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!
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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?
Monday, January 28, 2013
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???
Sunday, January 27, 2013
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!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
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.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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."
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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!
Monday, January 21, 2013
We all have different gifts and callings. God made us all to be unique and has set a plan and purpose for all of our lives. I am different from you, and you are different from me. We all bring something different to the table. We all make up the body. The body of Christ can not function without you, and it can not function without me.
In the past few years I have read many Christian books. I have read books by Church planters in which they state that planting churches is what we are all supposed to be doing. The Kingdom of God is all about planting Churches. I have also read books about Christians who spend their time ministering to the poor. They say that the Kingdom of God is all about feeding the poor, and clothing the naked. Yet, I have read other Christian authors who say that Christianity is all about simple living. We should all sell all our possessions, and be like Mother Teresa. All of these things are great, and they are all beautiful representations of God. But....
The Kingdom of God is not about me convincing you to be just like me. It's about me encouraging you to fulfill your role in the body of Christ. We all have different giftings and callings. I work with an organization called "Children With Hope." We have 4 house parents, around 9 house workers, a carpenter, a Kenyan Board, an American Board, 2 teachers, a lot of financial donors, and a lot of people who pray and intercede for Children With Hope. They are all vital. If I said that everyone should move to Kenya and be house parents, then the place would fall apart. If the Kenyan Board said that everyone had to be a board member, then the place would fall apart. It takes everybody doing their part. Sometimes it is easy to get focused on the "missionaries." But from the point of view of a missionary, I know that it takes everybody. If it was not for everyone doing their part then my wife and I would not be able to serve in our role.
Jesus had many women and other people that met the financial needs of his ministry. That is why he had Judas as his treasurer. Many individuals and Churches made contributions to aid the Apostle Paul. Some people like Paul preached, and other people gave money in support. It takes everybody. Stephen along with 6 other men were chosen to run a feeding program in Acts 6. The apostles preached and these men handed out food. One is not better than the other. It was about doing what the Spirit of God had gifted and called them to do. Some were Apostles, others Prophets, others evangelists, others Pastors, others teachers. Some of you out there are givers. So give. Some of you are called to serve. So serve. Some of you are called to preach. So preach. Some of you are called to lead. So lead.
My point is, if God has called you to be an African Missionary, then don't settle for being a successful American Business man. And if God has called you to be an American Business man, then don't settle for being an African Missionary. Be yourself, stick to the giftings and callings that God has given specifically to you. God did not create you to be like someone else. Without you, then the Body of Christ is missing something.
But the reason for all of these opportunities has nothing to do with me. It's all because the Lord put a "Person of Peace" in my life.
You see when Jesus sent his disciples out to teach, heal the sick, and drive out demons he told them upon entering the town to find a "Person of Peace" (see Luke 10). When I came here, I met a man named Peter who has been a "Person of Peace" for me. It's amazing the wisdom that is in Jesus instructions here to find a man of peace. It has so many benefits. I would not be able to "tie my shoes" over here, if it was not for Peter. Let me brag about him for a bit. Peter is the pastor at a local church here in town. Peter is also a Church Planter. Peter is also the director for Tobiah Children's Home, where I work at. He is also a fellow house parent with my wife and me. This man does it all.
It feels like Peter knows everybody. I mentioned earlier all the opportunities that I have had to go minister at Churches, (not to mention I currently have 4 Pastors that are wanting us to come minister there), I have not asked to preach one time since I have been here. Also, Peter translates for me every time I preach. The only time I minister is when Peter sets it up. Once again it feels like Peter knows over a million preachers. Now, I ask myself a question. If it were not for Peter, How long would it take me to build the contacts and relations with these pastors in order to have the opportunity to go minister to all these churches? It would take forever. You see, God brings "People of Peace" into our lives to enhance our opportunities to do the work of God in these communities. We need to rely on the people God brings in our lives.
Also, we are ministering to a slum close to where we live here in Sukunaanga. How were we able to accomplish that? Because Peter just so happens to know the village elder of the entire slum. Peter has so many contacts that it's unreal.
Finally, I mentioned that I will be speaking at a conference in April to over 100 pastors in the area. How much work did I have to do to set that up? Absolutely none. Peter already knows all the pastors and has put the entire conference together. Once again, I did not ask or volunteer to speak at this. I just did what he asked me to do. You see, often times if we just take the risk and walk through the doors that God opens for us, we will find ourselves doing things that we never imagined.
