God transforms a village, one life at a time
By Hesbone and Violet Odindo
I know what it is like to depend on the Lord alone. Growing up in an alcoholic family in Kenya, I surrendered my life to God when a high school teacher invited me to a Christian weekend challenge. From that moment on, I started praying and fasting for my parents and nine siblings.
After high school graduation, I worked as a school teacher and participated in an evangelistic team. One day, the team ministered in my home village, and both my parents and my brother received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Doors soon opened for me to study in India. On the flight to India, I cried out to God, “Oh, Lord, You have put a poor village boy in your plan. If you keep me safe and make my studies successful, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”
While studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree, I led an international students’ fellowship in North India and, with other students, founded a fellowship in Punjab University and planted four other congregations.
Serving My People
While still in India, I was on an overnight bus going for a preaching mission, and the Lord spoke to me. “I have called you to go serve my people,” He said. As much as it is always good to hear from the Lord, this word did not bring me comfort. My plan was to work full time and make a lot of money so I could support other ministers. I prayed, “Lord, please give me ten years to work, build a house for my mom and myself and buy a car, then I will serve you full-time.”
God was very patient with me. The more I fasted and prayed, the clearer the call unfolded. When the time came to return home to Kenya, I prayed that God would lead me to a church that would use my gifts to extend the kingdom. God did.
In June 1993, I felt a confirmation in my spirit when I visited a Sunday celebration at DOVE Nairobi. I became part of a vibrant youth fellowship where I met the love of my life, Violet. We married in 1995 and started a cell group in our home. I was appointed an elder and later became an associate pastor under the leadership of Ibrahim and Diane Omondi.
Although I was busy combining ministry with a career in hospital administration, I did not forget God’s call. Neither could I forget my village, Kadawa, where more than 40 percent of the villagers had HIV/Aids. In 2005, a medical team visited my village. One of the leaders said, “If nothing is done, this village will be wiped out within ten years.”
I knew only a holistic ministry could save my people. In 2006, I attended the DOVE International Leadership Conference. The theme that year was “Occupy and Expand.” On the last day of the conference, the Lord instructed me to start a cell group in the Kadawa Village where I grew up. I started a cell church in my mother’s home. Seven months later, the group had grown to thirty people, and they were asking that we start a Sunday service. My wife and I moved to the village to be in full-time ministry. Our departure was not easy because we had bonded so well with our spiritual parents. It was made even harder because we did not receive monetary support from DOVE Nairobi. However, that turned out to be good. It made us dependent on the Lord who is Jehovah Jireh.
The Planting Begins!
The first service was held in 2007. The church grew, and other churches were planted. Today, DOVE Restoration Community Church is a network of twelve congregations. The Lord is delivering many from darkness, immorality, drug addiction and witchcraft. As people are taught hygiene, it has helped stop cholera. HIV/Aids and other infections are declining due to changes in behavior. Malaria cases have been reduced through mosquito bed net distributions and by removing bushes around houses. The latest demographic shows life expectancy in the village has gone up from 37-40 years to 45-60 years. Ignorance is being reduced as parents enroll their children in school. Over thirty orphans are have been able to go through school due to divine partnerships. Destitute widows are being cared for; wetlands that were not producing food are now productive farm lands. In addition, neighboring churches are being transformed through hearing what God is doing. The transformation of Kadawa would not have happened without the prayer and financial resources of the DOVE family and other divine partnerships.
We trust the Lord for many more churches to planted as people come to salvation and find freedom in Christ. Let us remember the past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift. What we do with the gift the Lord has given us is crucial for church expansion.
About Hesbone and Violet Odindo
Hesbone and Violet provide oversight and direction for DOVE Kenya and also serve on the DOVE International Apostolic Council.