Friday, November 18, 2011

Return from East Africa

Expository preaching clasws in Arusha, TZ

Husbands' small group discussion in Nyeri, KE

EPI-Kenya leadership team

A Tragic Occurrence

Following our conference in Mwanza, TZ, Joram, Wilbert, and I took the 8-hour bus ride to Singida, TZ. Unfortunately, a tragedy occurred on the way. Apparently a boy was running across the highway, looking behind himself. The bus driver slammed on the brakes and jerked the wheel sharply to the left, but the corner of the bus hit the boy, killing him. That necessitated a 3 hour wait while the police were called, a bus inspector had to come, and a new driver had to be obtained. As I reflect on it, I have been involved in more than one accident or near accident, and have seen the immediate aftermath of more than one fatal accident, since coming here to Africa. What happened to the boy demonstrates ultimately the most important reason for turning from our self-centered ways (which the Bible indicates amount to idolatry) and receiving Christ as our Lord. That boy did not wake up and say to himself, "Today is the last day of my life." When he began to cross the highway he did not think, "I only have 3 seconds to live." Likewise, our death could come unexpectedly at any time, but then we face the judgment which will seal our eternal fate and destination. Christ alone can guarantee us eternal life rather than what the Bible calls the "second death." Given the incredible, everlasting stakes, to not seriously consider this and check it out evidences amazing blindness and hardness. Please don't be blind and hard.

Singida, TZ

In Singida we did Biblical Stewardship for about 60 pastors. During their small group discussion time, they were asked to talk about everything we taught up until that point: stewardship of the environment, of mind, time, body, and money and possessions, and focus on only 1 or 2 things that they thought were important and that they would apply back in their churches. One of the pastors suggested that I appoint different topics to each of the groups. I said that I wanted them to have the freedom to talk about whatever they wanted to and that, if they all ended up talking about the same thing, that would probably be the Holy Spirit trying to tell them something. Interestingly, all 3 groups focused on time management as the biggest problem which they had to address. We will see what comes of that!

Kateshi, TZ

We then went to Kateshi, about 2 1/2 hours outside of the city of Babati. Kateshi is hot, dry, dusty, and quite desolate. However, we had a good group of about 50 pastors, some of whom had come from more than 20 kilometers away to attend the 1 Timothy conference. Only 1 or 2 had ever studied an entire book of the Bible section-by-section from beginning to end before--and none had ever preached a series of sermons through a book of the Bible before. It proved to be a valuable learning experience. We received many questions, again centering a lot on polygamy. That is one reason I am glad that I have good Africans teaching with me, since they know the culture, speak the language, and can deal with many of the local concerns in a better way than I can.

Arusha, TZ

From Kateshi we took a 6 hour bus ride back to the "civilization" of the large city of Arusha, where I led an expository preaching workshop for 12 English-fluent pastors, and George Kariuki led a similar workshop for about 20 pastors who were not fluent in English. As has proven to be true in the past, the concepts and format of preaching that I was teaching the pastors were new. Old habits die hard (as the student preachers proved), but the critiques indicate both openness and learning. God-willing, I will return for "round 2" of expository preaching next year. Following the preaching workshop, all of the Tanzanians who were present (who constitute most of the Tanzanian EPI leaders) were to meet for a day to discuss organization, strategies, and finances. I look forward to getting their report. This indicates that they are serious about carrying on the work of EPI indigenously, which is certainly my goal.

Return to Kenya
George Kariuki and I then returned to central Kenya where George, his wife Lucy, and I conducted a Biblical Marriage & Parenting conference in Nyeri, KE. Husbands and wives met separately for small group discussions. Each group talked about things they don't like about the other, but also about things that they themselves will do to try to make their marriages better. After the group reports were given, and each side heard what the other had committed to do to make for better marriages, someone raised his arms to heaven and said something like, "PTL, if this happens then, Jesus, you can wait awhile to come back!"
My trip ended in Nairobi where I met with EPI-Kenya leaders (almost 30 people from aound the country). It was a very productive time of sharing and strategizing. I am now home until mid-January when I leave for Rwanda and Burundi.
I hope you all (in the States) have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have been incredibly blessed by God. Let us not forget. God bless you. Jonathan

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