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Update on Elder Martin Onyoni's 2012 Trip to the USA PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 22 September 2012 07:55

 

Dear friends in Jesus Christ,

 

This evening,  I want to send out an update on Elder Martin Onyoni 's visit to America and also give some recent news about the Primitive Baptists in Africa. Many Primitive Baptists in America are enjoying Elder Martin Onyoni's visit. He arrived in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday morning, September 6th from Kisii, Kenya. He slept most of Thursday and Friday. It was a much needed rest after traveling half way around the world. He preached at the Mt. Zion association on Saturday afternoon and at Zion's Rest church in Jasper, Alabama that evening. He preached at Vestavia on Sunday morning. That afternoon, the folks at Vestavia visited with him for a long time and asked lots of questions about his life and gospel labors in Africa. He answered every question with joy and enthusiasm.

 

On Monday morning he and I left for a 6 day road trip. He preached in several different churches during the week in 3 different states. We returned to Alabama late Saturday afternoon. We had driven 1600 miles. I was exhausted but he was still going strong.

 

He has continued to fill preaching appointments every day and he has been well received as a sound Primitive Baptist minister everywhere he has been. Even though English is his third language, he speaks it very clearly. Seniors have no trouble hearing and understanding him. How amazing that God reached into one of the poorest and most remote areas of Kenya and chose a little man with very limited education to preach the true gospel in many African countries and in America. Nine years ago, he had no interest in God or the Bible. In his own words, he was a wicked man. He drank the "local brew" and no one could do anything with him.

 

However, the same God that met the wild man,Saul of Tarsus, on the Damascus road could do something with Brother Martin. (Titus 3:3-7)Today he is a humble servant of the Most High God.  "But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." For the last 8 years, he has spent many long days and nights studying the Bible and reading the writings of Primitive Baptist ministers and listening to sermons by Primitive Baptists ministers on his MP3 player. His hunger for the word shows in his preaching. In every sermon I have heard him preach, he has shown a wonderful working knowledge of the scriptures and an ability to rightly divide the word. He clearly shows the difference between eternal life as a free gift through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ and conditional salvation here in time from the world, the flesh and the devil. This distinction between these 2 aspects of salvation was the main key that unlocked the scriptures for so many in Africa. Many of his sermons preached on this trip are already on the world wide web, thanks to our high tech brethren.

 

He has been a little home sick. I know he misses his wife and children and church family. His wife and 2 of his children have had malaria since he left but, thank God, they are much better. May we all be faithful to pray for their continued health.

 

Brother Martin and his wife and 4 children live in a small house in what is called the highlands of Kenya. It is 5,000 feet above sea level and the country side is beautiful but it is one of the poorest regions in Kenya. Their house is built with a wood frame and mud walls and a dirt floor in a very rural area of Kisii, Kenya. The rainy season and the termites have done a lot of damage to their house recently. They are not blessed to have electricity or running water. Life is very hard for them as far as earthly comforts are concerned. However, they seem to have so much love and happiness in their home. Many wealthy people would no doubt envy the peace and love they possess. It is always a joy to be in their home and enjoy their christian hospitality.

 

One thing he really enjoys in America is our bountiful food supply. He said he hoped he could gain some weight and let his belt out two notches! So we weighed him and his total weight with his clothes on was 103 lbs. Primitive Baptists are trying to help him reach his goal. Yesterday, he weighed 112 lbs!

 

He has spent the night in 11 different homes so far here in America and preached in 12 different churches. He will be with Elder Tim McCool this weekend and then will travel with Elder Mike Ivey and Sister Linda and later with Elder Vernon Johnson for several days. He will end up in California preaching for a week. We are thankful for the churches who invited him and the love and kindness they have shown him. I wish he could have visited with each church that invited him but time would not permit.

 

When we invited Elder Martin to visit us here in America, we hoped the trip would be a source of encouragement to him. He labors under very difficult circumstances and has endured more hardships and persecution in the 8 years he has been in the church than I have in 47 years in the ministry. Hopefully, he is being encouraged by the love and kindness shown to him and by the large crowds who are coming out to hear him. And from what people are telling me, the Primitive Baptists here in our country are being greatly encouraged by his life and preaching.

 

I am encouraged today as I think about all the blessings God is sending upon the Primitive Baptist Church in east Africa. Just last week,  Elder Charles Kenyanjui, a close friend to Elder Martin, went to Uganda to visit the Primitive Baptist fellowship in that country. There were 4 people waiting for baptism when he arrived. He travels to Uganda every month from Kisii, Kenya to preach and teach the word of God to this fellowship. What a blessing he is to the Primitive Baptist Fellowship in Uganda as well as the PBC in Kenya and Tanzania.

