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     Breathe in; can you taste it? What do you feel? How does it look? What do you hear? I taste salt and seaweed. I feel sticky and hot. I smell and hear the fresh salty breeze from the beautiful blue water on the coast. I also hear the sounds of the city invade the tranquil seaside. And I see the trash. This isn’t exactly a tidy tourist beach. When you are on the Kenyan coast it is a full experience of all the senses. Breathe in, can you taste it now?

     We get in the car, windows down, and hear the sound of the nearby mosque calling for prayer. It is almost a chorus as you hear a multitude of mosques simultaneously from many directions. We start our drive down the coast. Today, we are going to see some villages that are part of a coastal missionary network and cooperative. The dream for this network, founded by Kenyan missionary and AIM ministry partner Peter Macharia, was to place one missionary about every 70km along the 700km coastline. Not only has that dream been realized, it has expanded tenfold – there are now over 100 missionaries serving in the coastal network.

     Shortly into our drive we have a flat tire, so we pull over and sip on some Coke baridi (cold Cokes) in the shade while we wait for it to be repaired. Thankfully it was an easy fix and we are back on our way. Along the way towns are pointed out to us such as Kwale and Vega, where network ministry is happening. We make it as far as the Tanzanian border and swing north again, headed to a village called Shimoni, once a slave holding port. Just outside of Shimoni we stop for lunch and spiced tea. We meet with a missionary couple, part of the network, and observe one of their discipleship meetings with some locals. They use their farm as a business and a place to do ministry, a bi-vocational model that Peter has encouraged and fostered up and down the coast.

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Participants at one of the coastal network meetings in Mombasa, Kenya.

AIM ministry partner and coastal network leader, Peter Macharia.

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Participants of a marriage seminar held at the Network’s training center.

     Day to day life for the ministry leader is centered around building relationships; with the locals, with those in the network, and discipling youth and adults from near and far. While in one of our meetings, one of our hosts tells us that if we hurry we can catch a baptism. “It’s happening in the ocean right now.” Baptisms frequently happen during the meetings, but quietly, so as not to be disruptive. We made it to the beach just as the woman, a former Muslim, was coming out of the water, surrounded by Mama, our hostess, and about five other ladies. It was so amazing to see this happen. We learned later that the woman’s daughter also recently trusted Christ.

Onlookers watching a baptism take place in the Indian Ocean.

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A new believer and a former Muslim makes her way back to shore after being baptized in the Indian Ocean.

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     The coastal network is developed in many ways. Those who have been participating longer help train new missionaries. Peter holds monthly gatherings for training and ministry at a former AIM Property in the port city of Mombasa. A group of local teachers from a local school come, neighbors join in, missionaries from the network come from all locations along the coast, and those that live on the compound all gather to learn new skills, study Scripture, and grow in Christ.

     Can you taste it? What do you feel? How does it look? What do you hear? I hear the sounds of laughter and learning intermingled with the breeze and the call to prayer. I smell the salty air intermingled with the sweet aroma of children playing nearby. I see trees giving shade to a sandy clearing filled with people of all tribes and colors. I feel the coolness of the breeze as it sweeps through the group. I taste the salt in the air and the goodness of God covering His people.

This is the gospel being shared.

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