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Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.Psalm 107:4–9

Every morning, Daniel’s wife works to grow and sell vegetables from a garden plot offered through the county government. Periodically, she makes the four-hour journey home to provide food and money for their family, while Daniel, a Lutheran, continues to search for work. This is one of a handful of such programs in Turkana, the largest and poorest county in Kenya.

At three degrees above the equator, it is a cool 95 degree winter day (normal temps are above 105 degrees) as I walk and feel the soil with village elder Jackson and Kenyan missionary Pastor Mutai. LCMS agricultural missionaries Delano and Linda Meyer join us to examine options for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya to establish a mission station in the country seat of Lodwar to serve people in this low-land arid desert county the size of west Virginia.

People persecuted for their ethnicity and religious beliefs come from Sudan, Ethiopia and Congo to seek relief at Kakuma Refuge camp in the north. In the south, traditional herders rustle cattle of adversary tribes. Throughout the county, large underground oil and water reserves have been discovered. Caught in the middle is a nomadic people struggling with traditional means to provide for themselves.

As part of our field research, we learned of efforts by the ministry of agricultural to teach nomadic peoples to farm, and visited the forestry office and a couple of riverside garden plots to learn about trees and plants suitable for the desert. However, implementing any technical solution would be short-lived and ineffective without the involvement of the community, and this is difficult without first grasping the Gospel.

Although people here live in a physical desert, their souls also dwell in a spiritual desert. Daily sustenance must be procured in a manner pleasing to ancestral spirits. Societal pressures have degraded social and family roles of father and mother. Wealth is determined by the number of cattle in spite of impoverished living conditions. Rather than providing for one’s family, once strong men find it easier to ask NGOs or family members for help.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you,” and in Romans 8:18, ”For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul also states that through Christ, we are reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of His Son. God has reconciled his Creation unto Himself through Christ.

This message of salvation and healing is being carried to the rapidly growing area of Turkana by just one Kenyan missionary pastor—just one pastor to support Lutheran groups in northern refugee camps, to lead struggling but growing congregations in the south and to spread the news of Christ’s salvation throughout the area. Please pray for God’s grace and provision for the people of Turkana as we begin work in this area.

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog,, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.