January 2021

Travel Diary 10: RESCUED!

Dear ITEM Partner,

A couple of days ago, Pastor Tom Ogalo, ITEM team member, asked me to preach/talk at his church. I had no sermons prepared. Nathan suggested something to encourage them in the midst of the pandemic. I was having a hard time finding the motivation to “dig in” and “just do it.” But nothing was coming to mind and I didn’t want to stand up and ad lib.

That lasted until I completed my phone call with my wife, Brenda, Sunday morning here. She was trying to give some suggestions but I just couldn’t get into it. Then God rescued me

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Travel Diary 9: SURPRISE!!!

The plan in Nathan’s and my agenda was to come to Kisumu and meet with the Kenyan team. What we did not expect was to come away with an expanding vision for ITEM-Kenya. Working along side of Nathan Chiroma has been and continues to be a blessing. He sees opportunities that I do not see and that was the case again today. We are leaving Kisumu after church Sunday but I get the feeling there is much more to come in this ITEM location.

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Travel Diary 8: Never Say No!

Dear Family and Friends,
Something I learned very early in my ministry involvement in Africa was that true friendship is never established until you visit the home of your African friend. So, you never turn down an invitation.
I was the first white man to visit the home of his uncle “way back when.” That was a special moment for his uncle. Another time, I had to back out of a preaching opportunity because I had to get back to town for a meeting. The pastor said, “At least come to my home for a few minutes, we’ll have fellowship, and I will let you go.” (Never say NO!) So, I went. As I sat in his living room, he went out to his cow pen, took milk from the cow, brought it into the house, poured it into a couple of glasses and we shared fresh, warm, “utterly” delicious (pun intended) milk and I was on my way.
Today we received one of those invitations at the last minute as we were leaving town. Like I said, you NEVER say NO to this kind of an invitation even if it means you may get caught in a huge Nairobi traffic jam. Click here to see how it worked out.

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Travel Diary 7: Preaching 101

Dear ITEM Partner,
The big idea the first day was “an Ephesians 4 church.” Yesterday was mostly a theology of preaching. Today was the form of the sermon being preached. The truth of the matter is that preaching is easy. It really is! There are “preachers” all over the world that stand in the pulpit and preach long sermons with little or no preparation. Yes, preaching is easy. Preaching well is not. Today we spent our time talking about preaching basics: Preaching 101. And we ended the time with a discussion about why Christians confess their sins if they are already forgiven. Click here for the details.

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Trip Diary 6: Transformative Seminar

Dear Friends and Family,
At the end of the day, we are served afternoon tea. While sitting with one of the pastors, he leaned over to me and put his hand on his chest and said, “For me, this has been transformative!”
That is our objective and mission. We are not satisfied when we take a room full of pastors through our excellent curriculum. We will not be satisfied until the training results in a transformed pastor and church.
Our second day saw our lectures switch from “Ministry” to “Preaching.” But for me the highlight was our discussion of “Faithfulness vs Success” and “Religion and Politics.”

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Trip Diary 5: This Is Dallas

At the end of this first day of ITEM Conference on Ministry and Preaching (I-COMP) a mature Bishop who, according to Nathan, has been throughout the world, came to me and quietly said to me, “This is Dallas level” and he was referring to Dallas Seminary. Another participant said to Nathan that he was impressed because everything was coming out of the Bible and not just what we thought.
These responses are actually pretty typical of the instruction we provide along with what one other leader said when I asked them to “hang in there for one more hour” so we could finish six lectures today. The leaders remark at that point, “This is a cram course.”
It was a good day with good questions and even better comments. Click here to get more details and see the new pictures from today.

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Trip Diary 4: At Least I Tried

I am currently near Embu, Kenya with Nathan. We start our seminar tomorrow, Tuesday. It was a long day of travel after a hard night. But God’s grace is always sufficient.
The hard night was caused by the almost rock-hard foam mattress. I’ve been in this situation before and have been able to soften the top with blankets, pads, covers. . . years and years ago I used bubble wrap but, in that case, it was to put a layer between a thin mattress and wood slats. Last night my efforts did not pay off. When I return to Nairobi at the end of the week, I’ll stay someplace else.
Other than a hard bed and a long drive, there was a cancelled meeting with a representative of International Leadership University to discuss a partnership where I’d donate most of my library and we’d get special consideration when it comes to renting space so we can register in Kenya. I still hope to have that meeting.
Tomorrow we begin a strategic seminar.

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Trip Diary 3: 2E Or Not 2E

According to Wikipedia, “To be, or not to be” is the opening phrase of a soliloquy given by Prince Hamlet in the so-called “nunnery scene” of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. In the speech, Hamlet contemplates death and suicide, bemoaning the pain and unfairness of life but acknowledging that the alternative might be worse.
That is similar to how I felt when trying to find my way around the Charles De Gaul airport (CDG) for the third time in my 22 years of traveling to Africa. I have not figured it out yet. Ask me and I will tell you it is painful and unfair. Trying to find your gate. Is it 2E OR NOT 2E? The fact that I am now in Kenya means I figured it out but it was not without some angst.

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Trip Diary 2: Man’s Plan, God Directs

My (original) itinerary was Thursday Portland to Seattle then Friday, Seattle to Amsterdam then on to Nairobi Kenya. The flight from Amsterdam to Kenya was to be a KLM flight. Then a (not so) funny thing happened on my way to Seattle, KLM announced that long-haul flights were being suspended. Now what? I contacted the travel agent and he offered to cancel the trip. I decided to head to Seattle and figure it out from there (here). It all worked out. Instead of arriving in Nairobi on Saturday night it will be Sunday morning.

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Trip Diary 1: It’s Time to Get Back to Africa

It has been almost a year since I’ve posted a report in the ITEM blog. I will be on my way to Kenya in a few days so the reports (we are now calling them “Trip Diary”) will resume. Things have changed. Yahoo cancelled their Groups and Group-emails all together and deleted all information and mailing lists, so we are trying to reconstruct this list from the ground up.

Because of Covid and the added rules for crossing borders in Africa, I will be in Kenya only. Between January 22 and February 6, when I am back home, I will be involved in three strategic meetings, a seminar, and meetings with our teams in Kenya and Uganda.

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