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Local pastor shares ‘Spirit of the Lord’ during African trip

Submitted Photos — Bethel Church pastor, the Rev. Troy Thomas traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to share God’s word and spirit with many of the country’s residents. His trip included preaching to congregations in a tent without modern-day conveniences or preaching to people on the street.

The Rev. Troy Thomas was in a strange land, preaching to strange faces in a language that most of those faces could not understand.

But despite the world of differences between Thomas and his congregation, there was a connection that brought them together.

“I could see the hunger in the people for spiritual thanks,” Thomas said. “There were people kneeling in the dirt getting saved. The Spirit of the Lord had me, and people were weeping.

“The Lord gives you information about a person’s life and helped me see things more like him. It was awesome.”

Thomas, the pastor at Bethel Church in Vidalia, spent nearly two weeks, from Aug. 13-24, preaching in Nairobi, Kenya, and he said he was inspired by the desire of the locals to receive God’s word.

“People came over hundreds of miles to get there,” he said. “Most don’t have transportation, so most walked or took public transportation.”

Through a Swahili translator, Thomas preached for hours each day, and the locals remained attentive for the duration of his trip, he said.

“They just had a hunger for the word,” he said. “They put in the effort. Where I preach (Bethel Church) we have carpet, air conditioning and padded chairs. They didn’t have that. We were in a tent outside or outside in open air with no air conditioning except natural air.”

Thomas said he was inspired too by the lives some of the people of Nairobi live.

“In Africa, they don’t have food stamps, Medicare or Medicaid,” he said. “You see them find any way to try to get food to eat. They make a living breaking rocks or get metal and sell it. They will sell anything to make a living. It’s awesome to see. I believe we are spoiled (in America).”

Despite needing a translator for most of the people in the congregation to understand him, Thomas said he had little trouble relating to the people.

“They were sharing different things with me, weeping, asking questions. It seemed like it was pretty easy to relate,” he said. “I guess it went pretty well. They gave their life to Christ, and it looked like they were listening.”

Sometimes Thomas said he had trouble when people came up to speak to him, but he managed to reach them in most cases.

“It’s pretty easy to communicate,” he said. “Sometimes I would get the Bishop to break it down. But sometimes you just smile a lot if you don’t know what they are saying.”

Thomas said reaching the people of Nairobi who were willing to come listen to him preach was one goal, but he also wanted to connect with other preachers to improve their ability to connect with their congregations.

“My passion is to strengthen preachers,” he said. “I love to get leaders together and reach people more. They can come hear me and take that and help others.”

Thomas said preachers from all over Kenya came to the conference — a total of 17 churches.

But Thomas made the trip alone as the lone-American representative.

“It was just me and the Holy Ghost,” he said.

This was Thomas’ second trip to Nairobi, and when Bishop Charles Mugo asked him to return he did not hesitate, he said.

“It’s an opportunity to reach folks that really want it,” he said.

While in Nairobi, Thomas stayed with Mugo and his wife in their home. Thomas said his brief stay in Africa gave him a taste of what life would be like there.

“I had to sleep under a mosquito net,” he said. “I’ve never slept under a net before, but I guess it’s better than getting bit by mosquitos.”

Thomas said it was an experience, and he even enjoyed a lot of the food he ate with Mugo and his wife.

Thomas has preached all over the world including Russia, Mexico, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. He plans another trip to Mexico in October, he said.