As Spread Truth Africa, we recently conducted the Kerio Valley Peace Mission. Why Kerio Valley? Kerio valley is found in the Rift Valley Province here in Kenya. A place blessed with a very beautiful landscape and a people with rich culture. The hills, valleys and the green sceneries are to be admired. However, something important and equally critical has been lacking in the region for long now, PEACE! In Kerio Valley two major warring communities have been in constant clashes; the Pokots and the Marakwets. The two groups are majorly pastoralists. The conflict usually revolves around fight over grazing lands, cattle rustling and use of illegal arms. A lot goes into the violence that lead to so much loss and bloodshed in the valley. Madam Linah Jebii Kilimo, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Ministry of Gender, comes from Elgeiyo Marakwet in Kerio Valley. She highlighted the need to bring the two communities together. Therefore, together with the National Youth Council, we partnered for the Kerio Valley Peace Mission under the theme, ONE LIFE ONE NATION.
THE JOURNEY TO KERIO VALLEY.
Being confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. We thank God that after months of planning, we were finally going to the valley to reach the people there. Our journey from Kenya's capital, Nairobi, to Kerio Valley was great and we got there safely. During our first mission day, we came across hurdles due to the heavy rains. The rivers did flood and the roads were so bad that the movement around became a challenge. At some point, we had cars that were stuck in the waters and it was getting scary. Our God is however bigger than any other thing and 1st Corinthians 10:13 says, “God will provide a way out.” He indeed provided a way out and we overcame the hurdles. The security team really came through as well and helped in the difficult situation. An old man there approached us and encouraged us that whatever it was that we purposed to do there, it would succeed. His words really touched our hearts and clearly reminded us that indeed God was with us. You know what people there had to say about the rains? That it was a blessing! That before our arrival there, it had not rained for a very long time. God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?
Despite the challenges, the Gospel had to reach the valley! The peace mission involved the people from Elgeiyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo. The activities there were pastoral training and evangelism, FGM program, Kikao with the morans, sports, food distribution and a culture festival. All these were used as avenues to preach the gospel of peace and share God’s story.
SPORTS FOR PEACE.
Sports has for long now passed the test of time as a strong unifying tool among the youth. Reverend Hamisi Kirenga, the Director Spread Truth Africa, shared the Gospel and encouraged the youth to use tools such as sports to come together and share a common unity of purpose. The CEO of the National Youth Council, Roy Sasaka also engaged the youth during the tournament and highlighted to them the role they play in championing for peace. The young men from Elgeiyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo participated in the FOOTBALL PEACE TOURNAMENT. In the presence of a ball, their differences did not matter. 12 teams participated and Hurray, 8 of them made to the semi-finals. During the finals that were played in Kolowa Primary School in Tiaty Baringo County, Kapkain FC won. It is our prayer that the JOY, HOPE and UNITY we saw during the peace tournament will prevail in the valley.
Through a kikao session, the morans within the Kerio Valley region were engaged on peace talks. In the valley, the morans are the ones who are actually involved in the war between the communities. Kikao offers a platform for conversations and we are happy the morans accepted to participate. Reverend Hamisi Kirenga, talked to them on the importance of peace and encouraged the morans to shun away from violence and be champions of peace in their communities. The Gospel was also preached to them. If we do have peace within then we will have conflict raging without. This peace is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. We thank God that out of the 64 morans engaged, 27 of them gave their lives to Christ.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continues to be a threat in the valley and directly influences the violence there. Once the girls are circumcised as young as 8 years, they are ready to be married off. The morans who marry these girls have to pay dowry and often, they steal cows to offset the dowry. West Pokot, Elgeiyo Marakwet and Baringo fall under the 22 FGM hotspots in Kenya. We conducted the Anti-FGM Program using our FGM Survivor Psychosocial Support Curriculum, ‘What Is a Little Girl Worth?’ We had a sensitization forum on matters FGM with 244 ladies from the 3 areas. Through this program, we reminded the ladies that their worth and identity is in Christ alone and that cultural practices do not define them. We also encouraged them to be at the frontline championing for peace in the valley as girls and women. The trained girls got certificates and dignity packs that contain essentials that support the menstrual hygiene of girls.
PASTORS TRAINING AND EVANGELISM.
The church plays a significant role in fostering peace within communities. Therefore, there was a need to equip the pastors and the church leadership. The pastors in Kerio Valley had lost hope and needed encouragement. Reverend Hamisi Kirenga trained the pastors there using the Story, Pastors Training Manual on evangelism and the pastors received the beads. We thank God for the platform to empower the church and it’s leaders. The pastors participated in-group discussions where they deeply discussed the evangelism manual, and equally shared ideas on how they can together ensure existence of peace in the valley using the word of God. 2nd Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” The equipped pastors joined us as we evangelized in the streets of Kolowa where we preached the Gospel of peace, shared God’s story and led people to Christ through witnessing. In the streets of Koloa, 28 gave their lives to Christ!
NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT/FOOD DISTRIBUTION.
During the peace mission, we distributed 10 Tonnes of food in various forums. The food has also benefitted the populace of West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeiyo Marakwet reaching 3000 people. Special appreciation to Mid-West Food Bank through Mid-West Food Bank East Africa (KAPU Africa) for making this possible.
There is beauty in diversity. Culture in itself is diverse as we all come from different communities with different practices and beliefs. However, one thing remains common; that we are all God’s children and we share in His undeniably love for us all. Through a culture festival, we brought together the people in the valley to celebrate each other. This was the highlight of the peace mission. Different groups presented their skits, traditional dances and their cultural attires. We all danced to the tunes of happiness and the love of Christ filled the DOME that hosted 2000 people! The CEO National Youth Council, Roy Sasaka Telewa, led the people there in making a commitment to promote and maintain peace in the valley! Championing for peaceful coexistence. Reverend Hamisi preached during the culture festival and 153 people gave their lives to Christ. How great is His name! We trust God that peace will prevail in the region!
The Lord has made this beautiful at the right time and we couldn’t be more grateful. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” God was at work in the valley and we believe that He will continue to be. May His love continue to dwell in the valley and may peace win and reign.