I'm not a preacher. I don't do work in slums. The only reason I'm over here is to be a house parent at an orphanage, which is our passion and we love doing it. But through the Grace of God and Peter, we are able to do so much stuff in our free time, when were not working at the orphanage.
I write all this to say, if you are a missionary in a foriegn country, it's easy to feel lost. Don't start from scratch! Look for a "person of peace". A man who God is already working through. I promise you, even if you are new to the country, God has been there for a long time. When we came here to Eldoret. We did NOT do anything new. God was already working here. We just simply accepted the invitations that Peter "our Person of Peace" has given us. We are so blessed to have Peter in our lives. So find this person in your life.
Once we arrived, we were thrilled to meet all of the children that would come to call us mom and dad. One of these children in particular stuck out. We met a child named Job. I guess you could say that Job could be the "poster child" for any African infomercial. Job was malnourished as a child. The affects of this caused Job to have a distended stomach. So Job was a 4 year old orphan with a distended stomach. I don't know why, but for some reason Job seemed to be drawn to us. We felt a connection with all of the children. But especially Job; every time Job would see us, he would smile and walk up to us. He constantly wanted to sit in our lap and hold our hands. Job was filled with love. He had the most gentle spirit out of any child I have ever met.
It was our 5th day here, and that night was pretty typical. Job fell asleep in his crib that night, just like he always did. Sadly, once Job fell asleep, he would never wake up again. That morning we woke up just to find out the terrible news. The rest of the day was filled with tears. Nobody could have done anything; Job had been in and out of doctor's offices. The director here did everything possible. The bottom line was that God was calling Job home. We had only been here 5 days, but Job had already become such a big part of our new lives. I mean, what can prepare you for that? I figured we would be hit with cultural shock, and I knew we would have a lot of obstacles to overcome. But this was just not fair. It was to much. I guess it never occurred to me that when taking this job as a house parent, I might have to deal with the death of a child. it was really hard for my wife and I to deal with.
Although Job's life was unfair and filled with pain and discomfort, God still had a purpose for him. Job showed us how fragile life can be. Job showed us love from the first moment he saw us. He showed us how we were going to have to love all of the other children that we would come to know. Job was such a gift from God, and we were so blessed to be able to meet him! We still talk about Job from time to time. One thing is for sure, we will always remember Job. He is a constant reminder that every child we have here at the orphanage is precious, and needs to be loved every day. I know that we can't wait to reconnect with Job in heaven!
Saturday, January 19, 2013
I guess I was just so used to being around all the children every day. I guess I didn't realize how they were always happy. Don't get me wrong, they are still children. Constantly crying about a toy that another kid stole, peeing their pants, and not listening to instructions. But yea, he is right, the Children are always beaming like a light.
Why are they so happy? Sometimes when I'm around them I feel saddened in my heart. I look into their faces and think to myself, "How could someone ever abandon these children?" They are such a gift from God. I could not imagine being abandoned by my parents. I can't imagine having to walk around my entire life knowing that my parents didn't want me. They didn't think that I was worth keeping. That would crush my spirit. But although that's the situation most our children come from, they are still filled with overflowing joy. They have the innocence of a child. These children know that they are loved, cared for, and valued.
I know that in the future these children will be aware of what happened to them. How we are not their biological father and mother. (We have a slightly different skin tone :) I can't tell them who their parents are. I can't tell them when their Birthday is. I can't tell them why their parents didn't want them. All these thing I can't do. What I can do though is make sure these children know that Jesus knows when they were born; The reason he knows is because he was there. He loves you and had a purpose for your life. You are loved more than you can possibly imagine. I also have the great honor of being able to display the adoptive heart of God the father that he has towards all of us!
May these children continue to be filled with joy and spread it to all they meet!
Friday, January 18, 2013
Most people that live in the slums around here are living in a 9X9 ft. house made of mud. In other words, their entire house is smaller than my bedroom. The house is usually divided into 2 sections; One room is for the bed, and the other is the "living area." These houses only have one bed in it. Also, the average size of the family living in a slum is about 7 people. So you do the math. This means that most of the children are forced to sleep on the floor, which you guessed it, is just a dirt floor. These houses have no electricity and no running water. All of the meals are cooked over an open fire in the living room. They get light from purchasing a cheap kerosene lamp in town. In order to do laundry or shower, they have to walk down to the river. Depending on where in the slum you live, this can be a very long trip. You see people walking around drunk all the time, trying to drown their sorrows. You see children walking around in ripped "hand me down" clothing, and no shoes. People just walk up and down the street with obvious sorrow and hopelessness on their faces.
