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February 2006

Entries from January 2006

I am Back in Nakuru

I made it back safely to Nakuru yesterday from Kisumu. We had a good trip and God was faithful to keep us safe. Traveling on Kenyan roads is always a test of faith. God has been challenging me lately to have courage to do what He wants me to do. Sometimes I get scared at the enormity of the calling He has given me. We will have some good news for the church plant soon.


Kisumu, Kenya

I am writing this from Kisumu on Lake Victoria in Kenya. I came this weekend from Nakuru to be part of a church opening here. The service was yesterday and everything went well. We even had a Holy Communion service using Coke products. It was great. Last night we took a breather and sat on the beach and saw a hippo. When you see hippos up close you realize that they really are huge animals. Today we will travel back to Nakuru. I spoke with Kate today and she and the kids are doing good. They went to church in Nakuru yesterday and told me they plan on cooking burgers for dinner. So I will have to make an effort to get there before dinner. Ok tell next time.


Picked up Passport

I went to Nairobi yesterday to pick up a passport from the U.S. embassy. No offers to wash my face this trip. (scroll down and read A Funny Thing.... if you do not know what I am talking about.) The embassy in Nairobi is like anyother U.S. government building, nothing special. This week we also found out that Kate lost the baby. She was spotting and was having some cramping like pains. We had an ultrasound done and there is no more pregnancy. Kate is in good health. I will be traveling to Kisumu tomorrow to be part of a church opening. I will be away for three or four days. So emails may be delayed as Kate usually does not travel to town with all the kids. Ok have a good day.


God-Shaped Life

Proverbs 11:28 in the Message Bible reads like this:

A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.

My prayer is for a God-shaped life. I want to have my life put together by the creator of the universe. I mean if anyone knows how to put things together it should be Him. The times when my life is Johnny-shaped are the hard times. The times when the only thing I think about is Johnny are the sinful times. Sin is not always about doing something wrong, but sometimes it is about failing to do something right.

When we dedicate our lives to what we can get, our life is dead according to this proverb. I have found that to be true. When I was living my life just to provide for a house, car, TV, Internet, and all the other things we have in our lives, it was an empty life. I felt like nothing, but when I dedicated my life to what God wanted, things changed.

I became a flourishing tree complete with fruit for others to eat. I like this life much better. It does not mean that all things are removed from my life or even that I do not want them. (As a matter of fact my new favorite gadget that I would really love to get is the Play station Portable.) It means that my life is not dedicated to the things.

God, please help us to allow you to shape our lives. I want a God-shaped life. Amen.


A Funny Thing Happened the other day in Nairobi

A funny thing happened to me the other day in Nairobi. A friend and I were stuck in traffic, something that happens often in Nairobi, around noon or so. His car has no air-conditioning so the windows were down. This time of year in Kenya is warm. I noticed out of the corner of my eye what looked like a street person jogging towards my window. Being a white man in a black nation I stand out, so I am used to street people approaching me for money. He came to the window and started to speak in Swahili. I can follow a Swahili conversation somewhat so I was trying to figure out what he was saying. He kept saying he was going to wash his face, which made no sense to me at all. He did smell really bad, and when I say really bad, I mean really bad. So I was thinking he wanted some money to go and bathe. A request like that would be very unusual since most of the time people want money for bread or tea. Now bear in mind that this was happening fast while we were stuck in traffic. My friend sitting in the driver’s seat next to me started to pressure me to role up the window. I thought this was strange since we did not have anything laying around for this guy to just grab. I am still trying to figure out why he wants to wash his face, and now I am trying to understand why my friend wants me to role up the window. I thought, “Well maybe he is like the homeless in America who wash windows of cars stuck in traffic.” I continue to notice the smell. The guy really smells like he messed in his pants or stepped in something. The guy starts a countdown, my friend is urgently trying to get me to role up the window, and I turn my head slightly and notice something for the first time. I discovered why the guy smelled so badly. He had a fistful of feces. The moment I noticed that, it dawned on me what was going on. He was threatening to ‘wash’ my face with the poop if I did not give him fifty shillings. I started to laugh at that moment. It all just struck me as so funny, and thank God the traffic in front of us opened up just as the guy reached three and went to ‘wash’ my face and my friend punched the gas pedal. So I was spared, though the side of the car got ‘washed.’ My friend who knew all along what was going on did not think it was funny. I thought it was hilarious. Now, had I known from the beginning what was going on, I might not have thought it was so funny. I joked that we needed to find that guy and teach him the English word for poop, because I did not understand the Swahili word for it. What lesson did I learn from all of this? When stuck in traffic in Nairobi keep your windows up.


Why Sofas?

I wanted to return to the church plant here in Kenya in this article, and explain a little about the thinking behind using sofas in the church. I want Kenyans to know they are not in their Grandma’s church as soon as they walk through the doors or even as soon as they see the name of the church. (Not that there is anything wrong with Grandma’s church, but us younger guys need something different.) We want to name the church ‘The Sitting Room,’ and want to convey the comfort, casualness, and friendliness of a sitting room.

