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Kenyan Missionaries From NC Feed Thousands During COVID Crisis

By Melissa Taylor

Burke CountyMelissa Taylor


Travis and Laura Sawyer have welcomed visitors to their Kenyan mission station for the past 15 years. Moving from Robbinsville, NC, serving a large Massai bush village in Sekenani, Kenya has been their passion. The Sawyers, along with their four girls, are integrated into the community in almost every aspect of village life. The sights and sounds of the village are surprisingly breathtaking.

A larger than life sunset blazes above the grasslands of the Massai Mara. Cowbells ring like music as boys lead the long lines of goats and cattle back to the home pen for the night. Women can be seen still sitting in circles, finishing up their elaborate beading projects. Children are chasing each other around the family mud huts, while the fires inside are heating up for the evening meal. Men are gathered around a large tree for an evening chat and if you look hard, the zebra and gazelle are in for their evening graze. Simple, happy.

….until COVID.

Kenyan authorities reacted as did many other countries and placed quarantine guidelines and a lock-down for businesses and gatherings. Bush life is inevitably hard, due to the remoteness, but now there is no trading of those goats and cattle for income. The women are unable to sell that elaborate beadwork to tourists or shops. Children are unable to go to school, not having the meal normally provided for them there. Men have no way to make money due to quarantine guidelines and no markets are available to purchase food.

……People are starving.

Laura said, “It is almost unbearable to see your friends going hungry” and of course, they did something about it. Straight Up Missions, the Sawyers independent mission survives on donations. Travis said, “We did not know in the beginning how many we could feed, but we had to try”.

In the first week of April, the Sawyers began to distribute food bags and were excited to feed a total of 25 families in week one. Each bag costing $5, contains enough food for a family of eight for three days. The Sawyer’s efforts have grown exponentially with God’s grace! They quickly grew within weeks to feeding over 400 families twice weekly and have expanded into other nearby villages that are in desperate need as well. The food distribution has been so expansive, the Kenyan government has recognized the Sawyer family. Even with these amazing efforts, this is still not enough! Travis says “Despite Kenya beginning to relax some guidelines, it may take months to impact the bush”. A video from their Facebook site, The Sawyers In Kenya, shows villagers in such need for food, they happily take leftover rotten cabbage. The videos which they post weekly, show lines of villagers almost as far as the eye can see, waiting for their bag of food. Unfortunately, some do walk away unfed due to the demand and lack of funding. Laura said, “We will not stop as long as God gives us strength”.

The Sawyers have no intent on slowing their efforts. Galatians 6:2 tells us “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

Their mission exemplifies selfless love and carrying the burden, as the entire family spends countless hours preparing and packaging food each week for distribution. To continue with food distribution, donations must continue to support the efforts.

If you would like to donate to help feed Kenya, go to


Melissa is a Family Nurse Practitioner who organizes medical mission trips to the bush of Kenya.  She is the proud wife of Jason and mother of Keagan and a member of the Zion Baptist Church Family in Morganton.


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