Saturday, August 10, 2013

Update on Sukananga

I know it's been a while since we have updated but I wanted to let everyone know what was going on with the women in the slum ! Thanks to a couples donation we were able to send money to Alex who had been there at the beginning of the feeding program with us and took over when we left. He was able to get the women two sewing machines to give the women opportunities to make money for their families. They are being taught how to sew and are selling their creations on Fridays at the market. They have been so excited and thankful. He also took some of the money for the church Jerry preached at that was planted while we were there in a city about an hour and a half away. They are continuing to grow and there are about 150 + members there now. We just received another donation and are sending it next week so hopefully another sewing machine or two can be purchased. Just wanted to say thanks for all of the prayers and giving along the way. None of it would have been possible with out you. You don't know how much you have impacted these lives on the other side of the world !!!! Thank you !

Friday, April 19, 2013

Trusting God's Will

Since we've been back and even before we left really I've done a lot of questioning God. Why did I think this is what He wanted us to do ? Why did we sell everything? Am I just that stupid ? Why did I do this ? Just dealing with a lot of anger in general. Not understanding at all. Then the other day a friend said something that finally gave me peace. I was telling her how I was feeling like a failure and just really didn't understand God now. I feel some days like I am farther away from him than before all of this started. She she said God calls us to sell everything we own and give it to the poor and you did that. You proved to him that you were willing to do that and you accomplished everything you were called to do in just obeying him in that. It made me look at everything in a totally different way. Though i still have a lot of questions and am working on some things, I finally feel like I am on the road to "healing" from everything. I miss my kids so much, and I find myself throughout the day wondering what they are doing and figuring out what time it is there so I can think about what they might be doing now. Right now it's around 5 in the morning and they will be starting their day soon. Elias would be coming running up to me with the biggest smile and wanting me to pick him up and hug on him. Celine and Caren would be yelling Mommy and saying Good Morning !! (one of the few things in English they would say ) The 3 girls would also be crying about the fact that we put on a shirt or shoes they didn't want. The boys would be running around being loud and trying to escape from me putting on their shoes and jackets. I miss those moments, and I can't wait until Heaven where all of us can be together again !

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Little Update...

We have been home now for a little over 2 weeks. Trying to get settled in and back into a routine. Missing my babies a lot ! Everything makes me think of them ! But everything is falling into place so I know this is where God wants us for now, and doesn't rule out us going back in the future for whatever period of time that might be. Jerry got a position at a local church as a Youth/College Minister which is very excited about and he's also trying to start his own lawn care business so he can have winter months off so that would allow him/us to go back for a month or so to Kenya. I got a job at a doctor's office and started this past week. It went well and I'm looking forward to see what else God has planned in our story and getting to see my kids again. I will update when we have new information and I will try and get Jerry back to posting regularly !! :) Thanks again for all the prayers and support.

Monday, March 11, 2013

We are not called to be successful, but we are called to be faithful to God !

As some of you already know we are going to be leaving Kenya on Wednesday night. It is not what we want but like the quote for the title above we are trying to be faithful to GOD ! As we have been here these last 6 1/2 months we have made some amazing connections and relationships with people here in Kenya. Our hearts have grown more and more for these people and we want to minister to them any way we can. We have gotten to start a feeding program and Jerry has gotten to take part in a church plant and minister at many different churches here. Our board in the U.S. and we talked on Thursday and if we were to stay with them we wouldn't be able to deny our heart for outreach missions, and they need someone that can be with the children 24/7. This breaks my heart because I have come to love these children as my own, and for now I can't imagine life without them, but we feel this is God's leading and have to be obedient and trust in His leading and timing. We have plans to return in the future, we just don't know the timing or the purpose. So to make this post a little more light towards the end here are few things I'm going to miss and won't miss about our time here in Kenya ! We will continue to update you on our journey. Thanks for all of the prayers, encouragement, and support that has been given ! Please keep us in your prayers as we make this transition and try to understand God's will.

Things i'm going to miss:

1. Of course the kids ! For the first time in my life I finally got to experience what I have been jealous of my whole adult life. The look on kids faces when you come in from being gone and they have a huge smile on their face and coming running toward you like no one else is around. I have gotten to feel what it is like to be loved unconditionally by these kids, and learned so much from them !!

2. The hearts of the Kenyan people. They have been so welcoming. I'm going to miss all of the workers so much . Especially Naomy, she is around my age and I've built a special friendship with her. She told me today and it almost made me cry that she wanted my email and she would try and figure out how she could get an email account and use a computer so she could keep in touch. She is one of the sweetest people you will ever met. 3. They way the people here truly worship. They have no other distractions, and they can sit in a church service for 4 hours and still not get enough, while I am ansy and ready to go. It's taught me I need to work on that and I am selfish with my time.

Things I will not miss :

1. Smigel (sp?) the dog. He does not understand calm. I think it is his joy in life to terrorize the kids because they are petrified of him. He jumps on you, goes between your legs and trips you, etc.

2. Sweeping up rice and noodles off the floor. Do you know how hard that is when you have a tile floor with grout ?

3. Being stared at constantly because you are maybe the only white person someone has ever seen.

4. Having to track down a piki piki to go into town, and then sitting three to a motorcycle. Then fearing for your life the whole time you are on it because they drive so crazy !!

I will post more later , just wanted to give an update !! Thanks again for everything. We are truly blessed by everyone in our lives.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You Have to Change Yourself First

"A monk wrote more than 900 years ago, “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I could indeed have changed the world.”

Don Soderquist

If you are anything like me I go around most days thinking "If we would just change his attitude or what he thinks about a certain idea than everything would be better.", "Or if this would just happen things I would finally be happy." But after reading this quote the other day I got cut to the heart. How can I expect my situations or people around me to change without making a change within myself. It's very selfish of me, and I will never know true happiness ! We have to start with ourselves, as Ghandi said "Be the change you want to see in the world." How can I influence others if they don't see Christ in me ? It all has to begin with us. We have to be someone, that others see you and want to be like Christ as well. To be honest, that is not me most of the time. Like the quote says above all of the times in life I've been in turmoil over what someone else has done, if I had just changed myself in the first place or my thoughts things would have a lot different outcomes. So, all together we have to start working on ourselves, and maybe it will reach our families, and then our towns, and then other nations, and together we can change the world ! Please pray for me as I embark on this, and I will be praying for you !!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Enock

Today is Enock's birthday !!! His paperwork given to us by the government says he is only 1 and this was the birthday given to him. But we know he is older. It made me sad at first that these children don't know their real birthdays but then I got to thinking. When they get to Heaven, God is going to get to share everything with them they don't know about. Their name given to them specifically by God (Rev. 2:17) and all of this won't matter anymore. God will give them understanding about everything that happened. I can't wait for that either !!

Enock came to us the day after we arrived in Kenya, so he has been here for 6 months. He is the heaviest of the toddlers ! ha ! He loves his milk and food ! He has the best laugh. I love making him laugh. I love when he dances ! I tried getting a video the other night so I could post it but I think he knew I was filming ! He just started saying a few words like Mommy and Baba, and gari (car). He loves Barney when they sing If you are happy and you know it because he likes to shout Hooray !!! I love him so much, he brings so much joy to this house ! Happy Birthday Enock !!!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A little fact about Kenya

I know in America we go crazy over our birthday's and others but here in Kenya they are barely celebrated. Let me give an example. Today I went downstairs to talk to Maryann, she is the Kenyan house parent. I told her I needed cocoa to make Enock a birthday cake because his birthday was Saturday and could I get some at the little stand down the road. She said yes and she said oh Virgina, her daughter, has a birthday soon too. I asked when it was and she said today is the 27th right? And I told her it was the 28th. She said Oh!! Today is Virgina's birthday and we all started laughing. This was at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. So we told her happy birthday and we told her we would include her int he birthday party. It didn't phase her one bit, in America I know many little ones her age who would have thrown a fit. Back in November it was Peter's birthday. We found out about it and we made a cake and ice cream and threw him a surprise birthday party. He turned 34 and when he came in he started trying to serve to everyone else and we told him to sit down it was his birthday and it was his turned to be served. He said in all of his life that was the first birthday party he ever had or ever really celebrated his birthday.

