The Victory of Grace Ministry Center, Mumias, Kenya, Africa
Giving thanks for an unlikely friendship...
Rev. Martin Indakwa Okumu is married to Patricia and blessed with four children (Branon 23, Brillian 20, Brenda 16 and Brian 11). Martin was born in 1974 into a polygamist family with a Roman Catholic background that was very rooted in African tradition. This made it difficult for his family to know the true God of the Bible.
But by God's grace, Martin attended an open-air crusade in 1994 where he heard the word of God preached, and there he chose to give his life to Christ. Martin was mentored in the Church of God of Prophesy, a Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination, where he realized a call of God upon his life into pastoral ministry.
In 2005 the Victory of Grace Ministry Center was born in the town of Mumias, located in western Kenya, Africa. Pastor Martin and his wife Patricia have served as lead pastors at Victory of Grace since the church was formed, and they currently oversee three other rural churches.
The village of Mumias has a population of approximately 6,000 and 300,000 in Mumias County, with many living in remote villages. Sugar cane became the area’s cash crop in the early ’70s. But the economic backbone of the community, the Mumias Sugar Company, collapsed in 2014 due to mismanagement and corruption. The community has yet to recover from this tremendous loss and many families have reverted to peasant farming, primarily corn, the area’s staple food.
The largest religious influences in the area are Muslim and Catholic, but mix that with African tribalism and you have a particularly challenging combination. But praise the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached by pastors like Martin & Patricia, and many are being saved!
Rev. Martin & Jeff Harvey connected on Facebook in 2016. Martin sent a friend request to Jeff via an evangelist from Argentina that both of them know. Jeff & Veronica met the evangelist on two occasions in Mexico, and Martin met him while he was on an evangelism crusade in western Kenya.
Martin & Jeff began to share about their widely different lives and ministries. Over the following months, they began to pray for each other and an unlikely friendship was formed.
Pastoral ministry is much different in other parts of the world and Kenya is no exception. Pastoral work is voluntary as church communities in the rural remote areas of Mumias are so needy. Martin has no fixed income. He farms corn on a small parcel of land which he uses to feed his family and to supply the mercy ministry of his church. He also serves as a volunteer community social worker and occasionally receives tokens of appreciation for his efforts.
“Patricia and I enjoy doing God’s work together despite the challenges,” states Martin. “We love ministry more than anything else, and we pray that we can always say ‘yes’ to the Lord whenever He wants to use us.”
Martin delivers a care package to a local family
Patricia treats a child's feet for jigger fleas
With friendship comes the sharing of real-life circumstances, and after some time of correspondence, Martin shared a very pressing need with Jeff.
Martin and his family had lived in their house for 12 years, a house that was loaned to them by Martin’s uncle Francis. Years ago, Francis married a Muslim woman named Mwajuma. At the time Francis was uncommitted spiritually so there was no conflict. But that changed when Martin led Francis to Christ in 2005. However, Mwajuma refused Jesus as Lord and Savior and their children also remained Muslim.
Francis had passed away earlier in 2017. Francis loved Martin’s family openly, but there had always been much resistance towards Martin & Patricia from Mwajuma as a result of her contempt for Christians.
Encouraged by local Muslim leaders, Mwajuma insisted that Martin move his family out of the house shortly after her husband’s death. Martin pleaded with Mwajuma to permit his family to stay until the end of the year, but she remained adamant and only gave him a short notice to move. This created much pressure for Martin and the family. The only recourse he had was to build a small mud house on the parcel of land he farms.
Martin had already constructed a latrine on his land earlier this year, knowing that he would eventually build a permanent house for his family. But at the time he needed to find a temporary housing solution, he had no additional resources for materials.
With a generous donation from Bridges of Compassion partners, Martin & family were able to build the mud house, providing the family with shelter just in time to meet Mwajuma’s deadline. Working feverishly, the mud house was completed in just one week's time. Once the family moved, Martin began planning the construction of the main house and was able to start work on the foundation and walls. Meanwhile, the family remains safe and most grateful for what God did for them.
Poles, wall supports and roofing go up, after which mud gets applied to the walls of the mud house; Martin & Patricia in front of their completed mud house
In western Kenya, the average house is constructed with fired bricks, galvanized roofing sheets and a combination of timber, bamboo, and concrete. They are not houses as we know them in the US.
Working through Bridges of Compassion, Southwest Exteriors of San Antonio once again generously donated funds towards the initial materials for the Indakwa family’s permanent house.
Foundation work and walls for the Indakwa's permanent house has started. The look of contentment on Pastor Martin's face tells a victorious story!
Now, two years later...
Although not complete, the Indakwa family moved into the house in August 2019. They currently do not have electricity installed and the house still requires ceiling board, floor tiles, and walls need to be plastered inside and out, a total cost of $4,200 to fully complete the house. The budget for the house is approximately $12,000 US so they are two-thirds there, praise God! (We Americans could never imagine such a price!)
The Agua Viva Hispanic congregation in San Antonio, led by Veronica and Jeff, and the Victory of Grace congregation in Mumias adopted each other as sister churches and pray for each other’s needs and for effective evangelism in their respective communities. The house for Martin & Patricia’s family was an ongoing petition for many months, and both churches are celebrating answered prayer.
Martin & Patricia have a deep desire and burden to construct a home for orphaned and destitute children in their area, as well as a refuge for pastors and families, including those wounded by the ongoing violence carried out by Islamic extremist terrorist groups like Boko Haram, who has killed thousands of Christians in Nigeria and surrounding African countries.
Jeff & Martin continue to communicate regularly. They discuss the need for potable water, medical camps, the development of micro-businesses, the need for spiritual revival in western Kenya, and perhaps a chance to visit each other one day if God wills. They both believe God brought them together for a divine purpose that was not meant to be short-term.