Dear Praying Friends,
I am at the Nairobi airport early. For the past two days I have been reflecting on the past 20 years and the years and what I am doing now and comparing my past focus with my current focus. It has changed.
For the first 19 years of ITEM’s history, the exclusive focus has been on equipping pastors with a biblical and theological foundation, and the ability to study and carefully teach the Bible to their congregations, for the purpose of seeing churches transformed. That is a long process. The focus has been on quality not quantity; especially in recent years when we have put mentoring into the training package. Several years ago I adopted the perspective of Abraham and others.
WHEN THINKING LONG TERM: QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
In Hebrews 11:13 we read, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance…” Abraham never entered the land promised to him in Genesis 12 but he saw the land from a distance. In the same way, when I committed ITEM to developing Bible expositors, I knew it would be a very long process but I could see it from a distance. And I would tell myself that if we/ITEM were successful at developing an army of Bible expositors in Africa, I may never see it with my physical eyes and I have been content with that. But things have changed for me.
WHEN THINKING SHORT TERM: QUANTITY COUNTS
With Chris McMillan soon taking over as the head of ITEM and focusing on the task of raising up expositors across Africa, with the years I have left in active international ministry I am focusing on getting critical messages to large audiences.
Dealing with false teachers
The sermon, “Why Do Christians Suffer?” that I preached in two places during this trip was received with great enthusiasm because false teachers were giving the nation unbiblical, self-serving answers to that question. So, the ones I am working with in Kenya are looking for ways that I can give that message on a widely viewed TV station.
Dealing with the looming LGBTQ threat
A second hot topic is the LGBTQ agenda that is creeping its way into the African cultures and the same men are looking for ways to expose more pastors to the treat and how to prepare their congregations.
Dealing with the attraction of Islam
A third hot topic in Kenya is Islam vs Christianity. Many youth in Kenya are turning to Islam simply because there is more financial security in Islam. Muslims offer jobs and financial assistance to those who convert to Islam. So, there is a need to get the attention of the Kenyan youth with the message, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Looking at southern region of Africa
While in Madagascar I met a man from Zimbabwe who has a church-based evangelism ministry that covers the southern region of Africa. We are interacting on the possibilities of bringing leaders form several southern African countries together for me to give them basic training in apologetics that they can take back to their respective countries.
Partnering with other apologetics groups
I am partnering with other apologetics groups, doing talks for them. One, “Apologetics on Mission (AOM),” which is less than an hour form ITEM’s office, is more academically inclined but they want to be involved at the local church level also, providing training for the average church member. They have asked me to think about how what I am doing fits into what they are doing with the thought that what I am doing fits their church strategy well.
Getting ITEM team involved in apologetics training
I am currently enlisting ITEM team members from around Africa to enroll at an online, 16-week, apologetics certificate course conducted online by AOM. I expect more of them to do the same soon.
Looking to Nigeria
In July I will be in Lagos, Nigeria doing apologetics ministry with a Nigerian man who has written an book on African apologetics. Between now and then we will be working on an agenda with a purpose of introducing as many pastors as possible to the need to teach their church members how to answer the hard questions others may ask them about the Christian faith.
Looking to Rwanda
In July I will also be in Rwanda, working with a young man who attended one of the online presentations I did for another group. We have not worked out an itinerary yet but will be working on that soon.
I am very excited about the doors that seem to be opening and in the remaining years of ministry, pray with me that I will be used of God to instruct, warn, teach, and train large groups in these critical issues. And pray that God will continue to give me health and strength to keep on keeping on.
My hill country
When I launched the ITEM apologetics ministry for the purpose of reaching youth in Africa, I remarked at the time I was identifying with Caleb in Joshua 14:10ff, when he said, “I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now… Now then, give me this hill country…”
Well, I am only seventy-five and my “hill country” are speaking to the issues mentioned above to as many as possible in the years of ministry that are still in front of me.
PICTURES: I put a picture in the album today of “John.” John was another of the guys that served me at Mayfield Guest House here in Nairobi for about 15 years before covid shut them down. He drove me to the airport today. His “boss” is George who also worked at Mayfield and has been my driver to and from the airport since Mayfield shut down. Also, I put captions to the pictures I uploaded yesterday. You might be interested in some of the comments.
CLICK HERE to view the album.
My touchdown in Portland is scheduled for around 11:20am PT Tuesday.
Thanks for praying.
By His grace,