Monthly Archives: February 2012

Empty!

The ministry bags are empty.  My pockets are almost empty.  Our sleep tanks are empty.  Our emotional tanks are empty.  We are finishing – empty.  And yet we are full.  Full of the love that has been shown us these last 9 days.  Full of sights, sounds and emotions that will never leave us.  Full of mental pictures that we will be processing over the next few days and months.  But mostly, we are full of awe and wonder for our great God and the things He has shown us.

We have just finished our last day of ministry.  Warren, Arvia and Gary were the honored speakers at Pastor Ken’s church.  Ashley and Cheslie went with the Rock Creek team to minister in the Nairobi slums.  They helped with another medical clinic to the poorest of the poor.  And Susan, Katie and I introduced Colin to our friends in the Kasarani area of Nairobi, Amos and Miriam.  And of course we saw our favorites, Amos and Miriam’s son Larry and his new baby sister, baby Susan.  It has been a great day!

Now we are repacking and preparing for the long flights back.  We will arrive back in Memphis on Monday around 5PM.  Just in time for rush hour!  We can’t wait to see you all when we return…  But we’ll be empty!

 

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Water is Life

“How many of you have had Typhoid?”  About half of the hands went up.  “How many of you have had stomach illnesses causes by bad water?”  All of the hands went up.  This was the response of almost 35 pastors and their wives at the GFE Pastor’s conference we attended and assisted with on Wednesday.  Many of you reading this blog have donated funds for clean water filters for the people of Kenya.  I am happy to report that I have delivered filters to the slums of Kamkunji and Kipsongo.  I have delivered 20 of them to a typhoid ridden area in the region around Kissi.  I delivered almost 50 to the remote region of Mt. Elgon outside Kitale and lastly 2 apiece to the pastors and wives who lead churches in throughout western Kenya.  During the demonstration to the pastors and their wives, I was able to use an illustration that God gave me using the filters.

I started with a bucket of dirty water.  This represented the sin nature into which I was born.  I then added some dirt, sticks and leaves to represent the sins I have committed.  I then strained the dirty water into another bucket, and while I was successful in cleaning the water of the big stuff, there was still a lot of dirt.  The dirty cloth then represented my righteousness, which was a filthy rag!  On my own I am unable to clean the sin out of my life.  Lastly, I started filtering the dirty water through the Sawyer water filter.  From the red dirt stained water now came crystal clean, pure water. There were audible gasps of surprise in the room when I held up the glass of clean water and took a drink.  Then claps of joys and praise!  This is what happens when we ourselves fully trust Jesus and are cleansed of our sins.  I told them it was not magic, but a technology that can cleans 99.9% of all the disease causing agents from dirty water.  I also told them that it is only when our lives are filtered through the blood of Jesus that we can be clean!

As I write this it is Saturday morning in Kenya.  This is the first opportunity I’ve had to write in a few days.  A busy schedule and spotty internet connections have kept me from making any entries, but I will continue to write about our trip after we return so you can hear about the things we’ve seen and heard.  During the pastor’s conference some of our team helped the pastor’s wives with their children so the wives could attend without distraction.  It was wonderful to come along side these men and women of God and give them encouragement and to gain encouragement from them.  I was able to give them an update on the Tentmaker Initiative.  In less than one year we’ve been able to start 13 businesses with the funds raised mostly through the Kroger card program!  And I brought enough funds to start 3 more.  God is blessing your efforts!

On Thursday we assisted the Church at Rock Creek from North Little Rock in a medical clinic at the Bread of Life feeding station/school in Khayega.  Two hundred and sixty children are fed and educated there each day.  In future posts I’ll give you a closer look at the program there and how people like you have made a difference there.  After lunch we travelled to the Boy’s orphanage outside Kakamega.  The orphanage is a working farm and the boys learn about God while they learn farming skills and their ABC’s.  Again, I’ll give you a better update in the weeks to come.

