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At first glance, the church that pastor Gideon Mbithi leads in Machakos, Kenya, might not look out of the ordinary. But then you notice the mango trees.

The trees are just one of many ways in which the church has experienced growth. Growth in church membership. Growth in stewardship. Growth in the mangos, oranges, and other crops that provide the church with income.

What prompted all this growth? Gideon’s strong desire to improve his pastoral skills. Like many pastors in Kenya, Gideon did not have the resources or formal training that are available to pastors in North America. Still, he has a strong desire to see his church and community thrive.

“Churches here are seen as more than a place of worship,” said Gideon. They are an outreach to the entire community, he said, adding that the government even gives money to many churches to help fill that role.

Knowing that his entire community looks to him as a leader, Gideon participated in a leadership training event led by Christian Reformed World Missions missionaries.

Gideon improved his abilities as a pastor and now he shares with people such as pastor Sammy Nila the skills he has learned.

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