Dear ITEM Partner,
Yesterday, Sunday, was a very long but fruitful day. As I mentioned in my very short report yesterday, it started with me preaching at the church that hosted the apologetics seminar Saturday. I was asked to peach about the “church.” So, I used Ephesians 4:11-16, which is the basis of our E-4 Church Strategy.
APOSTLES AND PROPHETS: THEN AND NOW
The passage begins with a statement about apostles and prophets being gifts (or gifted individuals) who were given to the early church. Using Eph 2:20, 3:3, 3:5, I demonstrated that those apostles and prophets were specially gifted men who received direct revelation from God, which they then told Christ’s followers, and wrote down (apostles) in letters to churches and Christians. This was necessary because the Scriptures were no available yet and God needed a way to get His message to the early church.
Then using Jude 3, I pointed out that now that we have the completed Scriptures (Bible) there is no longer the need for these special gifts and therefore no longer apostles and prophets that we see in the NT.
That gave me an opportunity to warn them of a movement (in the US it is referred to as the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR) where self-appointed apostles and prophets are declaring that the church is to be governed by this new breed and that the entire church, including the pastor, is to submit to them and that blessing, and success is dependent upon said submission.
This is also a huge threat in Africa, though it is not known by that name (NAR).
EMOTIONS AND AUTHORITY
Anyone that has participated in or observed a typical worship service here in Africa is well aware of the very (unnecessarily) loud (in my opinion) music and vocalists, and the ENERGETIC dancing that comes with it. In yesterday’s service, it went on for a straight 30 mins.
This reminded me or recent things I’ve read and heard. Those who are working closely with our younger generation note that emotions (the way they FEEL about something) becomes the authority in the matter they are “feeling” about. In other words, what their feelings tell them, they accept as truth. (Obviously that doesn’t apply to all but is a generally guiding principle.)
With that in the back of my mind, I started my message by affirming their enthusiastic worship and then read Romans 12:2 that tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. So I asked them to set their emotions aside while I preached and to turn their minds on.
After church we drove another hour further outside Nairobi to do there what I did in Nairobi Saturday.
There is a news flash coming in so I need to cut this short. Let me just say it was another great response. There were 180 in attendance. One group came from 125 miles away. When we were driving the 90 minutes back to the guest house, Patrick, my host for the weekend, said that I made apologetics sound like something even the common man can apply and he to me he wanted to become an apologist! Music to my ears.
WE NEED TO INTERRUPT THIS REPORT FOR SOME BREAKING NEWS
I had to get up before 4am to get my 4:30am ride back to the airport to catch my flight to Burundi. I spent about 3.5 hours with our team, hearing their individual updates. They are a well-organized, top-tier group with influence throughout the country. But I must say the last hour was MY highlight.
A burden for the next generation
My last topic was bringing them up to date on our transition to Chris McMillan’s leadership of ITEM by the end of this year and my transition to the development of an apologetics ministry under ITEM’s list of ministries.
I asked them if they knew the term “apologetics.” They did not. So, I explained the concept and how it comes out of 1 Peter 3:15. I then shared my burden for huge percentage of the next generation in our country that grow up in a Christian home and go to church, who are leaving the church when they move out on their own. And my burden for the next generation in Africa who are losing interest in church.
I mentioned how I observed so much emotion (singing and dancing) yesterday in church and they acknowledged it was the same here. But when it comes to sitting and listening to God’s Word begin taught, they don’t hang around. This all sounds identical to how one writer describes them. They listen with their eyes and think with their emotions. Natasha Crain, in her book Faithfully Different asserts that emotions are their authority.
A common burden and an answered prayer
When I got done sharing my heart and burden, Alphonse spoke up and let us know that he has been thinking a lot about this himself. He sees how the youth of Burundi are being influenced by what they see and hear coming out of “the West.” And how the influence is not good, and that he has been praying asking God for someone to help him in this burden. I may be the answer to his prayers.
Alphonse speaks enough English that we will be able to communicate by text and Zoom. I promised him that I would do some research and try to figure out where we start.
I had no idea that this would come of my time in Burundi but I am getting the feeling that I will find this response everywhere.
Thanks for praying. Tuesday I am heading back to Nairobi for one night. Wednesday to Madagascar for two nights, then I start for home Friday.
I’ll add pictures from Sunday and Monday to the album. Here is the link to the album.
By His grace,