Today I'd like to tell you a little about Pastor Zachariah Okech and his lovely wife Mary. They have been a part of the church we attended on Sunday for a long while. But in the recent months they and their church concluded that Pastor Z and family should start a church in Malindi. Malindi is north along the coast and I understand it is a much larger community than Kilifi.
Pastor Z and Mary have several children. One of their children is in Grade 8. It is in Grade 8 that you are eligible to take a national academic test. If you pass this test you are allowed to enter a special school system. I gathered that a very small percentage of students make it. But those who do are well prepared for further education after high school. Obviously an important accomplishment that leads to more opportunities later. So even though the church has started meeting, the family still lives in Kilifi most of the time. This way their daughter will be well prepared for the national test.
So Pastor Z has been driving back and forth to Malindi, longing to be there full time. He misses his family when he is gone. And, he knows the church will do much better once he and the rest of the family are there full time. I was struck as I was listening to their situation how universal it was. Jobs pulling fathers away from home. Education as a focus and sacrifices that need to be made so the children will have as many options as possible.
They also shared with me that Malindi is a more popular place to live than Kilifi. Which means the land and buidling prices are higher. This has been a big hurdle. But they wanted me to know how much they have waited with hope knowing that if God wanted them there that he would make a way for them to have a place to live. Sure enough just days before the conference, as God seems to do frequently, through a friend of a friend, Pastor Z and his wife had taken look at a home. The house is big enough for their family, close to where the church now assembles and affordable. God has provided someone who is willing to sell his property to a pastor for less than the value of the property. They weren't surprised at all. It was fun to rejoice with them about God's provision for the work He has called them to do.
We shared a couple of meals and tea time together over the course of our week. Pastor Z is an eager learner. If our personal resources were unlimited, I would be figuring out a way to make more books and training available to him. He know that the best teaching comes from personal learning. He was really enjoying the challenges of the week. He was not afraid to be stretched and yet not going to accept everything we had shared just because we had shared it. He asked great questions!
Mary is shy but very thoughtful and delighted in communicating with me. She is a preschool teacher. She taught me some Swahili words and I taught her some new English words. I enjoyed the time I spent with both of them. We've exchanged contact information and hope to be able to continue encouraging each another. They don't have an email address yet but hope to in Malindi. So for now we're relying on snail mail.