Ukunda Missions School
(This history was written in 2012, before the school began. Now, in April, 2016 Ukunda Missions School has already graduated three classes of missionaries. Five Mission Bases have been established in the Islamic communities of East Africa. Our graduates are serving the Lord as missionaries in these bases and elsewhere. Hundreds of Muslims are turning to the Lord.)
How it all started
The year was 1990. I was a nineteen years old college student who was excited about preaching the gospel and planting churches in Africa. Propelled by a mixture of Holy Spirit inspired zeal and the ambition of youth, I took several missions trips to Africa. I believed that if I just walked in faith, God would do great works through me.
Some remarkable things did take place in those days. During one six week college
vacation, a college friend and I decided to go to Africa to start a church. We chose a town near the coast that had few churches, a town where many people were bound by witchcraft and ancestor worship. My Kenyan friend Mbali helped us organize the mission.
Looking back now, it seems like foolishness to try to start a church during a college holiday. But we went in faith, prayed and fasted and the Lord brought things together. A team gathered around us, including a man who had left his job because God had called him to become a pastor in that town. We held an evangelistic crusade, and preached the gospel in the homes of that area. Many people were healed, and many gave their hearts to the Lord. When our vacation came to an end, a church had been planted in that town, a church that remains there to this day.
With this experience under our belts, Mbali and I chose a new town, Ukunda, for a mission trip during my upcoming summer holiday. Ukunda is a town next to the beaches of the South Coast of Kenya. It is an area where people from many different religions and nationalities come to live and work.
We believed that the same things would happen in Ukunda that happened on our previous mission. As a step of faith, Mbali and I decided to go to Ukunda without any money. Surely God would make a way for us, and take care of us, just like he did when He sent out His disciples. When we arrived in Ukunda, a man offered us a small house to stay in free of charge. We prayed and fasted, expecting God to help us move forward just like he did the first time. However, things did not go quite the way we expected.
We preached the gospel, and prayed for the sick. Some people gave their hearts to the Lord, including some prostitutes. The prostitutes were from other regions of Kenya. When they got saved, they could no longer stay in Ukunda without an income, so they immediately left town to return to their home areas. After ministering for a few weeks, no solid group had formed. It didn’t seem like we were accomplishing very much.
The living conditions were difficult. We had no money, and spent a lot of time crying out to the Lord to show us the way forward. One night as we were praying outside in a field, the strong presence of the Lord came upon me. The Lord spoke to me and told me to buy some land in Ukunda. The next day, some local Muslim landowners offered to sell us a plot of land.
A Missions’ MovementDuring our remaining days in Ukunda, as we took some initial steps to purchase the plot of land, the Lord began to speak to me about a missions movement that would take place in Kenya. He told me that Kenya would send many missionaries to the nations of the earth. He told me that we would construct a missions training center on the land that we were purchasing where Kenyan missionaries would be trained and send into the nations of the earth. When the Lord spoke to me, I realized that God’s plans were different from mine. Although He had called me to come to Ukunda, He had never asked me to plant a church there.
Later that summer, I traveled with some Kenyans to India and Pakistan where they were ministering. On this trip, I saw some Kenyan missionaries in action. Two years earlier, I had met a Kenyan school teacher named John who told me that while he was praying, he had seen a map of the world, and the name “Gujarat”
written on the map.
Now, as I traveled in India, I met John again, in Gujarat. He had left his home in Kenya, learned Hindi, and started a church in India. He became a very effective missionary who had even organized an evangelistic crusade that attracted hundreds of thousands of Hindus. As I met these Kenyan missionaries, the Lord confirmed to me the calling that was upon the nation of Kenya. Kenya would send many missionaries, and some had already been sent.
When I returned home to the US, I worked to earn enough money to buy the plot of land that had been offered to us for sale. In those days it was not easy for a foreigner to buy land in Kenya. To simplify things, I bought the land in the name of my Kenyan friend Mbali.
I stopped traveling to Kenya. I lost contact with MBali. The area where we bought the land went through a season of violence, as members of the local tribes tried to drive out foreigners and Kenyans from “upcountry” who had bought land in their area. It became dangerous to even visit the land that I had bought. Hundreds of people were killed in the ethnic clashes that took place in that region. And of course, the land was not even in my name, and I was depending on the honesty of a friend with whom I had lost contact.
Meanwhile, I moved to Europe where I met my wife, started a family, and worked as a missionary. After ministering for a few years in Europe, I began to travel again to Africa, ministering in conferences and local churches. As I traveled, the Lord spoke many things to me about Africa, including the spiritual strongholds of Africa, and the call of God that is upon the African church. I wrote a book, “Transforming the Heart of Africa” which studies these things in some detail. As I researched and wrote this book, the Lord gave me much greater understanding of Africa.
