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Entries from December 2008

What we are

Kate cropped Large Web viewI know that Johnny has been taking the time to write articles that 'define' who we are, what we believe, and what we do here in Kenya.

As I was lying in bed this morning, I was thinking about what we do for people in the community. Just yesterday Johnny bought food for some people who had none, and two words came to my mind that 'define' us--

Fresh Air

We live in Kenya, remember, and most workers get less than $1 a day, and the well paid folks get $3 a day.

When people are drowning financially, we bring them a breath of fresh air-- a gulp of life so that they won't drown. That's what we do. And to me that life, that air shines the love of Jesus exponentially.

I hope that this new year brings you across the paths of folks you can give a breath of fresh air to.

Happy 2009

~Kate Brooks

Cofounder of A Future and a Hope

Home for Orphans in Nakuru, Kenya, East Africa


Technicalities/History of Pure Christianity

We, Kate and myself, formed Pure Christianity towards the end of 2004. The concept or idea had coalesced earlier, after the year 2000. I was bent down to the ground under the weight of my religious obligations. The guilt was killing me, so I did the only logical thing. I got angry at God. He quickly communicated to me the truth of the matter, that the religion I followed was never what He wanted.

So I threw it all out and was left with four bullet points:

  • There is a God
  • Mankind needs to be reconciled to that God.
  • Jesus reconciled us to God.
  • God's gift to us is eternal life.

I decided that those four things were the only thing I believed to be absolute, and immediately my life improved. Certainly I have grown since then, but I keep my foundation nice and clean. Nothing gets added. Nothing is more sacred than those four things.

Pure Christianity has evolved from those four bullet points to be a lifestyle now. We formed as a non-profit corporation in Texas, officially registered in 2007. I did this to help free myself from the bondage to the organization we belonged to.

The blog, which is our official voice, was started in 2005. If you go back to the beginning you can see some of the path we have been on. You will see our mistakes, successes, and family stories.

A Future and a Hope, was born from Pure Christianity in 2007. It started out as an orphan care project, but has become so much more. We desire to bring a future and a hope to people who don't have any hope in the future. We care for orphans in our home, and plan on opening more homes. We also work in the community with the poor, sick, and dying. In fact today I will be attending an end of the year luncheon with a group of HIV positive people.

The bullet points have grown to something big, well at least big to us. Lives are being changed. Seriously. We have eight girls in our home, who before they came here had nothing. Now they have food, clothes, education, and a loving family. Every week we are taking people to the hospital or buying medicines that actually save their lives. We are sponsoring four other kids in school. They would not be able to attend otherwise. Lives are being changed for the better, thanks to four bullet points.

Kate says this is dry, so I apologize. I have to warn you to expect more dryness soon, as I will be posting a report on finances.

johnny's head new

 

 

 

 

  Johnny Brooks


We all Look the Same!

It is 4:24 am and one of our neighbors must've gotten a new stereo system for Christmas and thought he'd evangelize the community in their sleep by playing worship music as loud as possible.
So here I am after feeding Emma lying in bed trying to sleep while music is coming in so loudly you would think it was one of our girls playing with the radio!

So here's a thought I was having out of the blue.... When I first came to Kenya, Kenyans all looked the same to me. It may be horrible to say that, but it was true for the first year or so here. I wasn't used to dealing with so many Africans so distinguishing their features wasn't was easy for me as with whites who tend to have large amounts of variation, ie green, blue or brown eyes, red, blond, brown, black hair, etc... the funny thing is, we whites all look the same to Kenyans!
They can't see past the one thing we have in common which is our skin color. Kenyans approach me all of the time saying I bought something from them or talked with them about something and that I was from Germany, or some other country. I just laugh and tell them they have the wrong lady!
However, now that I've been in Kenya for over 4 years, I see past the one thing Kenyans have in common-skin color, which, although it is  darker, it also varies just as it does with whites. Nowadays, I see past the similarities and can notice more details in people's variations.
Kenyans see whites as just whites, but I am guilty of seeing Kenyans as all Africans for the first year or so of being here. We are all people with amazing differences, and although I knew it before, it is much easier to
see that now.