As for what daily living is like for them, I will use an example from one of our workers at the orphanage I work and live at. This person has to wake up at 5:30 every morning get ready and eat breakfast. Since she has no car, she has to walk or take public transport to get to work. It takes this person an hour and a half to get to work every day. She works from 8:30-4:30, and after that travels back to her house which is an hour and a half back also. Once she gets back home, she has children to feed. This means she has to build a fire and start cooking dinner which is a very long process. People over here usually eat supper very late, so that children won't go to bed hungry. After this the family spends some time together, and then go to bed.
By the way, the lady I described above, she is a lucky one. She has a job. Most people living in the slums are unemployed. The men spend their days wandering around trying to find any type of work to do for money, and they are mostly unsuccessful. These people don't know how they are going to feed their children, pay their school fees, or make rent. Life seems hopeless for most these families.
Please join my wife and I in praying for the slums in Africa and around the world to be transformed by the power of God working through ordinary people like yourself.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
The interesting thing though, was that these people did not do any of that stuff. We did no advertising at all, we didn't call any people, we didn't have a big name speaker, or anything that I thought we would. To be honest I was very skeptical. On the first day we went out to share the gospel, I thought to myself, "Nobody is going to come to this." All we did was build a stage out of some old rotten wood. Then our worship team got up and just started praising God. Some time passed by, and I was walking up on the stage to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. To my amazement, I got up on the stage and over 200 people were sitting on the ground just waiting to hear my message. I could hardly believe my eyes. We did this for 4 days, and we had more people every day. By the last day over 500 people were coming to listen to me preach. I was overwhelmed with joy. I was just thinking how much trouble back in America we had getting people to come to things like this. It was so difficult, but here we did no advertising at all, and people came from all over the entire village just to hear the message and good news of Jesus.
There is now a church planted in this remote village called Vumilia. It is the first Church that this place has ever had. It made me wonder why this was so successful here, and similar efforts I had been a part of in America had been so "unsuccessful." I started to think about why these people were so receptive and opened to hearing the gospel. I asked some of the Kenyan Church leaders and here are some quick bullet points summarizing their answers:
1. These people have never heard the message of Jesus, so it is completely new to them.
2. People in Kenya have a very communal based culture, as opposed to the the individualistic based culture we have in America. So, if someone goes to hear the gospel, then the entire village goes. It's just their culture to go hear a guest when they come.
3. Less distractions. I come from a place where almost everybody has cable television, Iphones, Ipads, Ipods, the internet which I'm using right now... and a lot of other things to occupy our time. I'm not at all saying these things are bad, I use them daily. But out in these remote villages, like the one I went to, they have none of this stuff. So people are much more likely to come and attend an event like this, since they don't have many other alternatives on how to spend their night.
Finally, I just want to say that I'm so impressed and overwhelmed with joy that the people over here are so willing to hear about Jesus. These people are living in extreme poverty, and have very hard lives. So they are searching for a savior. SO I just praise God that these people are hearing the Gospel. It is Jesus who draws people to himself. Not good speakers. I can't wait to see more people give their life to Christ through the miraculous power of our God.
But real quickly, I just wanted to talk about some of the challenges from moving that we have encountered in our 5 months here. The first one and I think the most obvious is having to be away from all our friends and family. I can't put into words how difficult that is. We both have great families and a group of friends that we would not trade for anything. Then, in a blink of an eye, all of that is gone and I am on the complete other side of the world living in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead of my hometown.
Secondly, coming from a place where people speak English and only English to a place where people speak 3 different languages and primarily Swahili. It's so weird to listen to conversations all day where you have no idea what they are talking about. It makes you feel out of place. I can't wait for us to be affluent in Swahili that way we can finally communicate with the Kenyans in the language they are used to.
Thirdly, Food!!! It is amazing how much I miss American food. I am so used to being able to go to a fast food place, subway, pizza, mexican, chinese, italian, burger places...etc. Now I am in a place where I mostly eat rice, beans, cabbage, kaal, and things like that. I feel pathetic when I find myself during the day thinking about where I would eat at if I was in America. Appreciate your food!!!
