Pioneering did not End with Covered Wagons and Handcarts

Pioneering did not End with Covered Wagons and Handcarts

Pioneering did not End with Covered Wagons and Handcarts

News Release

 The Kasue family became instrumental in bringing forth the Gospel to Kenya 20 years before the Church was recognized by the government. Converts pay a price and it is as real as those who crossed the plains over a century ago. Pioneers, such as the Kasue family are raised up by the Lord and prepare strength for the Church organization which follows.  Frequently, such strength begins with one family. 

 

Gideon Kasue, grew up in the lush rolling knolls of Kilunga Hills, 60 miles southeast of Nairobi. He married Esther Mbethi in the early 50’s and they began their family of six sons and three daughters. The young sons would awake at 6:00 am and run 6 miles up and down the hilly paths to get to school on time.  

Gideon and Esther, though they loved the hills, moved their family to a farm and homesteaded in what is now the Chyula District. When the boys were older, Gideon took a job as a waiter at a hunting lodge and met an American, Dennis Child, a veterinarian from Colorado and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though Gideon couldn’t understand much English, Child began explaining the new restored gospel. Gideon summoned his sons for better translating. Dennis Child’s family befriended the Kasue father and sons.

The first Kenyan converts, Charles Asiago, a student of the ministry and his wife, Elizabeth were baptized in 1979. Benson and Nickson Kasue were among the first and anxious to share the news of Jesus Christ’s restored Church. Word spread to families and friends. In 1980 a senior couple arrived in Nairobi and helped form two branches from two small congregations - Nairobi and Nakuru.

Benson, 23 and Nickson 20, were called to serve in 1983 becoming the first full-time missionaries called from Kenya, serving in Los Angeles, California and Washington D.C.

That same year, Gideon, his son Thomas and a several others were baptized at the hunting lodge’s swimming pool.  Among those baptized were Joseph W. Satiti, and Ephraim Wanyama.

Thomas Kasue, the oldest son stayed in Nairobi where he worked on the railway and became Branch President of Buru Buru area. Julius Kasue married Sabina and returned home to Chyula to lead as Branch President in that area.

Just as the Church started to bloom, disaster bumped the progress of the Church. In 1989 the government officials in Kenya declared the Church illegal and restricted members to meeting in small groups- no more than 9 adults in one gathering. Despite this challenge, the Church continued to grow.

 By July all full-time missionaries were asked to leave the country as visas were no longer available. Brother Joseph W. Sitati, a convert of only three years, was set apart as the first Kenyan District President. 

The Kasue family along with many other families fasted and prayed.  Each family taking a different day of the week to fast. They continued to plead that the Church would be recognized officially in Kenya. Joseph Sitati, Charles Asiago, Ephriam Wanyamu and Thomas Kasue were called to meet the Attorney General. They were given a message that Kenya President Daniel Arap Moi was pleased with them and the Church. He pulled from his desk a certificate - giving the Church legal recognition.  On February 25, 1991, the village wept and prayed - this time as an expression of gratitude. Certification was finally granted.

President Kasue immediately obtained a copy of the document and took it to the assistant chief of Chyulu Village to insure the rights of the Church to operate legally would be met. The Saints could now meet without fear, and their membership soon increased to about 40. They needed a larger place than each other’s homes to meet, but a mission had not yet been established and no meetinghouse was provided. The members built a small bower with corrugated tin and palm boughs on the edge of President Kasue’s land.

Many desired to join the Church but because Chyulu was so isolated the mission president decided to limit the membership until local leadership was developed. Two men from another village came to church weekly, riding their bicycles two hours each way. They requested baptism and the mission president granted their request on condition that only the two men and their families be baptized. Since African villages are often composed of extended families, 40 ecstatic converts showed up to be baptized.

Lack of water in Chyulu always made baptisms a challenge. The mission president and a missionary couple had made a long grueling journey from Nairobi hauling baptismal clothing, a corrugated steel water storage tank for the baptismal font. Once in Chyulu, the local brethren spent five hours hauling water four miles over the ruttiest of roads. With a leaky tank, a quick decision to have 10 brethren stand in the water around the tank’s edge to raise the water level made it just deep enough for all candidates to be baptized.

Testimonies were born following the baptism. One sister had been attending church for 10 years. All new members expressed deep gratitude for the gospel. They traveled home in the dark and the rain, singing hymns of praise all the way.

Eventually a branch was formed in the village of these new members, and they needed a meetinghouse. Since there was no road to the village, the members carried all the building materials on their backs the last two kilometers up the hill to the building site.

The drought of 1992 almost wiped out the saints. The disaster was brought to the attention of the Mission President the day eight new candidates were to be interviewed for baptism. None complained of their plight nor asked for assistance.

 President Kasue traveled to Nairobi to discuss with the mission president the drought condition in Chyulu that was so severe that people were near starvation. Immediate action was taken and 3,400 pounds of corn, rice and beans were delivered to Chyulu. President Kasue and his wife began making porridge and taking it to many too weak to get out of bed.

The mission president visited the humble branch and as a brother knelt to say the sacrament prayer he put an old sack on the red dirt before him. Due to drought and poverty, bread was not available. Two small crackers were used to serve 63 people who attended that day.

To prevent starvation in the future, the Church established a project to raise drought-resistant crops on six acres of Church land in Chyulu. Though it had not rained for two years, 40 Church members and 60 not of our faith, planted their crops on October 21, 1992.  A special fast for rain was held and the group watched a Church film, “The Windows of Heaven.” The rains came. Crops

sprouted and grew and so did the faith of

 the people.  Both crops and converts produced a beautiful harvest.Story taken from The Kasue

Family Story, Oral History given by Thomas Kasue on Feb. 2013,

and Oct. 1994 Ensign by Dale LaBaron

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