Dear ITEM Partner,
I was quite concerned when I received the result of my Covid test when it came back positive and the doctor apologized and said it was an in-house mistake and that he would write a note on the report letting airport authorities know it was a “false” positive report and that I was really negative towards Covid. I told him quite forcefully that the airport and airline authorities would not accept a hand written note on the printed lab report. And as he and I went back and forth, I woke up from my dream. Yes, I actually had that dream last night!
George (more on him in a moment) took me back to the South Nairobi Hospital to get my test result. I had to wait a few minutes but the entire back and forth trip took about an hour. Yes, I am negative. So, that should clear me to get home without incident. But in this upside-down world, it isn’t over until it’s over.
George Waswa is my taxi driver while I’m here in Nairobi. George and I go back 23 years, actually. He had been working at Mayfield Guest House for 29 years when it shut down due to Covid. I was able to get his contact information through a third party. When I contacted him, I learned that he was becoming a taxi driver. He had picked me up from or taken me to the airport in the past more times than I can count. So, asking him to be my personal taxi driver on this trip has put us back in touch with each other. He calls me dad because of the relationship and because he is young enough to be my son. (Calling an older man dad is cultural.) You can see us together in today’s assortment of pictures.
LUNCH MEETING: APOLOGETICS
I had a lunch meeting today with Steven Mzungu, an ITEM rep from the Nairobi, Mombasa, Kenya regions, and Kevin Muriithi, who was representing Apologetics Kenya.
We had a long, fruitful discussion about the need for apologetics in Africa. It was a learning time for me. “Apologetics” is learning to give an answer to people’s questions about Christianity. I’ve been reading, listening, learning, and engaging in this area of ministry for a few years now. But the need here are different than the needs in the West.
In the west where the number of atheists and skeptics are growing daily the questions that are asked over and over can be categorized in four or five areas: Origins (why is there something rather than nothing?), Meaning (what is the meaning of life?), morality (where do moral absolutes come from?), and destiny (what happens when we die?). A fifth that is sometimes added is “what does it mean to be human?”
But here is Africa, where the cultures are religious by nature, the questions seem to be more in line with textual criticism. Example: How could Deuteronomy have been written by Moses when the death of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy? Questions here are more on the micro level as opposed to the higher, more philosophical level.
As we talked, Kevin brought up the ideas of prosperity (as in the prosperity gospel) and African traditions (as in African Traditional Religions). I started asking questions about sources of authority and the pastor, elder, chief, patriarch is often considered the final authority, especially older pastors. Age equals authority, wisdom, knowledge.
Where I settled was at the more philosophical, macro level, the source of true knowledge and authority. I suggested that anyone in any culture and any tradition needs to be confronted with the question, “What is your source of authority.” To me, that is where I all begins. If we can get believers to put Scripture at the top of the list and accept the Bible as a sufficient and final authority, then we can start to compare our traditions and cultures to Scripture. My idea was to start training other apologetics that can reason through these issues with others, especially the “younger others.”
We committed to staying in contact. There is a possibility of having a one- or two-day conference on these issues when I come back in April, after Easter. It’s all just “thinking out loud” stuff right now but I’m hoping it will work out.
VIRTUAL PREACHING CLASS
My last official ministry opportunity was doing a virtual preaching class for Nathan. It is the begging of the term so I gave them an overview of preaching, including the what, why, and how, plus the priority and the pastor’s role as model/example.
This takes Nathan and I back 22 years when he was my student in my preaching class here in Nairobi. What wonderful memories.
To God be the glory!
By His grace,