Season 2 Recap: Relive Memorable Moments at the End of the Road
Relive some of the most incredible moments from season two of The End of the Road podcast with your host Cathy Herholdt.
Check out photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes stories from our guests on the podcast. You won’t want to miss these exclusive extras!
Host Cathy Herholdt is sharing an exciting look back at the most memorable experiences from Season 2 on The End of the Road podcast. Hear about the missional connection of the stories at the end of the road and World Concern. Relive Raphael Leshore’s unique story of how he was a Moran warrior and now he shares his faith with his community. Hear Joshua Bundi’s heartfelt experiences about how he followed God’s call despite roadblocks and challenges. And hear the personal experiences of CRISTA Ministries CEO Jacinta Tegman at the end of the road.
Season 2 Recap: Relive Memorable Moments at the End of the Road
Cathy: Welcome to the End of the Road podcast. My name is Cathy and I'm your host and tour guide as we journey together to some of the most remote, challenging places on the planet. I'm so excited to have you along for the ride. So buckle up, we're going to the End of the Road.
I can't believe we've reached the end of season 2 of the End of the Road podcast. Season 3 is just around the corner, coming your way and launching August 31st. This journey's been so incredible. I hope you're enjoying getting to know some of the people and the places that we're sharing here on the podcast. As I reflect on this whole journey and especially season 2, I really see how some of the missional pillars of World Concern really came through in the stories that our guests shared. This was not at all intentional, but my hope is that it helps you get to know our ministry a bit more, whether you're a longtime friend of World Concern or you're brand new here, I want you to know you've landed somewhere pretty special. And I'm not just saying that because I've served with this ministry for 12 years, although I do really love the unique calling and mission of World Concern, but I think it's pretty incredible how each of our guests shared aspects of this mission without even really realizing it.
My first guest in season 2 was Raphael Leshore, who I had the pleasure of meeting on a trip to Samburu, Kenya, in 2019. Raphael was born and raised in this very remote part of Northeastern Kenya, and being a local and knowing the culture so well gives him a really unique opportunity to impact his Samburu brothers and sisters as a Christian, as well as a World Concern staff member. He's one of eight children and one of very few kids in Samburu who had the opportunity to go to school, but it wasn't easy. He shared in our conversation how he and several other boys had walked a hundred kilometers to and from their boarding school several times a year, on foot. Let's listen to a snippet of our conversation with Raphael as he shares how being a member of the group of young protectors of the community called Morans, gives him the ability to share his faith with others, including these young men who live very steeped in cultural traditions. Many have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ.
Raphael Leshore: I got some opportunity to share some good news to my fellow Morans that by now, they are young elders. So whenever we go to the field, we introduce some paths in our normal programs and I usually give them the opportunity to, because I'm close to them, to share with them the word of God, and to share them with Christ and Christian life. And that is they can relate in terms how they understand because one of them is telling them the way and we did mercy, many things happening.
So I was given many opportunity. Whenever we have event trainings, we have a sport evangelism, we will try to convince them or to teach them the way of Christ. Though, in a very, very small step, because they are supposed to be taken in a very, very small steps as they understand.
Cathy: So you mentioned something important, which is that you have a unique opportunity to share with them because you are one of them. And so you have a relationship with them and that opens the door for you to be able to share with them. And I've heard some stories that some of the Morans have come to faith in Christ in recent years. Is that correct?
Raphael Leshore: Yes, that is correct. And I was having that opportunity. That is why they have selected me in very few circumstances or instances to help them, because they can relate with me. Almost in our villages, all of them knows me, because I have told you in the beginning Morans know each other, and there's no Moran. Once you are a Moran in Samburu, you can sleep anywhere, you can move to any other place because you are carrying that name of Moran. So it was a very, very interesting and applicable at the time for me to convince them whenever we meet.
Cathy: We had a really great two-part conversation with Joshua Bundi, World Concern's South Sudan country director, that really illustrates how seeing spiritual as well as physical change in people's lives is a huge part of our mission. Joshua is so clearly called to this work and particularly to South Sudan. And he shared with us how, even when he wasn't certain of this, his wife sure was. And despite some incredible challenges and even great personal risk, Joshua talked about the moment he knew he was called to this place. Let's listen.
Joshua Bundi: So I go to this village and I was told we are going to a church. Now, it's a long journey from Wau, it's about 70-something kilometers, about 75 kilometers. You go 60 kilometers to a market there, then you get deep into a village. At some point you have to leave a vehicle and walk for about five to 10 kilometers to get where the village is. Then, at least now because of our intervention there is a road that goes all the way now to the other churches. And we have through working with a village, they have even established a church in a school, but that particular time it's when we were doing the initial groundwork for that village.
