Friday, May 8, 2009

Report from Kenya--Part 2

Martin Odi teaching in Malaba
Nairobi TOT Class

The "almost death car" & its occupants

Here is a summary of the rest of my recently-completed trip to Kenya:
Spared from Death—As five of us in Pastor George Kariuki's car neared the hotel where we would hold the TOT session, God's grace saved us from certain death when a large dump truck pulled into oncoming traffic just in front of us (George was going about 70mph at the time). George slammed on the brakes, jerked the car to the right (until we were half-way down the ditch), then jerked the car to the left back across the highway, where we spun around and ended up facing the way we had come, almost off into the left-hand ditch. I thought we might turn over in the ditch, or flip over as the car spun around. Miraculously, however, the car stayed right-side-up, and we hit nobody. The pastors' collective cry of "JESUS!!!" was a loud prayer, not just an exclamation. I am happy to say that, although no one is guaranteed exemption from suffering and death, and Christians die in car crashes all the time like everyone else, in this case God had other plans for us. I was left with the sense that my life is, indeed, in His hands, was spared by His grace, and should therefore not be wasted

TOT in Nairobi—Thirteen pastors completed an intensive study of 1 Timothy. We not only discussed the book in depth, but forged new friendships and relationships—and the pastors each did two teaching sessions and then faced both the praise and "withering critiques" of their fellows. Those men are now all well-prepared to teach not only their parishioners, but fellow pastors as well.

Stewardship Conferences in Malaba and Misikhu (Western Kenya)—Following TOT, I took the 8-hour bus ride to Kenya's Western Province, where we held conferences on Biblical Stewardship in Malaba for about 40 pastors of the Anglican Church of Kenya's (ACK) Katakwa Diocese, and in Misikhu for an interdenominal (mostly Pentecostal) group of about 105 church leaders representing 16 denominations. I was joined by Martin Odi (our Uganda national director) who coordinates our work in western Kenya (since it is close to his home in Uganda). These conferences proved to be eye-opening. The Bishop of Katakwa, Zak Epusi, is a very forward-thinking man, who already had told his people that he wanted each parish to plant trees and own a cow. We reinforced and added to that message. In Misikhu at the conclusion of the conference, one of the older leaders was visibly moved as he discussed the fact that almost none of the churches in that area had ever had church budgets (one of the matters included in the conference). Other participants commented that, as a result of the conference: "I learned a new approach, and [it gave] let me have a clear vision on how I should serve my church"; "I hope to help others by putting up a suggestion box"; "I will encourage them with the help of other believers to maintain general cleanliness in our homes." We will follow-up with TOT on Stewardship next year.

Return to Nairobi—I then returned to Nairobi where I met up with my friend, Dr. Frank Cummings, who was making his first (but, he said, not his last) trip to Africa. We held a Stewardship conference in the west side of Nairobi at Deliverance Church. We had held a conference there for the first time last year. Attendance began with 45, and steadily increased until we had 86 on the last day. Dr. Frank clearly hit it off with the people as he taught units on the stewardship of time and of the body, illustrating his remarks with some very poignant examples from his practice. Andrew Ngugi concluded the conference in his always-effective style as he taught on the church and finances and the church's responsibility to the poor and needy.
The conclusion of the conference was bittersweet in that Andrew, who had been coordinating EPI's work in the bulk of Kenya, and in Tanzania, has stepped aside from those responsibilities. However, he had been grooming men in both of those areas to assume his mantle. As a result of the foundation which has been laid over the past 2 years, our work in both countries should be able to continue even stronger than before (especially since now we will have a Tanzanian coordinating for us in Tanzania).

My next trip will be spent primarily in Tanzania. I will be leaving here on June 5 and, God-willing, returning to the States on July 6. In the meantime I will continue to work on a new course on Biblical Theology and other matters. I hope that all is well with you as we are about to enter summer. Thank you for your prayers. I am convinced that prayer may have been one of the factors that God considered in saving my companions and me from death. Also, if you have not made a tax-deductible donation to EPI in some time, please consider doing so now. One pastor who had been planning on coming with me to Tanzania had to cancel, so I will instead have to bear all of those expenses myself. I am responsible for raising all of the funds necessary to pay for everything I do in East Africa; EPI itself has no large "central fund" from which I can draw. Donations can be made online through our website, we have an automatic transfer of funds option for which our treasurer can send you the necessary forms, or checks can be made payable to EPI and sent to: EPI, c/o Jonathan Menn, 714 S. Summit St., Appleton, WI 54914.

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