Friday was a day of adventure and lots of prayers!  We began the day with an open-air evangelistic crusade in the market in Kisumu.  Surrounded by curious on-lookers, glue-sniffing teenagers and at least one self-proclaimed witch doctor, we shared the gospel of Jesus.  Colin gave the greeting and Warren gave his testimony.  Then Gary gave a great gospel presentation to which several people responded.  Pastor Peter and his team then gathered those who responded to get their information for follow-up and discipleship.  Then after lunch we headed out for what was supposed to be a 4 hour drive to the Nakuru National Park for our rest day.  Seven hours, one blown radiator hose on one van and 3 overheated radiators on another, two roadblocks, a 20 km detour through the forest, 50 km of road construction and one broken computer at the game park entry gate later we arrived at our oasis for the night!  Many prayers were said as we literally bounced our way from town to town.

This brings us to Saturday morning.  We are enjoying a warm morning and a drive through the game preserve here in Nakuru.  I will try to get one more post out tomorrow depending on internet.  Thank you all again for praying with us.  See you soon!

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Rescue the Perishing – Miracles in Kitale

The foundation in 2011

The ORPHANAGE in 2012!

Just 12 short months ago, a Bellevue mission  team stood on the slab foundation of an orphanage in Kitale, Kenya.  We prayed that God would provide funds to build the orphanage, which would in the best of times with funds available take six months.  Richard and Helen had a vision of building a permanent facility to house the 47 orphans that were living in a rented house in town.  They were paying about $1000 a month for the house in which they were living, which is a fortune in a country where the average Kenyan makes $2 a day.  The foundation had been built on hand made bricks and some concrete, but all the available funds were gone.  Tens of thousands of dollars would be required to finish this one building, but Richard and Helen told us, “We are trusting God to provide us with the funds for the building”.  A few hundred yards from that slab of concrete was the beginnings of a cow barn.  “Where are the cows?” I asked.  “I am trusting God to provide me with the funds for the cows”.  I’m ashamed to say my faith was not that strong.  Then, something happened over the next few months that proved that God’s supply is greater than my imagination.  Here’s an excerpt from an email I got in May of last year:

“A  few days ago I received an alarming (though not totally unexpected)  email from Richard telling me that the house they had been renting for  their orphanage had been sold and they had to be out in just a couple of  months.  I had tried to purchase this house on two different occasions, but could never reach an agreement with the owner on the selling price.   Now, the orphans would soon be “orphaned again” with nowhere to live.

Arvia and her new friend

Some time ago God provided 15 wonderful acres for the ministry there in Kitale through a church in Colorado Springs.   The long-term vision was to build a new orphanage on the property that  the ministry now owns.  LONG TERM…..being the key word here.

Now ‘long term’ had turned into……..overnight!!

Richard asked me to pray and contact our supporters to help with the need.  He  felt God wanted them to move forward with the building of the orphanage  on the land they owned rather than try to find another house to rent and  risk being moved out unexpectedly again.

My heart sank as I replied that I could not do anything at present to help with the over $30,000 immediate need.  We are currently in a major project of building the training center and I just began our second project of purchasing land and constructing our first medical clinic.   Our tiny ministry simply could not take on another major project at this time.

I love Richard and Helen.  I believe in them.  I have watched them grow spiritually and seen how God has used them step by step as they trusted Him.  I worried that my “no” might be used by the enemy to discourage them.  Boy, did I have an inflated opinion of my role and how much God (or Richard and Helen) needed me!!

I just got off the phone with an elder from the church in Colorado Springs that purchased the 15 acres some time ago.  THE $30,000 FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW ORPHANAGE IN KITALE IS BEING WIRED TODAY!!!!

God heard the cry of his faithful servants Richard and Helen and the orphans who have been trained to “cry out” to their heavenly Father who knows their needs before they ask.

Cheslie and the kids

No more rent.  No more worry about being moved out.  PAID IN FULL!!!!”