 

Animation cropped Kate ~Kate Brooks

Cofounder of A Future and a Hope


2 Much Junk in the Trunk 4 U?

It's not what you think.  Let me ask you:  Are you a Tree Hugger?  Into Communism?  Fortune seeker?  Treasure Hunter?  Share Bear?  Penny Pincher?  Just too darn broke to buy some of the things you'd really like to have?  Or even, are you one of those Acts 2:44* believers in Christ? 

Freecycle NetworkIf you live in America, then you really might want to look into something called "Freecycle."  It really is a place where "one man's trash" just might "be another man's treasure."

In just about every location in America, a person can join this free email group and post things they don't need anymore.  Some else may need it and will come and pick it up.  If you need something, you can ask for it or claim something already listed.  It saves you money, cleans out the stuff you don't need, saves landfills from filling up, and helps all of us live more like a community.  If you are not in America, you might search for a similar group in your own country or even try to start one yourself.

Through Freecycle, I've helped someone get some fencing to keep a pet, helped a man get a ceiling fan he needed, helped two families get things they needed for a new baby, and much more.  See what you can do for God and others through Freecycle.

Here's the weblink to find a group to share and share alike with in your area:

http://www.freecycle.org/

*Oh.. Acts 2:44 "All the believers were united and shared everything with one another." (NIV)

 

 

James head

 

 

 

 

 

James Dan (the Pizza Man, as my Dad calls me) of Arizona


How Did I Get Here?

Not sure I can answer that. I am the one here, but even I am not sure how it happened. My journey has taken me to all kinds of places, before leading me to where I am at the moment. Not that I am saying I have arrived at my destination, I still feel that I am on the journey. Seeking God. Trying to live my life in a way that would be pleasing to Him. Wanting to love Him with all my heart, but finding that difficult at times. Worshipping Him each and everyday is something I aim for, and hopefully attain at least once in a while.

My faith came alive when I was eight years of age at an Assembly of God church in Splendora, TX. My parents had divorced, and my mother remarried. So I was a lost kid in every sense of the word. Naturally someone telling me I was in danger of hell fire concerned me, so I got saved, born again, whatever they were calling it back then. Only thing was I really met God, despite the whole salvation thing, not because of it. So began my trip towards Him. Honestly I am sure it began the day I was born, however this is when I remember thinking about Him seriously.

I feel in love with God at first, but ended up loving religion quickly enough. Turns out that not too many folks in that Assembly of God church actually knew Jesus, they pretty much knew the Assembly of God religion. Religion appealed to me. You could follow rules, without actually having to work hard. Just go to the meeting on Sunday and Wednesday, memorize a few scriptures, give in the offering (very important,) and obey your parents. God would love you if you did those things and kill you if you didn't. Yep, religion was an easy choice for me.

Fast forward to around 1999, and you find my religion beginning to crumble. By this time I was fully immersed in the Charismatic world, and God was delivering me. To make a long story short, I came to the conclusion that what I was being taught in my church, simply was not true. The Jesus my pastor talked about was not the same Jesus from the New Testament.

Seems so easy just to talk about it now, but at the time I really struggled with my identity in God. I had no idea you could even approach Him outside of religion.

I discovered that truth in 2005 after moving to Kenya. Finding out that God did not care anything for religion, set me free. (Ironically I learned this amongst the most religious people I have ever known, African Pentecostals.) I was able to approach him without fear of breaking the rules. I was able to do the work He had called me to do. Which is to love the loveless.

Yes, I am fully aware that this does not answer the question, how did we get here, but I hope it points us in the right direction.

We are following Jesus day by day, moment by moment. Each day we throw off the heavy yoke of religion and take up His easy yoke. Let me take a moment to encourage you to put aside your religion for just a while, and embrace Jesus. Just seek him. You will be surprised by what you find.

 johnny travel Small Web view

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Brooks

Traveling Man


What Do You Believe?

