Read our 2014–2017 ministry summary, published August 2018.
We came to Kenya as part of the CMF-Maasai church planting team in 2007. Several years ago, our team’s ministry grew beyond just the Maasai. A Samburu believer attended our DTS (see below) and returned home to plant churches among his people. In tribally mixed areas (towns and border regions), our churches (known as CCC congregations, or “Community Christian Church”) now have tribally mixed congregations. In 2013 our team began the process of merging with CMF’s Turkana church planting team, because together we were now serving a single, multi-ethnic national church. We are no long affiliated with CMF, but at the insistance and repeated invitation of CCC leaders, we are continuing our long and fruitful partnership with the CCC.
The Maasai and Turkana churches are growing and multiplying: Meisisi Enkai! (May God be praised!) as the Maasai believers say. Maasai followers of Christ are sharing the gospel with former tribal enemies and have begun planting churches among neighboring tribes. The Turkana churches have sent some of their own as missionary-evangelists to plant new churches in distant and still unreached areas of Turkana Land. Maisisi Olaitoriani! (Let us praise the Lord!)
Yet the CCC church leaders have identified several areas where growth is still needed. These include development of curriculum (teaching and training materials in the local languages addressing concerns within the local cultural contexts), discipleship and leadership training and training of teachers.
teaching and training materials in the local languages for the local churches
We partner with LATM (Literature and Teaching Ministries to provide funding for the books we publish
Have you ever tried to teach a lesson, or a lesson series, using only the text of the Bible with no other helps? For most of us, unless we have years of experience, that’s a daunting task. What if you’ve only learned to read a few years ago through an adult literacy program, and you’ve only had a copy of the Bible in your language for a year or so? Even harder.
In December 2008, we completed (by the help and grace of God) a curriculum entitled “Enkinosata Ororei Le Nkai” (Eating the Word of God). It was written in the Maa language for the Maasai churches. This is a book of ten lessons on how to understand the Bible, together with teachers’ training material. A former CMF-Maasai missionary who read it said that anyone who taught from it would receive the equivalent of a teachers’ training course.
This project was a collaborative effort between us and the Community Christian Church, and the copies of the books are now in the hands of the church leaders.
Patrick Ole Sayialel, the foremost of our Maasai co-workers for this project, told us in September 2009, “the book of Enkinosata Ororei le Nkai is really a big blessing in our churches.” The Maasai church leaders also shared with their Turkana brothers about the lessons; as a result we have prepared an English draft for the Turkana believers to begin work on a translation (and cultural adaptation).
In June 2010, other missionaries took copies of the “Enkinosata” lessons to consider using them among the Maasai of Tanzania and also among the Samburu of Kenya. (Maasai land is artificially divided between southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, a result of colonialism. The Samburu are a related tribe of the Maasai, in central Kenya. Linguists consider the Samburu language to be a dialect of Maa — there is about a 70% overlap — although the differences are great enough to warrant the current efforts of Wycliff Bible Translators toward a Samburu Bible translation.) In 2015 we completed and published a kiSwahili translation/adaptation for publication for use in our tribally mixed churches. The Turkana version followed in 2017. Joshua has learned to edit in three non-English languages. In 2018, missionaries to the Tonga in Zambia requested (and received) permission to translate and adapt this curriculum for use in the Tonga churches.
Various other curriculum projects are underway for the Maa and Nga Turkana languages. Ruth is writing a new children’s curriculum, and training at the same time our co-workers in this project: Jackson La Sang’urukuri (Samburu), Elijah Moloi Nkurma (Maasai), and Harrison Kyalo (Kamba).
Currently efforts are under way to train some of the Maasai writer-editors who helped us with this project to become curriculum developers and lesson writers for the Community Christian Church, together with some other believers from the Samburu, Kamba, and Luo tribes.