Fourth, it still amazes me how people in Kenyaa view time. I'm used to America where you have to be at work on time, show up to meetings on time, show up on time for Church, and whenever you agree to meet someone at a certain time that's when you meet. Here in Kenya, time is very relative. If someone says they will meet you in 30 minutes, you might wait hours and that's just how the culture is.
I could go on and on, life is just so different here; from how families interact, what they do for fun, driving on the other side of the road...etc.
But although being here was so out of our comfort zone, it has been so amazing. The best thing is the people. It must be from God, but my wife and I just love the people here in Kenya. They are some of the best people in the world, and we are so blessed to be here ministering with and to them. We have had the opportunities to minister to people here in a way that we would never have been able to back in America.
We praise God for bringing us here, and can't wait to see how we continue to grow into our new environment and all the people that God brings into our lives.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
But today, I want to talk to you about one of our special babies. Her name is Rachel and she is around a year old. When Rachel was born, she was abandoned by her parents and thrown into the bushes of one of the slums here in Africa. This happened during the rainy season, so she was completely abandoned and laid helplessly in that bush for 2 days while being rained on the whole time, with no food, milk, or any chance of a future.
But God knew Rachel by name, and had a plan for her life. As it worked out, after lying in the rain for 3 days, a "good Samaritan" was walking by and noticed that Rachel was just lying helplessly in that bush. She decided to take the time and take Rachel to the hospital. Through God's design, it turned out that Rachel came to live here with us, where she is loved.
I tell you this story to show that even a baby in the most hopeless situation in the world, was still able to be saved due to God's love and grace.
Today, Rachel is growing up and she is a joy to be around every day. Unfortunately, she is scarred from all the events of her past. Rachel suffers with a disease known as bacterial meningitis, she suffers from severe brain damage, and also has had intestinal problems. Rachel is unable to walk, talk, or even lift her head. She has severe cerebral palsy. The doctors say that she will never be able to walk or talk in her life. That is what the doctors say, but I'm not so sure. I'm anxious to see what the power of God is able to do in her life. I know that baby Rachel has a future, so please join me in praying for God to do the impossible in her life.
We are so blessed to be able to call Rachel our daughter, and to be able to care for her every day. One of my greatest joys in life is to be able to see my wife hold and feed baby Rachel every day. It's a messy job, because Rachel is not very good at chewing. But you know what? Love is messy. And I am blessed to see the love of God every day when I see my wife taking care of Rachel as if she is her own biological Child. It really shows the adoptive heart of love that God has towards us all.
May you be blessed!
But how do we read it? How do we understand it? The Bible presents a lot of different challenges in our pursuit to understand it.
Whenever we read the Bible we read it through a modern, western mindset, and that is fine. Everybody has a worldview that they have developed and it dictates how we interpret everything that we see and experience. But the Bible was written from an ancient, eastern mindset. They had a completely different worldview than what we do. So when we read the Bible we cross a lot of boundaries. One of the main ones is the language barrier. The Bible was written is Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. Most people I know do not speak any of these languages. Do I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God? Absolutely! However, it would be ignorant of us to not make ourselves aware of the fact that this inspired word of God had to be translated by normal people just like you and me that are subject to mistakes. It is very difficult to translate these languages into English. If you know anything about the Hebrew language, you know that most Hebrew words have at least 3 different meanings.
Also the Bible is filled with cultural influences that show up in all of the writings. Obviously, since we are not Hebrew, these cultural things don't make much since to us. So, how do you translate all of this into English? It is a challenge. Also, a lot of the bible (the creation story in Genesis, the Psalms, and other writings) are poetry. This is extremely difficult to translate into English without losing the message. If these poems were literally translated word for word, it would make no since to us. So the challenge for people who translated the Bible was to put the message into English, where we can understand and still maintain the integrity of the original Hebrew writings.
The Bible was written in a literal place at a literal time. If we don't understand the historical context in which the book was written, again much of the Bible will not make since to us.
In one of the Bible stories in the book of Acts we read that Phillip comes across a man who is reading the book of Isaiah. Phillip ask the man if he understands what he is reading. The mans reply is that he will not be able to understand it, unless he has someone teach him.
This man came from the same culture and spoke the same language of the book in which he was reading, and still needed help in order to understand it. My point is that if this man needed help to understand the scriptures, then certainly we need to also.