TODAY I stood in that completed orphanage and saw the beautiful building now housing 87 orphans, eighty seven children who have been rescued from the slums and bush of Kitale.  I stood in a home where eighty seven children will no longer have to worry about hunger, sexual slavery or physical abuse any more.  I stood in the dorms and touched the sturdy bunk beds and new mosquito nets.  I stood in the new kitchen.  I saw the huge water tower that supplies the water.  TODAY I WALKED ON HOLY GROUND!  Bwana Sufiwe!  Praise the Lord!

Three of the five new calves at the Seed Orphanage

I also watched as the farm manager took me to the barn to oversee the milking of FIVE milk cows.  I’ll tell you how God provided those cows in a later post.  And just as God multiplied the ministry of Richard and Helen, he multiplied the cows as we saw FIVE CALVES!  God is alive and GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!  (Yes FB fans, I’m shouting!)  Praise the matchless name of the Lord!

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Back to School!

Monday Morning – Kitale, Kenya

If I arrived at work every morning to 275 children singing ‘Welcome Visitas, Welcome, Welcome’, I think I’d have a much better week!  That’s what greeted us as we pulled through the gates of the Seeds Academy School and Feeding Station on the fringe of the Kipsongo slum in Kitale.  One of several feeding stations operated by GFE, Seeds educates 275 children from ‘baby class’ through grade 4.  Another 85 children are fed there after they attend the public school.  Excited cries of ‘How are you?’ and thumbs up hand signals were the order of the morning.  Pastor Richard and his wife Helen founded Seeds Academy as well as the Seeds Children’s Home.   Madame Rebeccah is the headmistress for all of the GFE Schools and feeding stations in Western Kenya.  These amazing people have a true compassion for the children of Kenya.  My wife recently heard a speaker say “You don’t really have a compassion for people until you are willing to do something about their situation.” Theirs is a story of true compassion.  In later blogs I’ll relay the stories of Delmas, who was literally thrown into the bush to die and Maximilla, whose family sold her into the sex trade when she was about 10 years old.  If you know a child in trouble, Helen is the one you want on your side.  She won’t rest if she finds a way to rescue them.

The ladies on our team stayed the rest of the morning at the school playing games, telling bible stories and generally loving on the kids until noon time.  The men left shortly after our welcome to go to the tent church in the middle of town.  Warren, Colin and Gary taught a group of about 20 church leaders on discipleship and personal growth topics.  Pastor Richard commented about the wise teachings these men gave.  I responded that they had been taught by wise men such as Adrian Rogers and Steve Gaines.  We talked about what discipleship really means and how they can follow the model Jesus gave us by discipling others and then sending them out to do the same.

At 12:30, we were privileged to participate in their daily lunchtime worship service.  We had met the team from the Church at West Mountain in Texas the day before.  One of their teaching pastors, Chris Rodgers, spoke about reaching out and touching Jesus just as the woman in the crowd had done when Jesus passed by.  She had reached out in faith in the one whom she believed could heal her.  Jesus told her that her faith had healed her.  Bro. Chris pointed out that it was not just that she had great faith, it was in whom her faith was placed that made the difference; Jesus Christ.  It was a challenging sermon for all of us.

After lunch we traveled to visit the brand new Seeds Children’s Home.  That is a miracle story that requires its very own post, so come back tomorrow to see how God turned what looked to be a hopeless situation into a major miracle!

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Worshipping with Abandon!

Thank you for praying for us on our journey.  I am publishing two posts today since this is the first internet connection I’ve been able to find.  As the week goes on I should be able to post more often.  Be sure to read the post for the Kamkunji slum.  It will open your eyes!