Retracing my stepsFive years ago, the Lord spoke to me and told me to retrace my steps in Africa. He told me to go back to the same places that I visited more than twenty years ago. As I did this, the Lord began to restore relationships and vision for Africa that had lain dormant for many years. Before leaving on one journey, my mother in law Bertha came to me and gave me a prophecy. She gave me the scripture of Jeremiah 32, in which Jeremiah was told to buy a piece of land with a title deed as a prophetic action declaring what God would do in his land. She told me that I needed to go to Kenya, and sort out a piece of land.
When I arrived in Kenya, I met my old friend, Mbali, in whose name I had originally purchased the land. Mbali had gone through some ups and downs in his life, but now he had focused his heart upon accomplishing God’s will for his life. He came to me with a desire to see the original purpose for the land fulfilled, and agreed to transfer the land into my name. This was a significant step. When we bought the land, it was worth only about $4000. Now it was worth much more. Kenya is a very corrupt place, and it would have been very easy for Mbali to sell the land and keep the profits. Mbali’s actions proved to me where his heart was.
The Pieces are Coming TogetherNow, twenty three years after the Lord spoke to me about a missionary training center, the pieces are coming together for Ukunda Missions School to begin. For the first time in twenty three years, there is a strong, trustworthy team working with me in Kenya. This team has a strong desire to see missionaries sent from the Kenyan churches into the world. The members of this team have all paid a price for the sake of the gospel. They are not just looking for money to be given from the America. They have proven through their actions that they are willing to sacrifice for the vision to be fulfilled.
Not only do we have a team, we also have favor with many pastors in Kenya. Last month I held a pastor’s conference with 200 pastors and other ministers in Nakuru, Kenya. The Lord touched many lives, as we ministered to the pastors and taught about the spiritual stronghold s of Africa and the call of God that is upon the nation of Kenya. Many who attended the conference testified that God had called them to become missionaries.
We have started holding similar pastors conferences in various Kenyan cities to help mobilize the Kenyan church in missions. When pastors catch the visionfor missions, they can work with us to sponsor and mobilize members of their churches into missions.
Ukunda Missions SchoolThe mission school we are starting will not be a bible school. It is a ministry school, in which students learn to minister effectively in different cultures and situations. They will study language, church planting, and power ministry. They will learn how to minister in different cultures. If a student is called to work among the Muslims, He will need to minister to Muslims during his training period.
Every teacher must be able to demonstrate the things that he is teaching. If he is teaching about ministry to Muslims, he needs to take the students out on the streets and show them how minister to Muslims. If he is teaching about ministry to Hindus, he must personally show the students how to minister to the Hindus who live near the school. In this way, the students who are in training will learn how to minister effectively instead of only learning theory.
The location of the bible school will help make this possible. Ukunda is in an Islamic area of Kenya. There are many Muslims, Asians, and Arabs who live there. There are even many Europeans in the area, because the beach resorts are nearby. In addition, many Africans from different parts of Africa come to the coast to work at the beach resorts. As we are training students to minister in different parts of the world, they will have opportunities to minister to people from those regions as they are being trained.
If a teacher is teaching about worship and intercession, he needs to lead the students in worship and intercession. Worship and intercession need to become a part of the student’s lives as they attend the school. As they seek the Lord together, the Lord will give clear instructions about where they are to be sent, and what they are to do there.
Of course, accurate biblical doctrine is important. However, in many bible schools, when students study doctrine, that doctrine is not really put into practice. They learn a lot of theory, but the theory does not always become reality in their lives. For some students bible school becomes an unreal, isolated religious
world. Instead of learning how to minister effectively to normal people, they separate themselves from those who need ministry and even lose their ability to communicate effectively with them. In order to avoid these problems, the missions’ school will focus on practical ministry instead of of doctrine and theory. Whatever is taught must be demonstrated and put into practice in the students’ lives.
The residential missions training school will not specialize in teaching biblical doctrine. Instead, biblical doctrine will be taught by correspondence course. One of the board members already has a correspondence course with which he has trained hundreds of students. Students can study biblical doctrine in this correspondence course. Then, for the residential missions training school we will select a small number of highly motivated students who are ready to leave everything and become missionaries.
The missions school will not be large. In the beginning we hope to start with fifteen students. However, if these students are truly ready to leave everything and serve the Lord, they can have a powerful impact in the places where they are sent. If we train them well, they will accomplish much.
The time…is NOWThree months ago, when I was praying in Germany, the Lord spoke to me and said that now is the time. He told me that this school needs to begin this year. When I returned home to Belgium, my mother in Law came to me and prophesied. She told me that the Lord had spoken to her and told her that I needed to go to Kenya this year for several months to start a school.
It might seem strange that after waiting twenty three years, there is suddenly such an urgency to fulfill this vision. However, that is how our God works. He has a specific timing for his works. If we work in His timing, He gives much grace to accomplish the vision. Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31)
I believe that if we move now to fulfill this vision, much can be accomplished in a short period of time. In Africa, there is still much freedom to preach the gospel.
We need to take advantage of that freedom, because it will not always be there. There is a window of opportunity to train and send missionaries out of Kenya into other parts of Africa and Asia. If we take advantage of this opportunity, many souls will be saved.