Just thought I would share a random fact of some differences we have experienced here in Kenya. I'm excited to get to have a birthday party for Virginia, she turned 7 today. And I hope she will always remember it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I must become less

"He must become greater. I must become less." John 3:30

This verse has been on my mind lately. A friend of mine who awakened this desire in my heart to do world missions often quoted this verse. And as I'm sitting here in Kenya tonight I'm reminded that this can't be about me, that I have to become less and totally entrust myself to what God is doing. No matter how scary that is. I read a book a while back called It’s Not About Me. Most of my days are filled with "me" thoughts and I was reminded that it can't be about me. I go thru so many of my days with thoughts of how will this affect me, I want to be comfortable, I want this or that. But it's not about me. God has called me here for a reason, and though I may not be comfortable and most days would rather be home with my family, He has called me here for a reason. To love on kids that the world has abandoned and let them know how much their father loves them, and I have to remember that my time is not my own anymore. I have to get rid of my selfish desires to have everything my way, and let God become more and more. While I become less and less. It's not easy.While I fail God most days I know that He is doing something in me even when I can't see or feel Him.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Priscilla

Priscilla is around 4 years old ! She came here in September with her two sisters. She has a twin sister named Celline and an older sister named Alice. Priscilla may have the biggest personality in the house. She is always making us laugh. She loves to dance, anytime any music is on her and her sister and dancing along to it and it's always funny to watch. She also has the most attitude out of the girls! I have never met little girls so upset about not getting to wear what they want but when her, Celline, or Caren don't get the shoes they want to wear for the day they are not happy ! :) She is going to be a great mom when she is older. She is always trying to pick up the babies and carry them around or wants them to sit in her lap. Yesterday when Rachel was crying and I was trying to feed her she came over and patted her on the back and tried to help me feed her. I love watching the kids in the house how they take care of the smaller ones. It's so sweet ! Priscilla is going to be so much fun to watch grow up and she brings a lot of laughs to the home. I'm so glad I get to be a part of her story !!!

If you want to visit the Children with Hope website to get more information or to see about sponsoring any of the children Click Here !

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jared

This is Jared ! He is 1 year as of December ! He was one of the first children they got here at the home so he was here to greet us the first day we arrived ! Jared is nicknamed "Mr. Da" because there for a while that was all he would say is "da,da,da,da,da". Since then he has taken off past some of the two years olds. He likes to say Amen when they are praying for their meal and he says "Daddy, cho-lo-lo" The children get excited when dad comes home and they all chant this. I'm told it's just a way of them expressing their excitement. Jared is a very sweet boy, always smiling except for when he wants his milk and we don't get it quick enough ! ;) He just started walking right after his birthday and now he can't be stopped. He's always into everything, trying to climb things, and visiting the kids in time out trying to keep them company. We can't wait for him to get older and see all God has in store for him. He is growing up so fast !

Right now as I'm writing this I'm sitting here with Peter and Maryann's two girls, Virginia and Jane, and Alice. Their homework for Monday was to draw a picture of their family. I must say its pretty hilarious and I'm going to have to try and steal their pictures and scan them for everyone to see. Alice has a hard job she has about 20 people to draw in her family :).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Walking Through the Slums of Africa

I don’t know if you read my last blog post, but in it I talked about a woman in the slum who is suffering from an alcohol addiction. As a group we decided that we would pray for her every day and visit her once this week to offer support and encouragement. Today I walked over to the slum to do my part and see how she was doing. Once I arrived, she asked me to come into her house and talk for a while. I walked in and she graciously offered me a glass of milk. We sat down and talked to each other and it was very good. She said that she has been drinking less and less alcohol every day since we had our last meeting. Please pray for her as she continues to work through her addiction.

After we talked for a while, she begged me to go and take a look at her garden. She is so proud of it. She has a very small plot of government owned land where they allow her to grow food, provided she takes care of the trees that the government wants to grow. I asked her if her garden was close by, and she promised that it was so we began to walk to her garden. We started walking and about 15 minutes into our walk I asked her if we were close and she replied, “Yes, it’s just right up here.” So we kept walking. While we were walking we stopped at several places and she introduced me to her relatives and friends. During our walk I would periodically ask her if we were close and she kept saying yes. By the time we finally arrived to her garden, we had walked for over an hour. After we looked around a little bit, I told her that I needed to return home. So we walked about another 15 minutes where I could finally get some transportation. As we were getting close she thanked me for walking with her. She said that everyone will now think I am an important person, because I was walking around with a “mzungu” (white person). I laughed at it, even though she is right. They do think that. I think it is funny how being over here in Kenya you are instantly famous and important because of your skin color. Finally, we arrived to our destination and we said goodbye and I headed home.

It was a good trip, but of course, I got sunburned. We’re so close to the sun over here. My tan lines are very impressive. Anyways, while we were walking I kept having a Bible verse pop into my mind. Matt 5:41 “If a soldier demands you carry his gear a mile, then carry it for him two miles.” The whole time we were walking I kept thinking about how inconvenient this was making my day. I know this isn’t good, but it’s true. I mean we were walking in the complete opposite direction of where I live, and she kept saying we were close when we were not. Obviously, her and I have a very different definition of what the word “close” means. But I was glad I went. I think that’s what Jesus would have done. I don’t want to just be the person that hands this woman food one day a week. I want her to know that I actually care about her and genuinely want to get to know her. I think that’s what it really means to love someone. I mean you can give away everything you own to the poor, but if you don’t have love then what’s it matter. It’s not about the deed that you do, it is about loving that person. It’s not the point that I walked over an hour, the point was showing love and showing this woman that she is worth my time and that I genuinely care about her. I was glad I went even though throughout much of the trip I had the wrong attitude. It helped teach me how to better love people.

Maybe there is someone in your life that is, to be honest, just an inconvenience to you. They constantly want to take up your time. Maybe they are lonely or just really look up to you. They are always asking you to do stuff for them. The truth is you have to set boundaries. The truth is that you can’t spend time with everybody. But still, I want to encourage you to “go the extra mile” with the people in your life. Maybe a lonely friend is trying to talk to you. Instead of just trying to end the conversation and move on with your life… Stop!... Talk to that person and show a genuine interest and concern in their life. Show this person that they are valuable and you are honored and blessed to spend time with him. I mean lets be honest, Jesus could have stayed in heaven and it would have been much more convenient. But he came down and lived with us for more than 30 years, and he now lives inside of us. He does all this to show us that we are worth a lot to him and he wants to be with us.

Show this same love to the people in your life. If someone ask you to walk a mile with them, than go two. If someone asks you to go eat dinner then invite them to your house afterwards to spend more time with them. (Unless it’s a date that is not going to good!) It’s never an inconvenience to love people, because it brings great joy to the Father.

Be blessed!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sukunaanga Slum: Week 2

Hey guys. If you have bee reading my past blogs you know that my wife and I have started to minister in the Slum of Sukunaanga nearby our house. Things have been going great. So really quick I wanted to say thanks to our donors who have made this possible. This past Friday and Saturday we had our feeding program and also we had our second Bible study. I wanted to share with you all the great things that our happening in these women's lives.

On Friday, we had our feeding program as usual. The women showed up with their bags and we distributed their food to them. This is what we refer to as our "access ministry" with these people. The people living in this slum have been promised a lot of help by different politicians, missionaries, and other churches and have been let down. They have had to go through so many broken promises, that when someone says their going to help them, they don't believe it until it actually happens. Since we have honored our commitment to help these people out who are all single mothers with aids, they know that they can trust. We are gaining a reputation with them of being giving, helpful, and trustworthy people. Once these people develop more of a relationship and a higher level of trust with us, then it opens up more opportunities for us in other areas of their lives, like the Bible Study we are doing.

On Saturday, we had our second Bible Study. It went so well. We had 16 women show up, so that is 80% of the people that are in the program. The Village Elder advised us to move the study to the same day as the feeding program so that we could force them all to do the study in order to get their food. We decided against that idea. We told the women that they don't have to come to the Bible Study in order to get food. It is not mandatory. We just told them we would appreciate their attendance. We don't want to "coerce" people into coming to the study. We want people to come that are very serious and genuinely wanting to study the Word of God. If they don't come that is fine. We will still work with them. I tell you this to say that I am so excited that 80% of these women who are non-church goers have agreed to come to this study, even though they don't HAVE to.

During our study, the women had to go around and say something good that was happening in their life. Almost all of these women said the program we were doing and how much it was changing their lives. And it has just started! One woman said that she had completely stopped praying until we had started our program. Another woman said that she had a sick daughter, and that she prayed for her and the next day she was in her words, "miraculously healed." All of the women were sharing stories like this.

