Monthly Archives: January 2019

What It’s All About

“Pull over the van now!”

The folks in the van were chatting and dozing as the team was travelling back from Mt. Elgon.  We had just finished a great day teaching the “Lead Like Jesus’ curriculum to the rural pastors and bible school students up on the mountain.  On the way down the

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Austin knows for sure!

mountain Jennifer began talking to Austin, who was driving one of the three vans carrying our team.  Our drivers are our lifeline while in country, making sure we get everywhere safely, keeping us supplied with water, and generally answering dozens of questions about country and culture.  It’s about an hour and a half drive over some very rough road and Jennifer Crotts was sitting in the front seat talking to Austin about the day.  About 15 minutes into the conversation the Holy Spirit began to speak to Jennifer.  She felt she needed to ask Austin about his salvation.

Like many of us, the thought of having a gospel conversation with someone terrified Jennifer.  But she began to recall some of Bro. Steve’s messages and his encouragement to just start asking questions.  So, she mustered up her courage and asked, “So Austin, do you go to church?”  He said yes, but he really wasn’t sure about things.  He tried to pray,

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Children waiting while their parents attend the seminar

but just didn’t feel anything.  Jennifer started asking more questions and she remember Bro. Steve talking about a young girl who attended a revival service and felt convicted, but said she’d do it later.  Then that girl was killed in a car wreck that night and never had another opportunity to make a decision.  Jennifer looked at Austin and said, “So if we were to have a wreck right now, would you go to heaven or hell?”   He said, “I don’t know”; to which she responded, “Would you like to know right now?”  He said “Yes!”.  That’s when Jennifer shouted, “Pull over the van now!”  Long story short, after driving to a safer place to talk, Grant Crotts and Baron Muga had the honor of leading Austin in the sinner’s prayer!  An already great day turned outstanding.

The training center on Mt. Elgon is a story in itself.  Richard Makani began teaching new house church pastors under a tree on the mountain years ago.  He wanted to build a center where those people could come together to be taught the word of God and then in turn go back and teach their church members.  A field became available on the

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Redeeming the land for God!

Mountain, but it was on a former battlefield.  Many bloody tribal battles were planned on that very spot.  The people of the region said it was too dangerous to come there and build.  Richard was not deterred however and 5 years ago ground was broken on the center.  Now, twice a week local pastors travel up to 20K to meet and be taught.  None of these men are particularly educated men.  Most never finished high school, but Richard and the men he has discipled share scripture and theology in simple terms.  Perhaps someone should come and study their model and start a movement.  Call it ‘Simple Seminary”!

On Thursday we will travel to Kakamega to visit Light School.  Thanks for your continued prayers!

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Where Faith meets Hustle

“I know the Lord told us to build the boys dorm, but we didn’t know where the funds would come from.   So, we just prayed and asked the Lord, who has always been our provider.  Then we drew up the plans…”

We Americans always need to have a plan.  We make plans for the day, plans for a project, plans for a vacation, and plans for retirement.  We’ll sit down and plan a route

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New Girl’s dorm at Seeds High School

for which stores we want to shop, or we’ll plan what style and finishes we want on our next house.  But generally, we are planning already knowing we have the money to accomplish our plan or at least we know where we’re going to get the money.  Even when we don’t have the money when we are making plans, we’ll make a budget so we can save money from our salaries to eventually accomplish the plan.  Richard Makani and his wife Hellen don’t have that luxury.

When God first told Richard and Hellen to start feeding children they thought, ‘where will I get the money to feed these kids?”  Richard would catch a bus from their home in

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Teacher training

the village of Mois Bridge to the town of Kitale.  He would buy beans and corn and ride the bus back home to resell the produce.  He did that for a year and saved $50, a princely sum for a small church pastor.  Out of that $50 they began to feed 10-15 children from the Kipsongo slum one meal a week.  From those humble beginnings, God has taken them on a journey of faith few of us would understand.  Many times, God would give Richard or Hellen a word about something they were to do.  They stood at those faith crossroads wondering how God would provide for that particular vision.  They would get down on their knees and say, “God, we don’t know how you are going to provide, but you are our provision.”  Then they would start taking steps towards that vision.  Time after time, God would make the show up at the exact right moment.

One day one of the MP’s (Members of Parliament) came by the house they were

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Hellen translates for Jennifer & Rachel

renting and using as the orphanage.  Hellen thought they had come by to visit the ministry, but the real reason is that the MP wanted to buy the house.  Richard and Hellen received a call a week or so later telling them they had 60 days to vacate the house!  What were they going to do?  They started praying and then they began to act.  Hellen went to town and started to negotiate the purchase of concrete and sand, not knowing how they were going to pay for it.  Richard sat down with his Dad and they started drawing up plans for the first orphanage building.  Again, they didn’t know how they were going to pay for it.  What they didn’t know was there was a church in the US that had started raising money for a church building.  God told them to stop planning that building and then a few months later they heard about Richard and Hellen’s plight.  God told them that’s the building they were raising funds for!  God had already deposited the money for that orphanage before the need was even known.  BUT Richard and

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They were born in the slums, but they’re born again in Jesus!  And they’re getting a good education.