Saturday afternoon:

After we left the slum in Kamkunji, we had the privilege of visiting the GFE orphanage just outside of Eldoret.  Here 87 children have been given a new lease on life.  Most of these children have lost both of their parents from imminently preventable diseases, primarily HIV/Aids.  In fact, you can walk the roads and alleys of any slum in Kenya and you will find an 8 or 9 year old child who is the primary keeper and caregiver for a younger sibling.  The orphanage provides a safe place to live in a farm environment.  The children rise each morning at 4:30 for prayers and then start a full day of going to school, working in the garden, learning bible lessons and playing.  This is one of three orphanages we will visit this trip and one of 4 over all operated by GFE.

At Pastor Isaac's church in Kipkaren

Sunday morning was worship time.  And I do mean worship!  Singing and dancing and praising the Lord!  I know that everyone worships in different ways, but Kenyan worship is as genuine and joyful as any I’ve seen.  We split into 4 different teams to maximize the opportunities to connect with the church members.  Colin and Gary ministered at Pastor Joseph Mbae’s church where Colin sang an Gary preached.  Susan and Katie drove to Kipkaren to minister in Pastor Isaac Indeche’s church.  I’m not sure who was more excited, Susan and Katie or Isaac’s precious little girl, Gracious, whom we met last year.  Jeff, Cheslie and Ashley were at Bishop Ben’s church in Eldoret.  Cheslie did a great job giving her testimony and Ashley had a blast teach bible stories to the children.  I was privileged to speak in the service and we had a great time in service.  Mark Blair, we have some ideas for our next choir special!  Warren and Arvia spoke at Pastor Samson Juma’s church.  They had such a good time they didn’t get back until the middle of the afternoon!  Worship is a personal thing and a corporate thing.  We were fortunate to participate in ‘abandoned worship’.  The joy on their faces and the song in their hearts really lifted our spirits.

Preaching at Ben's church in Eldoret

After lunch we left Eldoret for our next ministry stop in Kitale, about an hour and a half away.    We spent the late afternoon re-planning the next two days to accommodate the schedule Pastor Richard has for us.  Next time you’ll hear about our Christian Life conference in Kitale, and our visits to the feeding station and school near the Kipsongo Slum and to the Seeds orphanage here in Kitale.

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Kamkunji Slum

I am sorry it has taken so long to get an update posted.  It is Monday morning in Kitale and this is the first internet connection I’ve been able to find.  I will post two entries today and will post more tomorrow.

No words are adequate

Less than 24 hours in country and we are already forever changed!  We arrived safe and somewhat sound after 3 flights, 2 long layovers and little sleep.  After a quick night’s sleep at the Hampton House missionary house in Nairobi, we arrived back at the airport for our short flight to Eldoret.  The enemy threw us a curve.  Our team was booked on two separate reservations and the first six people were confirmed and ticketed just fine.  However, the airline has canceled the reservation for the remaining 3 people and the plane was full!  The next flight wasn’t for almost 10 hours.  But just at the right time(5 minutes before they closed the flight) God came through again.  We all made the flight, but 4 of our bags decided to wait until the late flight.

We arrived in Eldoret and checked in to the hotel.  After stopping in town to exchange money and purchase some supplies, we met our indigenous ministry partner, Ben Bahati, for lunch.  During lunch I was able to meet with our accountant for the Tentmaker Initiative and hear some great stories of how God is using Tentmaker to help pastors become self-sufficient financially.  I will post more on that in the coming weeks.  What we did next, however, will never leave our thoughts.

Walking up a 'street' between two rows of mud houses

In 2012, it is unimaginable to believe that there are people living in 100 square foot homes made of mud and sticks.  Even more unimaginable is that someone has the gall to charge them $20 a month to live in them.  The Kamkunji slum in Eldoret is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  Here, the poorest of the poor do what they can to get by.  The street children here are often so hungry they sniff bottles of glue to stave off  hunger pangs.  It is in this slum where Global Field Evangelism is trying to start its latest work.  Our team had the joy of providing a meal for these children.  We were able to share a bible story about David and Goliath and then we fed them bags of hot beans and rice.  It was probably the first hot meal these children have had in weeks.