After this, the women have to go around and say a struggle that they were having last week. I want to share 2 of the stories. A woman named Mary Towei confessed that she was an alcoholic and got drunk every day and that she needed help. The other 5 people in her group agreed to pray for her every day for a week and committed to go visit her at least one time before our study next week just to offer support for her sin and struggle and to be there to lift her up if she stumbles. It was so amazing. Another woman, named Jane, is an HIV+ women who is a single mother of 7 children. Her husband abandoned her once he found out that she was positive. So the other women in her group agreed to go visit her at least once next week to talk to her and help with her children if they are able.

It is so amazing to see these "poor, struggling" women come together to love each other and minister to each other. It blows my mind how good of hearts they have. God is really moving in their lives. After this we finished our study out of Genesis and the women were sharing with each other everything they were learning about the story we had just studied. We had an amazing time, and I love being to able to share the word of God with these women. This all happened in just one Bible Study. So I can't wait to see these women transformed. Praise God!!!

Also, next week we will start training the women in the area of agriculture. After this, they will be growing their own fruits and vegetables and hopefully have some left over to sale. This part is mandatory to be in the program. We want to see these women grow to the point that they are no longer having to rely on American funds. They need to be empowered. So please pray for these women and the upcoming weeks of our program.

Be blessed!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Asa

I thought I would start talking about one of our precious children every now and then so you could get to know them and their cute personalities. Asa has been here with us since our second day in Kenya. He is around 4 years old. He has the cutest face and voice. Everyone at the house thinks Asa will be a preacher when he grows up. He is often heard at night in his bed singing and "preaching". I love to hear him sing when we do our devotionals every night before bed. He is often one of the leaders of the songs and knows them by heart better than most of them. One day we were outside and it started thundering and Asa pointed up to the sky and shouted "MUNGU!" which means God. He has more energy then we can handle most days but he also has one of the biggest hearts. On several occasions when another kid is crying over a toy Asa has that they want he has given them the toy. He has his share of moments every day where he gets sent to time out :) But when you see his cute little smile and hear him say sorry you can't stay mad at him. I can't wait to see him grow up and see everything he will do.

If you want to find out any information about sponsoring the kids here or have any questions follow the link to the Children With Hope website ! Children With Hope

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Short-Term Mission Trips, Good or Bad?

What are your thoughts on short-term mission trips? Are they good or bad? The arguments can go on and on. First, lets take a look at some of the cons of short-term mission trips...

They are not cost effective. Let me use an example of personal experience. I have been on 2 mission trips to central America where the focus of the trip was on building houses. It was an amazing trip, and I had an awesome time. We worked our butts off and worked sun up to sun down every day. We built a lot of houses and people that desperately needed better housing got it. It was a successful trip. But what about the cost? By the time my team and I paid for flights and living expenses, our team of around 10 people probably spent around $10,000 by the time it was over. What would have happened if we just had raised that money and sent it over to the place and had local people build the houses? They very easily would have been able to build way more houses than what we did. Obviously short-term mission trips cost a lot of money that could be spread a lot farther if we just gave it to the local people.

Often times, short term missions undermine the abilities and giftings that God has given to the people of the country that you are ministering in. Allow me to use an example from the same mission trip mentioned above. While my friends and I were building these houses, young healthy local men would often times be sitting down on the ground just watching us work. They were not lazy. There was just nothing to do, because we were doing all of it. They could drive a nail just as good as I could. (probably better.) It was going to be their house, but yet I was the one building it and they were watching. Another thing to consider is that often times in the third world countries that we minister in are characterized by high unemployment rates. If we just sent money to them instead of going, these people could be hired to build these houses for themselves.

The underlying message that we are sending. What happens when we just give handouts to people? I'm not talking about emergency situations for relief efforts. I am talking about people and places that this is just their typical way of life. What message are we sending to them when we just give them handouts? We are saying that they need us. They can not provide for themselves. They just have to rely on our generous giving. We teach them that they don't have the skills or resources to improve their situation. All they can do is sit by and watch us build their house for them. This type of mission work can make people feel useless and unable to help themselves. It makes them feel unworthy and "less than" us.

Finally, what are the long term affects of what we are doing? Lets pretend that I start a feeding program for starving people in Ethiopia. I feed 500 people every day. I'm a pretty awesome missionary in my fantasy right? lol. I quickly become very famous, and get a lot of financial support from American Churches. Things are great. But something happens. Lets also pretend that the diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and America turn South. Lets pretend that I get an unexpected illness and have to return home. Lets pretend that a huge economic recession hits America and I lose all my funding. What will these 500 people do then? Automatically, they will be just in bad a situation, if not worse, than they were before they met me. Often times we go on short term mission trips and feed a lot of hungry people and it's all good. But once we leave, the very next week people are just as hungry as they were before they met you. I'm not asking whether or not it is good to feed these people. Obviously, it is good to help people and feed starving people. But is there a better way?

Okay, so we have talked about some of the cons of short-term mission trips. Please know that I am not at all against short term mission trips. Just up to this point I have wanted to talk about some of the problems that often come from them. But now, I want to talk about some of the pros of short-term mission trips.

The change that they make within us. Allow me to tell you another personal experience. When I was 18 years old, I took a month long mission trip to Kenya, Africa and I had the time of my life. This trip had an amazing impact and confirmed a desire in my heart that I wanted to be an African Missionary. Today, I am proud to tell you that I am a missionary in Kenya, Africa. I am a full-time missionary in the same country that I came to 5 years earlier. This trip obviously had a huge impact on me. A lot of people have a similar story. They go on a short-term trip and come back completely changed. They are more conscious about what God is doing in the world. They have formed new relationships. They have had their eyes opened to how the majority of the world lives. They become more giving and thankful people all because of this short trip. The trip also teaches us how to serve people. The point is, that these short-term mission trips often make a great change within us.

People are trying to help out people that need help. Think about it. The people that give money to these trip obviously have a heart to help out people that could really use some help. They are giving their own hard earned money to try and help people that are less fortunate. They are trying to be obedient to God. They are trying to carry out God's commands to care for the "poor" of the world. Honestly, it is truly beautiful to me, that people are willing to give their own money so that other people can benefit without them receiving anything in return.

Okay, I guess now I am finally going to answer the question. I believe that short-term mission trips are good, and at the same time I also believe that we need to change the way that we do these short-term mission trips. If you are not to tired of reading this post yet.... I want to talk about my personal opinion of how we can do short-term missions in a better way.

1. Most importantly, work alongside with the locals and the missionaries we are helping. Lets make sure that we ask the local people what we can do to help. I hope this is obvious to you. PLEASE do not go into another country and just assume that you have the answers to fix all their problems. It is arrogant and really undermines the local people. If you have read any of my previous posts, you know how strongly I feel about this. We are in no way "better" than the people in these countries we are ministering in. We are going there to be servants. We are not going there to be "gods." We don't have all the answers. Also, the locals will have the best insight on the best way to minister in their respective area. We don't need to just go in and take over.

2. Lets primarily make the trips a learning experience. Often times, we focus on the most productive, efficient way to spend our time and money in these foreign countries. This is not a bad thing. Time is money right? But that's now how most third world countries think. But I mean, we can't go back to our home country and have nothing to show for it? We need pictures, facebook statuses, and twitter updates to show all the progress we are making? I mean, we want our financial supporters to know that they didn't waste their money right?... I think we would be better off if we focused on making these trips "learning" oriented, as opposed to "service" oriented. I'm not saying that we should not be serving on mission trips. Obviously, we should be. But I believe that we should be more focused on learning on these trips than on "doing our good deed for the day." When we take a step back, and allow the local people to take control, we show honor to what God is doing through them. We also show them that we are not "above" them. Most importantly, we gain a firsthand local perspective on the best way to minister to the people in the country that we are in.

3. Finally, our goals should be to help out the best way we can in a bigger picture of a self-sustaining ministry. I think that this is very important. When we go on these short trips, our goal should be to assist in the bigger picture of what God is already doing in the area. We should work within the bigger picture of missionaries' goals and that should be to create a sustainable, reproducing ministry. Obviously, this is hard to do in just two weeks. But I think if we take this approach, it will benefit the people more in the long-term than whatever "physical labor" we are doing in the typical "2 week trip." Yes we have the money and resources to go into a third world country and dazzle them and amaze them with our technology and expensive materials that they have never experienced before. But again, my question is what happens after you leave and these people no longer have the technology and expensive materials? They need something reproducible and sustainable that does not rely on western, American handouts.