Hellen had already trusted in God’s provision.

Fast forward to today and Richard and Hellen now oversee a ministry that cares for over 200 children at Seeds Children’s Home, feeds and educates over 400 poor children at Seeds Academy just outside the Kipsongo slum, educates teenagers at the brand new Seeds High School in Kitale and trains Pastors at a new training center built up on Mt. Elgon.  The latest miracle was at the orphanage.  There is a new girl’s dorm and dining hall, but the boys are living in a house made of poles and iron sheets.  The boys come to Richard and begged for a new place to live.  Richard told them, “We don’t have any money, but let’s pray”.  So, they prayed for several days and Richard, of course, started drawing up plans.  Three days later Richard got an email from a couple in the US.  They asked, “What is your biggest need?  We want to help meet it!”.  Today, that dorm is under construction!  They are still a little short of funds to finish, so I wonder, perhaps God deposited those funds in your bank account?

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Home!

The Bellevue team spent Wednesday visiting the academy, the high school and the orphanage.  We ministered to the teachers, talked about lesson plans and approaches to education, played with children, had grown-up conversations with the teenagers and saw miracles revealed.  We walked through answered prayers.  We heard about children rescued.  We saw Jesus with skin on.  Team member Grant Crotts took it all in and summarized it this way:  “This is where Faith meets Hustle!”

We are over half-way through our journey.  We travel to Mt. Elgon Wednesday to lead local pastors in the ‘Lead Like Jesus’ seminar.  Keep praying!

 

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The Heart of Kenya

Guest Post by Lauren Milewski

          We had our first devotion today in the cool morning breeze of Nairobi. Rachel B mathare 2read from Psalms 46:10 which says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Kenya has the Hakuna Mattata motto, and they (unlike America) actually take time to be still before God. Their schedules aren’t set and are super flexible. They don’t think bad of someone if they show up late (how I wish it were like that in the States lol). They are super gracious and loving people.

On our way to the Mathere School we got stuck in a lot of traffic. No one in our van seemed to stress, and we took advantage of mathare 1the time to get to know one another better. This group is from all stages of life, yet we still have openly connected with one another. The bond of this team I’ll never forget, and all of the conversations in the cars, planes, and at dinners are so precious to me. It’s fun seeing how from ages 19-85 God is using each of us right now, and will continue to use us in the future if we keep making ourselves available. God has chosen us. Will we choose Him?

We were in one of the poorest areas in all of the world today. Driving through it was indescribable. Once we got there, Pastor Kennedy walked us through the slums to get to the school. Before we got there, he stopped us at a pathway. It stunk so bad I thought I might throw up. Below the dirt we were standing on was sewage – a ton of it. Yet, Pastor Kennedy had the biggest smile on his face and was showing it off to us because it had come so far. It used to be just the dumps

mathare 3and dumps of sewage you had to walk through. Now there’s dirt on top and a pathway below for water. To Kenyans, this was a huge deal. He didn’t even second guess what us Americans thought. In the States, it was like showing off a shack to a million dollar homeowner. Pastor Kennedy didn’t care because he knew the heart behind it all. He knew he was in God’s will. He knew he was pleasing his Savior and that’s all that mattered to him. With Pastor, we greatly rejoiced for the increase the Lord has provided for this ministry.

There were roughly 160 kids and twenty teachers inside 4 tiny rooms and a little building. I was glad I was able to take photos because I got to see what all was going on in each of the rooms. It was such a fun experience. When we got there, the girls had made us beautiful necklaces and bracelets, and the kids sang

mathare 5 a welcoming song for us at the top of their lungs. It was so sweet. Lunch was awesome. It’s crazy that with what little they have they still gave us their best. After the day was over, we sang a last song and we prayed for one another. When the kids were praying the gist of it was “Thank you Lord for where you have me and placing me here. We are your children. Thank you. Thank you. Amen. Amen.” The kids were so grateful to God and loved on each other so well. They weren’t comparing. They were focused on loving one another and giving thanks. How much more loving and

mathare 4 grateful us Americans need to be. We don’t need to covet other believers’ journeys the Lord has them on. We need to stay focused on our Savior and His plan for us. He has blessed us so that we in turn can bless others. We must do what we can with what we’ve been given. If it means adding dirt to clean up the road or serving someone no matter the cost.

The hearts of the Kenyans are so warming and challenging to me. To whom much is given much will be required. I have to ask myself, where is my heart? Is it in people’s approval or is it in God’s approval like Pastor Kennedy’s is? Maybe we should all just “cease striving” and allow the Lord to analyze our hearts.