These 4 will not have another hot meal for a while

Four years ago an eighteen year old street boy named James wandered into Ben’s church.  After years of stealing food, sniffing glue and feeling alone in the world, he heard a story of unconditional love.  James turned his life over to Christ that day and he became a new creature.  Now this isn’t one of those “get out of poverty by accepting Christ” stories.  On the contrary, James went back into the slum and began telling people about Jesus.  James is now 22 and is doing what he can to rescue these people from a life of despair.  While he doesn’t have the resources to improve the physical lives of these people, he can give them hope.  GFE has rented several of the small mud houses in Kamkunji.  Living there are several former prostitutes to whom James witnessed and who left that life with nowhere to go.  As many as 10 women and children live in these little hovels.  GFE has also provided two of these mud ‘holes in the ground’ for street boys.  Upwards of 15 boys live in each of the two houses that are run by James.  GFE is feeding these children once a week.  They are praying that God will supply the $1750 dollars a month of support that would be required to start a full-fledged school and feeding station there.  Never again will any of us on this trip take for granted how blessed we are living where we live.  But for the circumstances into which we are born, we could be living a life of constant hunger and deprivation.

I will post again when I can, but I ask that you continue to pray for us on this trip and that you will see God at work in this ministry.

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And so it begins…

Bags packed, check.  Passports found, check.  Malaria medicine started, check.  Schedules confirmed, check.  Prayer partners enlisted, check.  Here we go!   We are headed for our first flight to Chicago, then a 4 hour layover before we fly overnight to London Heathrow.  We’ll layover about 2 hours and then board a 9 hour flight to Nairobi.  We’ll have a short night in Nairobi and catch a 7:30 flight to our first mission stop in Eldoret Kenya.  Thanks to all of you who have donated money, bought water filters, used your Kroger cards for the Tentmaker Initiative or prayed with us as we planned.  The next 10 days will bring sights, sounds and people in our path that we will never forget.  I will keep you updated here with stories and pictures from our trip.  Internet access is spotty at best, so I’ll update as often as possible.  Thanks for standing with us.  Bwana Safi we!  (Praise the Lord!)

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Gathering Supplies!

The entry hall in my house and my garage both are beginning to look like a cross between a warehouse for an outdoor outfitter and a school teacher supply store!

All Smiles

I’m going to switch gears for a few weeks as we prepare to leave for Kenya.  Over the next few days I’ll tell you about our upcoming trip so you can know how to begin praying for us.  Most of you know by now that Susan and I are leading a team from Bellevue to Western Kenya February 16-27.  We have a very full week that includes ministering to street children, visiting orphanages, passing out water filters, teaching a Christian Life conference, reviewing business plans for micro loans, speaking in Kenyan churches and participating in a Pastor’s and wives’ conference.  We have gathered our supplies and we’ll be packing everything up this Sunday.  Pray for safe flights, health, and fruitful activities.

Khayega Feeding Station/School

Here is our day-to-day itinerary:

Thursday, 2/16  Depart Memphis for Nairobi – Arrive late Friday night after 3 flights totaling almost 20 hours.

Saturday – depart early for Eldoret – Visit GFE Orphanage and minister to street kids in Kamkunji slums

Sunday – Preach in 4 churches, travel to Kitale

Monday – Christian Life Conference in Kitale in AM, visit Seeds Orphanage in the PM

Tuesday – Visit feeding station/School in Kipsongo slum in AM, PM travel to Kisumu

Wednesday – Pastor’s conference in Kisumu

Thursday – Assist Rock Creek Baptist from North Little Rock in medical clinic at Khayega feeding station

Friday – Open Air evangelism rally in AM, PM travel to Nakuru

Saturday – Rest Day at Nakuru National Park, PM travel to Nairobi

Sunday – Preach in 2 churches in Nairobi in AM, depart for US PM

Monday – Arrive back in Memphis – FINISHING EMPTY!

Thanks for praying with us!

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