Richard Bewes writes…
If you’ve been brought up in a missionary family on the lower slopes of Mount Kenya – and in an era where the fires of Christian Revival are sweeping through East Africa - you are attached to names and to scenes and events that build a world outlook of incalculable wonder. Earliest memories were of Weithaga, a CMS mission station - and of Kenya’s oldest church building – popularly named ‘The Ba-Be-Bo.’
It was so named because the local Kikuyu children had received their first alphabetical and grammar lessons there. Together they would chant “Ah Eh Oh… Ba Be Bo.” The baptism of my younger brother Michael took place there. As for our home, it was - like the Ba Be Bo - built of soft yellow soapstone. The water tanks at each corner stored the rainwater that came off the corrugated iron roof... for the nearest water was a full twenty miles away, flowing off the mountain glaciars into the Maragua River. Water! With the tank water being carried into the house with Kerosene cans, inevitably there were no pipes and therefore no taps in the house… neither electricity, gas, sanitation, or western-style shops. Thus the clothes for us four children were made by our mama. Our education began through her on the side veranda.
It was the calmest upbringing any child could ever have had. Hazards were commonplace - but they took the forms of adventures that must be faced courageously; droughts, locust swarms fifty miles long - and endless adventures with the missionary car. Once a little Kikuyu boy was prematurely born inside it. In true African style his mother gave him a name to suit the occasion – MOTOKA !
These were the days when Kenya was still a British colony….. but the writing was on the wall - of coming independence. The Kikuyu Mau Mau movement was understandable - but the violent form it adopted was resisted by many Africans, notably those touched by the Revival.
My dad, Cecil Bewes was recruited by Britain to be a part of a three- man team, The Fairn Commission - that investigated the treatment of Mau Mau detainees in the controversial camps, set up by the colonial authorities. Of their 53 recommendations, 52 were accepted – and the way was paved for Kenya’s independence under Jomo Kenyatta.
Published 2014: Cecil Bewes, pictured among Mau Mau detainees
Cecil and Sylvia Bewes were eventually to return to the UK with their family - but connections were inevitably retained with East Africa. As for the East African Revival, see my article on this website Will Revival Come?
One notable return trip I was to make was with the evangelist and singer Garth Hewitt at a time when I was a London church minister. He did the music, I did the speaking – in a mission we had been invited by the Ugandan church leadership to lead, from Jinja at the mouth of the Nile across to Kampala and all of the south, as far as Kabale at the extreme south –west.
Coffee time – with our sound engineers…. thirty concerts in ten days!
Our brilliant present-day directors in the UK are Harvey and Marlies Thomas. Earlier, Harvey had worked as a Director of Billy Graham missions, before serving and travelling with the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as media advisor.
Earlier still, the redoubtable Billy Graham team member who looked after the AE finances was Blackpool-born Jean Wilson – known across the world as Queen Jean. For any of us who travelled and worked with her in Africa was a true adventure.
Queen Jean with Harry M’Kombe of African Enterprise, Zimbabwe
Would you be involved, and come on our mailing list? Every pound we receive goes directly to the immediate work of the ten teams in Africa - led by some of the bravest evangelists in the world. You can phone 07545 384972. Our UK website is at: www.facebook.com/AfricanEnterpriseUK
A FEW RTB PICTURES - OUT OF AFRICA -
My most stupendous sight: The Victoria Falls - a mile across
Kenya’s Vice President flew by helicopter to Butere to open a new study Library for the African Institute for Contemporary Mission and Research. Thousands came to the vivid ceremony
RTB speaking to the crowd at the televised event
During our Uganda Mission: Garth & I lead soldier enquirers to faith at the end of a concert. With us is our guide and Lugandan-speaking travelling companion, Lilian Clark, known everywhere.
RTB at Karen: the famous house. Ngong Hills in the distance…