Hakuna Mattata

Lauren

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Impact

It’s now Sunday night in Kenya and we’ve just finished our dinner.  We took some time just now to recap our day at three different churches in Nairobi.  The words I heard tonight were words like ‘overwhelmed’, ‘joyful’, ‘my heart was full’,  ‘their worship was so authentic’, and ‘during the prayer time I saw people praying without fear of judgement’.  Sometimes I get asked why we keep coming back to Kenya.  Seeing Kenya again afresh and anew through these people’s eyes is a gift that keeps on giving.  Please read the guest post below.  This is one of the many reasons we keep going!

Tomorrow we travel into the slums of Nairobi to visit a miracle!  The first new block and concrete school ever!

Guest post by Jennifer Crotts:

Today we attended the Spiritual Life Center, a church, in a slum in Nairobi Kenya. The worship at this church was so powerful and loud and raw. It was so life changing for me I do not feel I can adequately describe it here. It gave me a mental picture of beautiful praises rising up to Heaven from a heap of twisted metal and rubbish. Not to mention all the people in the vicinity that were witness to the sounds of this worship.

Bellevue has some of the best teaching, music, and praise and worship I have ever experienced. I have a love for my church and its people that runs deep. My husband, Grant, and I have been called to international missions and we are currently seeking and following what the Lord has in store for our family. This trip to Kenya is a kind of exploratory trip for us. We have heard this call over the past year and a half. During that time, almost every Sunday the thought crosses my mind of how much I will miss the Bellevue worship experience. I am so thankful for each Sunday at Bellevue because at some point I may not have the privilege of attending.

Today, we attended a church in a slum in Nairobi and the Lord showed me he will not allow me to miss the worship at Bellevue because the worship where he sends is rich.

Please watch this video as a testimony to these words.

 

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Fellowship

Believers in Jesus, with common goals but different circumstances.  Church dsc03432leaders from African churches fellowshipping with church leaders from American churches.  Dark skin, light skin.  Men and Women.  Old and young.  The body of Christ.  Saturday was a small slice of what heaven will look like!  The US team spent the day sharing messages from the “Lead Like Jesus” curriculum.  The African teams shared some of their strategies for reaching people for Christ.  Grant and Rachel dsc03433shared about the Heart of Jesus asking the question “Are you a servant leader or a self-serving leader?”.  They addressed the EGO of a leader and talked about how to move that acronym from Edging God Out to Exalting God Only.  Katie then took to podium to share how to practice the ‘Being’ habits of Jesus.  She reminded us all that we need to ‘Be still and know I AM God’.dsc03438

Frankie taught on the Head of Christ, sharing how Christ’s Point of View was that of a servant.  Christ not only told people how to live, he showed them by serving them.  Warren shared about the hands of Christ and how he moved the disciples from Novice to Apprentice to Journeyman to Master.  Zach wrapped it all up with a wonderful illustration of the ‘Doing’ habits of Christ.  Once the ‘teaching’ time was done we had a question and answer session and a dsc03435testimony time where the African team shared their takeaways from the day.  The next two hours we fellowshipped together and shared the joys and challenges of growing a church in the likeness of Christ.

Later that evening we shared a dinner of barbecue goat, lamb and chicken with vegetables and fruit.  The fellowship from the afternoon dsc03445carried during the meal.  Day 1 left us with new friends and full hearts.  We may never see some of these people again on earth, but we’ve already got a head start on heaven!

Nairobi church worship services tomorrow!

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Leading Like Jesus

It has been just over 19 months since the last Bellevue team gathered at Memphis International Airport preparing to leave for Kenya.  Lots has happened since then and we are excited to see what God has been doing in the ministries with which we have been partnering.  We’ll get to check in on one of our own families that has moved ‘back home’ to attend seminary.  They have felt the call to move back after 17 years of living in the US to start a ministry to their homeland.  We’ll get to see the completed High School and Dining Hall in Kitale and see the progress on the new dormitories.  We’ll get to visit the Pastor’s training center on Mt. Elgon and see how the new dormitories there are progressing.  But most of all we’ll get to visit with and minister to the precious Kenyan people who have dedicated their lives to ministering to their country.  It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of people’s lives have been changed by the tireless work of the men and women who pastor these churches and feed and educate thousands of children.team team

Our purpose on this trip is discipleship and teacher training.  We will conduct several one-day ‘Lead like Jesus’ seminars with church pastors and their key lay leadership.  We will conduct teacher training seminars in 5 different Christian Schools.  We will minister to children in the slums and in the Seeds Children’s Home.  We will continue the partnership that was started with Bellevue’s first trip in 2009.  We covet your prayers for safety, good travel, easy connections and healthy team members!  Stay tuned here for updates throughout the week!

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