What are some of your thoughts on short-term mission trips? I would love to hear your comments. Again, I'm not trying to step on anybody's toes with this post. My goal is to just have a honest conversation about the best way to do short-term missions.

Be blessed!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Missionaries: The Most Clueless People On Earth

(What is going on here? I don't understand.) This is the way I feel a lot living over here in Africa. The truth is, no matter how much studying or listening you do, it's very difficult to adjust living in a different culture especially one that is Third World. A lot of times I feel like I am 4 years old again. Just this morning I was in my language class, and was trying to read a book. I have been here almost 6 months, and this morning I am talking like a 5 year old, trying to work my way through a 5th Grade level Swahili children's book. Every couple of minutes having to ask my teacher what a word means. So what do you do? You practice. I start talking to people in Swahili and ask them to slow down and repeat their sentences several times until I can comprehend what is being said. Then I stand there with a blank stare on my face for several seconds while trying to construct a decent sounding Swahili sentence in my mind. I spend my days watching over children that are mostly below age 4. I constantly am unable to reply to there comments simply because I have no idea what there saying. Baby talk is difficult to understand, but baby talk in a different language is impossible to understand. I hear people talking and am able to make out about 30% of their words, but still am completely unaware of what they are saying exactly. I am clueless... and that's just with the language.

So much of the culture takes a while to get used to. Some days a random man will walk up to me and start holding my hand. My first reaction is to turn around and punch him, but then I remind myself that this is normal. So I fight the awkward feeling and hold another dude's hand for a few minutes. Reluctantly anyways....

I hear them talk about their ancient traditional tribal religions and am just so lost. Most of what they say just sounds ridiculous and laughable. Most of these tribal religions are rooted in witchcraft, and a lot of what they do is very weird. But to them it is normal, so I try to understand where they are coming from and listen to their experiences.

I listen to their stories, about how people relate to each other. I see how husbands and wives interact. I see how parents interact with their children. I see how they spend their days. And in the course of all this, so much of it just doesn't make much since to me.

I think when you are in the mission field (well anywhere really) but especially in the mission field, you have to really be humble and set aside your pride. I have to ask a lot of questions. I have to rely on a lot of people. I find that things work best when I ask actual Kenyans what they think about a certain thing. It's hard. Sometimes I don't understand why they think a certain way, but I know they do so for good reason. You definitely don't go into the mission field if you are looking for recognition and praise. You will be disappointed. You have to humble yourself and work alongside the people you are ministering to (in our case Kenyans). If you try to just take control and not listen to them you will end up doing some very foolish things. The truth is that this is their country. It's not mine, so I don't try to act like I am the answer to all their problems, because I'm not. This is the way I have found to best approach ministry. I don't tell them how I am going to minister. I ask them a lot of questions about what we can do to help, what the plan is, how it can be implemented, and what role we will play in that.

I do this because missionaries are the most clueless people on earth. Even if I stayed here for 50 years, I would still have so much about Kenya that I would not know or understand. Just a different worldview. We have to listen, ask questions, pay attention to what's going on, rely on local leaders, and learn from our mistakes.

In my short time here, I have developed a deep disgust for something. I absolutely hate it when a Mgheni (visitor) comes in and "knows it all"... If a Kenyan tried to tell me about how to do things in America, then I would just laugh at him. Cause it would make no since. I am from American and he is not. I don't care if he has a doctorate or has even visited America. It's the same way here. The Kenyans know so much more about Kenya than I do or any other western visitor does. Because they live here. (Go figure!) This is their home. I'm not saying that visitors or myself can't help them. We can. But we can't come in to another country and take control and act like we know more than they do. That's just arrogant, ugly pride!

In short, I am trying to say that when we go into other cultures at missionaries we really need to be humble and rely on the locals to figure out how to best minister in the country we're in. They know more than we do. But most importantly, that is the way of Christ. We are servants, not masters! We are not above them.

Be blessed!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Need Conquering and Enduring Faith

I love to preach and talk about Faith. It is such an important topic throughout the entire Bible, and is such an interesting topic to me. What is faith? What does it mean to live by faith? What is the difference between faith and believing? What does it mean to have faith in Jesus? Who do I know that has great faith? These are questions that I love to think about during the day. The Bible has a lot to say about faith. Sometimes I wonder how much faith in God I am showing in my own life? How much am I trusting God? If Jesus saw me today would he, "marvel at my faith," or would he say, "you are a man of little faith." The truth is I'm not sure. Sometimes I feel like I exhibit a lot of faith in my life, and other times I feel like all I manifest is unbelief. But that's not really what I want to talk about today.... One of my favorite set of Bible verses comes out of Hebrews Chapter 11, which we sometimes refer to as the FAITH chapter. I want to share Hebrews 11:33-38:

33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

I read verses 33 through 35 and I am absolutely amazed at what these people were able to accomplish through faith in God. They were able to do incredible, miraculous things because of their faith. I call this conquering faith. Then....there is a big shift. I read verses 36-38 and all of a sudden things are a whole lot different. We were talking about people being raised from the dead, conquering kingdoms, and sending entire armies to flight...... now all of a sudden we are talking about people being persecuted, stoned to death, and being sawed in two. This second group of people in verses 36-38 had what I call enduring faith. The Hebrew writer tells us about some of the different ways faith manifested itself. For some people, it allowed them to do amazing things, and for others it gave them the strength to endure great suffering even to the point of death.

I need faith in order to follow Jesus. I need faith in order to be a missionary here in Africa. I love that faith can conquer and has allowed me to come here and do things that I never dreamed of. I also love that our faith gives us the strength to endure. On days when my wife and I are struggling and just want to give up because of all the hardships that come with living in a third world country, we can just lean on our faith in Jesus and endure through the hard times.

I pray that you will have faith in your life. You will have faith to overcome and accomplish great things, and you will have the faith to endure through all the hardships. It's interesting how we tend to focus on the people that have done all the "big amazing" things, and say they have great faith. That's fine. But for these people that the Hebrew writer talks about in verses 36-38, they have just as much faith as the other people. Even though they might not have been rich or ruled a kingdom. The Bible says that these people who had enduring faith, "the world was not worthy of them." You may not have a huge ministry. You may not come from a Christian family. You may be struggling with a lot of sin. You may be struggling financially. Maybe you are having a huge battle with cancer, or trying to raise 3 children by yourself, or trying to hold on to a crumbling marriage, or battling a drug addiction. That is okay. Endure!!! Keep your faith and trust in Jesus no matter what. Yea, they are probably not going to have a big Christian book written about you like Mother Teresa or whoever. You probably won't be given a huge applause at your church just because you are raising 3 children by yourself while trying to work 2 jobs. But if you keep your faith.... then God will say that the world was not worthy of....YOU!!! We walk by faith, not by sight.

Be blessed!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Missionary Roller Coaster

I think my wife and I both cried our first day in Africa. It was a big transition. We left our home in Murfreesboro, TN and now we were sleeping on a very hard mattress in Eldoret, Kenya. It was sinking in that it was going to be a very long time before we would see our family and friends again. Our first month in Africa was filled with a variety of obstacles. We had a child from the orphanage die the fifth day we were here in Eldoret. Also, we had 3 immigration officers come to our house and threaten to take us to jail, and we didn't even know we were doing anything illegal. Needless to say, it was scary. That is just some of the external things. Inwardly, we were dealing with all the emotional turmoil of leaving everything we knew and experiencing a whole lot of culture shock from living in a third world country. We had some incredibly low points...

Then of course, you can flip the coin. We were living our dream. We were serving in the country that we had dreamed of serving God in for 5 years before it had happened. God had provided the people and money in order to make our life in Kenya a reality. We were ministering to Kenyan Orphans every day and they were calling us Mommy and Daddy. It was, and still is, an amazing feeling. Also, I was starting to get a lot of invitations to preach in nearby churches. Invitations were coming in every week, and I don't even have a Bible degree. Also, we were able to start ministering in a nearby slum to over 20 single mother families that were all HIV+. I mean, obviously God was doing some amazing things. It was an incredible confidence booster. Some days we were walking around on Cloud 9...

One second we would be doing great, and the next we were doing awful. I don't know what it is, but being in a third world country multiplies your emotional mood swings. I realize I sound like a teenage girl now, but it's true. I am going to take a leap here and speak for all long-term missionaries. Once you become a missionary and move to a third world country, you are getting on the longest roller coaster ride of your life. It is up and down, up and down, up and down...

