By Emily Banks Wooten
Josh Dorrell, a member of the Galveston Rotary Club, recently presented a program to the Livingston Rotary Club about the Segera Mission in Kenya, of which he serves as executive director.
According to Dorrell, the Segera Mission was founded by Rev. Carlton “Pappy” Gleason in 2002, after first visiting Kenya four years earlier and seeing the tremendous needs. At the age of 88, Gleason, called “Pappy” by all that knew him, started a medical clinic, a school, a feeding program for widows and orphans, and a mission outreach program. When he died there at age 94 over 1,400 people attended his funeral.
Following his death, Gleason’s daughter Janice ran the mission while searching for someone who could carry on her and her father’s work at Segura Mission. Through a series of connections, the search ended in 2019 with Dorrell.
“After visiting Segera Mission, meeting the incredible team on the ground in Kenya, and seeing the vast impact Segera Mission had on the community, I felt the Lord was calling me to take over,” Dorrell said.
Located 30 miles from the remote village of Nanyuki, considered the “Gateway To Mount Kenya” in Central Kenya, Segera Mission is nestled between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Mount Kenya National Park. The capital city of Nairobi, where the country’s international airport resides, is located approximately 150 miles from Segera Mission.
Segera is primarily a farming community filled with community members whose families have worked the land for multiple generations. Segera is also home to three main tribes: the Turkana, the Masai and the Samburu. Each tribe is highly revered by their respective communities and has their own distinct beauty and challenges.
In addition to facing dangers from natural disasters like droughts, Segera’s remoteness makes meeting basic needs like medical care challenging with the closest medical facility being 35 miles away on foot.
“Our goal at Segera Mission is to give the people of Kenya the message of God’s love and a chance for a better life through our four pillars which are discipleship, community development, education and healthcare,” Dorrell said. “We build God-centered communities primed to reach Kenya with the gospel of Jesus.
“We want to ensure that they have access to basic needs like clean water, as well as economic stability and proper housing,” he said, adding that 60% of illnesses there are from bad water. “We make sure they have access to clean water.
“We want to invest in Kenya’s future by providing quality education and making sure that every student has what they need to be successful. There are 325 kids that attend our school every day and they receive two meals a day at school,” Dorrell said, commenting that the school is for fourth through the eighth grade and that the high school students attend boarding schools.
“We provide opportunities for Kenyans to truly thrive without the fear of things like harmful cultural practices or unsafe birthing conditions. Healthcare is a huge, huge issue in our region,” he said, adding that there are over 1,000 monthly visits to the clinic and 25-30 births a month. “The primary healthcare issues are HIV/AIDS/TB testing and treatment and female genital mutilation which is systemic, unhealthy, ungodly and just dangerous.
“It’s one of the poorest countries I’ve ever seen in my life,” Dorrell said, adding, “Job training is one of the biggest ways to change systemic poverty.”
Dorrell was born and raised in Waco and his parents were involved in urban ministry and international ministry. He’s a 2004 graduate of Baylor University.
To learn more about Segera Mission or to contribute, go to segeramission.org.