SPECIAL REPORT: INTERNATIONAL RHEMA
"Taking the School to the People"
Africa has been on Vidar and Cathrine Ligard's hearts since their childhood and youth. From an early age, these 2002 Rhema USA graduates knew that one day they would do missions work on this vast continent filled with majestic mountain peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, and a beautiful array of wild animals. When an opportunity to travel to Mombasa, Kenya, opened up in the summer of 1999 after his first year at Rhema, Vidar jumped at the opportunity.
After that first trip, Vidar just kept going back to Kenya—visiting the pastors he knew and establishing new relationships. Before long he was traveling to Kenya once a year conducting seminars in churches. Eventually those yearly trips evolved into seminars for pastors, with Vidar focusing on more remote areas where formal training wasn't accessible.
"You Do It!"
After one trip in 2004, as Vidar was flying back to the U.S., he began praying about a way to better train Kenyan pastors. For many of them, the only training they received was what they learned at seminars held by missionaries who came to Kenya.
"Lord," he prayed, "seminars are good, but what these pastors really need is a curriculum that goes from A to Z to get a strong foundation."
Vidar thought it might be several weeks before God raised up someone to establish a Bible school. But after praying only five minutes, he heard the Lord say, "OK, you're the one. You do it!"
The Traveling Bible School
Vidar and Cathrine didn't waste any time. They immediately began working on a Bible curriculum and making plans to start Safari Bible School. Safari is a Swahili word that means "to travel." Right from the start, the Ligards knew the school had to be modular and mobile since many pastors were unable to leave their churches to attend Bible school in a big city.
Vidar had formed many relationships during his short-term trips to Kenya. So when he announced the opening of the Bible school, a lot of people—both pastors and lay people—were anxious to enroll. In April of 2006, Vidar and Cathrine packed their bags and, with 8-month-old baby Lisa in tow, moved to Kisumu, Kenya.
That first year the Ligards hit the ground running. School modules were held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week for two to three weeks at a time, and that plan is still in place. In the beginning, Vidar taught 90 percent of the classes himself. Today, he has help. William Meni, pastor of Jesus Warriors Church located outside of Mombasa, is helping teach the spiritually hungry students. So are a number of Rhema USA grads. Pastor Meni is also charged with administering the school, scouting out locations for additional campuses, and encouraging Christians from all denominations to attend.
In 2011, Safari Bible School joined the Rhema network of more than 100 campuses worldwide. Since Vidar and Cathrine's curriculum mirrored what they learned at Rhema USA, the transition to Rhema Kenya was seamless.
Three-quarters of the students who enroll are pastors. They immediately take what they learn and share it with their congregations. And their members grab hold of what they've been taught. As a result, church members have learned to receive healing for themselves without having to ask their pastor to pray. Even nonbelievers in their villages have noticed such a change in church members that they're asking what happened.
Many of the pastors who have attended the Bible school have become mentors to other pastors in their communities. Their fellow pastors have seen how their church membership has increased and how their members' lives have improved. Many local pastors are coming to them for advice.
Doing the Works of Jesus
All of the students and grads are experiencing God's healing power in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. The father of one student was seriously ill and writhing in pain. The student decided to return to her village that evening. Before she left, her fellow students and Pastor Meni prayed for her father. When she arrived home, she learned that her father had been healed at the exact time they had prayed!
A witch doctor outside of Mombasa had become sick almost to the point of death. He went to the local mosque and was prayed for, but he didn't get any better. He then asked his fellow witch doctors for help, but nothing they tried worked. Somebody told him to go to Pastor Meni's church and have him pray.
Afraid to go to the church openly, the witch doctor asked a neighbor to see if Pastor Meni would come and pray for him. Pastor Meni laid hands on him and he was instantly healed! The witch doctor gave his life to the Lord and burned all of his witchcraft paraphernalia!
Kieti Mwangangi, a 2008 grad, had been praying for signs and wonders for quite some time. Nothing happened until he enrolled in Safari Bible School. One day the Holy Spirit directed him to pray for the deliverance of a madman. The man was bound with ropes and was making a lot of noise. After Pastor Kieti prayed for him, he was completely delivered!
On another occasion a woman who had been bedfast for four years was brought to Pastor Kieti. After he prayed for her, she got out of bed and began to walk! At a different time, Pastor Kieti laid hands on another woman who had a broken leg and it instantly mended. She jumped out of bed and began walking!
The Ligards have purchased land in Kanamai, just north of Mombasa, and are in the process of constructing a multipurpose building. In addition to school administrative offices, the building will contain classrooms, a dormitory for 70 students, a library, and two small apartments for guest ministers.
Next month Rhema Kenya will roll out a second-year curriculum. Shortly after the conversion of Safari Bible School to Rhema Kenya, the Ligards made their way through Kenya informing the graduates of the transition. The grads were excited to learn about a second year being added, and many of them plan to attend.
Vidar and Cathrine have dedicated their lives to training Kenyan pastors and lay people. They're seeing a lot of positive change in the communities where the nine Rhema campuses are located. But there's still much work to be done. Although 80 percent of Kenyans call themselves Christians, pockets of people remain who have never once heard the Name of Jesus. The Ligards are committed to raising up Gospel ministers who will find these people and bring to them the saving, healing, delivering power of God.
"This thing [Rhema Kenya] is not only changing us, but affecting entire communities."
—Pastor Geoffrey, Mwingi
"I am no longer concerned about just having a crowd. I am concerned about transforming somebody's life."
—Pastor George, Keroka
"Even the community is commenting that my church members are living different and better lives."
—Pastor Maithia, Mwingi
"There was a day I was looking for who could help me. Now I am able to support my own family."
—Pastor Mogere, Keroka
» People to come alongside and help
» Wisdom for expansion
To learn more about Vidar and Cathrine Ligard, go to www.RhemaKenya.org.