Sending Our Own
Has God ever called you to an assignment that you’ve been reluctant to accept? On December 29, 2016, Brian and Heather Dellamater, missionaries with Global Outreach International, asked if I would be willing to serve on a 15-day mission trip to Africa. The Dellamater’s are establishing a 52-acre farm in the African savannah called Kijani Farm which will also hold a church and hospital. The farm will act as a way for the Dellamaters to evangelize to the local community. I was asked to be a part of a team that would pioneer the foundation of this ministry. This trip would require that I live in a tent in the African Savannah while establishing a permanent housing facility for future short term mission’s teams. There would be no running water, and a generator would only provide electricity during working hours.
I was eager to consider the prospect of being one of the first teams to help establish this mission’s field, but the reality was I have a two-year old and a 2-month old, both who love and appreciate their daddy time. I went home and told my wife that I felt God calling me to serve. I was hopeful that upon sharing my calling that she would bail me out of this mission my reminding me of my fatherly responsibilities. Instead, she listened to the ministry details and told me, if God had called me to serve, she would not stand in the way.
The following Sunday my pastor started a new sermon series on the book of Jonah. God couldn’t have spoken more clearly or directly than through my pastor. One of his closing comments was that we are called to be obedient when God sends us. The congregation was also reminded that if we don’t obey, God will still find a way to accomplish His desires.
The trip was February 18- March 4, and since I was recently added to this team, I had just a few weeks to raise funds. God cleared that obstacle as funds were raised in less than two weeks. The time leading up to the trip seemed to pass quickly as there was plenty of preparation that needed to be done both at home and at work.
Our team consisted of four men; Jeff Ingersol, Josh Peterson, Brian Dellamater and myself, each of us equipped with a construction and camping background. We landed in Nairobi, Kenya late in the evening and enjoyed one night at a respectable hotel. The following morning the team was up and ready at first light to drive 2 hours southwest of Nairobi to Kajiado County where Kijani Farms is located.
My excitement to start building grew as we pulled off the paved road toward Kijani. Little did I know it was more than 40 minutes of driving through rutted roads just to get to a point where we couldn’t drive any further. We were still about a half mile from Kijani, and each man brought with them two bags each weighing 50 lbs filled with tools, tents, food and clothing. Not wanting to carry our bags we opted to keep the bags in the truck, and each man grabbed a panga (machete) to cut branches and shrubbery to allow access for the vehicle.
Several hours later we had cut a path, with permission, through a neighboring Masai’s property to the location we would call home for the next two weeks. The following three days Jeff and I trail blazed half a mile of rough terrain as we sought to build a permanent road so that others may gain access to the property and to allow for materials to be delivered. After the foundation of the road had been completed, the team was able to get the lumber needed to erect a water tower and storage unit.
The original plan was that our team would be building while materials were delivered. As often happens in different countries, our plans were vastly different from reality. Brian spent many days hauling lumber as our location was very much off the beaten path. On occasion, Brian would have to drive two hours simply to get materials for the day’s work.
The quality of lumber and material is vastly different from what we have stateside. The lumber is not as straight, and time-saving tools were often unavailable. For example, we couldn’t find a post hole digger, so instead, foundation holes were dug out with a metal food bowl that Jeff provided.
During the second week of construction, the team was able to layout and build the foundation for short term missions housing. This future housing unit will allow short term missions teams to stay on site and work on future building projects.
Even through the primary goal of this trip was to build several structures, we found ourselves setting a foundation of new friendship with many locals that we were working alongside. Every morning our team started with devotionals and scripture reading. One day several of the laborers heard that we were reading the Bible, the next morning several men arrived at our camp early just to sit with us and hear the gospel.
I was encouraged to see the eagerness these men had to hear the word of God. It made me think of Matthew 9:35-38 when Jesus was talking to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest fields.”
When I left Kenya, I didn’t feel like I was part of the “harvesting team” as described in Matthew. But after reflecting on this scripture, I realized that God had likely used my service as a way to prepare the soil for future harvest.
Later this year more work will progress on Kijani Farm. The Dellamaters are still working on plans to establish a dwelling for their family before they permanently relocate.
Until then, additional mission trips will continue taking place. For the next trip, Kijani Farms is looking for more construction laborers or anyone that has a medical background to help assess the needs of the local communities. Hygiene is not emphasized, and children are often exposed to unhealthy conditions. The Kijani team hopes to become better equipped to serve the surrounding community. To help set a foundation for future medical mission’s teams, Kijani is hoping to have a few medical professionals serve on a short term mission’s trip in the summer of 2017.
For more information on how you can partner with Kijani Farm email Heather Dellamater.