 

Also, I am happy to report that Elder Moses arrived in Zambia on Thursday of this week to baptize 7 people into the Fellowship where Brother Kezala lives and preaches. Zambia is a long way from Mbeya in Tanzania where Brother Moses lives but he is the nearest ordained pastor to this growing Fellowship in Zambia. He will also be holding communion for them this Sunday.  Brother Kezala is a faithful servant and God is blessing his gospel labors in Zambia. There are between 70-80 people in this fellowship. Brother Kezala continues to study the doctrine and practice of the PBC under the faithful instruction of Elder Vernon Johnson. I look forward to the day when there will be a strong PBC constituted in Zambia.

 

I am so thankful to hear about the fellowship Elder Kenny Mwankenja is starting in his home in Dar es Salaam. Elder Obey started the first PBC in Africa in his home in Dar with just his family. I talked to Elder Thadeus today and he said he preached this past Sunday for Brother Kenny and they had 12 people present for the service. That is a good number to start a fellowship with. Dar es Salaam is a city of 5,000,000 people. There is a great need for many Primitive Baptist churches in this city.

 

I tried to call Elder Anthony Josseph today, the pastor of the Dar es salaam church, but I did not reach him. I hope all is well with him and his 8 year old daughter. I know their home is still so sad after the untimely death of his wife, Sister Violet, just a few weeks ago. The death of someone like Sister Violet leaves so many people with sad hearts. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled" but he did not say we should not have sad hearts when loved ones pass away. We sorrow but not as  others who have no hope. I hope we will all pray that God will bless Elder Anthony as he grieves the loss of his wife and raises his daughter as a single parent. That is a big job in any culture.

 

I know many of you are always interested in Elder Obey's children. I talked to Brother Barnabas (Brother Obey's oldest son) today and he said all the children are well. Nelda and I saw Gift and Given on Facebook at their graduation in Mbeya. They are 14 years old now and will be moving back to Dar next week to live with Barnabas and Junes and attend school in Dar. They have been in a boarding school in Mbeya since their parent's death. According to Barnabas, they are all excited about being back together. Grace and Nico, the youngest set of twins, will join them for a while in Dar during their school break. They are still enrolled in a boarding school about 6 hours from Dar. Theo, Sister Mary's niece, is also living with Obey's children. She is attending college in Dar.

 

As I review the wonderful work going on in Africa, I often think about our dear friend Obey. I know he would be so happy and thankful to see the fruit of his labor flourishing in his native land. He did love Africa, especially Tanzania. He would be right in the middle of all this gospel work! I can hear him and see him now stretching out those long arms and saying, "Welcome to Africa." His body is resting near the old home place where he was born and his spirit is rejoicing in Heaven with our Lord Jesus. His wife Mary was laid to rest next to him. God bless their memory. And may God bless those who continue to labor so faithfully in Africa. Many thanks to all the ministers and brethren in the US who accepted Brother Obey's invitation to visit. His life and his death are still a great source of inspiration to me.

 

This past July, Elder Paul Blair made a trip to Kenya and Tanzania along with 3 other brethren. Brother John Blevins from the Jasper PBC had a desire to go along with Brother Paul and help provide safe drinking water for the Primitive Baptists. He is a civil engineer with experience in the field of water purification here in the states. His efforts were successful but were very limited. He plans to go back next summer and install systems that will purify 1000 gallons of water a day per system in Kenya and Tanzania! There is no greater blessing we could provide for people in Africa in the natural realm than clean drinking water. Elder Obey got Typhoid fever from bad water and that, along with other health problems, led to his death while preaching in Kisii. If anyone would like to know more about this worthy project, you can contact Brother John through the Zions Rest PBC wedsite in Jasper, Al.

 

At the present time, there are 6 Primitive Baptist churches and 16 fellowships in east Africa. There are 9 ordained ministers and many brethren who are exercising in the ministry. This is not very fast growth by some standards but I bleieve it is very healthy growth and sound (healthy) doctrine and practice is extremely important. The elders that have been ordained have been first proven and are remaining faithful and sound in their teaching. The members love the simple ways of the Primitive faith. They love acappella singing and sometimes their song service will last for 2 hours. They quickly fell in love with the practice of washing the saints feet after communion. Most of these fellowships still meet under the trees to worship and many walk for miles bare footed to meet with their brothers and sisters to worship God in Spirit and truth.

 

Elder Vernon Johnson is teaching brethren in the southern part of Africa by email and skyping. He has made many trips to Africa and has 2 more planned early next year. He is a faithful and gifted servant who is willing to spend and be spent in God's service. He has put far more time and effort into this work than anyone I know of. May we all lift him up in our prayers and assist him in any way we can.

 

Your servant in the Lord,

 

Brother Sam Bryant

September 21, 2012

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2012 07:56
 


 


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