Posted on : Tuesday December 31, 2013

Steve Fehrman-2By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent

LUSBY, Md.—When Southern Calvert Baptist Church formally ended its mission partnership with Mexico, Pastor Steve Fehrman wanted to continue a missions focus.

One of his church members told him about Pastor Chrispinus Okumu from Nairobi, Kenya. He has a ministry in Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

Okumu spoke one Sunday at Southern Calvert’s evening service, sharing how almost one million people live in the densely populated area that the city uses as a dump. The place is full of waste garbage, aborted babies and all kinds of bones.

“The whole congregation was moved,” shared Fehrman. “Everybody wanted to do something.”

Church members decided, though they ultimately wanted to engage an unreached people group, they would first serve in Nairobi, where Okumu had started a school in the slums.

Okumu had grown up in the area, later earning a theological education. He could have gone anywhere, but he really felt called to minister in his homeland.

There, the government gave him a piece of land—a rock—saying it was worthless. Okumu hired people in the slums to dig through the rock, where he later literally scraped Soweto (which means “go to school and have an education”) Academy right out of the rock.

And in the digging came another wonderful surprise: 600-800 feet below the surface was some of the purest water on the earth. Its purity has since been tested, and the water bottled and exported, assisting with the necessary finances for the school and its workers.

The Southern Calvert team painted and otherwise worked at this school in the slum, where the “living conditions are terrible,” Fehrman said. Ironically, this slum, where there is sewage water running through the streets, is in the heart of an otherwise middle class African city. There is even a golf course nearby!

The team also conducted a pastor training school at the nearby church, where Fehrman taught 150-plus pastors, who traveled as far as 11 hours away to learn. These pastors stayed for three days, sleeping on the church’s floor each night.

At the same time, the rest of the team ministered to 300-400 children in a bustling Bible school.

On the last day of the Bible school, a nurse on Fehrman’s team was alerted to an unconscious girl lying near the bathroom.
Though the nurse couldn’t feel the girl’s pulse, she administered CPR, and the girl revived.

“It was a heart-pumping experience,” explained Fehrman. “If we hadn’t been there, that girl would have died!”

Next summer, Southern Calvert intends to take a team of medical professionals to work at the Academy.

“They have one doctor, but no medicine—and a bed you wouldn’t let your own child lie down on,” he explained.

Southern Calvert’s church members still hope to make trips out to the African Bush, where they hope to engage unreached people groups.

The church began praying about this trip last Thanksgiving, developed a planning team in February, and started raising money for the team in March. It cost $2,500 per team member to go so the church really rallied together to raise the money.

They hosted Spirit nights at their local Chick-fil-a. They held silent auctions with items donated from the congregation. Pastor Fehrman cut grass and did other work to raise money for the team.

“It really was a good church effort,” he said. “It wasn’t just a small group of people. Our whole church went to Africa! We’re excited about what God does next!”