Finally, most of the New Testament writings are letters that were written to specific Churches for a specific reason. What I want you to realize, is that when you read these letters, you are basically reading someone else's mail. If I went up to some stranger's mailbox and read their personal letters, obviously a lot of the information (although I could read the language) would not make any since to me, since I would not know the context of the letter. The New Testament Letters were not written to you. (Note: I'm not trying to imply that the New Testament is not for us or beneficial to us. I'm simply noting that these letters were not written to us. We were not alive yet. :) )
For me personally, when I was growing up I would tend to shy away from the Old Testament writings (and still do some) simply because it did not make any since to me. Also, I noticed when for myself I started to look up the original Greek and Hebrew meanings for words that are commonly used in Christian circles, that these words took on a sometimes new or at least much deeper meaning than it did before. For example, I commonly used words like grace, repent, salvation, heaven, and Hell. These are basic words in the Bible to which I thought I had a clear picture of what they meant. So I thought....
Back to the original topic, How do we read the Bible? I want to post a few ideas on how to better read the Bible so that it will be more beneficial to you.
1. Research words you find in the Bible, find out the original Greek or Hebrew meaning of the word. This will help you to better understand what the original people that heard these words understood when they heard the message.
2. When you research, use a variety of resources, and try to stay away from people's personal opinions on what these words mean. Stick to the proven facts.
3. Figure out the historical facts of the writings that you are reading. Who wrote the book that I am reading? What time period was it written during? Who was the original audience? What was the original language it was written in? What was going on historically when this book was written?
The Bible says in Acts 17:11 "... these people searched the scriptures daily, to see if what Paul and Silas were saying was true."
It is not convenient to do all this research, I know that. But I believe that the Bible will come much more alive and easy to read if you take the time to figure out what exactly it is that you are reading. Don't just take the word of whoever is preaching to you on Sunday. Take the time to look for yourself.
God bless you as you open up his word to try to know him better!
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Today, I just want to encourage you to "go" out and reach people in love. For my wife and I, that meant moving to Eldoret, Kenya so that we could reach the people here in love. For you that might mean leaving all that you know like Abraham and going to a place that you don't know. It might mean that you have to go out to homeless people that your not comfortable around in order to show them love. It could just mean that you need to go to your spouse, and lay down your pride, and submit to them in love. It may mean you have to deny yourself, go to your enemies, and show them love (even though they may not deserve it, or return it.) Reaching people requires us to make a sacrifice! But people, that is exactly what God did for us! So lets leave whatever place were at, and go out to reach people in love. It's risky, but love is worth it! So go to people, whether it's your spouse in a struggling marriage, your children that are going through a hard time, a friend that has betrayed you, or to a people group on the other side of the world that does not know the goodness and love of God!
God is sending you! So start reaching out in love to all the people that you come in contact with. It's who you are. Love fulfills us. You will transform other people, and be transformed yourself when you start reaching people in love. Love is what will transform the world. So GO!!! You can do it.
Like Paul says, "The love of God compels us..."
1. They are abandoned by their parents, (for a variety of reasons) and are left to go to the streets and beg.
2. They have chosen to run away from home due to a lack of food at home.
3. They feel like their parents are to harsh on them, and run away to experience more "freedom."
When you see this in person it absolutely breaks your heart. My first instinct after seeing this situation is to run to the store and buy a bunch of food and water and start handing it out to all the children so that they can be well fed. But there is one problem with that. The more that is done, it encourages more children living in the slums to run away from home and live undisciplined by their parents so that they can receive these free "handouts." So, how is the best way to minister to these children?
This situation got me to thinking about the story of the prodigal son. One thing I notice is that the father does not leave his house and go continue to give his younger son money so that he can continue his prodigal living. Rather, he eagerly waits for his son to come home and realize that his life would be better if he lived with his father.
The saddest thing about this whole situation is that these children think that this is the best way to live. They need to realize that God has a better life for them than just begging on the streets and sniffing glue.
I believe that what we need to do, is empower families that are living in the slums, so that they can provide for the needs of their children. This way the parents don't have to abandon their children, b/c they can't provide for them. Also, the children won't run away from home, cause they know that their mom and dad will provide for them. These families in the slum need to be empowered to have the ability to care for their children physically and spriitually.
Here at the children's home, our children know that they are loved and taken care of, so we don't have to worry about them running away. They know that they are loved. I pray that the "Street Children" will find a better way of life, and know that God has a plan and future for them.
Please comment if you have any ideas on how to best minister to "street children."
Monday, January 14, 2013
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Saturday, January 12, 2013
He can use anyone with an obedient heart. You just have to say Yes !