I met my friend, driver and ministry companion, Maurice Amadi, in Mombasa and we headed for the border town of Taveta. In Taveta we met Pastor Reuben ole Tiges. Pastor Reuben is the overseer of our eight churches in the area.
We completed the second phase of construction and dedicated the new Kachero Church building on April 29. The church construction was made possible by gifts from the WMU women at The Family Church and from a dear friend of mine. The final phase will be to plaster the walls and install the finished doors and windows. The cost will be approximately $800 USD.
Forty attended the service and over one hundred attended the meal and celebration. Pastor Japhet Mwagese and his wife, Anna, are shepherding in a very small fishing village along the shore of Lake Jipe. The village is comprised of a combination of Christian and Muslim people. Alcoholism, immorality and witchcraft are terrible blights on the village. Pray for Pastor Japhet as he brings the Light to the people of Kachero.
I had the awesome privilege of sharing the gospel with three young men who wandered into the church. They were drawn in by the rumor that there was free food. Even though they were intoxicated on honey beer, they listened intently and asked questions while they ate. Each one freely admitted that they were sinners in need of a Savior. The three, one a Muslim, thanked me with several handshakes and said that this was now their church and that they would come. Pray that they would truly repent and accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
While in Mombasa we purchased two Zonschen 125cc motorcycles. We had them transported to Taveta by truck. This was made possible from gifts given for Kenya through The Family Church, FBC Sugar Hill. During the week the motorcycles will be used as taxis to create income to maintain and run them. But primarily, they will be used to enable the pastors to get to their churches more quickly and easily. The new motorcycles will also make it possible for Pastor Reuben to visit all of the churches and to take the gospel to areas that they previously were not able to get to. Yes, the pastors were in shock when I presented them!
I taught a two-day Pastor's Conference to review our Doctrinal Statement. Six of our pastors attended along with two guests. Pastor Jeffery Krugart, from the Salaita Church, came from a nearby Massai village. Saliata is a church that I helped to plant in 2004. We also invited a young man who we will begin working with in Tanzania this June. The pastors arrived in Taveta on Wednesday morning and returned to their villages on Friday morning. We were able to put them up in a local hotel. For many, it was the first time that they had ever stayed in a hotel. Each pastor received a copy of the Doctrinal Statement and two books; "Fifty Reasons Why Christ Had To Die", by John Piper and "Concise Theology", by Arthur Pink. We had an awesome time of teaching and fellowship as we studied, prayed and broke bread together.
During the conference we made plans for the upcoming annual mission trip to the area. Each year Renee and I bring a team from the US to work with the churches in the area. This year we will visit four of the villages that we have churches in; Lake Jipe Orkung'u, Kachero, Karantini and Esukuta. Our team will lead Kids Clubs, offer Medical Clinics, Women's Conferences and Men's Evangelism. This year's mission is scheduled for July 11 through 25.
We took the opportunity to visit Lake Jipe Orkung'u Church and our primary school where Reuben ole Tiges is the pastor. The school meets in the church but was on break during my visit, but I was able to meet with some of the teachers to review the schools' progress. There are now 75 Massai children attending the school. The people there are amazed at what has happened to their village. There has never been an opportunity for all of their children to be educated prior to now. The local government Minister heard what we had done to help the village and was so impressed upon seeing it that she has committed the funds to build an additional classroom each year. Currently there are only enough classrooms for a nursery, kindergarten and Standard 1. The new classrooms will be on the 14-acre tract of land that The Family Church owns. In fact, the new classroom in now under construction and will open for Standard 2 within the next two months!
We visited pastor William Mwingeresa at the most recent church plant in Python Hill, Kenya. The area sits almost directly on the border between Kenya and Tanzania and is comprised of mostly farmers of the Kambe tribe. There are no evangelical churches within a one-hour walk from Python Hill. We received a gift of land owned by the pastor to build a church on in the future. We're praying for a gift of $1,500 to help make his prayer a reality.
While we were in Taveta, we learned of the death of Pastor Mwingeresa's wife, Nancy. She had been struggling with TB for several years and went home to be with the Lord on April 23rd. I was to preach at her funeral but was delayed by two flat tires on the way from Karantini.
We were finally able to visit the Iltudui, Tanzania church. You may remember that I tried to get there on my last visit but the short rains started early and the "roads" were impassable. We were greeted by the sound of a choir of 50 people who sang and danced praises to the one true God! Elder Alamayiani Sarkai oversees the approximately 150 church members. Iltudui is the most remote and primitive of all the villages I have visited to date. It is three-hour drive along footpaths and elephant trails from Taveta.
While in Iltudui, one of the women gave me a bottle of their water. It was filled with a smelly grey-brown liquid that I would never even put close to my mouth. Yet they are forced to drink it because they have no choice.
There is no well, or services of any kind, closer that a five-hour walk one way. Their water is drawn from a filthy stock tank that they share with elephants, cows, goats and sheep. The tank is filled during the rainy season and dries up within three months. After that, the women and children make the ten-hour trek to get water several times per week. They carry heavy jugs of water on their heads for hours to bring just enough water back to keep their families alive. I am committed to finding a way to bring water to these new saints. We met with the Director of Water management in Taveta to discuss the problem. He informed us that a deep-water boar hole with pump and gas generator costs approximately 1.7MM Ksh or 30,000USD.
God is able to provide a church, school and well for these people. Will you pray that he provides the funds for them?
