Wednesday 21 November 2018
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the-star - 13 days ago

Only drunkards welcome: Pastor sobers up Turkana village

In the midst of a market in Turkana county, drumbeats erupt before dawn on a Sunday morning. A cacophony of voices breaks out in song. It would be the same as any other church, except this one is strictly for drunkards only.The service takes place in California market, some 300m from Lodwar town. California is a village renowned for drugs, alcohol and robbery. It is also known as a place for low-class people in Lodwar.The church is called My Father s Blessings Ministry, and is under the Redeemed Christian Church of God. It is on a mission to change the lives of people by targeting alcoholism, which has led to immoral behaviours in the community.Ministry founder Pastor Peter Ekatorot says the church started two years ago purposely to reach the drunkards and change their lives.He believes evangelism is a calling from God, and that he was sent by the Holy Spirit to come and rescue the people of California because Jesus himself came for the wrongdoers and not the righteous people in the community . When I reached California, I found many people who were drunkards, fights every day and night, a lot of robberies and selling of drugs and alcohol. But no preacher was willing to feed them with the word of God, Pastor Ekatorot said.He said he took it upon himself to stand for the lives of people in California by giving them hope and sharing with them the word of God.NO DRINKING DURING SERVICEPastor Ekatorot said the congregation has been growing since the church started. Total followers range from 50-70. Services are conducted under a tree at California market. There are evening services daily and the main service on Sundays. Many are shocked by how our Sunday service is conducted. People don t expect Christians, especially a pastor, to interact freely with drunkards, but for the sake of my mission, I have to bring them close and share with them the word of God, he said.Pastor Ekatorot forbids his followers from taking alcohol during the service. Instead, they should make sure they listen to him and cooperate when it is time to praise and worship God through songs. I allow drunkards in my church because the kingdom of heaven belongs to all people, and no one should be sabotaged, he said.Kevin Erot, a follower of the church, admits that he is a drunkard. But when Sunday reaches, I strive to be holy by not taking alcohol. Instead, I lead the church in drumbeats to praise the Lord, he said.SOCIAL IMPACTPastor Ekatorot says there are many drunkards in California, but the numbers have reduced since he started his mission to touch their lives.He has hope the ministry of the church will grow in Turkana and have many branches, as the main church is located in Kitale.Pastor Ekatorot believes that with time, he will reach many drunkards and change their lives since it is his mission to restore back the good image of the community.California is a small village with many people who have lost hope. Poverty has hit the region hard, forcing most residents to venture into manufacturing local alcohol, known as kaada , for survival. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display( div-gpt-ad-1502866324572-0 ); }); They also depend on relief food from NGOs, county and national governments.Pastor Ekatorot said through the mission of the church, he interacts freely with drunkards and teaches them the effects of taking too much alcohol.He said he has already interrupted their programme of taking alcohol, as he assembles his followers in the evening to create a home of peace and comfort their hearts with the word of God.Resident and ministry follower Alimo Tipen says the church has changed the lives of her family. Sunday is the best day, as I m usually accompanied by my husband and children to gather at California market to worship the Lord, she said. I can t lie I have stopped drinking alcohol, but at least there is a change, because I used to take it every day, but now I take a little to quench my thirst. Boniface Lokuruka, chairman of the National Council of Churches in Turkana, said if the church is meant to change the lives of people, followers should expect to be reformed. A church is a holy place for worshipping God, and so this mission should be taken seriously, he said. If the pastor is intending to preach and change the lives of people, then it s allowed. But if it s for other interests, God doesn t allow it. SEEN AS A JOKEPastor Ekatorot says other churches don t see any good in him. They think his mission is a joke, and refer to him as a drunkard when he is gathered with the alcoholics. Most churches don t allow drunkards in their congregation. I allow them to come to mine so they can learn their weaknesses and I get a chance to preach and feed them the word of God, he said.He regretted that his church doesn t have a proper structure, as the service is conducted under a tree and thus lacks privacy.He said during the rainy season, it is hard for them to conduct their service under a tree, as most houses are muddy and swept by flash floods.Robert Ekal, a resident of Lodwar town, said he is not shocked by the presence of a drunkards church in California. It s normal for a person who has been in California. A lot of bad activities happen day and night, and I hope the church is going to arrest the situation, he said.Pastor Ekatorot said he will manage the menace of alcoholism if he gets support from well-wishers. I started on my own this mission of rescuing residents of California as a calling. I have a lot of tasks to do to make sure I change the lives of people, and all that cannot be done without resources, he said. Any support, especially building the church structure, will help a lot and ease my work, he appealed.

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