Bible & Missions Training
We place a strong priority on biblical and missions training. In our work in Kenya, much of this training takes place through what are usually known as “Bible Training Institutes.” Previously, Narok Bible Training Institute (NBTI) served the Maasai (based at our Ewaso Ng’iro training center, about 45 minutes outside of Narok town) while the Turkana received training at Turkana Bible Training Institute (TBTI; in Lodwar). For a while, the whole CCC was served by Mission Institute East Africa (MIEA) across tribal lines. MIEA had replaced two older schools among the Maasai: Narok Bible Bible Training Institute (NBTI, in Ewaso Ng’iro, about 45 minutes outside of Narok) and Kajiado Bible Training Institute (at our training center in Ng’atataek, about an hour south of Kajiado town). From 2007-2010, we were most involved at NBTI. From 2010 until its untimely death, Joshua had been one of the teachers of MIEA, developing two courses for the curriculum.
Currently, this type of training is going on primarily through CCBTI and DTI (see below for both), one-on-one mentoring, and various seminars.
(Visit our google map for the locations of the training centres.)
Narok Bible Training Institute (NBTI) (2003-2010)
Started by the CMF-Maasai team in 2003, NBTI’s central goal was to train Christian leaders with a burden to serve Christ. James Sinkua served as Principal, but this was still a missionary, rather than a CCC, ministry. In 2007-2008, John Sosio became the new Principal and CMF helped NBTI to establish a Kenyan Board of Directors that met twice a year to review budget, set policy, and discuss major issues of the Institute. Our desire was for this to be a CCC ministry supported by missionaries. Classes met for 3 weeks at a time in January, April, July, and October. Teaching was offered at 3 levels — Basic (courses in the Maa language), Advanced (courses in English) and Audit. Joshua served as a board member and a teacher for NBTI. (There is a picture of Joshua with the students from his 2008 “Spiritual Disciplines” course on the About the Barrons page.) In November 2010, the NBTI board adopted the new MIEA curriculum. In March 2011, it seemed to the NBTI board that NBTI was already dead due to a lack of support from the CCC churches, and there seemed to be growing support for the vision of MIEA, and so the board voted to dissolve the school and transfer its assets and heritage to MIEA.
Turkana Bible Training Institute (TBTI) (2005 – )
TBTI was founded in the Turkana Land bush by CMF missionary Kip Lines in 2005 to train up servant-leaders for the Turkana churches. In 2006, it relocated to a new CMF training center built just outside of the town of Lodwar. TBTI has remained more dependent on CMF than NBTI in some important ways, but on the other hand TBTI is continuing in its ministry and has a committee of Turkana church leaders who oversee its daily operations. So it has avoided the pitfalls which destroyed first NBTI and then MIEA (see just below). Moreover, TBTI’s curriculum became the basis for the CCBTI curriculum (see below).
Joshua became one of the instructors for TBTI starting in 2011. So far, he has taught “Church History,” “Missions & Evangelism,” and “Eating the Word of God” for the school, as well as providing training seminars for the Turkana teachers.
Mission Institute East Africa (MIEA) (2011-2012)
MIEA was founded by a former teammate, working together with key Maasai church leaders, in response to the changing needs of our maturing pastors and elders.
From the MIEA student handbook:
Our Mission: The Mission Institute of East Africa (MIEA) exists to train Africans to carry out the mission of God.
Our Vision: We believe that African missionaries can effectively minister towards critical African issues, such as the AIDS crisis, evangelism in unreached and war-torn areas, and the ever-growing number of orphans. This represents a viable long-term solution to issues that have often overwhelmed non-African churches. We believe that African churches need two foundational directives to have significant missionary impact: (1) A Biblical Basis for mission (2) Leaders who are actively involved in missionary activity. This will result in churches that are intentional in their local and global missionary witness.
