Dear ITEM Partner,
Today, Thurs Feb 6, was the final day of rest before hitting the road (or should I say “the air”?). On Friday I start a stretch of 14 days and 11 flights in those 14 days.
Friday morning, I will take the 4hr30min flight to Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon to meet with our team.
TWO VALUABLE UNPLANNED MEETINGS
Pastor Steven Mzungu (Picture put in the album)
I had two unplanned meetings today that were worth mentioning. Pastor Steven Mzungu passed by to say, “Hi” and discuss ministry. Steven is an associate pastor of a church in the Nairobi area but his home and his passion is the same coastal region I mentioned yesterday. He has assisted in ITEM’s ministry there more than once.
Steven is a teachable young man who is committed to sound biblical doctrine and expository preaching. Unfortunately, he is in a church where his senior pastor is not committed to the same things.
Steven told me a story about Muslim Imams coming to Christ, who continue in their role in the Mosque (fearing what might happen if their conversion was made known) then attending church at night.
As I mentioned, Steven is from the coastal region and is considering moving his family back down there. Although the decision is strictly between him, his wife, and the Lord, it would be a great advantage if the Lord moved them there. With so much potential along the southwest Kenyan coast, around Mombasa, it would be a great benefit to have someone with Steven’s heart and commitment living there.
Peter from Rwanda (Picture put in the album)
The other unplanned “meeting” was over lunch with a follow up at dinner. I met Peter, and Africa Inland Mission missionary. He is Rwandan, trained in Australia, and working with youth leaders in Rwanda. Here are some of what I picked up from Peter.
Because of the growing influence of the prosperity gospel plus radical things being said on radio by so called preachers (one said all of the problems are caused by women and only the King James Bible is acceptable). the government has cracked down on the churches.
Eighteen months ago, the Rwandan government gave pastors 5 years to get a bachelors degree or have their church closed down. Churches that build buildings are required to install toilets and parking lots (even if the people who attend the church don’t have cars, which is the case in the villages). Peter said that the government is not anti-church, they are just anti-religious abuse coming from some churches and are trying to get control. Pastors are appealing. This, again, is why what we do is so crucial. Pastors who attend ITEM training learn the truth and are pulled away from such abuses.
As we talked, Peter confirmed things I have learned.
- Tradition and cultural influences in the church take a long time to overcome. (I tell people, it is like trying to pull up a 100 year old oak tree.)
- Leaders who are being trained need life on life mentoring. (We have a mentoring strategy.)
- The younger generation of youth leaders are connected to the world through the internet. Older, established pastors are not and there is a disconnect between the two generations. (This is a challenge we’d like to take on but need someone with that passion to take it on.)
I took Peter’s contact information. He is due back in Rwanda the day I leave (Feb 15) but I want to get him in touch with our team there. As you know, ITEM is committed to helping churches get healthy and a healthy church has a healthy youth ministry.
ALL TOO COMMON
In a conversation I had, I was told a story of how this person’s pastor ripped some Old Testament Bible passage out of context and preached 90 minutes trying to make an application that had nothing to do with the passage. He repeated himself repeatedly and people in the church commented that they got nothing from the sermon.
This is like too many sermons here!
I asked him what the pastor might say if asked, “How did you come up with that application from THAT passage?” I was told he would probably say, “The Holy Spirit revealed it to me.” This is very common here in Africa and this is why our training is so critical. As we learned in Bible school. The three most important things, when it comes to properly interpreting and applying a Bible passage is context, context, context. Pastors MUST learn this and apply it.
EASY COME EASY GO (Picture put in the album)
I usually have local currency left over that I take home and bring back on my next trip. Kenya replaced their highest note (1000 Kenya Schillings…worth $10 each) and I brought five of them with that were left over from the last trip.
By His grace,
Steve Van Horn