Snapshot_20081226I get this, or some variation of this question quite a bit. People want to be able to apply labels to us, and then use those labels to decide rather they like us or not. I despise labels. Sure they can serve a purpose, but generally speaking they do more harm than good. Statements of Faith, Articles of Faith, Doctrinal Stands, and so on and so on just aren't that important to me. My observation has been that dogma serves to divide never unite. Most of us simply cannot, or as is the case most of the time will not, consider the other side of the coin. We refuse to even acknowledge that the other guy may be correct. That is why I hesitate to post specifics about my feelings on doctrine, because some of you (who are otherwise really great people) would stop listening to anything I have to say. Which means that our project, the reason we are here in Kenya, could suffer.

That being said there are some issues I do not have a problem discussing. Take the prosperity message for example. I can say without a doubt that I think the prosperity message (the idea that God exists solely to make you wealthy, healthy, and powerful) is bogus. It simply is not true. Just take a look at Jesus, our God, and you will see a guy who was poor yet blessed by the Father. Why should it be any different for me?

Religion bothers me. That is religion defined as a set of rules, obligations, rituals, traditions, or anything else designed to please God or a man made system. The God I know, yes I claim to know Him, just is not that kind of guy. So I speak out against religion regularly. Here on the blog, conversations with people, and in meetings that I attend.

Snapshot_20081226_1 Equating the Bible with the Word of God bothers me as well. Or I could rephrase that as worshiping the book called the Bible. The Bible contains some of the words of God, and points us in the direction of Him. However it is still a human device. It was written by men (and possibly one or two women) on paper with ink. I do that every day, yet no one worships what I write, even when it is inspired by God. I consider scripture (the Bible) as an invaluable tool to know and understand my place in the Kingdom of God. Not deifying it actually helps me to maintain a healthy respect for the Bible.

Evangelism. I cannot whole heartedly embrace the idea that I have to convert anyone to my way of thinking. It just seems so not like Jesus to me. Sure I share my faith all the time. I speak up about what I feel and believe. I testify to the working of God in my life practically each and every day. However, the idea that Jesus is exclusive to me is just not right. I believe, and have seen in people's lives, that he reaches them differently than he reaches me. I feel that I should respect that and even consider what you believe to be true, even when it is at odds with what I believe. I have learned a great deal this way about God, and hope to learn more. I have more feelings about conversion, but am not yet comfortable with posting them on the blog. Perhaps later.

Well obviously I could go on and on. Seems that I don't have as much trouble talking about stuff as I claim to have. I am a follower of Jesus, not necessarily a Christian. However I have not completely rejected the Christian religion. I still believe it could be redeemed. There is much beauty in tradition, liturgy, and corporate worship. Yet I fear that religion is incompatible with Kingdom Life, and so I mostly avoid it now.

There is a God. Mankind has become separated from that God and cannot bring itself back to him on their own. Jesus brought us back to God. God's gift to mankind is eternal life.

That is what I believe. I am still working on the praxis of that faith. For now I express my worship to the Creator by serving his people here in Nakuru, Kenya.

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Johnny Brooks

 

P.S. Over the next few days we will post articles that are meant to help define who we are. So expect more I believes, I like, I do, or other such things in the next week or so.


Christmas Eve Blues...

It's Christmas Eve and all through our homewater drop

We need to clean from cellar to dome.

Our visitors are coming to bring Christmas cheer,

But we don't have water to clean. Oh Dear!

I asked the water truck to come.

He said, "Maybe later, I'm far from your home."

Our dishes are piled by the sink with care

In hopes that the water will soon be here.

Cooking, washing, and even to drink,

Water is important, don't you think?

So as you feast and enjoy your day,

Please remember us as you pray!

Kate cropped Thumbnail Web view ~Kate Brooks

Co-founder of A Future and a Hope


Waiting Rooms

Turns out that waiting rooms in doctor's offices are the same here in Kenya as they are in the U.S.A.

I recently took a man to the dentist, he had four teeth fixed, and we waited four hours. Yes I said four hours! Apparently one hour for each tooth. There are a lot of things you can do in four hours as I discovered. You can eat lunch, slowly. Read a newspaper, all of it. Learn what all the buttons on your camera are for. And you can notice all the stains on your pants, most of which came from the lunch that I ate slowly, but not slow enough to avoid dropping in my lap.