So I was told we are going to this village. So we go to this place, leave the vehicle, then we have to walk for about almost 10 kilometers. And I went anticipating to see a huge building, of course, a church. And it was very hot that particular time. And we got to this place under a certain tree. And one thing I realized when we got there, is it was a beautiful shade, but it was swept clean. And the resort looked like the church pews, but it's a stick, one stick, y-shape, with the pegs down and then a rod is placed in between the pegs, what would make church benches.
But I thought it's a public place where people come meet and I thought maybe the community will meet us there then take us to the church. The shock of my life came when I saw someone come with a cross and place it, place somewhere it's in the open, is under this big tree under shade. And then people started coming in and you know the way we get to the church and we bow down? That's when I realized, "Okay, I'm in a church."
Cathy: This is a well-known story. Many of us at World Concern have heard of the church under the tree, and we've seen pictures of it. And it is pretty incredible, this big tree that provided at least some shade from the hot sun and then some logs from other trees that had been turned into the benches that were the actual pews that people were sitting in. And that is where they held church. And it's pretty amazing and a reminder to us all that a church is not necessarily a building, it's a place where people gather to worship. And that was happening there, wasn't it? In that church under the tree?
Joshua Bundi: Yes. Two things that happened that day that changed whatever I had, whatever thoughts were coming into me, whatever doubts that had started settling in, I saw a people that were very passionate about God. I saw a people that were very committed, but lost. For the first time I had an experience maybe of what Paul had in Athens, when he said, "You know, the streets looked very Godly, but there were these inscriptions that were written unto unknown God." You'd see people, they were seeking God, but a God they didn't know. A God they had not had relationship with, very far away from Him. And that day I knew that's what God had called me to do in South Sudan.
I think then I had the courage to share with my wife that I know what I am coming to do in South Sudan, but I knew the mandate God had called me to South Sudan was bigger than this project. And when I fight what we are doing today, Africans to Africa, that has reached out to over 50,000 people, that has seen over 18,000 people giving their lives to Christ, that has seen over a hundred churches established in the villages. I say, "Yes, God, I had you right, I obeyed you." Because that burden and the vision for evangelism in those communities were born that day under that tree. And I don't regret a single day being in South Sudan.
Cathy: Wow. I love that despite being far away from his family and in a really hard place, Joshua doesn't regret one moment of his time in South Sudan. Isn't that the way we all want to feel so certain that we are following God's call on our lives, that we have no regrets? We also heard from former World Concern president and CEO of Christian Ministries, Jacinta Tegman, who told some pretty harrowing stories of being way beyond the end of the road, but knowing that was exactly where World Concern was supposed to be. Here's what she had to say.
Jacinta Tegman: I think that's part of our unique and special call. And there's something in that call that I just love that we go to those places where mainstream humanitarian aid doesn't reach, but that need is still there. And sometimes it's some of the big organizations that go. They're looking for a place where a really big impression can be made, and so these places that are small to medium sized are not reached. And very small organizations don't have the resources to get there. So I think World Concern is sort of uniquely positioned where we're large enough to get to those hard places. And we're small enough that we're willing to do the hard places where very, as I said, not even just very few, but no one else will go there. And isn't that just like our Lord who goes to seek and to save the lost and goes after that one sheep? Leaves the 99.
And so something is very special about that, but as I think of my years with World Concern in the many, probably thousands of miles I traveled, some of the ones that have given me the biggest impression are of course where it's just extreme hardship. So one time I remember being in Chad and we were going out to this village. It was just the tail end of the rainy season. So much of the roads were washed out and we're going to cross what they call a waddi, kind of like a little river that had formed because of the intense rain. And out in the middle of this river, I see a panel truck on its side and what had developed is a sandbar. And so I asked our driver, it's like, "What? Tell me what's going on there?" And it's like, "Oh yeah, that vehicle was trying to cross last week, got caught in the current, and the driver and the passengers were all killed."
And so there on the sandbar is this carcass of this truck. And now I'm looking at our truck and I'm thinking, "Our driver's out, wading into the water, trying to take the depth of it and to see if we could make it." And I remember thinking, "Wow, my prayer life was rich," in that moment. And as we got in that car and moved forward, I'm thinking, "Wow, this is where World Concern goes. You know, is it smart? Is it safe?" And all the answers are like, "No, what am I doing?" As president now I'm in a position to make these calls, like, "Should we even be in a place like this?" So as this road continued in kind of more adventures on the road, I'd pretty much decided, "Okay, we're not coming back here. This is just way too high of a risk."
And as we finally reached the edge of this village where World Concern was working, the people saw that we had arrived and they start coming out. And as I'm getting out of the car, sort of fully prepared to have to walk my staff through, "All right," the staff there, our team, "this doesn't make sense." I just felt like the Lord spoke to me in that moment because the question I had been asking, "Why do we go to these places? What are we doing out here?" And when I got there, and as these people are coming and our team is coming to greet me, I just felt like the Lord say to me, "It's because I care for people at the end of the road."