I do know one thing though. You have to be faithful and committed to what the Lord has called you to do. You have to have patience and endurance. This whole experience makes me think of what the Apostle Paul must have felt when he was on his missionary trips. I can't even imagine. Some days he was planting churches, performing miracles, and writing letters that we now know as part of the New Testament. Other days he was being put in prison, being stoned and left for dead, being whipped, and being shipwrecked. Paul experienced a lot of highs and a lot of lows, and all the way through it he kept staying true to what God had called him to do. He praised God in the good and the bad.

Regardless of where you are at, try to stay true to what God has called you to do. If you are a single mother with 5 children, then try to stay true to God's call on your life to raise your children. Your reward is great. If God has called you to be a missionary in Sudan, then stay true to that calling. If he has called you to work the typical "9 to 5" then stay true to that. Remain faithful to God in the high points and the low points. Continue to lift him up and praise him regardless of your circumstantial situation. Even if you are riding a roller coaster and experiencing something new every day with a lots of highs and lows, just remember, God is sitting right next to you.

Be blessed!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Few Pics from Kenyan Missionaries

Here is a picture of my wife with a couple of the children at the orphanage. They are playing on the playground that took us several weeks to build!

This is Javan and Enoch. They really enjoy getting pushed around in the wheel barrel.

Here we are doing out program with the HIV+ women from the slum. We can't wait to see what God does in their lives.

Here is a picture of several of our children. You can tell that they understand the concept of a picture. I was originally only taking a picture of two children and the rest jumped in. After the picture, they all run up to the camera and try to find their face.

The thing that I love the most is how happy the Children are. It makes them such a joy to be around. I wish you could come see them in person. They all have wonderful personalities and are amazing in their own individual way. We love these children so much. Thanks for taking the time to look at the pictures. Now you can have some faces to visualize when you read some of my other blogs.

Be blessed!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Doing Small Things With Great Love

It's kind of hard to describe our daily life here in Kenya. It varies from day to day what we are doing exactly. But at the same time a lot of it stays the same. They have 6 day work weeks here in Kenya. We only get off one day a week. So for 6 days a week we spend most of our time with the 20 children here at the orphanage. We absolutely love the children. They are so precious, but some of the tasks can get mundane. Here is a short list of what we do every day: dress the children, take them to the bathroom, feed them meals, change diapers, hold crying babies, brush teeth, clean up messes, watch Barney (EVERY single day), sing and pray together, play children's games, and settle a lot of disputes between children. It isn't easy just because there are so many children, and were in a different country, and they speak a different language. (Which were still trying to learn.) But the work I described is not really any different from any parent, nanny, babysitter...etc. The work, to be quite honest, is what a lot of people in America do every day as well. We're not planting a 100 Churches, or having our lives threatened to death, or doing anything that I might picture the Apostle Paul doing on a daily bases. Nobody is trying to stone us, which we are quite okay with. But it does remind me of a quote from Mother Teresa, "We can't all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love."

In Acts Chapter 6 we read about the beginning of a feeding program for widows. People were discontent with how things were going, so the Apostles said that they should choose 7 men to lead the program. These men had to be full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Why? That doesn't really seem to make sense. All they have to do is pass out bread. It's not like you need a PH.D. to know how to equally pass out bread. I thought that passing out food is just what the Christians do that are not talented enough to be a preacher... It amazes me how concerned the Apostles and I believe God is about who will be serving on this program. You see, it's a mundane task; nothing to exciting about passing out bread. But these 7 men took it very seriously and did it like they were doing it for the Lord. Amazing.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that a lot of tasks you do during a day are going to be mundane. It doesn't matter if you are a missionary in Kenya, a stay at home mom, a factory worker, business man, teacher...etc. But it's not about doing some super miraculous thing every day. It is about doing the small things with great love. Do the work as if you are doing it for the Lord. It's kind of like it says in 1 Cor. 13, you can give everything you own to the poor, but if you don't have love then it is all pointless. Love is the point and the goal. So lets not worry so much about the "ministry" or actions that we are doing every day, but rather lets focus on doing whatever it is we're doing with great love.

What comes to your mind when you picture an African Missionary? Is it someone changing a diaper? lol. Probably not. But the next diaper that I change today, I'm going to try and do it with as much love as I can. Like I'm doing it for God. (not that God needs me to change his diaper..... lol.)

Be blessed!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Worst Missionary Ever

I am 23 years old. My wife is 27 years old. We have no children, and have been married for less than 2 years. About 5 months ago we moved here to Eldoret, Kenya to work as House Parent at an orphanage. We felt like it was what God was calling us to do. My wife and I had never lived more than an hour away from our parents in the great state of Tennessee. We came here with big dreams and a lot of high ambitions of what we were going to do. So a quick recap.... newly married, no children, hardly any money, and moving off to take care of 20 orphans in a country that is on the other side of the world. Does that even make sense?..........

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about a man named Gideon. Gideon was the weakest person in his entire family, and his family was the weakest in the entire tribe. His tribe was under captivity by another tribe called the Midianites. Anyways, God came and told Gideon that he was a mighty warrior and that he would drive out the Midianites. Gideon??? The guy who is the weakest in his entire family, which is the weakest family in the entire tribe. And, just like it always does with God, it happened. With Gideon. Does that even make sense?.............

Sometimes I can feel like Gideon felt. I wonder why in the world God would choose to send me over to Kenya. It doesn't really seem to make sense. I mean, obviously there are a lot more qualified people out in the world than my wife and me. I mean, do you have any children? Then you are already more qualified than we are for this task. So for this reason, I feel so humbled that my wife and I have been chosen to come over here and serve God by ministering to these 20 precious children. God sometimes uses our weakness so that he can reveal his glory. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that maybe you have a dream that you feel like is way out of your reach. You have something great you want to do to serve God. But you feel like it is completely unrealistic... You don't have the money. You don't have the skills. You're not smart enough.... etc. But the truth is that God can do anything when we just have faith and open our lives up and say "YES" to God. The Bible says that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. So trust in God.

My wife and I may be the biggest "misfits" to ever step into the missionary field. But if God is with us, "then who can be against us?" What has God called you to do? Even if it seems crazy, DO IT!!!

Be Blessed!

The Little Things

This is an email I got a while back and I found it today, which was perfect. It's all a reminder to us that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at the moment. God is in control.

As you might remember, the head of a company survived 9/11 because his son started kindergarten.

One fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts.

One woman was late because her alarm clock didn't go off in time.

One was late because of being stuck on the NJ turnpike because of an auto accident.

One of them missed his bus.

One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.

One's car wouldn't start.

One couldn't get a taxi.

The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, Took the various means to get to work but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today..

Next time your morning seems to be going wrong , You can't seem to find the car keys, You hit every traffic light,Don't get mad or frustrated; It may be just that God is at work watching over you

Now when I am stuck in traffic , miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone ... All the little things that annoy me. I think to myself, This is exactly where God wants me to be at this very moment.. .

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What God values

It's easy to get confused about what Christianity is and is not. What is it all about? I know for me, it's easy to think that Christianity is all about going to Church on Sunday, not drinking, not smoking, and not having premarital sex. For a lot of us, these were the things that were stressed in the youth group environment that we grew up in. My question is, "Is there more to it?" Surely there is more to living a life of following God than sitting on a pew from 10 to 11 am on Sunday and tithing 10%. I'm not trying to devalue those things at all, but I believe that there is more to being a follower of Jesus than that. I want to share a scripture from the Bible found in Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." I love this scripture so much, because I believe that it reveals to us the heart of the father.

You see, Jesus shows us here that there are more important things to God than just performing religious ceremonies and tithing. What does God value? Justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are things that are more important to God than where you are sitting at on 10 am on Sunday morning. We also read in James 1:27 that, "Pure and undefiled religion in sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and keeping yourself unspotted from the world." God has such an amazing heart. He cares for the poor, the broken, the widows, the orphans, the widows, and all the "least of these." The question I want to ask you and myself is do my priorities and values match up with the heart of God? Am I more concerned about making it to Church on Sunday than I am about sex trafficking? Which one makes you more upset? When you hear someone say a "bad word" or when you see a widow being neglected? I don't say this to put a "guilt trip" on anybody. I'm actually just trying to point out something good about God. He is not boring. He cares more about starving orphans in Ethiopia than he does about you wearing a suit and tie on Sunday. Again, nothing wrong with any of these things. It is important to go to church, but there are more important things....

