Dear ITEM Partner,
As the members of our leadership teams from Kenya and Uganda shared updates with me, I was moved emotionally. At one point I thought I was going to tear up but stopped one inch short. The stories told by Hillary, Noah, Danis, David, Tom, Apollo, and Jacob (not a team member……yet) were over-the-top encouraging. There is a LOT going on that even I do not know about! And then when Jacob shared his story and challenge an entire opportunity opened up.
I wish I had just turned on my video camera and let it run as the men talked. But I didn’t. Space will not allow me to share everything but here are some highlights.
Hillary-ITEM Coord, Uganda: The Uganda team has started going through the mentoring syllabus on their own in preparation for each one mentoring pastors. Hillary has all of 2019 planned out in regard to his ITEM schedule.
Noah-ITEM team member, Uganda: He is committed to exposition and his church is growing as he practices it.
Danis-Kenya team member: He is preaching expository messages. He has had some leave his church because they had unbiblical beliefs and didn’t want to receive correction from the Bible. But others are coming in. People in his church are asking for Bibles so they can study at home in advance of his sermons. He is mentoring 15 people some, of which, have changed to expository preaching from prosperity preaching. Danis is working with Apollo to establish a Bible school in a Kenyan prison.
Tom-Kenyan team member: I could write a full page on Tom alone. He does evangelism work in Sudan and Egypt among the Muslims. He recently baptized 21 Arabs. He is using ITEM notes to teach people in his church. When they are done, they get a certificate. He is part of a team (all ITEM team members) who have a school in Kisumu, Kenya where they are offering a Bible diploma.
Apollo-ITEM Coord in Kenya: He works with Tom and Danis in the school just mentioned. He has been conducting seminars in Kenya and is getting men registered to begin the mentoring process. Apollo mentioned an ITEM team member in Kenya who is educated but who was also erratic in his beliefs. But the training he has received from ITEM has stabilized him.
AN UNEXPECTED OPEN DOOR
The last one to speak was Jacob, who is being mentored by the ITEM Kenyan team. Jacob introduced himself and mentioned that he is secretary of the national youth association. He said that they youth needed the same training being offered to pastors. That was music to my ears! After confirming his official connection to the youth association, I asked him to help us pioneer a youth ministry in Kenya. He agreed!
THE AFRICAN CHURCH IS LIKE A HUGE OAK TREE
An old oak is huge above the ground and the root system, that we do not see, is huge as well. That is the African church. We say, “It is a mile wide.” That is what we see with our eyes. Almost 50% of the continent claim to be Christians. The root system is the cultural traditions they have grown up with. For a life to be transformed, the must be a repudiation of many of the traditions the traditional African grows up with. You don’t pull up the oak tree by its roots easily and you don’t change African thinking very easily either.
ON SUCH EXAMPLE
I heard traditional belief today that I had never heard before. Not only is polygamy practices in these countries but it is encouraged by traditionalists. Why? Follow the logic: If a man can manage 10 wives, 50 children, and 100 grandchildren, he has proven he can lead and is made a leader and could end up the tribal chief. TRUE!
Now apply that in the church. Traditionalists want the same for their pastor. Several wives provides status for the pastor. So, pastors keep adding wives.
DON’T BE IN A HURRY. IT’S A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT
Tom was explaining this to me. I passionately asked him, “So, what is the answer?” His answer didn’t surprise me. It is the same answer I would have given: TEACH THE TRUTH
But remember the analogy of the oak tree. An oak tree is not removed by one swing of the axe nor are the roots removed with bare hands. It takes a LONG time. That is hard to accept by many in the west who are used to instant this and instant that.
The roots of African traditionalism are generations old. Tom affirmed that change takes a long, long, long time. And we need to be patient and just keep preaching truth and working with pastors. It begins with the pastor but doesn’t end until it reaches his church.
I mentioned him yesterday and got more details today. Dr (a science degree actually) David Owuor is a self-proclaimed prophet. He began with a message of repentance and holiness. Followers arose. And he went from being a preacher of repentance and holiness to “THE PROPHET” who now declares that the only way to God is through “THE PROPHET.” Wherever he goes, throngs receive him. He is treated like no one of royalty is treated. Streets are cleaned and garments laid in the streets as he advances.
These are only some of the things I heard today. Our teams in these two countries are confident and capable, and they are making a difference one life, one pastor, one church at a time. We pledged to do a better job of reporting on what is doing among them.
Tomorrow, Friday, Hillary and I head to Kampala, 3-4 hours by road. We’ll spend the night there. On Saturday we’ll drive to the location of Shannon Hurley and SOSMINISTRIES-Uganda (SOS-Sufficiency of Scripture) to see what he is doing and to see if there is some way we can work together. We’ll be there for church Sunday morning before heading back to Kampala on Sunday eve. I leave for home from Uganda on Monday.
For these teams, for continued fruit
For Hillary, Shannon, and me as we talk of possible cooperation on similar goals in Uganda.
For my wife-update, she forced herself to make her flights on Wednesday an got home. She is still not well but at home. Pray for her recovery from a severe bout with the flu and bronchitis. Thanks.
By His grace,