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Entries from March 2010

Look in my window, and you will see...

window-sash_01The clock on my wall reads 7:30 am. I'm sitting here holding my squishy, sweet, 3-month-old baby. Andrew is opposite me playing a game on Johnny's computer while listening to some Bob Dilan. Makena, just came in and took the baby for me so I could type this with more ease. Butterfly is still asleep, and Johnny, with all of our Kenyan kids, is on his way to the school with Emma tagging along for the ride.

That's what's going on at this very moment.

I got up at 5:30 am. I prepared the pumpkin bread and Mercy helped cooked tea. Every one ate and got off to school. I paused to write this...

..Now I have to go work out our 'menu' for the week and write a grocery list so we can buy all of the food we need because it's Monday. It's tough to think of new and creative dishes to cook for 20 people.

Eowyn is tired of waiting on me. Gotta close this up.

~Kate


An Intentional Visit to an Intentional Community (Guest Post)

90px-TwelveTribeswedding My family and I long for community life.  For us, I'm talking about total community life.  That's why I enjoy studying the Hutterites and the Amish and it's why I love the new book Johnny sent me about the Maasai tribe in Kenya. 

What Kate and Johnny, along with their team, are doing is perhaps one of the best examples of complete community life as I envision it.  Another that I've followed for several years and that you may enjoy looking at can be found at www.life-mission.org

But recently I found that there was an "intentional community" as they are sometimes called, about 120 miles from my current location in Germany.  It's called "The 12 Tribes:  The Commonwealth of Israel" and is said to be have sprung out of "The Jesus Movement" that began in the United States.  Since we are drawn to community life as an expression of following Jesus, we decided to go and visit them.  You can visit them, too, online at:  http://www.twelvetribes.com/whereweare/global/germany/klosterzimmern.html

 

So, yeah, they were very friendly and hospitable people.  I was brought to tears, as was my wife and our oldest daughter, by just seeing them in action together over the course of the two days.  I think this was partly because we’ve longed for this sense of community for so long.  I think this longing is very deep seated in all of us because the Lord put it there.  That’s why I think movies like “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last Samurai” appeal to us, to humans in general.  We all long for community and we all know we are broken inside and skewed in our exploits.  We identify with wanting to transform and to become caught up in a community and leaving behind the evil motives and life we’ve been part of.  I think that's why I identified with the lead characters in those movies, anyway. 

 

But back to the visit we had; they are wonderful folks and I hope to grow in friendship and in brotherhood in the Lord with them.  I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that they know the Lord and call them brothers and sisters.  Unfortunately, their doctrine doesn’t allow them the same liberty to view anyone outside of their specific expression of their beliefs to fall in that same category.  Whatever acceptance of Jesus you have wasn’t complete or saving, in other words, until you believe, profess, immerse and then totally become one with them.  (Sounds really similar to alot of denominations too, huh?) 

 

I think, for me, I won’t say who is and who is not in His Kingdom.  I’ll let Jesus do that for Himself.  I also may help set standards one day, as a part of a community, and express them in terms of “this is what the Lord has US doing,” but I think I would be going too far and be too presumptuous to announce that I’ve figured out the exact expression of our faith in Jesus and that all persons HAVE to express it this way if they want God’s approval.  I just don’t think there’s a person on Earth who has that position and knowledge. 

 

If we all had that, where then would the need to follow the Spirit sent from Him to guide us be?  I think that’s exactly why the Lord hasn’t revealed an exact expression of practice and why He hasn’t provided clear evidence at all times of Himself.  Meaning, for example, God could have had placed a gigantic, neon flashing sign in the sky, 24/7, that says “here I am.  It’s true after all.  Believe now.  It’s self evident,” but He hasn't, as easy as believing would be if He did so. 

 

Anyhow, I'm still longing for community life here, and doing my best to find it in the relationships around me I do have (however hindered and challenged they are by space, time, and the demands of life).  But this leads me to a point the Lord may be leading me.  In this discovery of community, what if, just like in trying to find "church" and "people to minister to," we don't need to do so intentionally (we can let the Lord arrange when, where, how, and whith who) perhaps the need to form Intentional Community is unneccessary.  We can let God form it around us as we live for Him each day.  We can even take steps to grow closer and closer and to share more and more of life with others, but we can let Him guide the process and not build things in our own strength.  We don't have to work hard to hold the shared life together either.  He'll do all that.  We just need to follow Him.

