The NightwatchmanThe Nightwatch Bible Institute offers classes for those who cannot go to Bible School
Story and Photos by Sean White
A young man stands on the hills watching over his father’s sheep and goats. He spends his days wandering the wilderness with the animals, far away from family. Amos is from the Daasanach tribe, a nomadic people group in the far northern region of Kenya near the border of Ethiopia.
From a young age, Amos felt God calling him into ministry. His father was a Christian and taught Amos about the Bible and took the family to church. When Amos was young, he met Colin McDougall and his family, AIM missionaries who served in the area for fourteen years. They quickly became friends , and the two families even planted a church together. “I remember Colin was with us,” Amos says. “He was teaching us the Word of God. I learned a lot from him.”
Even when he was a teenager watching over the herds, Amos longed to read and study the word of God. But he needed an education, so in his twenties, he started primary school and worked his way up to seventh grade. Around this time, he also got involved in translating the Bible and the Jesus film into the Daasanach language. “Even when people were teasing me,” Amos says, “I thought, no, I am going to get my education, learn how to read, and then I am going to study the Bible.”
About this time, the Daasanach church realized their need for a trained pastor in their community. Seeing Amos’ passion, they asked him to go for Bible training in the capital city of Nairobi, a journey that can take more than a week.
“I thought, no, I am going to get my education, learn how to read, and then I am going to study the Bible.”
There is a great need for Bible training in Kenya. Many indigenous churches do not have someone trained as a pastor who speaks their same language. To meet that need, Colin and another northern Kenya missionary, Brian Hoffman, came up with the Nightwatch Bible Institute. For many Africans looking for Bible training, the problem is finances. To address this issue, Colin and Brian found a way for students to work while doing their classes. Students in the Nightwatch Bible Institute get a job as a gate guard, take their classes during the shift change twice a week, and then study during the long, quiet hours while they man the gate.
Colin and Brian also knew the program needed to be self-sustaining, so they are training another gate guard, Paul, to teach the class. After this year, the class will be led by Kenyans who are teaching other Kenyans. Colin hopes this program can be offered to local pastors in the future.
Amos knew this is what God was calling him to do. So he left his home, his wife, and his young child to study for two years. He will finish his Bible training soon and return home to pastor the church and be re-united with his family. “I need to get this training,” Amos says, “so I can take it back home, so I can help my people to know God.”
“Gate guarding is perfect for pastors because you can study scripture on your shift and get a salary and then go and shepherd your church in your off hours.”
– Colin McDougall