ST. LOUIS – Preaching in a remote area of northwest Kenya, where warring tribes convened and even broke into fights in the middle of the service, Pastor Timothy Cowin urged the people to follow the Prince of Peace.
“At that sermon, I proclaimed that Jesus came with open hands and kept his hands open to the end,” Cowin recalled. “I asked them to join the tribe of the open hand and follow Jesus.”
The message was translated into the Swahili, Turkana and Pecot languages and at the invitation, hundreds of people came forward to make decisions for Christ. Cowin laid hands on and prayed for each person in line.
From a St. Louis suburb, members of The Rock Church had journeyed to Kenya. The church had prayed for years to partner with a specific location for missions. When Karen Smith joined the church and began describing their personal ministry “Getting The Word Out” in Kenya, they knew they had found their calling.
“We felt like in today’s age, the church in America, because of how we’ve been blessed, can go on mission anywhere in the world,” Pastor Cowin said.
Cowin went on the first trip to Kenya in 2009. In addition to peace rallies, they got to know Andrew and Sarah Kendagor, who cared for orphans in their tiny home.
Karen Smith prayed for an opportunity and was able to take 5-year-old Esther back to St. Louis. Doctors at Children’s Hospital at Barnes removed a large tumor from her neck. The Rock Church then built Esther House, where the Kendagors are now able to care for orphans in better conditions.
The Kendagors’ son, Peter, came to St. Louis with a family member who was receiving treatment for leukemia. While in St. Louis, he joined The Rock, was ordained in ministry and now serves as a church planting catalyst in Kenya.
About 15 members of The Rock have visited Kenya on numerous mission trips. They’ve prayed and provided money for Esther House and other projects. Cowin went on the latest trip in January.
“When I went back, I had heard about some people in remote areas of Uganda who had turned to the Lord and requested we go over there,” he said.
Peter Kendagor introduced him to a man named Clement. The man described how he used to be known as Michael, a violent, drunken man that many believed to be demon possessed. He walked from Uganda to Kenya and attended the peace rally to get free food. He stood in line to receive a Bible and when Cowin laid hands on him, he felt a power fall over him and he has never been the same. Michael changed his name to Clement and has started five churches in Uganda.
“I didn’t even know until three years later what God was doing,” Cowin said with amazement.
Another man saved at the rally walked away and started singing. Today, his songs are heard all over Kenya Christian radio.
The Rock Church is amazed at how their prayers for a mission partner have been answered.
“We felt privileged that God wanted to do something among these people and blessed. He’s chosen us to be part of it,” Cowin said.
Another mission trip is planned for this fall. The Rock is raising money for motorcycles for church planters to use to visit churches.
In addition to the Kenyan partnership, the church, which used to be Rock Hill Baptist Church, has a Japanese congregation meeting at its facility and is working with an Indonesian pastor. They also partnered with a church that was closing and have a campus in Soulard. Cowin said missions is a mindset.
“God has raised up people in our church for particular ministries and people rally around them to do what God has called them do,” he said.