Dear Friends and Family,
I am in the Rwanda airport lounge awaiting my flight back to Nairobi. Don’t come to this lounge is you are looking for air conditioning. It is HOT in here. But I digress.
I met this morning with team reps from Rwanda and Burundi. Being a hard core city-slicker, I enjoy Kigali. Rwanda, in general, has made an amazing turnaround since the genocide in 1994. It is one of the safest, most peaceful countries in all of Africa. And Kigali is a beautiful city….correction…a beautiful CITY. The CITY is clean and orderly. Cars even stop for pedestrians in cross walks! I look forward to my next trip to the CITY of Kigali.
A CHURCH WORTH WRITING ABOUT
We began our time together by observing and applying the first 10 verses of 1 Thess 1. They were a church known for its faith, hope, and love (v3). We answered the question, “what is the gospel?” after reading v 5 that mentions it. Gospel: God is holy. Man is sinful and deserves God’s wrath. Jesus took the wrath in our place. The response God now waits for is repentance and belief (faith) in what Christ did. This is not always clearly taught in Africa. Paul noted that the word came to them both in power and by example (v5). We are not just to proclaim the gospel, we are to model it. That church became imitators of Paul and the Lord even after receiving the gospel in much affliction (see Acts 17:5-10). We also are to become imitators of Paul and Jesus. They turned from idols to God and their transformation had gone out throughout the region. We applied this, saying this is the kind of church we want God to use us to help raise up as we work with pastors.
THE IDOL OF TRADITION
The church in Thessalonica put aside their idols to follow the Lord. I asked them for parallels in their context and I got the answer I was expecting. The typical African is captive to their traditions. They fear the spirit world and seek protection from the witchdoctor or the “powerful man of God,” which leads many pastors to put on a powerful show to draw a crowd of those looking for protection.
OUR MISSION: REVIEWED
We also discussed ITEM’s Mission: To promote the true gospel and help raise up vibrant, strong, healthy churches. Note, I did not say our mission was to train pastors. Most “training” pastors receive does not find its way into the church. Thus, our mission focuses on church transformation.
The rest of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the game plan for these two countries. Our game plan includes each trainee attending two seminars and up to two years of small group mentoring where we pray they end up being godly examples, equippers, and Bible expositors.
We also talked about the necessity of keeping very good, complete records.
RECORD KEEPING AND TRANSMISSION
As we talked about good record keeping and how to get their records to us, it became obvious that each country needs its own laptop. It’s a little difficult to keep ministry records on a phone and then transmit them from the phone to us in the US. They also asked about a point and shoot camera for each team to use to take pictures.
TESTIMONIES AND STORIES
I also mentioned to them how important it was that we get testimonies and stories of transformed lives and churches because of our training. It is one thing to hear how they have benefited by what we have taught them but getting second generation testimonies and stories are what we need for them to report.
As we talked, I realized that we were overlooking some areas of their training. They want guidance on how to conduct mentoring meetings. They confessed they need more instruction on the tough subjects of modern-day apostles and prophets, signs, miracles, and so called personal revelations. They do not oppose ITEM’s teaching on these issues. They just don’t know how we arrived at our conclusion. I came away with some ideas of how we can continue to equip and prepare them to work effectively with pastors and their churches.
“PREACHING IS HARD”
After lunch when we were walking back to the guest house, Dominique told me that when he talks to pastors about preaching sermons that go verse by verse through books of the Bible the response he frequently gets is, “That’s hard!” I asked him what was hard. He said the preparation. EXACTLY!
I tell our seminar attenders all of the time, “Preaching is easy! The hard part is the preparation.” That is exactly what God said thru the Apostle Paul.
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching (1 Tim 5:17).
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
When I was preaching weekly, I told people I felt like I was preparing to present a verbal term paper each Sunday. It’s hard work. Preaching is the fun part.
Wednesday morning I will fly the short distance to Kisumu, Kenya (see picture album for the map) then jump in a car with the Kenya reps and drive to Busia (see picture album for the map). I’ll do the same thing Thursday morning with the Kenya and Uganda reps that I did with the Burundi and Rwanda reps today.
- For safe travel, health, strength and stamina for me.
- For my wife, Brenda, who has been diagnosed with bronchitis while dealing with the lingering effects of the flu. Her ticket to return home is Wednesday. She does not want to lose the ticket. Pray for God’s grace and strength. She is very weak.
By His grace,