Bartai, Jeremiah Kipsoi araap (1919–2010)

By Godfrey K. Sang

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Godfrey K. Sang is a historical researcher and writer with an interest in Adventist history. He holds a B.A. in History from the University of Eastern Africa Baraton and a number of qualifications from other universities. He is a published author. He is the co-author of the book On the Wings of a Sparrow: How the Seventh-day Adventist Church Came to Western Kenya

First Published: January 8, 2024

Jeremiah Kipsoi araap Bartai was a pioneer Kipsigis minister.

Early Life

Jeremiah Kipsoi araap Bartai was born in 1919, the third child of Kibartai araap Katam and Tabelga. He was brother to the late Kipkoech Bartai, the late Stephen Bartai, and the late Nehemiah Bartai.

Jeremiah spent his early life tending to his parents’ livestock in the plains of Nyalibuch of Soin location, Kericho County, up until 1940. Due to adverse weather conditions and the hostile environment in the plains, his parents moved up to and settled in Kabokyek village.1

Education and Working Life

Early in 1940, Bartai enrolled at the Sitotwet Primary School, which was founded by the Africa Inland Mission (AIM). He pursued his studies until Standard 4, where he passed the Common Entry Examination (CEE) in 1943. In 1944, he proceeded to Tenwek Mission School (run by the World Gospel Mission - WGM) where he pursued his studies for the next two years, then sitting for the Primary School Examination (PSE) in 1945. He was subsequently offered a position at the Adventist Church-sponsored Kabokyek Primary School as a teacher. He later joined Kabianga Teachers’ College where he trained as a teacher and earned a KT4 certificate.

From 1946 and for the next 14 years, he served as the headmaster of Kabokyek Primary School. He played a major role in developing the school together with other pioneers, notably the founder Johana Telo, Stephen Biomdo, and Elijah Soi. He strongly encouraged community members to send their children to school. He inspired his pupils to aspire for the greater things of life and, above all, to let God guide their lives.2 Enrollment in the school went up. In 1948, the Kipsigis Mission was founded at Kabokyek and the Kabokyek School was placed under the new mission. The mission was placed under the guidance of Pastor Paul Nyamweya, who ran the mission until 1953. He was assisted by Pastor Nathaniel Misati. In 1951, he was granted a ‘Teacher-Evangelist’ card for the Kipsigis Mission.3 His fellow teachers at Kabokyek and Marumbasi included A. Biegon, J. Masese, D. Ngoke, Elijah Soi, Johana Telo, and J. Mwayio.4

In 1954, Jeremiah Bartai was granted a license as a Church School Teacher by the East Africa Union Mission.5 Pastor Paul Kilonzo from Tanganyika took over and ran the Mission until 1959 when he handed over to Pastor Zephaniah Oyier. Pastor Oyier ran the Mission until 1964 when it was closed down and designated as the Kipsigis Station.6

Family

In 1949, he married Betty Tigirei, and they were blessed with ten children, namely Pricilla Yebei, Josiah Soi, late Isaiah Soi, Irene Kirui, Mary Sang, Azariah Soi, Ruth Too, Eric Soi, Montrice Langat, and Joy Langat. Jeremiah Bartai loved his family and did all in his power to provide for their welfare and education. He instilled Christian values and discipline in his children, cultivating a strong sense of unity amongst members of the household.

A Call to Ministry

In response to a calling in his heart, Bartai dedicated all his energy to the service of God through the Church. In 1960, during the tenure of Pastor Zephaniah Oyier, Jeremiah Bartai left his teaching job and decided to join full-time ministry. In 1961, he went to Uganda to join Bugema Missionary College (presently Bugema Adventist University) to train for the ministry. In 1962, he completed his ministerial training and was posted by the Central Kenya Field to Soht (currently in Bomet County), where he ministered to a number of church districts. In 1963, he became a licensed missionary under the Central Kenya Field.7 In 1972, he received his ministerial license and thereafter was designated as a licensed minister.8

For a period of 24 years, he served as a minister of the gospel with dedication and sacrifice. He went through some trying times and difficult situations. As an early missionary, he mostly trekked long distances across forests braving danger. He would also bicycle long distances with no basic facilities.9 He later moved to the Kipsigis Mission in Kabokyek (founded in 1948). Throughout this period, he helped to bring many souls to Christ as their personal Savior and was part of establishing several churches in almost all parts of Kipsigis Station.

In 1981, when the Central Kenya Field was split, he joined the Western Kenya Field as a licensed minister.10 He retired due to health reasons in 1985 and moved to his farm in Kabokyek. He passed away on January 25, 2010, following a brief illness. He was survived by his wife and children.

Sources

Minutes of the Kenya Mission Field Session held in Nairobi, January 8-18, 1951, (Min. No. 139), EKUC Archives, Nairobi.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. Azariah Soi, Bartai’s son, telephone interview by the author, October 24, 2023.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Minutes of the Kenya Mission Field Session held in Nairobi, January 8-18, 1951, (Min. No. 139), EKUC Archives, Nairobi.

  4. Ibid.

  5. “Church School Teachers,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1955), 152.

  6. “Kipsigis Mission Station,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1960), 174.

  7. “Central Kenya Field” (Licensed Missionaries), Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1964), 251.

  8. “Central Kenya Field” (Licensed Ministers), Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1973/74), 94.

  9. Azariah Soi, Bartai’s son, telephone interview by the author, October 24, 2023.

  10. “Western Kenya Field” (Licensed Ministers), Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1982), 83.

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Sang, Godfrey K. "Bartai, Jeremiah Kipsoi araap (1919–2010)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 08, 2024. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AJNA.

Sang, Godfrey K. "Bartai, Jeremiah Kipsoi araap (1919–2010)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 08, 2024. Date of access June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AJNA.

Sang, Godfrey K. (2024, January 08). Bartai, Jeremiah Kipsoi araap (1919–2010). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AJNA.