Our Training: Since, we believe that God is raising up African missionaries to become a world-wide missionary force for the kingdom of God, we also believe that missiological training is essential for the growth of the church, regardless of whether one’s future role will be that of a pastor or a missionary. As much as possible, the faculty at MIEA will try to teach within their specialty areas and experience in order to provide the greatest depth and skill in the training. As a MIEA student, you will gain the greatest benefit if you take the courses in sequence (i.e. 100 level courses prior to 200 level and so on). Some courses are required for all MIEA students. At the same time, electives are offered that allow you to pursue a specific passion or calling within your training. We pray that you might join us at MIEA and train to change the world for Christ.
Joshua taught “Equipping the Local Congregation for Biblical Understanding” (or simply “Eating the Word of God”; using the Enkinosata lessons as a text) and “History of Mission” for MIEA. Sadly and frustratingly, due some personal conflicts (that we were not a part of), miscommunications, and an ultimate lack of a sense of ownership on the part of the CCC, MIEA (like NBTI before it) effectively died.
Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI) (2014 – )
After the deaths of NBTI and MIEA and KBTI, the Maasai church leaders really began to feel the lack of the type of training that these sorts of institutions can effectively provide. In the latter part of 2012, a group of CCC church leaders was meeting with our CMF team leader and our “boss” David Giles (formerly a missionary among the Maasai, now serving in the CMF home office in America). The Kenyan believers were really pushing for a renewed effort, and indicated that they were ready to take ownership of this sort of ministry. Unanimously, the CCC leaders present asked the two CMF representatives present at the meeting if Joshua could lead the effort in assisting them to raise up a new training ministry. (TBTI is too far away for the Maasai and others to realistically attend and TBTI courses are taught in Nga Turkana.)
Thus Joshua was appointed the chair of what eventually became the CCBTI steering committee (two representatives from the TBTI steering committee have played a large role in this effort thus far). CCC church leaders agreed upon a unified curriculum for all of the BTIs of the CCC in 2013. Then the steering committee of the CCC training center in Kajiado County approached the CCBTI committee and asked for our help in re-establishing KBTI (Kajiado Bible Training Institute). Classes were initially scheduled to begin in January 2015, but the drought in 2014–215 was severe enough that this was delayed.
In 2015, Joshua taught two courses, “Church History” and “Christian Stewardship & Congregational Finances,” for the TBTI branch of CCBTI. In 2016, after years of laying the groundwork we celebrated the opening of two new CCBTI branches in Maasai land — one in Ewaso Ng’iro and one in Ng’atataek. Joshua has taught “Church History” and “Christian Stewardship & Congregational Finances” to the inaugural cohorts at each branch, team-teaching the Stewardship course with Walter Mwambushi (a Luo and an elder in the CCC congregation in Narok).
In 2018 while we were in America, “Church History” and “Christian Stewardship & Congregational Finances” were taught by Ntinga Sam Tome, the Maasai administrator of the two Maasai branches of CCBTI, whom Joshua has trained. November and December 2018 also saw the first CCBTI graduations in Maasai land!
“As you go,” Jesus commands his followers, “make disciples.” Note that it doesn’t say “make proselytes” or “teach people to pray the so-called sinners’ prayer” or “baptize people and then you’re done”! All who call themselves “christian” are commanded to “make disciples.” We pray that we will not be guilty of merely making disciples of ourselves, of our American sending churches, or of any missions agency (see Matthew 23.15 for a warning about this!). Instead, we long to make disciples of Jesus.
“All authority on heaven and earth is given to me,” Jesus says, “therefore, as you go, MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING them and TEACHING them to OBEY ALL I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. And surely I will be with you, even to the very end of the age.” With such a mandate, we maintain a commitment to make disciple-making disciples and to continue to equip Kenyans to plant church-planting churches.
Discipleship Training Institute (DTI)
The Maasai Discipleship Training School (DTS) was started in 2000 by André Brink, a South African partner of CMF’s work. The DTS met in a former CMF mission house deep in the forest of the Loita Hills in Maasailand. Francis Yenko, who attended a DTS run by Youth With A Mission) in 2001, eventually replaced André as the Maasai Director of the DTS. André leads a new ministry called “Walking with Maasai,” which focuses on Christian stewardship of the environment. Their new base camp, located an hour’s walk from the original site of the Maasai DTS, welcomes visitors for unique and ecologically sound safaris.