Pastor Rueben, Maurice and I visited the Esukuta Church and met with the Elders. The small church meets in a clearing under and Acacia Tree. We received a gift of land that is on a beautiful bluff facing Mount Kilimanjaro. I was thrilled to commit $1,000 for the construction of a church. The gift was given to our ministry from a private donor from The Family Church who has a heart for the Massai people.
One of the things that I had hoped to accomplish on this trip was to apply for and receive my missionary status with the Kenyan government. I attempted to register but was unable to. The cost rose from 2000 Ksh to 25,000 Ksh this year and I did not have the funds. (30USD to 368USD) I am hoping to apply on my next trip.
I'm very excited to report that we will be planting a new church at Lossimingori Massaini Village, Tanzania. The village is deep within Tanzania, about a three-hour drive from Taveta and 50 kilometers past Arusha. The village is described as being populated by 1000's of Massai with no churches in the area. We became interested in the area through a friend of the ministry who introduced us to a young Massai man from Lossimingori. He is educated and has attended seminary. His name is Immeneul Mulani Laizer and he will serve as pastor of the new church. Immeneul attended the pastor's conference and, in private discussions, was pleased to learn what we believe and agreed to our doctrine and theology. This will be the eighth church planted in east Africa and will begin sometime in June.
I was priviliged to be invited to a ceremony by my good friend, Alamayaini, in celebration of his oldest son becoming a man. I first met him in 2005 when the church was being constructed at Orkung'u. I traded my watch for his walking stick and we've been great friends ever since. His son is a seventeen-year-old moran (warrior) and will now be able to take a wife. Alamayaini, and his three wives, are members of our church at Lake Jipe Orkung'u. Young Massai men who accept Christ are turning from the practice of having multiple wives. Men who already have them realize that they must take care of the wives that they have but should have no others.
When we returned to Mombasa, after two weeks along the border, I visited with Pastor Patrick Wafula Marisia of God's Family Steadfast Baptist Church - our East Africa ministry partner. He will graduate from the British Baptist Seminary in Nairobi this coming November. We are partnering with him to open a seminary in Mtongwe to educate and train pastors. A large room in the St. Patrick's Baptist Mission School has been set aside to begin the seminary. I surprised Pastor Patrick with a 2,000 USD gift given by a private donor to begin the seminary. The gift will be enough to register the seminary, renovate the room, to include electricity, purchase fixtures and some books. Pastor Patrick, and other seminary graduates, will teach along with guest instructors from Nairobi and the USA.
Pastor Reuben ole Tiges, of our Lake Jipe Orkung'u Church, has passed the final entrance examination at The Nairobi British Baptist Seminary. The seminary has awarded him a 95% scholarship to include tuition, books, housing and meals. He will go to Nairobi by bus for two weeks every three months for classes and then complete his reading and assignments while at home. He will only be responsible for his transportation to and from Nairobi. The expense will be covered by income generated by the two new motorcycles the pastors received. He will begin classes this month.
Two other men from our churches took the seminary entrance examination but did not have a strong enough English proficiency to pass. They were both enrolled in a free Correspondence Course program and will work at their own pace toward a Ministry Certificate. The first course is on the Book of Romans.
We also had the opportunity to visit with the faculty and students at St. Patrick's Mission School in Mtwongwe, Kenya. We reviewed the progress of our sponsored orphans and children. The school's orphan population is up to 103 from 70 last fall. There is a pressing need for sponsors for these new orphans. If you are interested in sponsoring one of these new children, please let us know. The investment in each student is only $70 per school year and includes their tuition, uniform, and books. The minimal cost of ensuring that these dear orphans receive a Christian education will have a significant impact on the future of the church in East Africa! The school is doing very well and, once again, was rated in the top three in the Coast Province by the government.
I am very excited to share that a long time prayer has been answered. St. Patrick's Baptist Mission School has been able to acquire additional space in the building they now occupy to begin a live-in orphanage for boys and girls! There is enough space to house up to 100 students. I have agreed to help them locate funding for renovations and to purchase furniture and fixtures. The project will take approximately 10,000 USD. If you would like to help, please let us know. (James 1:27).
Transportation is always a challenge for us. This trip was no exception. We set a new record for flat tires at 15 ! We are forced to use a small station wagon to get around due to the high cost constraints, rather than a 4-WD, which is what we really need. We're praying that God will provide the $18,000 needed to purchase our own vehicle. A 4-WD would enable us to take the gospel to places that we can't get to now and would be much more reliable. Our plan is to rent the vehicle out through my friend, Maurice, who would always drive the vehicle and turn it into a revenue generator while we are in the US. That would allow us to greatly reduce our trip expenses and have funds to cover fuel which is about $5 per gallon in East Africa.
We are so encouraged to see God glorifying Himself as He builds His Church in east Africa.
Matthew 16:18b - "...I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it".
Thanks so much for your prayers and financial support.
Here are a few prayer requests:
- For the salvation of the lost people in East Africa and Thailand.
- For the pastors and leaders of our eight churches in East Africa.
- That our house in Wild Timber would sell and that the financal burden would be lifted.
- For us as we lead the July 11-25, 2007 Kenya Mission Team.
- For us as we lead the December 14-23, 2007 Bangkok, Thailand Mission Team.
- That God would provide additional financial supporters.
- For $18,000 to purchase a 4-WD vehicle for the ministry in East Africa.