When we see what God values, it should create a desire in our heart to live in a way that is pleasing to him. I know for me, for a long time I was experiencing some discontentment with my Christian walk. It was not a feeling of guilt or "I'm not doing enough," it was a feeling of "I know that there is more to the Christian life than this." I mean I went to Church every time the doors were opened, and my wife and I tithed. We listened to good sermons, and were part of an amazing Church. But I was still experiencing a yearning for something more. The thought of the extent of my Christian experience would be just 50 more years of sermons just made me a little depressed. What is the point of me sitting here and listening to all these sermons if I'm not going to let it transform my life and act on it? I want to follow Jesus, not just hear a sermon about him.

I have a feeling that several of you are experiencing similar feelings. You know that God is calling you to do bigger things than just sit in a pew on Sunday. You know that you were meant for something more. For my wife and I, it meant moving to Kenya to work at an orphanage and serve 20 children that don't have a father and mother. We have been here for over 5 months now and I can honestly say I feel more fulfilled here than I did just sitting in a Church pew. God may be calling you to something similar, or something completely different. But don't settle for just "sitting on the sidelines," take a risk and seek to follow Jesus in every area of your life no matter what the cost. Once again, I'm not at all trying to imply that people are not doing enough. I'm just trying to write to the people out there that are feeling that something is missing in their walk with God. They are yearning for something more.

Deep calls to Deep. What deep calling has God given to you?

Be blessed!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Single+ Aids + 4 children + unemployed = Hopeless African Woman

A couple weeks ago we started our development project in the Slum of Sukunaanga. The program consists of over 20 Kenyan single mother families. My wife and I are very blessed and humble to be able to minister to them. All of these women are HIV+ and are living in extreme poverty. It amazes me every time I hear one of their stories. These people are living in Hell. It has taken its toll, most of these women walk around with hopelessness on their face, and you can tell they are wondering if life can ever get any better. It definitely can. God is still in the business of redeeming broken people that have been marred by sin that has brought death into their lives.

Today, I wanted to share the story of one of the women that is in our program. This woman (or I guess I should say young girl) got married by the age of 14. By the time she was 20, she already had 5 children. Also, this woman is unemployed. She is also HIV+ and so are her children. I'm not sure why, but her husband decided one day to leave and has never been back. This is a very broken lady who is in desperate need of the redemptive power of God.

I know that the word of God, being mixed with faith, has the power to transform the life of anyone. I look at this woman's life and wonder how she has the energy to get out of bed every morning. She is jobless and has 5 children to take care of by herself. Whenever I think of her I am reminded of the lyrics of a song by Gungor, "you make beautiful things out of dust." This woman can have a changed life. God can resurrect the life of this woman. She has the value of the blood of Jesus.

The sad thing is, that stories like this are far to common, not only here in the slums of Africa but in Third World countries around the world. These people are in desperate need of Jesus. I pray that God will send more people into the field to bring the good news of the resurrection to people just like this woman all around the world. We need people willing to go and minister to these people. We need people that will commit to praying for people like this. We need people that have a giving heart to fund ministries that are dedicated to bringing life to these people.

What is God calling you to do to help redeem a broken world?

Be blessed!

Jesus Did It Anyway

So the past couple of months I have dealt with more criticism, set backs, disappointments, stress, small minded people, than I ever thought I would. It's really left me in a funk. I've turned back into a pessimist and I'm not liking myself at the moment. So I picked up a book I had from a few years back to start reading it again. I'm glad I did, I need to remind myself of these things on a daily basis. Its based on the writings found by Mother Teresa on her wall at her children's home:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

I have to remember that people are going to try and knock you down, and keep you from doing all God has called you to do. They will be critical, harsh, and non sympathetic. But in the end it was never between me and them anyways ! I need to post this on my mirror and read it daily. God doesn't call us to just give up when the going gets tough or when someone shoots down all of your ideas and dreams. He calls us to perservere and to trust him and call out to Him for our judgements of ourselves. To see ourselves as He sees us, which is something I am working on. Most days I don't understand why He loves me or why He called me to this ministry. But He tells me to do it anyway. So i pray for you as well that you will take away an encouragement from this and no matter what life hands you, to get back up and fight for what is right in the world and for Jesus. Like I've read many times: He never said it would be easy, but he said it would be worth it.

Here is a link to the book if you want to check it out:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What I wish I would have known

Being under stress and away from your family and friends is going to bring out the worst in you.You may think coming to do mission work is going to put you around great people and going to increase your faith but in my case and from a lot of blogs I've read (which I wish I had read before hand) it's not. Some people are just not going to like you, and to be completely honest has made me a worse person. It's brought out evil deep within me I didn't even know existed and that I am ashamed of. I'm constantly comparing myself to people, I'm stressed out all the time, I'm angry, I'm mean to Jerry, ha, I shut myself off completely from most because I don't want them to see this in me or I just don't have the energy in me anymore to socialize. I read my Bible less, and most days I question Why Me?Or why would God let things like this disease, hunger, and destruction happen to people while so many are so blessed.

Even though I don't understand all of this now I know one day it will make sense. I don't always understand why I'm here and I'm trying to trust God on that, because I felt the calling so greatly. But just know because you are going to be a missionary in another country or right where you are you aren't going to be saving the world. It might bring out the things hidden in you that you haven't dealt with. And maybe that's why I'm here, for GOD to work on me, and I've been placed with all of these wonderful children to remind me to be more like them. All you can do is try to take one day at a time, and I'm trying everyday to rebuild some of the things in me I lost. I didn't write all of this to be depressing, just to get my feeling out there and hope to encourage someone else to know if they are going through this they aren't alone.GOD has been here with me every step even thought I don't always feel Him, but I know it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our past month in photos !

Jerry started off the month preaching with Peter at a new church they planted !
Baby Adriel is getting bigger everyday !!!
This is our new baby ! For some reason I couldn't get the picture to upload correctly ! He doesn't have a name yet :( We are waiting on the government to give us one. But he is so sweet and so cute!!!
We were able to start our feeding program for these 21 ladies and their families. We were able to give out maize and beans and a few clothes! In the next couple of weeks we will start vocational training, and pass out bags for them to grow food at their own homes !

thanks for your prayers and support ! We couldn't do it without you ! Sorry the pictures are so bad and i couldn't add more but the connection is too slow right now, will try again later!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Incomplete Bride

We read in Revelations Chapter 7 about a massive amount of people standing before the throne of God. In fact, there was to many people to count. The writer goes on to say that every single nation, tribe, and language are represented in this massive worship assemble. When I think about this, I am just in awe, I can't even imagine what it was like to see it. One thing we know for sure, this worship assembly is our destiny. The word of God spoke it, so it will happen. By this, I know one thing, that the Bride of Christ in not yet ready for the return of Jesus.....................yet.

As the Bride of Christ, we want Jesus to come back. But when he comes he wants his Bride to be complete. I want to talk about how we can get from where we are right now, to this beautiful assembly in Revelations 7. God is already working on it, we have seen amazing things happen since Jesus first came, and I know we will continue to see amazing things until he comes again that will spread his Kingdom.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that one day Revelations 7 will be a reality we will experience. I think of all the places and people that have never heard Jesus and am tempted to be discouraged. I even once heard a story about a man who went into a town and walked up to a person and asked, "Do you know Jesus?" The man looked at him and said. "NO, but maybe you should try the next village." Stories like this, illustrate that the Bride of Christ is not yet fulfilled.

We need a move of God. I don't know a single missionary that is smart enough to come up with the correct "strategy" to reach the entire world. We need to pray for God to raise up more and more people with divine ideas on how to reach the lost. We need more people willing to go into the harvest. Personally, I am very much a novice when it comes to spreading the gospel to unreached people groups. I also believe, that I am not alone in this. Every culture and people group is different. God works in different ways. What works in America, may not work in Kenya where I live. What works here in Kenya may not be what works in China. Even within China, what works in one city, might not be what works in another city. For this reason, it is my opinion that the best missionaries for a lost people group is the people from that culture. This means that we need to find "Persons of Peace" in that culture which I wrote about in a previous blog. Once we find that person, he can be a bridge for the Kingdom of God to invade that entire city. Also, that person will know the culture, language, and people of his town which an "outsider" missionary simply just won't know. This Person of Peace can accomplish far more in the town than you or I can. The people of his town will already know and trust him. This Person will also have a better understanding of how to spread the Gospel in his city.

We are just one part of the body. We have to learn to rely on other parts of the body in order for lost places of the world to be reached. This means they may not do things the same way we would. But we have to trust that God is raising up people within unreached people groups to receive the Gospel and in turn share it with the community. We don't have the control, God does! So lets trust in the people that God has opened up to receive the Gospel. The "Great Commission" is not just for us, it's also for the people that we disciple.