 

(The enclosed picture is of a typical bride and groom marrying within one of the 12 Tribes communities, which are located all over the planet.  Interestingly, the local tribe we are visiting are planning a wedding for the 10th of April, just after Passover.  The picture's caption states:  "The Bride wears a white linen dress with a crown of Flowers, While the groom representing Yahshua [a required spelling and pronouncement of His name] , is also clothed in white with a red sash symbolizing his blood.")


Still No Answers

As I have said on a few occasions before; I simply don’t have the answers. I cannot solve poverty for the masses. I cannot create the perfect form of government. I don’t have a cure for H.I.V. nor any other disease. Most days I have a hard time just solving my own problems, let alone anyone else's.

Yet over and over again we see individual’s problems solved. We see someone who was sick and unable to master their bodies, gain control again. We see single moms barely able to feed their children learn how to feed them and send them to school.

Don’t be discouraged. Sure even when our lives are over, the world will still be the world, but we will have impacted the people God has brought to us.

Remember what Jesus says in the story about the sheep and the goats:

  37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:40, The Message)

Sounds like things we can actually accomplish if you ask me. Solve the world’s poverty problem or feed a hungry family? Maybe one of you actually can solve poverty, though I doubt it, however all of us are capable of sharing the food we have. It’s not all that hard. The hungry are not going to eat you, they would rather have a hamburger. Nothing to be scared of.

By the way the sheep in the story, the ones that fed, clothed, and visited the overlooked or ignored, those are the guys who get to enter the Kingdom of God.

We are here in Kenya feeding one hungry family at a time. We are caring for the orphans God has brought to us. Thank you so much for helping us to care for these overlooked and ignored.


Interview

This is an interview I did for a young woman working on a class project. Kate thought it would be interesting enough to post on the blog.

Name: Johnny Brooks

Location: Nakuru, Kenya

Please tell me your story first. How did you end up here?

Back in 1996 we were invited to visit Kenya by a Kenyan pastor. We said o.k. and came for a month. Our purpose was to test the waters so to speak, to see if we could survive here for longer. We decided we could and moved to Molo, Kenya in January of 1997. We spent that year there assisting with office procedures, teaching computer skills, and pasturing a church. At the end of that year we returned to Texas.

In 2004 we felt that we should return to Kenya, and did so in January 2005. We have been here since then working with orphans, impoverished people, those with H.I.V., and attempting to get local groups of Christians to do the same.

Where are you originally from?

Texas. We were living in Port Arthur before moving to Nakuru.

When and how did God call you to ministry?

Not really sure how to answer this. We felt that we should take seriously the story Jesus tells about the sheep and the goats. How their entrance to the kingdom is based on how they treated the least of these in the world. So we thought and decided that the oppressed in Kenya were the “least of these for us” so we decided that is what God wanted us to do.

How many years have you been involved in this type of field work?

About 5 and a half.

How did you choose your location?

We actually wanted to be in another town, but the housing and local team did not work out. So we stayed in Nakuru. This has turned out really wonderfully, as Nakuru is not far from the capital and is relatively inexpensive place to live. Plus there are huge numbers of people here who need our help.

What organization are you affiliated with?

We created our own, which we call Pure Christianity.

How many people are with you and help you?

Our team is made up of 6 people. Myself, Kate (my wife), and our Kenyan team members: Abdi Ali Abdi, his wife Virginia and Ben Masundu and his wife Pauline. We also have a number of folks who help us with specialized needs on a volunteer basis.

How many children do you watch over?

We are responsible for the needs of 22 children. We also meet the needs of numerous children in the community, who do not live with us.

What age groups do you care for?

Our youngest is a few months old and our oldest is 15 years old.

How and when was this orphanage started?

It was started about 2 and a half years ago How? We identified orphaned/abandoned girls and asked them to move into our house.

If you were to put into steps the process that it takes to build up and run a successful orphanage, what would they be?

I do not think our process can be duplicated. Everyone has to find a way that works for them. As for us we decided that family was paramount, and work hard at creating family for our children.

