Eldoret, Kenya had become a flash point of conflict in Kenya early in 2008. National election discrepancies had resulted in post-election violence. Certain leaders, hungry for power, incited follower to fight each other along ethnic lines. The divisions played upon were tribal differences, and crafty leaders stirred up feelings of resentment and hatred among their followers. Neighbors fought neighbors in the name of their tribe. Eldoret, located in Western, Kenya, long known as a bastion of Christianity in Kenya, saw fighting among the brethren. Churches were burned to the ground, and attendance plummeted to 50 or 75% below normal levels. Despair and gloom gripped the psyches of the region. Kenya had long been known for its peace and stability, but was not on the verge of civil war.
As Peter Youngren watched these horrific scenes on the CNN and BBC, he clearly heard the Lord speak to him that he must go to Kenya now. Peter had frequented Kenya many previous times for Festivals/Seminar in the early 2000’s, but had since moved on to other countries whom were predominantly Islamic. Yet, when God speaks, one must obey. Immediately Peter had his representative, Rev Paul Cowell, travel to Kenya to survey the situation and meet key leaders. Rev. Cowell met with the Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo who implored him to tell Peter he must come now. He shared how physical aid was vital, but spiritual, mental and physiological aid was also desperately needed. Rev. Cowell also met with the pastors in Eldoret who with tears running down their faces rejoiced that God would speak to Peter Youngren at a time like this. Immediately plans were laid for the Eldoret Friendship Festival and Gospel Revolution Seminar. Anticipation was sky high.
During the months that followed Peter took to the airwaves to share the need to his partners and friends around the world. The response was astounding. Supporters from all walks of life, both young and old, expressed their support for the efforts in Eldoret. God’s hand of favor was on this Festival and Seminar in a special way. Only God knew the true significance of what was about to happen, but all could sense something meaningful was about to happen.
Several days before the commencement of the Festival and Seminar in Eldoret, Peter and his wife RoxAnne flew into Kenya’s capital Nairobi with his television producer and pastor friends from USA and Finland. Peter’s advance team was there to meet him and take him to a national press conference. TV, newspapers and radio press agents hung on Peter’s every word and subsequently report of the revolutionary friendship approach Peter was taking.
Immediately after the national press conference in Nairobi Peter was taken to meet the former president of Kenya, President Moi, who ruled Kenya for many years until recent. With President Moi Peter shared that he was not there to speak of “morality” or “wisdom”, but to lift up the cross of Christ alone through which both morality and wisdom would automatically flow. The meeting was a wonderful success.
Finally the moment thousands had been waiting for. Peter was flying on to Eldoret. Upon arriving at the airport Peter was thronged by Pastors, thankful for his coming to their city at a time like this. They had seen and heard the press reports from the national press conference in Nairobi, which only served to heighten their anticipation of the forthcoming meetings in Eldoret.
From the airport a welcome parade snaked its way through the city of Eldoret to the venue for Peter’s second national press conference in as many days. Upon arriving at the venue for the press conference Peter and team had to fight their way to get into the room, which had become jammed with press agents eager to get a story from this historic occasion.
Day one of the Festival and Seminar saw pastors from every corner of Kenya arrive to attend the Gospel Revolution Seminar with Peter Youngren and international guests from USA and Finland. Pastors, having heard of what God was doing, came from the Western Coast, Tanzania, Northern Border and Uganda. Something unique was in the air. The three-day Seminar was certainly not to disappoint.
A spiritual explosion took place on day two of the Seminar. Pastors would later share how they had come into bondage through erroneous teachings by recognized teachers in Kenya. Teachings that espoused the belief that God had brought the violence in Kenya to punish them for their sins. Pastors shared openly how they had been afraid to confront what they knew to be false doctrine because of fear and discouragement. As Peter shared that God was not angry, but had poured out His wrath on Jesus 2000 years ago, and was now a Father of hugs and kisses, the seminar delegates exploded in a joy and excitement that is not easily relayed in writing. Imagine for a moment having devoted your life to a cause, as had these pastors committed themselves to the Gospel, only to think that it had been somewhat in vain, and God was now angry at you. Then imagine yourself coming to the realization that this was simply not true, and God’s love and favor was still shining brightly upon you, and would turn what the devil meant for evil to good. This slightly touches the sensation of joy and ecstasy the pastors expressed.
At the conclusion of the second day of teaching, one leading Bishop in the country took the mike from Peter and began to declare his own similar testimony. This only heightened the sense of freedom felt by the pastors as one of their own openly put to rest the devastating theological travesty that had begun to grip their country and empty out their churches. Later pastors would share that Peter had put them in a positive, yet challenging position, in their theological thinking. “You have provoked us to think and to develop a sharpness of following Christ”, shared one pastor. Another pastor reported how the following Sunday he stood before his church and openly apologized saying, “Sorry for not talking about Jesus in my sermons. From now on I will speak only of Jesus.” The simplicity of the Gospel gripped the hearts and minds of each pastor who attended.
Running hand in hand with the seminar was the large scale Gospel Festival. Publicity had penetrated the region for the previous months, and again expectations were high. Not since the skirmishes earlier that year, had any gathering brought together people from different tribal/ethnic backgrounds. Most of the population had seen the first hand the atrocities, and had witnessed loved ones killed. A deep trauma had set into the minds of the population. Many had left the region, leaving those who remained with a sense of hopelessness and despair.
Despite heavy rains at the commencement of the Festival, crowds eager to hear of God’s, packed the field. As the sun shone brightly on the concluding day of the Festival, a new sense of optimism and hope began to sprout up among the masses gathered. Each day they heard Peter share that God was not angry, and then witnessed God touch the bodies of hundreds of sick and hurting. Thousands came to Jesus to be born again each night. Leaders shared how this type of crowd had not been seen in Eldoret for as long as they could remember.
Having heard the astounding reports from Eldoret, Vice President Kalonzo invited Peter to join him at this office at the State House in Nairobi. There Peter again shared that the Cross of Jesus was the solution to all Kenya’s problems. He shared that this was in no way to make light of the situation, but there was no more weighty solution that Jesus.
Thank you partners and friends for the wonderful support of prayers and finances you provided to make this timely Festival and Seminar take place. Plans are being laid for follow up networks among the pastors and leaders of Kenya to ensure this Gospel of Grace continues to be spread throughout the entire nation. You made this possible! Thank you.