What Is Their Value?

Hi Everyone,

It’s Friday night in Nairobi. Tomorrow, Saturday, is when scheduled ministry begins.

I departed Portland on Wednesday after lunch. My flight to Amsterdam was on time but my departure from Amsterdam was delayed due to unscheduled maintenance and runway traffic. So, instead of arriving in Nairobi at 10pm, we landed at about 11:15pm. But that was only the beginning of what delayed me getting to bed at 3:30am.

After arriving 75 minutes later than expected, I had to wait a very long time for the two boxes of books that I brought with me to donate to the school where I started my missionary work in 1998 to be delivered to the baggage claim area.

But then it happened. I was intercepted by the customs agents wanting to know what was in the boxes. NOTE: I’ve brought 12 similar boxes of books over the past two years and have never had to pay duty. They are mine. Most are pretty old. And they are being donated to a school library. But this time it was different.

They opened one box right there as I was preparing to exit the terminal. Then I was taken with the boxes into the duty office. Then the “interrogation” began. Hour, give or take, I was asked “What are their value?” “How many book are there?” I was as honest as I could be. I answered “I don’t know” to both…. SEVERAL TIMES because they kept asking me the same questions. I tried to explain that I bought them when I was a student and pastor and that all ended a long time ago. But they kept asking. I “think” they wanted to me come up with some extravagant value so they could tax me on the figure I gave to them. After this went on and on, I asked them this, “Their value here with theology students? You? Me? Or people in the US?” They chose people in the US (probably because people in the US have more money). My answer: “Zero because people are not interested in old books like these. And pastors are starting to rely on digital books. So, at home I would have to throw them away or give them to a charity who would try to sell them.”

Then they asked me to go and come back “tomorrow” when I know the value. I assumed, at this point, they were trying to wear me down and pay just so I could go. But I didn’t go along. I told them, “The value tomorrow will be the same as right now….’I don’t know the value and do not know how to determine the value.’” They asked how much I was willing to pay. “$25 I told them.” They just smiled and said NO. I asked what their best deal was. They said “$100 per box.” I don’t know if they wanted to start negotiating between $25 and $200 or not but I wasn’t going to play the game. So, I said, “No way. I am leaving. I am not coming back. You can have the books.” And I left. It was after 2:30am.

The school I am donating my library to sent a school rep back to the airport today with a letter signed by me giving the rep authority to pick up the books. He was going to negotiate a price the school would pay. I was told that in this case, by law, the average value on older, used books is $1 each and there are 60-70 books in the two boxes combined. Also, books are said to decline in value 40% a year. So these books have no commercial value and should not be taxed.

So, that is the story as to why it was 3:30am, after two long flights, that I got to bed.


Saturday I will be leading an apologetics seminar, working with a group of aspiring apologists in the morning and in the afternoon speaking to a new group. Topics will include: The value of worldview and knowing God’s Story, using Questions to Answer Hard Questions, why we believe God exists, and why believe Christianity is the one true religion. Then I will be preaching in a church on Sunday.


Two seminars in Rwanda, a two day seminar in Zimbabwe, and a one day seminar back here in Nairobi at the end of my trip.

Prayer requests:

  • Rest (after such a short first night)

  • Clarity as I speak

  • Receptivity and understanding for audiences

  • For power to stay on as we use computers and video projectors.

Thanks in advance for your prayers.

By His grace,


Here is the LINK TO PHOTO ALBUM to see a few new pictures.