Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jesus Film at Gihara Compound

Two weeks ago a youth ministry team from Uganda visited the howFar compound located at Gihara, Rwanda.

The showing of The Jesus Film, in Rwandan, and The Passion of the Christ drew an incredible 500 people to the compound. It is only through Gods grace that so many people would walk so far in the rural mountainous area to amass such a large crowd in one place.

"The Gihara conference was wonderful, we got one (loud)speaker from our church, we borrowed a generator, and other instruments were brought from Uganda by the Youth who were with us in this conference. The other Mudugudu leader (a village leader who told us to leave Gihara village and never return during our first visit in 2008) also got saved we are the one who laid hands by the time he accepted Christ as his personal savior. A boy who was mad also got healed he had a lot of hair on his head and not accepting any one to touch him but that time he agreed to be shaved off his hair, and many others came to Christ", reported Augustine Niyonsenga.

"The Jesus Film and films like the Passion for Christ it really touched peoples lives."

According to Pastor Augustine, the Overseer of our four howFar Ministries church plants across Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo, eight people came to salvation following my message from 1 Peter 2 during our visit on June 14th and an additional fifteen were saved the following Sunday. Now many more have been added to the Batwa church at Gihara.

"Vinesti, called to the ministry after surviving the 1994 genocide."

"Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Matthew 9:38

Our team, lead by Pastor Vinesti, is obediently laboring among the Batwa Pygmies at Gihara, Rwanda and God is bringing in the harvest!

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Two Kids From Grangerburg, Ohio"

Social networking and viral marketing are terms that are commonly thrown around in today's workplace. They are methods that individuals, businesses and organizations use to connect, and reconnect, with people, customers and potential partners. Here is a story of how I reconnected with a friend from long ago.

I was raised in the rural countryside of north central Ohio. It was in a time when kids were free to ride their bikes anywhere they pleased and to explore the hundreds and hundreds of acres of farmland all around. It was there, in Granger, Ohio, that I grew up. Most days, in every season, my brother and I would end up at the old corner store in Grangerburg.

My elementary school was in the same building where my mother had graduated from high school in 1949. Then middle school and on to high school. All within a few miles of Grangerburg,

"I remember the very first day of elementary school. It was kindergarten. You and I sat together in the front seat on the bus", Jim recalled.

Jim and Mark at Jipe Orkung'u Mountain, Kenya

That was Autumn of 1964. Twelve years later, Jim and I walked across the football field of Highland High School to receive our diplomas. Then, off to college we went. Then careers and families. And as it so often happens I hadn't seen my old schoolmate since graduation day in May of 1976.

Thirty-four years later a message popped up on my MacBook screen from the Facebook Team. I read it and smiled. "Jim Kelly wants to be friends".

A few Facebook messages later, a dinner meeting in Atlanta, some phone conversations and Jim and his wife Gail, and their daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Nick Nolan were at our April 2010 howFar Ministries and How far Foundation Celebration Banquet.

Just like that, thirty-four years later, we were reconnected.

Another conversation, more planing, and Jim and I were sitting together again. This time far, far away from Grangerburg. This time in a Land Cruiser in East Africa. I can't tell you what a thrill it has been for me to have an old friend, who I hadn't seen in thirty-four years, join me to explore my beloved East Africa and to see my life's work...first hand.

In June, Jim, and his daughter Elizabeth, toured Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi with me. We visited several of the howFar Ministries churches and two of our How Far Foundation primary school projects. And we saw some of God's most beautiful creation along the way.

Elizabeth Nolan, Jim Kelly and Mark Maynard at Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.

As we swam the Nile rapids Jim said, "We're just two kids from Grangerburg". He was right. We were a long way from Grangerburg. We both knew that we were very blessed to see and do what so few have ever experienced.

I thought that you might be interested in reading Jim Kelly's thoughts on our great mission adventure.

"There is an old saying in Africa, “What is true at first light, is a lie by noon.” I witnessed on the ground, in person, in Africa a true exception to this saying. Spending three weeks with Mark Maynard in the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi showed me first hand that when Mark starts something he sees it to its completion. Not only were my daughter and I overwhelmed by the kindness and admiration that the villages howFar has touched showed for Mark, and us as his guests, we were genuinely impressed and amazed by the dedication the people Mark has surrounded himself with in Africa.

It is extremely hard to get things done in the areas that Mark has chosen to do his work. But to see how Mark and howFar have been able to, for the first time in these villages, create a true community center with the planting of churches and the impact of his group of pastors is one of the most amazing things I have seen in my life. And then to see how some have been able to grow and blossom with the much needed addition of a school is truly a blessed thing to witness. We could see the genuine pride is the eyes of the people in the village at Lake Jipe, Kenya that had both a church and a new school and the overwhelming excitement of the villagers in Gihara, Rwanda that have a new school under construction. If you ever get the chance to travel to these areas and see the work Mark has done, it will be a life changing experience.

I not only was able to see and feel the many waves of emotion through my own eyes but was blessed to be able to observe them through the eyes of my twenty-six year old daughter. It is very hard to express in words the impact Mark has had on these beautiful souls on this magnificent continent but as I listen to the excitement and emotion in my daughter Elizabeth’s voice as she retells our experience I am continually drawn back to those wonderful villages and lives that howFar is changing."

