The elephant tramped toward the young evangelist and his family, trumpeting displeasure. Daniel Sogoitan Gayere, after preaching in a small Kenyan village, was leading his wife and 2-year-old home when they encountered the animal and her calf. Daniel lifted his crying toddler from his wife’s arms, and they raced behind a leafy tree. The elephant stepped close, listening, but the child had quieted. Slowly, they crept away.
That was a lifetime ago, back when Pastor Daniel, now 60, was praying for money to attend Bible school. He still thinks of the encounter because divine protection in that situation proved to the young evangelist that God wanted to use him. Soon after, he was sponsored for four years of Bible school, with one catch—that his wife and children be left behind. Daniel refused to go. When his sponsor inquired why he wasn’t there, he explained that his family would have to come. So they were sponsored, too.
For 25 years, Daniel has been an assistant pastor of the African Inland Church in Korr, a village in Northern Kenya. He still has no money, no salary. Even with nine children, Daniel says there’s never been a day his family has gone without food or clothing, or lacked anything. “Praise God. That’s all we want! Maybe if I get a lot of money, I will not be effective to do the work.”
And work he does. Piled on his desk are books, Bibles, and Messenger audio Bibles. Daniel pours over the Scriptures in English, checking his New Testament in Rendille—a regional language—for insight on hard passages. The translation has been available for only about a year. (After seven years, the Old Testament is still in progress.) One of the greatest ministry challenges in Kenya is the number of unique tribes that have their own language. Daniel is always looking for audio devices to help him share the gospel despite the language barrier.
With the affection of a grandfather, Daniel has a heart for the local school children. Always on foot because he doesn’t have a motorbike, he walks 8 kilometers to the nearest school to give Bible lessons. He carries a small medical kit for the children who ask for help with bites and scratches. Recently he found two sick boys, 5 kilometers from the nearest dispensary. He carried one them the distance, set him down, and ran back for the other. At last, someone drove up to help, and Daniel headed back to the school to teach.
Lately, people have told him, “You are old! Retire now.” But he tells them plainly, “What am I going to say— I’ve retired from God’s Word and I’m still alive? I can still preach, because I can still talk.” So Daniel continues, a little slower perhaps, yet with no less passion than when he started.
Photographs by Audra Melton