Here in Kenya the den or the living room of the house is referred to as the sitting room. It is the room where you kick off your shoes and sit to talk with family and friends or watch TV. It also happens to be the room where most Kenyans eat. We want to let people know that church is family, and when we come together it should be like a family coming together. So as soon as someone walks through our doors and sees the sofas they will know that something is different here. The difference in cost of sofas and “church” chairs is small, but the difference in ambience is priceless. If we are sitting around our house talking with friends, we are a little less guarded and say what we want to say. In a church or institutional type setting, we tend to watch what we say. We say what we think everyone wants us to say. I want people to open up and listen to the message God has given us, and a comfortable seat to listen in would be a good start. Ok I want to keep these posts short so next time we will discuss more ideas for the church. If you have comments, please let us know via email or post a comment to this article.


Sorry

I sent out an emal with details of a Christmas article, which I forgot to upload. Well it is here now. Thanks for your patience. Chicken Update: We have fourteen chicks right now that are growing nice and juicy. They are kind of funny when you go into the coop to feed them they like to peck your toes. Takes some getting used to, but hey now we can say our toes have been pecked by chickens.


Christmas in Kenya

Living on the equator, it is warm year round. So this year there were no ‘hints’ of Christmas in the air. No smells of pine, no bare trees, or Christmas carols, no apple cider or egg nog, no pies, no turkeys, no Christmas lights, but none-the-less, we had one of the most joyous Christmases ever. It started a couple of months ago. Packages started coming in the mail from my parents, and one by one, we’d put them away for the holiday. Then finally, Christmas was near, so we pulled the gifts out and put them on the mantle. The kids were so excited! Two weeks before Christmas we made a Christmas chain with the remaining days. Each chain had an activity for the day on which it was removed. The kids really enjoyed the count down. I talked with them about why we celebrate Christmas throughout the week before. Christmas morning, the kids woke up early. We read about the birth of Jesus and discussed a little about what Christmas is all about, but before I could finish, Butterfly had already uncovered one of her gifts. So we quickly summed things up and then moved to the gift part. We were overwhelmed with the number of presents both of my parents mailed us, and it made us feel so special to be remembered and blessed even though we are far away. I wanted to list all the wonderful things we received to give each person credit, but I know I’ll forget things, so I’ve just decided to let you know that everything was wonderful. My parents were MORE than generous, and we are so thankful. We even received a very special gift from our Heavenly Father… … we found out on Christmas Eve that we are expecting a baby!* After our gift opening, we ate our Christmas dinner which was chili dogs, French fries, and chocolate chip cookies. What a treat! We spent the day as a family playing with all our new goodies and having a fun time. No stress, no rushing off to and fro, just quality time. It was the most relaxed Christmas ever. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas remembering all that God has done, and have a GREAT new year!! *We will remain in Kenya, give birth here while continuing with our project.


A Great Bargain

Hey guys, usually we try not to use our website as a place where we post financial needs for our project; however, I’ve come across a great bargain and wanted to share our need with you…

As you are aware, we are planting a church community here in Nakuru, Kenya East Africa. We are leaning towards calling it ‘The Sitting Room’ because Kenyans tend to fellowship, eat, and live in their living rooms (though they don’t use that word like we do). We want to provide a ‘house church’ atmosphere. Here’s where the bargain comes in:

While coming up with ideas for style, we decided to use sofa sets for our seating. Now, one sofa set seats approximately 5 people. We’d like to have 15 sofa sets to start with. In the USA that’d cost us about $15,000, HOWEVER, here we found a place where we can buy 15 sofas for the price of ONE in the US!!! We need $1,027 for 15 couches and 30 soft side seats. Isn’t that a great deal! (FYI other seating options cost as much)

Thank you for loving us and our work here in East Africa. We are truly blessed to have such strong support and encouragement. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Be blessed beyond measure, and I’ll do my best not to post too many money soliciting articles in the future!!

~Kate


Diary of a Church Plant--Entry 2

I was meditating on the purpose of the church we are planting here in Kenya, and God brought to my attention this passage from the book of Acts: They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. That is what is missing from churches here in Kenya- community, real community where you know the person sitting next to you. In fact you should know that person so much that if they have a problem, you know and can respond appropriately.

Most churches here are just places to gather and sing, jump, shout, lose some money, and hear someone preach the same message from last week, month, or year. I feel that people are longing for some real relationships with each other. Christians in Kenya are yearning for something that goes beyond, “Habari” (Swahili for ‘How are you?’.) We will strive to create that something for them. My wife, Kate, will be pastor of community. She will be responsible for creating the situations where we can get to know each other. Kate is good at that people stuff, where as I fail miserably when it comes to making friends. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will create a family of believers that will be there for each other no matter what. However, we do not want to stop there. We want to expand this revolutionary idea beyond the walls of our soon to be church.

I just spent the past year traveling around Kenya to a different church every Sunday and found an amazing thing. Every church we visited was a copy of the church we had been to the week before. Unbelievably, they are the same as they were when we were here almost ten years ago. They are singing the same songs, preaching the same sermons, collecting the same offerings, and are made up of the same people. The style has not changed in years, and when you do not change people get bored, tired, or otherwise disinterested in what you are doing. Our style will be radically different than anything going on here in Kenya, though we will still be worshiping the same God.

We would like for our community to become an example for other churches to learn from. I know it seems kind of presumptuous to think we would be worthy of being role models, but I have learned to not limit what God can do. We will approach local denominations that know us and ask to have their new ministers come and intern with us for a few months. That way they will be exposed to an alternative model of church and approach to Christianity. I do not expect the clergy here to embrace this model right away, but maybe they can take an element or two and incorporate them into their ministries. If that happens I would count it as successful.