Jim Kelly
Executive Vice President
Bil-Jac Foods, Inc.
Medina, Ohio

Elizabeth Nolan and Jim Kelly at Ologum Maasai Village, Kenya.

We are so pleased to announce that Jim Kelly has accepted our invitation to join the Board of Reference for howfar Ministries, Inc. and The How Far Foundation, Inc.

Jim Kelly is raising his family in the same little town where we grew up - in Grangerburg, Ohio.

And so...thirty-four years later, God has reconnected us and we are working together in a common global cause.

howFar will you go?

Friday, July 16, 2010

howFar East Africa Video Journal - June 2010

I have just returned from a four-week mission in East Africa...and what an incredible time it was!

Your eternal investment is ensuring that our churches are growing and maturing, new churches are being established, many are coming to Christ, and the poor and helpless are being helped!

Here are a few of the highlights:

We are so grateful for a one-time gift to our ministry of $5000, which came while I was in Tanzania. What an incredible answer to our prayers.

I preached in four of our largest churches - many came to Christ and one was freed from an evil spirit!

Three new Maasai churches have been planted in western Kenya!

A new classroom and deep water well have been added to our compound at Lake Jipe Orkung'u

Construction on the new church and school at Gihara, Rwanda is progressing very well. Lord willing Crimson Academy will open January 2011.

New land for the church at Muramvya, Burundi to be purchased.

An incredible pastors conference was held at Kigali, Rwanda.

Watch visual journal here!

Double click image to view at YouTube.

"A Lonely Grave"

Atlanta - Dubai - Addis Ababa - Nairobi.

Fifteen thousand eight-hundred sixty-five kilometers. That's nearly 10,000 miles in the non metric world. Seems like the long way around to get from Atlanta to Nairobi, doesn't it? It is.

For missionaries, getting to the field is one of their largest expenses and one of the most time consuming. So, donated SkyMiles round trip to Dubai = $140. Round trip ticket from Dubai to Nairobi via Ethiopia = $850. Thirty-three hours later...I was in Nairobi - exhausted but eager to begin my mission.

Seems like a along time, I thought. Not really. History put my journey into perspective. Early missionaries often embarked on a grueling journey; by land and by sea, that took them months to get to their mission site.

A young Dr. John Ludwig Krapf, a German missionary of the Church Missionary Society, departed France on February 6, 1837 and did not arrived at Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) until December 1837. A journey of nearly eleven months. The famous doctor arrived nearly four years prior to the Scottish Missionary, David Livingston, who arrived in South Africa in 1841.

After several years work along the coast he landed, in 1844, at the island of Mombasa, Kenya with his wife, Rosine, and their newborn child. Dr. Krapf was the first Protestant missionary to establish a mission station on the eastern mainland of Africa.

"He at once plunged with characteristic ardour into the study of the Suahili language, of which there was neither grammar nor dictionary; and on June 8th, a day he always considered one of the most important in his life, he began a tentative translation of the Book of Genesis, with the aid of the Cadi of Mombasa. Scarcely had he begun, however, when, in the mysterious providence of God, a heavy trial was permitted to fall upon him. On July 1st he was attacked by fever, and on the 5th his wife took it still more severely. The very next day Mrs. Krapf s confinement took place; and on the 9th it became apparent that God was about to call her spirit to Himself. She called the Mohammedan attendants round her, and earnestly besought them to believe in Christ the Son of God, in whom, in that hour of anguish, and in the prospect of immediate separation from husband and babe, she could rest with perfect peace. Krapf was lying close by prostrate with fever, and when she breathed her last, it was only by a great effort that he was able to rise and satisfy himself that she was really dead, or afterwards follow the beloved remains to the grave, in which they were laid in the presence of the Governor, the Cadi, and other leading inhabitants of the place.

A day or two after, the motherless infant succumbed also to the fever; and, wrote Krapf, "I was obliged by the climate to conduct this second victim of the king of terrors to the grave of my beloved Rosine as soon as possible." "My heart and body," he wrote in a private letter, "wept for many days."

As he thus twice crossed the estuary to bury his dead on the mainland, he little thought that close to that solitary grave would rise, thirty years afterwards, a prosperous missionary settlement. For the Frere Town with which we are now so familiar is built on that very mainland opposite the island of Mombasa, within a few hundred yards of the white tombstone that marks the spot where rest the bones of Mrs. Krapf and her new-born babe. [See a picture of the grave, from a sketch by Lieut. Gordon, R.N., in the C. M. Gleaner of August, 1879.]

But he could see in that grave the pledge of future triumphs of the Gospel in Africa, and he wrote home to the Committee his memorable and often quoted message:--

"Tell our friends that there is on the East African coast a lonely grave of a member of the Mission cause connected with your Society. This is a sign that you have commenced the struggle with this part of the world; and as the victories of the Church are gained by stepping over the graves of many of her members, you may be the more convinced that the hour is at hand when you are summoned to the conversion of Africa from its eastern shore."

The Missionary Career of Dr. Krapf. London: Gilbert and Rivington, 1882.

My work in East Africa began on that same Island of Mombasa. I've seen that white tombstone that marks the beginning of the missionary struggle for the conversion of souls in East Africa.

And I realize...that my work, our work, is easy compared to those obedient and courageous servants who came before.

"Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

If we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus is the way"

If We Are The Body - Casting Crowns