Golf fills religious gulf in Kenya
November 28, 2003
International Cooperating Ministries used funds from a Clovis golf tournament to help Kenyan Christians build this church in East Africa. Courtesy photo.
Thanks to the generosity of Curry County golfers, a new church has been built in the far northwest region of the African nation of Kenya.
Wes Grau, a Curry County rancher, said he worked together with Clovis car dealer Rick Cornelison and others to sponsor a “Cowboy Golf” tournament that raised money for missionary church planting through International Cooperating Missions.
“Because in eastern New Mexico the drought has affected the farmers and ranchers for years and years and years, we don’t want people to give to International Cooperating Missions in lieu of the churches they belong to, so we set up the golf tournament in the pasture, organized the event, and had it early in September,” Grau said. “We raised approximately $5,000 and we asked the organization where a church could be built for that amount of money and they said Kenya, so we designated that money to go to a place in Kenya.”
Cornelison said the church members and others donated all the labor; the American money was used only to purchase materials.
Cornelison said he enjoyed helping set up a very unusual 18-hole golf course.
“It was out in the middle of the buffalo grass,” Cornelison said. “We had some added obstacles that the average golfer wouldn’t encounter.”
Some of those unusual obstacles included a stock tank and a truck tire. On one hole, the rules required the golfer to first hit the ball through the truck tire before reaching the green.
According to information supplied by International Cooperating Ministries, the church built through the golf tournament, known as Buyingi Church, is in the community of Samia and has 120 members. Founded in 1999, the church is located in a region with about 35,000 people where the largest city is Busia.
“In Kenya, spare cash is not an option, they have to use most of what they have for living,” Grau said. “It just amazes me that a building can be built over there for what seems like change over here. A big structure can be built over there and used to glorify God when that same building over here would cost five to 10 times as much.”
Cornelison said he enjoyed being able to raise money for church building in an area with serious financial needs.
“It feels really good, it makes you appreciate how much we have when you can do so little and really change their lives,” Cornelison said.
Grau said he’s looking forward to communicating with the pastor of Buyingi Church, Joseph John Omanyo, though that hasn’t yet happened, and plans to hold another cowboy golf tournament next year to raise funds for church building.
“We will probably do it again next year, probably around the 15th of June,” Grau said. “I really anticipate a huge turnout. We had 40 to 50 golfers this year and there probably will be even more next year.”