What are some of your thoughts on how to best reach places that have not heard the Gospel?

Be blessed!

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Mom Told Me Bible Stories

I was no genius. Like everybody else in America, I was around 5 before I even started learning the alphabet and how to read. However, by the time I learned how to read, I already new a lot of bible stories. I knew the story of creation, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Issac and Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, King David, Paul, Peter, most importantly Jesus.... along with many others. My parents would share them with me every night.

The stories that we know are very important. It's the stories that we know that shape our Worldview. Our worldview is how we interpret everything that goes on around us. The more our minds are renewed with the truth of the Bible, then the more we will be able to be transformed in our lives.

The Bible has been around for a long time. Do you know what has been around even longer? The Bible stories. Long before the stories we read in the Bible were written down, they were spread orally. It makes since.... A lot of people did not know how to read and write. It's easier to tell someone a story than to read someone a story. You don't always walk around with a little Bible stuffed down your pocket. What I am saying is that the word of God used to be primarily spread orally. Even when these stories were written, the number of copies were limited. So even after these stories were written down they were still mostly told and spread orally. Paul did not walk around with an Old Testament on him. He knew the scriptures. Jewish cultures placed a huge emphasis on memorizing and being able to tell the stories of the Bible. They could share them with their children and family, because they knew them.

Growing up in America is an amazing thing. But we have to remember that we did not grow up like most of the world. We all speak the same language. We all know how to read and write. But the majority of the world is not like this. There are many places with a high illiteracy rate, or places that don't have the Bible translated into a language that they understand. This has lead to many missionaries to take on the task of translating the Bible into local languages, and working to improve literacy rates around the world. I applaud this type or work. It is very beneficial. But I want to point out the importance of being able to share the word of God orally.

1. A lot of people either can't read or simply don't like to. Remember, in America we grew up reading and writing, and still, many people from our culture don't like to read. We would rather watch a movie. And we're great at reading. Most people in third world countries, even if they know how to read, don't spend much time reading. Think about it, we have an incredibly hard time even getting Americans to read the Bible. Now I understand there are other factors like electronics and other things that distract us. But still, my point is that many people just don't want to spend time reading. I'm not saying it's good, just that it's true. On top of that, if you are a poor reader, you are more likely to not want to curl up with the Bible and spend an hour a day reading from Leviticus. I'm not trying to say that Bible reading is not important. It is very crucial and a discipline we should all strive to develop. I'm just saying that a lot of non-Christians, even if you gave them a free Bible are probably not going to read through it. For example, when is the last time that you sat down and read the Qur'an all the way through?.......

2. When we tell the stories of the Bible orally, they are more accessible. Maybe you do, but as mentioned earlier, how many of us walk around with a Bible in our pockets? Not many that I know of. It's much easier to casually tell a Bible story in a social setting when you can do so orally. Pretend you are in a place that does not have the Bible in a local language. This means you have to read the passage and have a translator with you. It's hard. Most of us have a negative connotation of the word "study." Personally when I hear the word I want to run the other direction. I'm much more opened to listen to someone tell me a story and then discuss the story. It is just more natural.

3. Time. As is stated before, there are people that have taken on the challenge to make sure that everyone has access to the Bible in a language that they can understand. But this is a very slow process. It takes a lot of work and time to translate the entire Bible into a new language. Think of how many places and people don't have access to the written word of God. One of the pros of telling bible stories orally is that the word of God can spread faster. It I read you a Bible story, if you want to share it with someone, you are most likely to grab a Bible and read it to that person just like I did to you. That's fine..... if you have access to a Bible... a lot of people don't. But if I tell you a Bible story, and you want to share it with someone, you are more likely to tell it to that person orally.

The word of God is for everybody. It is not limited to people that know how to read and write. It is not limited just to the people that have the Bible in their language. It is for everybody. It is definitely a good thing to ultimately have the bible translated into every language and available for every people group, but while we're waiting...... lets take the time to practice spreading the word orally.

I would be interested to hear what you think some of the pros and cons are of spreading the gospel in unreached areas orally as opposed to written???

Be blessed!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lets use what the poor already have

As Christians, I think we have a call to minister to the poor. In my life of 23 years I have been blessed to see examples of so many people that are willing to minister to the materially poor. It is truly awesome to see the people of God using their money, time, and resources to minister to people that materially have less than we do.

My wife and I both love to minister to the poor. That is one of the reasons we moved to Kenya as missionaries. But the goal is to alleviate poverty. The goal is not to "do our good deed for the day," or to "just simply help poor people because that's what God said to do," but rather it is because we love them. Out of love, I don't want to just help out the poor. I want to see them completely rise out of poverty, which I also believe is God's will for the materially poor.

Quickly, I want to talk about the method in which we minister to the poor. If your like me (and probably most Christians) we tend to focus on what they don't have. They either don't have enough food, or water, or clothing, or housing... etc. We usually go into an area to do a survey to see what is needed. We go up to people and ask: What is the problem? What is wrong with you? What do you need?...etc. None of these questions are bad. However, as white people in a Third World Country, it is able to send a dangerous, harmful message with these types of questions. A lot of times we unintentionally send these messages when we're ministering to the materially poor: "I am here to fix you." "I am here to save you." "I am the minister, and you are the one getting ministered to." "You need me, cause without me you will always be poor."... I exaggerated some of these statements in order to make a point. Sometimes in our well intentioned efforts to minister to the materially poor we create an inferiority complex in the people were ministering to. Also, it's easy for us as missionaries to develop a "God-complex." It can create an atmosphere where we are better than the people we are ministering to. This can lead to them relying on us to solve all their problems. Rather, we want people to know that God created them with the gifts and abilities to take care of themselves and help other the same as us. We are all created equal. Missionaries are not any better than the people they are ministering to.

Instead of doing it this way, what if we tried something different? What if I went up to the poor and asked different questions. What resources do you already have? What job skills do you already have? What has God already blessed you with? (Even if it may be very little.) This is a very different message were sending. We are honoring the poor. We are teaching them to realize what God has already done for them. We are showing them that they have the gifts and abilities to survive and even thrive in this life. But you see, this is much harder than just handing out food. It means we have to invest in the people we're ministering to. We have to spend time helping them to develop rather than just giving "handouts." It means we have to be patient, and know this might not be a "quick fix." We can show people how to use their skills and resources to make a life for themselves instead of having to rely on western support.

We all know the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Do you notice what Jesus does there? He does not just automatically create this enormous amount of food. What Jesus does is prays to God and thanks him for what he has already given to these people. Even though it is very little. They only had 5 loaves and 2 fishes. It wasn't much. Why did Jesus not just create the food out of nothing. He was honoring what the people right there already had. We need to learn from this. Lets thank and praise God for what he has already given to the people we are ministering to. It is miraculous what God can do when we come to him with what little we have. He can multiply our food. When we bring him our sickness, he can heal it. When we bring him our burdens, he can lift them. It shows praise and honor to God when we come to him with what we have. When we just give "western handouts" I think it shows that we're not honoring what God is already doing for these people. (Don't get me wrong, sometimes relief is the appropriate response.) Little children, the elderly, and emergency disasters often require that we provide immediate relief. But I think a lot of times we provide relief to people when we should be providing development for them.

If we do this, then these people will have the tools to survive without us. If you just raise a lot of money from American Churches and give it to people that is fine. It will get the job done. People will not go hungry. But what happens when you leave? What happens if hard times fall on the Churches that are supporting your program? Then what will happen to the people you're ministering to? They will be back in the same position they were before they met you. We don't want that.

Why didn't Jesus just preach for his entire ministry to as many people as he could? I mean we read in the Bible how well known he was. He could have traveled anywhere and done some miracles and flocks of people would have came. But rather he decided to spend his time with the 12. This way these men would have the skill and abilities to go and minister to all the world.

I just want to encourage people to go into the mission field with humble hearts. I want people to go into the field and to address the spiritual, social, emotional, and psychological reasons that these people are living in poverty. Lets not work to these people. People are not a program. Lets work with and alongside the people so they can rise out of poverty. These places are called developing countries for a reason. They need to be developed by the people of God who have the power to rebuild cities and empower the people in them to live a life of Godliness. Lets show these people the value they have in God and the power they have to rise out of poverty. God is already working in Third World Countries. Lets join him!