How do people treat you in your area, knowing that you are Christian?

We do not interact much with the Christian religion here. We are followers of Jesus, but we are completely free from religious obligation. However the religious Christians here treat us fine, our Muslim brothers and sisters bless us for what we are doing, and everyone else seems to be o.k. with us.

What are some of the difficulties that you encountered?

Mostly financial. It seems like we never have enough money for what needs to be done. The government here is also a big obstacle most of the time, due to corruption. We also struggle with the sacrifice that it takes to create family with orphaned/abandoned children.

What was your greatest moment in this field?

The day the first girl came to live with us.

Do you have any stories that praise the Lord and show His greatness while you have been at this location?

So many. We do not do any kind of organized fund raising, yet He continues to move on people to contribute, and usually at just the right moment as well.

What other religions are dominant in your area?

The Christian religion is by far the largest. Islam is also here, and we have a decent sized Hindu population as well. There are various other small religions, but they have little to no impact on our lives.

Have you seen any people saved since you’ve been here?

We have seen many saved from illness, poverty, shame, and death. However you probably mean “saved” from an Evangelical point of view? We do not attempt to convert anyone to anything. I believe each and every person should be free to make up their own mind about God and religion. I have seen many people renewed in their faith in a God that loves them.

What church do you attend where you are?

We do not attend any kind of organized religious meetings. However as a community we try to meet on Sundays for a meal, and share whatever God has put in our hearts.

Does anyone ever check up on you?

All the time. We have many friends and family members who care about us and what we are doing here in Kenya.

How does the community respond to your ministry?

Very positively. Helping the poor and sick is hard to argue with. They are happy for the help.

Right now, what does your ministry need in order to grow?

At least a 100,000 U.S. dollars to buy a farm, and build homes on it.

What happens to the children when they reach the age limit and can no longer be looked after?

We are set up as a family, so we will continue to see to it that they are prosperous in their lives. Just like my parents did to me, I will expect them to become productive parts of the community. However they will still be a part of our family, and we hope to become grandparents to their children.

When looking though the child’s eyes, how would you describe their look on life? And have you seen them change?

When the girls first came to us they had absolutely no hope in the future. Now they actually can think about what it is they want to do with their lives, and they have hope that it is possible to achieve a dream.

What happens if…

A child gets sick?

We treat the illness. If needed we take the child to the doctor or buy the necessary medicines.

A child runs away?

This has not happened to us, but we would look for the child till we found her/him.

A child is abused while under your care?

We have had to deal with this at the schools we use. The children were being severely punished for things out of their control. We dealt with the school and it is no longer an issue. If it has been more serious in nature we would have filed a police report and worked towards healing the child.

A child is kidnapped?

I’m not sure what we would do beyond reporting it to the police. Some things are best not put into writing.

A child breaks their bones?

Has happened once. We took her to a local hospital we have identified as being a good place and she was treated. We would do the same for anyone else.

A child hurts another child?

We would discipline the child.

Someone breaks into the building?

We would see that everyone is safe and then deal with the situation. I practice nonviolence, so we would most likely not attempt to fight off the intruders. However I cannot say for sure what would happen as this has never happened. It may very well be that no matter what I believe I would fight to defend my family.

Someone robs you?

We would forgive them, and then decide as a community what to do.

Is there any advice you can give after all of your experience?

Follow your heart. It can never be wrong to do good.


Looking for Churchs, Prophets, and Teachers (Guest Post)

True recognition of a calling such as "prophet" or "teacher," or things like being a part of an organic body is not something that should be forced, or built with human hands, or proclaimed, or posted on a sign, or forced into existence. "Here is a Prophet! Here is a Teacher! Here stands a church! I'm a Priest of the Lord! Look at me!" It is something that should happen from the Lord.  I think it is seen or recognized in the eyes of all, in hindsight. "Well, what do you know, a fellowship of faith has grown up around us and we are immersed in them as a family" and "do all persons agree here that it is evident that such and such consistently excersises a gift of prophecy," or "of teaching," etc. No name tag ever makes God's gifting true and no name tag or title or diploma or certificate is ever necessary to make such a gifting or calling known and recognized. Such title, diplomas, name tags, and even buildings for worship can often only serve to segrate and wedge a divide between persons.