When we began working in Kenya twelve years ago, there were certain conditions that have now changed significantly. At that time, we were still ten years out from the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan. Based in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, Lifestreams International worked with hundreds of Sudanese refugees who had been displaced by more than two decades of war and genocide. These were the “lost boys of war.”
In 2011 the people in South Sudan voted in a referendum to become an independent country. This was a very significant development because there was the opportunity for them to unite with north Sudan which was primarily Islamic. In the referendum, some 90% of the people voted and they were unanimous in their decision to secede from the north. In 2012 after independence, South Sudan cut off oil supplies from the north and this set off internal conflict and conflict with the north. This created instability and tribal clashes. This has continued on since then until the present.
Lifestreams continued to train, evangelize and work during this period. The graduates from the Mission school began to migrate northward back to South Sudan beginning in 2007 where many of them are living and working today. It was envisioned that the training would also move northward into South Sudan. In reality, though the conditions on the ground have changed. The evangelistic work is centred on the border areas between Kenya and South Sudan and between Kenya and Ethiopia. The need on the ground became supporting the moving of the Holy Spirit and the evangelistic flash points in these various areas.
As things have progressed, there has been a corresponding increasing militancy and resistance to Christianity from the Islamic community. During 2013-’14 Al Shabad, and other lesser known terrorist cells, moved into Kenya trying to use the refugee system through Kakuma. Many of our converts from the people groups have come under heavy oppression, death threats, women sent away from being able to get water for public use in the camp. Terrorist attacks and killing have been occurring through movement out of Somalia into major population areas in Nairobi. Churches and schools and Christian safe areas now have been being over taken by the Islamic movement inside of the camp. We have found it necessary to shut down our training centre from visibility. [ the Camp is now at 160,000 + , with 67% Somali population]
We therefore, have had to change our training strategy. Seven branch schools have been established in these border areas to support the work. Our priority and mandate right now is to fortify each of these centers and to establish the primary one in Lodwar for the training of lay pastors.