Dear Friends and Family,
My first title for this post was “NEVER A DOUBT.” That would have been tongue in cheek. We began the day with a car that would not start. Next, the car kept stalling as we moved towards our destination. Then Google Maps took us the LONG way around and we found ourselves in a small compact on a dirt road under construction (see pictures) and I was beginning if we would escape without having to be pulled out of impossibly tight quarters. But once we did actually arrive the title changed dramatically to “A FISH IN WATER.”
The car problems ended up being caused by a loose battery cable. Once we figured that out and found a way to get a tight fit, things worked fine.
The car we rented is a low-riding, front wheel drive compact. It was never meant to navigate dirt roads under construction with piles of dirt, narrow passage ways, and large rocks in the way. But that is exactly what Google maps guided us into. Nathan had been here before but came from a different direction so he was trusting Google. Bad idea. We came to,
essentially, a dead end with no room to turn around. The only option was to back out. Nathan masterfully backed our way out of trouble. And with a zig here and a zag there, we were on our way again. What he expected to be a 30-minute commute ended up being at least an hour. Thanks Google!
ITEM RESOURCE CENTER ESTABLISHED
Our purpose for traversing to Bungoma, Kenya was to establish the first ITEM Resource Center where pastors in rural areas can come to study the Bible and prepare sermons.
This center was offered by Pastor Samuel Wanjala, whom I’ve known for three years. He’s proven to be a persistent and faithful servant of the Lord. He moved from the city, Nairobi, to the rural area and has built a good ministry with a church, his home, and a place for kids, some of which are orphans.
Samuel has been using ITEM seminar notes to train pastors on his own. He has asked us to certify what he is doing but he is not an official member of our team so we couldn’t. But that didn’t stop him. Then he offered to let us use his facility as a resource center and name it the ITEM Resource Center of Bungoma. We were slow to accept his offer. Nathan .. first checked it out and give his approval. On this trip we made if official.
A FISH IN WATER
Dictionary.com defines “a fish out of water” as “A person away from his or her usual environment or activities.” A fish in water, then, is a person who is in his or her usual environment or activities.
After talking with Samuel or awhile, he brought Nathan and I out to his outdoors church area to a group of perhaps 125 people who were there to hear us. Samuel gave us a wide variety of topics: Salvation, OT and NT, tithing, baptism. Nathan started by greeting them then turned it over to me.
All of a sudden, the Spirit within me engaged and my spirit came alive. And this “teacher” (the gift given to me by God) jumped into his environment (the Word) and for the next 75 minutes, the Spirit was leading
me from passage to passage. We went from Eph 4, to Matt 28, to Rom, to Acts 2 tying together all of these topics. If there is ever a time I feel “in the Spirit” it is when I am teaching. It was an incredible time, I believe. Part of that time was answering questions, which is also challenging and stimulating. Sometimes, when a question is asked, I hesitate and think, “I wonder how I am going to answer. I can’t wait to find out.” Here are some of the questions and my answers.
Q: My pastor is living an ungodly life and is going to be baptizing me. What do you say about that?
ANS: Why are you going to that church in the first place? (Everyone got the point and laughed.) Find another church with a pastor who is living a godly life.
Q: We are supposed to repent of our sins and believe the gospel to be saved. If we are saved, are we still supposed to repent if we sin?
ANS: I took a long time to define that transformation that takes place in salvation and how salvation makes us a slave of righteousness and gives us the desire to live for God. But we are human and the flesh wars against the Spirit in us and we do not always do what we want. That is when walking in the Spirit comes in. So, I tied together Rom 6, 7 and Gal 5. Then I turned to 1 John 1:9 and explained that true followers of Christ are those who confess t heir sin as a way of life. Repentance is ongoing for the believer.
Q: I have a small church. The pastors with big churches are selling anointing oil, brooms, and other things. This is tempting me to start selling these things also. What would you recommend?
ANS: I read to him 1 Cor 4:1-2 that describes us as “stewards” and that “stewards” are to be found faithful. I asked him one question, “Do you want to be successful or faithful?” He said, “Faithful.” I said, “That is the right answer.” And I shook his hand.
Q: America just registered the church of Satan. (I am not sure what specifically he is talking about.) What do you say about that?
ANS: America is not different than Kenya. Only Israel is God’s chosen nation. America was established on principles from God’s Word. But as
time has gone on, America has moved farther and farther from God. Now we allow people of the same sex to get married. We are celebrating men who become women, and women who become men. I believe America is being judged by God according to Romans 1. We as a nation have turned our back on God and the result is what we are seeing in our culture. So, recognizing a church of Satan doesn’t surprise me.
There were a few more but I’ll stop there.
THE WEEK AHEAD
After the time in Bungoma, we drove to Busia, Kenya, on the Uganda border. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we’ll meet with Pastor Hillary Wafula and talk about the Uganda ITEM ministry and we will drive back to Kisumu to spend the night. Fly back to Nairobi on Wednesday. And I’ll leave for home on Friday.
We continue to seek your prayers for strength and health. We are sleeping in our fourth different bed in the last four nights. But God’s grace is sufficient.
By His grace,