Cathy: We also heard stories, many of them about how beneficial and sustainable the changes are in people's lives and in communities, when those changes, the work, is led and driven by the people themselves. So rather than showing up in a community and saying, "Here's how we're going to help you," or, "Here's what you really need," World Concern takes a completely different approach. And it works.
We empower individuals and entire communities, not only to identify their greatest needs, but also to examine their assets and local resources, things they already have in their hands, and then chart their own course, taking ownership of the work themselves and feeling dignified and confident in the accomplishments that they're making themselves. Our last guest on season 2, Tracy Minke, talked about this that even in a crisis, a conflict, a situation where people have had to flee their homes and are left with nothing. She shared about the importance of working, earning income, having choices on how they spend that income, and that the dignity and internal transformation that brings. Let's listen to what she had to say.
Tracy Minke: We'd go into the community and say, "We want to give you work," because they couldn't find work. So they were getting food from the UN, but it was very limited and it was very scripted. So every family got A, B, C, D. So they'd got this many bags of corn and maize, whatever they would get, it was scripted.
And it was the same for everyone. It wasn't unique. And so we came in and we were able to offer people work. We had a grant that allowed us to pay people to work, and so the work we did was around that deforestation. And so we had people set up rock lines, which I have to admit when I started, I thought, "I don't know if I'm a believer in this. I'm not sure if this is really going to have a huge impact," but Cathy, just in the time that I was there, it was so incredible to see these hillsides that had been completely deforested. The little rain that they'd had, it would take away all the good soil, so nothing could grow. So you've got these blank bare hillsides. And we're asking people to go and collect rocks and pile them in lines all along the ridges of these hills and in these areas. And the idea is that as the rain has slowed down, so when the rains did come, which was once a year, it would come and slow down because of the rocks.
The soils and the minerals and things that were in the ground, deeper, would actually have a chance to come back to life, so to speak. And I'm not going to get into all the science. I don't fully understand all of it, but I witnessed some of the most incredible things, because as people laid out these rocks, eventually when the rains came, we started seeing grass grow for the first time in years. And within a year, we had people that are able to plant basic crops again in a land that was completely deemed irreparable. And so that was such a special thing to be able to see.
But the part that I love the most is as people worked, they had dignity. They were doing something with their time. They were doing something to support their family. They weren't just sitting around as maybe people imagine refugees might be doing. So they had a purpose and they had somewhere to go each day. Then the best day of the month for us as a staff and the hardest day at the same time, because it was so hard in terms of it was so hot and we'd go out and run what we called these fairs. And so we had a community fair where we had preset agreements with many different business people from the town where they would bring their goods and services into each of these camps.
So now you're in a camp, and out of nowhere a market day would appear. So you've got a market that would pop up like a pop-up market. All these different businessmen would come in and business woman would come in and set up their shops and they would be there for the day. And all of our workers that were from the community would come in and we would verify who they were and how many days they worked, and then they would get paid, right then on the spot. But we didn't give them cash, but we gave them something that was equal to cash. We had made what we called monopoly money. So we literally had made money in our office, stamped in a certain color in a certain stamp so that would be unique to that day. And they would get paid physically in these pieces of paper that looked like money, based on how many days they worked.
And then they were invited into the fair or this market and they could go shopping. And I loved being able to see and talk to the women and the men as they came out and hearing stories of, "How we are so appreciative of the UN giving us this food. But when we come into these markets that World Concern has created, we have the ability to make choices for our family. And we get to decide what we purchase. We get to decide, perhaps if we want to buy a little bit of candy or perfume, which from the UN's perspective would be not an essential item."
But when you think about the dignity of being a human and being able to smell good or feel good, or feel beautiful, or treat your child with a piece of candy, those were all things they couldn't have, because that's not what they were receiving. So now they're working and they can go to the store and they could buy things. And it was all taken care of right there. So it was this beautiful program to be able to watch and just be a part of was such an honor.
Cathy: So looking back on the journey we took together in season 2 of the End of the Road podcast, I'm just really reflecting on how real lasting change happens in people's lives and in communities. It's really quite amazing. And I think there are lessons for all of us in these conversations. If you haven't had a chance to listen to the full series, I encourage you to do so. You can hear it at worldconcern.org/podcast, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I'm so excited to invite you to join us for season 3 of the podcast, launching soon, stay tuned for special dates, announcements, and more incredible interviews with those who live and work in the world's most remote, challenging places. Thanks for listening.
I want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope that your mind has been opened up a little bit, your heart has been touched through some of the stories that you have heard today. As I mentioned earlier, if you're curious about learning a little bit more about World Concern, about our work beyond the End of the Road, you can visit worldconcern.org/podcast to learn more.
I want to thank Christian Ministries, World Concern's parent organization, for making this podcast possible. And I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production and editing and consulting expertise, for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today, we look forward to more stories at the End of the Road next time.