Dear ITEM Partners,
I am halfway through Tuesday. I’ve taken my Covid test for entry into Rwanda on Thursday. It came back negative…. as expected. I met with the teams from Kenya and Uganda and heard some encouraging reports. And in just about an hour I leave for Pastor Hillary Wafula’s church to try out what I’ve learned in the area of apologetics. This will be my first “test under fire,” so to speak.
We went early back to the border where they have a test center. It was a simple process. We waited around for the results that they told us to expect within and hour but an hour later they said they would email results to me. When I got back in Wi-Fi range I checked and the test results were in…. negative as expected.
While I was waiting for the results, my driver and ITEM team member, Noah Fredrick, shared some of his ITEM experiences with me. Noah is a bright young man who understands what it is that we are striving to accomplish through ITEM’s ministry (Transforming churches one pastor at a time). And he demonstrates a great amount of wisdom and logical/critical thinking. He shared stories with me of how he has had to deal with some of the unbiblical teaching that blankets Africa and what, exactly, he did. He is learning the art of asking questions that, when answered correctly, biblically leads one away from the false teaching and to the proper teaching.
Noah also explained the strategy of local Muslims. They dig water wells and slaughter animals for food and give the food to hungry people to build relationships and them try to convert them to Islam. I asked Noah if wealthy Christians used the same strategy. He said they don’t have a heart for such things. Sad.
After realizing we were not going to get the covid test result while waiting, we went to the meeting place where I met with the ITEM teams from Kenya and Uganda. Most of the time I listened to each team member share what he’s been doing, the groups he is mentoring, and the positive results he is witnessing.
It was an encouraging time. Each of the men is committed to Bible exposition. And, for the most part, people who sit under that style grow to like it and are learning the Bible…in context.
One story I heard was that people who might not remember every story in the book of John, for example, who might not know what chapter a certain story is in, will know when another speaker is taking verses out context because they have learned the “big picture” of the gospel. That is just one example.
Another story goes the other way. One man rejected Bible exposition claiming it was a “Catholic tradition” and they aren’t saved. The man was obviously thinking about how Catholics have a lectionary and all give the weekly homilies out of the Catholic lectionary and it might come from several verses in sequence.
When this trip was first planned, there was no thought of an apologetics Q&A session after the team meeting. But at the last minute I asked Hillary about it and the next thing I know it was set up.
Answer a question with a question
I was uncertain about how to get things rolling but once we settled in, it was a fun time. I did explain as we got started that a good approach to apologetics is to get the questioner to start thinking by answering their question with a question. Here are some of the questions.
Q: Why does God bless some with cars and houses for honoring him and not others? Is it because they are not honoring Him? ANS: Your question assumes that having material goods and being wealthy is because God is blessing that person. Let me ask you a question. Where does that assumption come from? They acknowledged that this belief comes from their traditional religions. We ended up talking 20 minutes just about this. Then I asked them to list the “signs” that God is blessing someone. We ended up agreeing that wealth doesn’t necessarily point to God’s blessings.
Q: If everything that exists has a creator, including the universe, then who created God? ANS: I explained that before the creation story of Genesis, time, space, energy, and matter did not exist, whoever created time, space, energy, and matter had to exist outside of each of these. God exists outside of time and space. Hard to understand but true.
Q: Someone said there are asked this question. “Where is heaven?” They went on to explain that the one asking the question said they wanted to go there. ANS: The exact location is unknown but tell the person that you know the way. Jesus said, “I am the way.”
Q: If my ancestor never heard the gospel or anything about Jesus, was he sent to hell by God? ANS: Is God good? Is God just? Does God ever make a mistake? Does anyone go to hell because of God? The answer to these questions is yes, yes, no, and no. If someone is sincerely seeking God in their own way, God finds a way. I mentioned Cornelius in Acts 10 as an example.
Q: Some say Jesus is God. Others say Jesus is the Son of God. Which is true? ANS: If a person asks you that question, you ask them, “Where do you suggest we look to find the answer? We hope they say “the Bible.” Then we explain the doctrine of the Trinity and help them see that the Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all called God in the Bible.
Those in attendance (see picture in the album) enjoyed the time and asked if we could continue the discussion by email and virtually? I said “certainly.” The church has wifi. It is Hillary’s church and ITEM helped install Wi-Fi for this very reason. ITEM has also provided a video projector, Chromebook, and conference speaker to be able to do virtual teaching. So, we will be working together to set up regular virtual meetings to ask and answer questions. I told them that my objective would not be to answer their questions but to help them learn how to answer questions from a biblical foundation (i.e. biblical worldview).
It was a good day. Wednesday Tom and I will head back to Kisumu and I’ll fly back to Nairobi to spend one night. Thursday morning I’ll fly to Rwanda to meet with our team there.
Please pray that what was discussed and shared tonight will stick with those in attendance. Continue to pray for my health and strength and ability to get the rest and sleep I need. And, again, pray for our trip back to Kisumu via that trade route with many many trucks to navigate around.
By His grace,
CHECK OUT the new pictures with a couple of surprises.