In May 2016, the DTS Steering Committee changed the name of this ministry to “Discipleship Training Institute” (DTI), in order to avoid confusion with the unaffiliated YWAM DTSes. The purpose of the DTI, as stated by Francis, is “To fully train upcoming leaders of local churches on who God is and what He has done for us all; to know how much God desires a relationship with us and loves us.” It meets for a three-month time period, with classes being limited to 12 students. The last 2 weeks of the course are spent in evangelism in conjunction with local church leaders in various areas of Maasailand. Through 2008, the DTS met twice a year, with all new students for each session.
Francis is one of our closest Maasai friends, and we enjoy staying in his home whenever we can. He is also a tremendous aid to us in our curriculum development projects. Whenever we have an opportunity, we help him out by teaching an intensive course during a DTS session.
The DTS campus was formerly located in Tiamanang’en in Olorte in the Loita Hills, deep in the forests of Maasai Land. (Visit our google map for the location.) For a variety of reasons, the DTS did not meet between 2009-2012. In 2012, Joshua & Francis formed a steering committee to revive the DTS. In 2014, after much work and many delays, the DTS resumed its ministry in February 2014 (the graduation was held May 18th). In addition to the new base in Olepishet, Francis, Moses Mashipei (the DTI Assistant Director, a DTS graduate under Francis whom Joshua recruited for the DTS leadership team), and Joshua developed plans to have a “mobile” DTS to help serve our churches in Trans-Mara (meeting at the CCC training Center in Kawai) and Kajiado (meeting in Ng’atataek). We have also discussed together the possibility of taking the DTS up to Turkana. In 2016 the DTI session was held in Kawai. Our family spent a week in May with the DTI, far from any paved road. We spent another week with them in June, prior to the graduation. We hope to be able to return to two sessions each year, with one session held at the DTI base in Olepishet and the other being a mobile DTI serving other areas.
Jackson La Sangurukuri (pictured below, standing beneath the hand of the waving student) was a Samburu student during our DTS session in 2008. He returned to Samburu land and, by September 2010, has been instrumental in planting three new churches among the Samburu! (with two more church plants underway).
Sunday School Teachers
While living in the bush, sometimes we would be asked to teach Sunday school for the local village congregation. The two ladies who normally teach love all of the children deeply, love the Lord devotedly, and know the names and family histories of each of the up to 120 children who may come. They also know their Bibles fairly well, even though they are newly literate, and still struggle to read aloud “at speed.” But for many Kenyans, “teaching” refers to the sort of rote memorization (responsive thinking neither required nor encouraged) of the government schools. So, in spite of our struggles with communicating in the Maa language without a translator our first term, word got back to us that the Maasai sunday school children like it when the “ILASHAMPA” (the white people) teach, because we “don’t teach, we just tell stories.”
But they are able to repeat the stories to their parents, and explain the application and repeat the memory verse! So clearly, they have been taught a lesson.
So we are involved not only in producing materials to help those willing to teach do so, but we are also involved in teachers’ training.
Adult literacy continues to be a much requested program by local Maasai, with many trained teachers trained ready to teach when resources are available. The literacy program had been overseen by Jackson Meing’ati, who did an excellent job. For several years Joshua exercised financial oversight for this program.
The current Maa Bible translation was prepared from English translations of the Bible without reference to the Biblical languages. And although under the circumstances the translators did a remarkable job, and the translation has certainly been used by the Holy Spirit, there are sections of the translations that can not be understood by Maasai who only speak Maa. There are also some significant errors and omissions. Joshua has been serving the Bible Society of Kenya’s revision committee for the Maa translation from 2010 through 2017, combining his knowledge of Maasai language and culture with his knowledge of the biblical languages and cultures. The new revision was published in early 2018.