Be blessed!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A God of Reproduction

Today I primarily want to talk about the Kingdom of God spreading. This has something that has really been on my mind the past couple of days, so I want to write and express some thoughts.

But first, I want to talk a little bit about the way God works. Something I think I have known for years, but am just now beginning to understand, is that God seems to enjoy making things that are reproductive in nature. God created all the animals to reproduce after their own kind. God created all the plants to reproduce after their own kinds. God created man to reproduce after their own kind.......... I think you get the picture.

But also, I'm starting to believe that God created his Kingdom and Church to operate in the same way. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest seed. But once it dies and starts to reproduce it becomes huge. It reproduces and spreads like crazy. During his ministry on Earth, Jesus spent all his time ministering to the same 12 people. He didn't try to reach the most populated areas and talk to the most people. He stuck with the same 12 ordinary men. Once Jesus is about to ascend back into heaven, he leaves these men with the instructions to go make disciples of all nations. In other words he is telling them to reproduce. What I have taught you, you should go and teach others. The bible says in 2 Tim. 2:2 Paul tells the young man Timothy, "...to teach these truths to reliable men who will pass them on to others." I had never noticed that before until it was recently shown to me. What is he talking about? He is talking about reproductive disciple making. Lets look at the process: Paul disciples Timothy, and Timothy teaches Reliable men, and then these reliable men pass it on to others. It kind of sounds like the mustard seed doesn't it? ....

I believe that as Christ followers, we need to be reproducing after our own kind. Christ discipled people. Jesus's disciples discipled people... You can see where I'm going with this. We need to be discipling people! Yes it's a long process. This means we have to pay a high price and invest in people's lives. We have to get to know them and be prepared to walk with them the same way Jesus walked with his disciples even though they seemed to be "hopeless".... High risk means high reward. Lets take a high risk. The Kingdom of God is expanding.

Whenever you hear any type of Good News, the natural thing is to go tell people. So when we learn how good it is to be followers of Jesus, the first thing we should do is go and tell people so that they can share in the joy and salvation that we are experiencing! I'm not saying that we all need to go out on the streets and start having awkward evangelism conversations with people we don't know. I'm saying that we need to invest in the people that God has put in our lives and always be opened to the opportunities God has given us to make disciples.

I hope that this short post will be an encouragement to you to let your light shine before men, and teach others so they can come to faith in the same God that you have come to know as Love and savior.

Be blessed!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Amazing White, Western Missionaries

We had a pretty ordinary life when we were living in America. My wife and I both worked jobs. We drove decent vehicles, hung out with friends and family, went to Church, and had a pretty good middle class life. Five months ago when we moved to Kenya that all was turned upside down. We are now the only white people living among all Kenyans. Naturally, we draw some attention. Now my wife and I are famous. Whenever I am in town, everybody stares at me. Whenever I walk into a remote village or slum, I instantly have hundreds of children following me around. They come up and shake my hand, and beg for me to take their pictures. (African children just assume white people have a camera, even if I'm not carrying it.) I work at an orphanage, and several times a week people will come to our house and ask me for a job. Whenever I walk in public, I am constantly bombarded with people asking for a job, money, or food. I became famous the instant I moved to Africa. It makes you feel like the amazing white, western missionary. Everybody is coming to me for help. And after all, that is why we are here right?...

My wife and I do have a problem though. We are just like these people in a lot of ways. I can not solve all of these people's problem. I don't say that to sound unhelpful. I say it to be realistic. It would be very arrogant and condescending of me to think I can come over to Africa and just "fix" all their problems with the massive amount of "American Money" that every African just assumes you have. Don't get me wrong, I do understand. Compared to most these people my wife and I do have a lot of money. It's all perspective I guess. But back to my problem. I can not give all these people a job. I wish that I could. But if the African people have to rely on a white missionary in order to get a job, well.... they are going to be very disappointed. If they all rely on a white missionary to feed them and their families.... again, they will be very disappointed. We just simply don't have the resources to do that. As a missionary, I can not solve all these problems.

This is what I can do. I can share your burdens. I can use my resources and time to help these people carry their burdens. I can love you. I can get to know you and invest in your life. Most importantly, I can pray for you. I can help you come up with ways to transform your life and empower you. You see, if I just start giving out "handouts" to everyone who asks me for something, my impact will be minimal. I will eventually run out of money and the next day you will be just as hungry as you were before you met me. "You need a fishing pole, not a fish." You see if I just keep giving you handouts, then nothing changes. I mean, "I'm the rich one, your the poor one." "You need me, I don't need you." "I'm a lender, your just a beggar" That is not love. Love is when I come to you, and help lift you up. I can't leave you where your at. I don't want you to be a poor beggar the rest of your life. I want you to be empowered to make a life for yourself. That way you can help people the same way that you have been helped. My wife and I are not better than you are. We're all in this together. You have the skills and abilities to make a life for yourself. You are not inferior to me. But if your constantly having to rely on me, then that's how your going to feel.

It's easy to idealize missionaries. Don't get me wrong, I think that choosing to be one is very admirable and honorable. From experience, I can tell you that it requires an incredible amount of sacrifice. But... we are still the same people. The people my wife and I were back in America is the same people we are here. Again, I don't want you to misinterpret what I'm saying. Being a missionary has been a very transforming experience. But what I have found about living in a third world country is that it doesn't change who you are, but rather it reveals who you are. If you are a selfish, angry, hateful person in a nice American suburb, then you will probably be the same way in the slums of Africa. My wife and I are righteous people. But the only reason we are righteous is because we have faith in Jesus. It's not because we're missionaries or some type of "super-christian." A little secret by the way, there is no such thing as a "Super-Christian." We're all made righteous by the blood of Jesus. That's all.

I do want to ask you not to forget about missionaries. We need you. We need your prayers, phone calls, and emails. It's not easy being away from home in a third world country. Don't forget about us. But in that same breath, don't forget about the single-mother in your church that has sacrificed her entire life to take care of her children. Her sacrifice and love is just as valuable as the people who sell all they have and move to Sudan to plant churches. It's not about what we do, It's about how much love we use to do it. IF you help one person out of love in your hometown, that is more precious to God that helping thousands of widows in a third world country without having love in your heart. God wants you yo love people.

Paul was preaching one time, and miracles were performed. The people he was preaching to thought he was a God. Paul knew that he was just a man and that all glory goes to God. I pray that my wife and I are able to have an amazing impact here in Africa and in the lives of the children we serve. But if we do, it will only be because of the Grace of God. Not because we're "amazing white, western missionaries."

Be blessed!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Demonstrating God's Love in Africa

I'm sure we are all familiar with the Bible verse John 13:35 which states that people will know we are Christians by our love. I have always liked this scripture. According to Jesus, when we look to know who people are by "their fruit" the ruler that we should be using is that of love. Amazing! The Bible does not say that people will know who we are by if or which Church we attend, what type of people we hang around, how much money we have, or who are parents are. People will know that we are disciples of Jesus by the way that we love one another. If you claim to be a follower of Christ but display anger, hate, and selfish ambition towards other people..... Well I'm sorry, but your not following Christ. Because that's not what he did. Jesus loved people. The reason for that is because Jesus is so filled with love, that if were loving our enemies and blessing those that curse us, then we must belong to Christ. If you love, you are born of God according to 1 John.

My wife and I have had a desire to come and be missionaries in Africa for a long time. We have a heart and love for the people here. My wife and I came to work at an Orphanage called "Children With Hope." But what was our agenda? Convert people? Convince people that we're good Christians? Try to please God? just go on a long safari and stare at monkeys?... The reason that we came was simply because we wanted to display the love of Jesus over here in Africa. We wanted to love people.

As Christians we want to see people come to faith in Jesus. We want to see people transformed by obedience to God. But everything we do should be out of simple love. Our agenda, motive, and intent is to love.

The reason we chose to be a part of "Children With Hope" is because it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate God's love. We adopt abandoned orphans and take care of them as our own sons and daughters. This is the same heart that the father has towards us. We are able to be a light in the community. Throughout the old and new testament we see that God has incredible love for the widows, orphans, poor, broken, and lost people. We want to cover these people with the transforming love of God. One thing I love about Jesus is the people that he ministered to. He truly showed no favoritism. He opened his arms open to all. I want to be like that.

Jesus didn't love people to get something in return. He wasn't trying to earn money or anything like that. He was showing you and me how to live. Love is the way. I pray that you begin to manifest this in your life. Lets lay down our selfish ambition, pick up our cross, and follow the way of love! No agenda... just love!

Be blessed!