Dear ITEM Partner,
Friday was a long, tiring day but well worth the energy expended!
We pulled out shortly after 8am and got to our location (see map) about 9:30. That was when devotion were to start, with introductions at 10 and the first of three sessions starting at 10:15. So, this is Kenya (an African country) and we started introductions at about 10:45 and the first of two sessions at 11ish. Since this was outside of the urban (Nairobi) area the organizers thought it would be best to have an interpreter. That makes the presentation almost twice as long. After lunch we had the second session which was shorter and we finished just before 4pm, which was the original plan anyway. But originally there was to be a tea break and three sessions along with lunch, all before 4pm.
My first presentation was on “Worldview,” which focuses on the answers to the questions about origins (why does anything exist?), identity (what does it mean to be human?), meaning (how and where do we find meaning for our lives?), morality (how do we know what is right and wrong), and destiny (what happens when we die). I explained how worldviews can be formed from culture, traditions, community, social media, and religion, and if religion, which one? I did a comparison of Islam and Christianity, why Christianity is the true religion, and then answered the question “how do we know Jesus is who He said He was?”
After that talk, when I emphasized that every human being is made in the image of God, a pastor asked me to respond to the comment “God is not African because we are made in His image and all of the picture of God and Jesus show them as white.” I told them that the Bible says that God does not have a body and His image is spiritual not material. Another commented that in some regions they are teaching that they have a black Jesus. I teach them to always ask the other person their source of authority. That usually exposes a false belief.
During the second session I covered “God’s Story” which has four chapters: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. I explain that at the end of the first chapter everything is very good. But in chapter 4, heaven and earth are being recreated. Then I ask “why, what happened?” the answer? Chapter 2, the fall. Sin entered God’s creation and turned it on its head. Everyone and everything were cursed. As a result, every evil possible invaded God’s “very good” creation. And I explained that if you learn this story and all of the ramifications, you will be able to answer most of the “hard” questions.
During my discussion of the creation of man and woman, I point out that the man and woman were created in a way that they can come together as “one flesh” and through the sexual union have babies and multiply and fill the earth. Then they were to subdue and rule over creation to provide for human flourishing. I used that to talk about the improper views of sex in the cultures. I mentioned that marriage in embedded into creation as much as natural laws. And that God intended for marriage, sex, and babies to be a “package deal.”
After the talk, one woman mentioned a question of her daughter, “Mommy, why are the picture of Jesus white? Was he a white man?” The mom answered that Jesus was Jewish and Jewish people are white. Then she went on to tell her daughter that “we” are not Jewish . . . etc.
I complimented her on her answer and suggested that she did more than answer the question, BUT that was OK.
A final principle I tried to get across was that we should try to avoid letting others put us on the defense and we do that by asking them questions as a response to their questions; questions like, “What do you mean by that? Give me your definition.” And, “how did you come to that conclusion?” And “what are your sources of authority?”
After our time, a bishop from 5-6 hours away was highly complimentary and said they needed this in his region. I started asking him questions and he said it was simple to understand and practical. That was definitely an answer to prayer.
Apologetics can get pretty heady and philosophical but I’ve asked the Lord to help me make it practical and usable by the “common man.”
Jerry Matte, the man who is with me, who is joining the ITEM team, and who is finishing up his Masters of Theology degree told me at dinner, “This is needed everywhere, even in the States.” I agreed them mentioned to him it is hard to get an audience in the US for this kind of training. But it isn’t difficult here!
Saturday we head to another area 2-3 hours away. Patrick, the young man who is organizing all of this, his mother lives in that area so we will have lunch with her before checking into our hotel for Saturday night in preparation for preaching and another seminar on Sunday.
One final story. Patrick has watched me twice now. I told him during one break, “you can give these lectures also!” He agreed and wants to start practicing with me in the future. Praise the Lord. This is just what I had hoped for when I started this apologetics emphasis under ITEM.
Please pray that what was taught today will (mostly) stick, for a restful night, a safe day of travel, and prepared hearts for Sunday. It was disappointing that the vast majority of the pastors who were invited to come today didn’t come. Pray that the pastors in the new area will attend. Thanks for praying.
By His grace,