry Center. We will make sure your note gets forwarded to Robert and Mary.