May 22, 2024

Jesus in Eastleigh

Eastleigh, Nairobi is known for many things —thousands of Somalis, cheap[er] curtains, a wide variety of Turkey carpets and the thousands of shops to choose goods from, goods that would cost you almost double in other shopping centres.

Joseph Otieno and his family, however, deliberately settled in Eastleigh for one purpose —to preach Christ to the thousands of Somalis who live there.

Why the Somali? Why Eastleigh?

Joseph and his wife have obeyed God’s call to reach the Somali with the Gospel and have been doing it for years. They first lived in Garissa, where Joseph preached Christ and an irate young man once almost killed him for it.

While trying to break up a fight, Joseph found himself the new target of the aggressor. He ran off to escape the armed young man but tripped and fell. The young man caught up with him, hitting him with a machete on the thighs and hands. He then stole some 20 shillings that had fallen from Joseph’s pocket and walked away.

What did Joseph do in his moment of vulnerability? Rise and flee?

“I found myself sprawled on the ground in the heart of Garissa town, trying to catch my breath and going over the crazy last few minutes. My eyes were fixed on my bleeding arm and my torn pants. A curious crowd gathered around, bombarding me with questions about what had happened. I was speechless, with my thoughts racing and my breathing all wild. Then, it hit me like a lightbulb moment – here was a crowd; what a perfect chance to spread the Gospel!

I swiftly pulled myself together and recounted the whole story to the now-worried crowd. It was the second time I’d managed to captivate such a crowd in Garissa. I shared with them about Jesus’ teaching on the blessedness of peacemakers.

This incident brought to mind all those times folks tried to stone our Savior, but somehow, it wasn’t the right time (John 8:20). It gave me the confidence that no harm comes our way except as the Lord may allow for His glory.”

After Garissa, Joseph and his family went to Ethiopia as missionaries.

He says, “We moved to Dire, Ethiopia, for two reasons: to perfect [our knowledge of the Somali] language and to plant a Somali-speaking church. Our desire was short-lived due to immigration issues that now meant staying only three months visa-free as opposed to 1 year, which was the initial arrangement.”

Their love for the Somalis and the desire to reach them with the Gospel didn’t die. They resorted to Nairobi as it offered a platform similar to Dire in evangelism and church planting.

“We’ve just started out in Eastleigh, and the connections with fellow workers would be my greatest achievement so far,” he adds.

The Otieno’s now get to participate in community events such as medical camps where though strictly forbidden from evangelising, they can still build friendships, which is a great entry point for them to preach the gospel.

“Is there any other way of salvation? Why are we turning to another form of evangelism that we do not see patterned by our Lord Jesus Christ or His apostles? Men have turned to the so-called “fruitful practices” as opposed to Biblical practices. The Somalis are at our doorsteps; anyone who excuses himself is simply disobedient to God’s word. There are well over half a million of them in Nairobi.”

Please pray:

  • That the word may proceed swiftly and that we will be kept from unreasonable, wicked men who oppose the Gospel.
  • For O*, a man we have been discipling. We suspect he has not been regenerated. He is troubled by many things but very willing to sit under the Gospel. Pray that he will be convicted of sin and grow in the knowledge and wisdom of Christ.
  • For K* whom we left in Ethiopia. He recently found a believing lady he would love to marry soon. We are encouraged by his boldness and satisfaction in Christ.
  • For preaching the Gospel in Eastleigh and the many Somali settlements in the city. We are working towards spending all the afternoons in evangelism and Bible Study.

Photo: Unsplash

Mercy Kambura

Mercy Kambura is a communication specialist, creative writer and story teller at

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