In 2014 my late husband, Dr. Joseph Rayman, transitioned. He had always said he wanted to be buried in Africa but had never said where. As I prayed about it, I felt led to contact the widow of his best friend, Bishop Andrew Kimaru. When I reached out to Margaret, she agreed to allow me to bury Joe next to her husband in Karatina, Kenya. On that trip, friends we had made through the years asked how I was doing and what I was doing. They all knew Joe and I had been highly active in mission mobilization. I shared with them that the Lord had opened our eyes to an ancient way of being the church that was buried right in the pages of Scripture. We were finding that it was the key to unlocking the mystery of why it was so hard to get the Church of Jesus Christ to obey Jesus’ Great Commission. They invited me to come back long-term and teach and model what I was talking about. I told them I would pray about it.
Praying about it was the “spiritual answer to give. The reality was I didn’t see how I could go. I had to put in four more years at my job before I would have any retirement income to add to my social security. I already had two other mission trips scheduled for the next year. But as I prayed, the Lord told me, “Go and go now.” I tried to tell Him that really wasn’t very logical. You know what He did? He rolled His eyes at me!! I tried to give Him a “reality check” and He reminded me that He created “reality.” So, the next day I went into work and submitted my resignation. I went around to say goodbye to all my kids and grandkids and left for Kenya with $100.00 that had to last for two months as I traveled to two other countries before settling in Kenya. I went with a vision that the Lord would use me to make disciples that would launch multiplying missional communities throughout Kenya.
After six months of doing seminars on missional communities (or house churches) invitations began to come for this type of training in Rwanda. By 2016 we had missional communities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. But we recognized that we needed more time with the trainees for the roots to go down deep. There is so much “unlearning” that must take place to see how to return to the Biblical prototype, so in 2017 we started offering for-credit classes to those who were interested in becoming missional community leaders. Today in addition to the countries mentioned above, we have house churches in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Congo, and soon to be South Sudan. We have the Bible colleges functioning in Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
House churches are currently in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Congo, and soon to be South Sudan.
It is obvious to me that all these things have happened because I tripped over something God was really excited about. He took a widow with no resources and no wealthy church or mission agency behind her and connected her to people who were hungry to see God’s Kingdom truly advance to the ends of the earth. He connected me with Mulugeta Yilma, who is running our school and starting house churches in Ethiopia; with Alice Kiogora, who has traveled with me all over East Africa making disciples and serving as registrar for the Kenyan school; with Jane Mwangi, who always surprises me with new spiritual babies when I have been away for a while. She is a consummate disciple-maker. Then there is Justin Wilondja and Edmund Byumbuka who are Congolese refugees in northern Kenya. They have started fourteen missional communities in the refugee camp, and trained friends and family back home in Congo to start four more groups. They also organized the missional communities to raise their own money and send one of their own as a missionary to a refugee camp in Tanzania where he started ten more missional communities. Hamza Kanalkuya has shown amazing leadership with your disciples in Uganda. Eugenie Muteteri is running our school in Rwanda and overseeing the students moving forth and starting more communities. Nothing I have done would amount to anything apart from these exceptional African brothers and sisters. In addition, my dear friend Mary Phifer sold her house and came to work with me for a season. She has done a wonderful job in training some of our disciples in trauma healing, which really adds to our discipling tools.
The real question is why? Why is this necessary? Why can’t we just continue with the traditional church set-up the way it is? There are many answers to that, but the one that grips my heart the most is that we will never be able to complete the Great Commission any other way. Jesus wants to come back, but He is waiting for us to finish the job. Matthew 24:14 states this very clearly. Missions is in a category all by itself. All believers are to care for widows and orphans, visit the sick and those in prison, give generously and live frugally that we might be able to help the maximum number of people. But to no other task did He connect His return. The nations are His inheritance according to Psalm 2:7-8. When He left, He gave us the task of going out and reclaiming all the nations, and the only way we can accomplish this is by rapidly multiplying movements of missional communities. We invite you to visit and see what the Lord is doing.