There are days when I feel my mission is nothing but sitting in waiting rooms. Funny the things we find ourselves doing for the kingdom of God. I could not just leave that guy, it was his first time sitting in the dentist chair. Having sat in that chair myself, I know how scary it is. So I stayed to offer my moral support, food stains and all.

Plus he did not have the money to pay. The four fillings cost us $59 U.S. dollars. Not bad, but too much for my friend to afford. I thank God that he has me in Kenya at such a time as this, so I could help this friend get relief from his pain.

 

Johnny's Teeth

 

Johnny Brooks

Co-Founder of A Future and a Hope, Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya


Dinning with Prostitutes

I read in a book somewhere, and watched him talking about it on YouTube,  a story about Tony Compolo that really inspired me. He threw a birthday party somewhere for a prostitute. He didn't know her, just found out accidentally that it was her birthday, and thought that the best thing to do was celebrate with her. Imagine. He actually wanted to hang out with a street walker. Pure Inspiration.

Ali, a member of our community, lives nearby 15 or so prostitutes, or twilight girls as they are called here in Kenya. He lives in Kiondo, which is in Lanet, which is walking distance from a military installation. These young women service the service men.

He has been spending the past year getting to know these women, and trying to be as friendly and nonjudgmental as possible. I approached him about it, because he lives closer to them then me, and I asked Ali, "Would you be willing to love these girls?"

I am not sure if he fully understood the implications of loving prostitutes, but he jumped in with both feet. Now we have thrown our first party for them, and things are off to a good start.

There was no agenda, except to express love, support, and let them know there was a safe place for them. Ali has opened his house to be a refuge if needed. They came because we did not tell them they were sinners. We simply could not imagine Jesus looking at a young Kenyan woman forced into prostitution to take care of herself and her kids, and telling her, "I don't love you." We could not imagine a loving and caring God kicking them out just because of what they have to do to survive.

Sure, prostitution is not the healthiest of jobs here in Kenya, however at the moment we have no alternative for these women. So we teach them how to be safe, and just try and love them. After all it is what Jesus did, and we are striving to follow him. Following him led us to these girls, and we will do what we can.

Not sure about the future, could be that Ali and his wife will be able to help some of these women escape the life. Don't know, just know that dinning with prostitutes is exactly the kind of thing we should be doing.

 

johnny's head new

 

 

Johnny Brooks

Co-founder of A Future and a Hope and missionary to Nakuru, Kenya.


A Slice of White on Top, Rye on Bottom, and a Ham in the Middle

Anyone else out there feel like God has given them the gift or calling of sandwich meat?  Otherwise known as Diplomacy or Peacemaker?  I do and I want to Mister Angry admit that I'm a little worn out over it sometimes.  I have friends in the house church movement who are easily offended over the traditional church people and won't give them the time of day or walk ten feet near them.  I have other friends in the traditional church who feel either angry, fearful of, or suspicious of home fellowship because those of us in it are viewed as either destroyers of God's body, cultish or whatever else. 

One believer I know seems to look for any and everything that an older mentor does that could possibly be wrong and then confront him.  I have another friend who likes to publicly belittle those he disagrees with in the faith in a harsh and thoughtless manner at times.  In every case I've mentioned, the actions I'm describing seem to isolate the body parts from one another.  Each of these people I'd think would understand that we are to "dwell with one another in understanding" and that the world will know whether or not we are all disciples of Christ "by our love for one another."  It's like the body members act like they really could do just fine without their foot, or their nose, or their ears. 

Myself and many of us here are married.  Those of us married for awhile realize that God didn't put us here to change one another but to love one another.  To accept and work together.  To know the enemy is outside of us and not each other.  Sometimes God may prompt us to talk to another about something but none of us can EVER change the heart of another.  God's role is to change the person.  It's not our calling. 

Pointless ramblings?  I hope not.  I accept and love all of my different friends just as they are.  This is human nature...to act this way.  I hope that when I do those things that one of us would show it to me in a loving way and bring me into renewed fellowship with my family of faith.  Anyhow, it's fun to try and help one person see the viewpoint of another but it is not always easy.

James head

 

 

 

 

 

James Dan of Arizona