Friday, June 27, 2008

The City of Mombasa

Let's can I describe this city? Let's start with the trees. The trees are rich, beautiful, and very very old. Mango trees, palm trees, baobab trees (my favorite) and many other trees that I haven't learned the names of.

Also, Mombasa itself is an island. Thus there are lots of great views of the ocean! Joshua Smith and I just recently had a nice dish of pilau (rice, meat, Kenyan spices) while looking at the view you see on the left next to Ft. Jesus, an old Portuguese fort that is now a historical museum in Mombasa. I need to learn more of the history of this old port city.

Finally, in the description of Mombasa, I think I will mention that there are a lot of markets, mosques, and Muslims. It seems like everywhere you go there is someone trying to sell you something, the call of prayer echoing through the city, and Muslim men and women in their traditional, religious garments.

Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of the city where I am staying.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exactly where I want to be...

The picture above describes how I feel about ministry, and especially ministry with Serve, the missions organization of Denton Bible Church. Serve's motto is "Leaders Serving Leaders". It is my desire and hope to be in the background behind the pastors of many churches. I desire to equip them, to train them, to give the tools they need to be able to shepherd their congregations, to be the kind of pastor that God wants for them and for their churches. I want my ministry to be a service to them - this is the vision of any kind of discipleship, which just so happens to be my passion.

Last week was, and probably will be my busiest week in Kenya. We had another 5 day conference in a village just south of Mombasa where we left the house every morning by 7am and returned anywhere between 3 and 5pm where I would rest, eat, and continue to prepare my teachings for the rest of the week.

I was able to teach on the Sermon on the Mount. It was a fantastic time where we spoke a lot about the difference between BEING Christians and ACTING Christian, and the difference between the heart of worship before God and actions of religious obedience. The Sermon on the Mount is a horribly convicting passage that simply attacks jab after jab straight at the heart of any it was appropriate for all of us sinners to hear and ponder on.

Our time together was really effective, and I was able to experience some new things in African Preaching: such as preaching over the yells and screaming of the playing children just outside the school, preaching over the sound of thousands of raindrops slamming into the tin roof above me creating a noise that cannot possibly be overcome (so we waited until it past), and preaching while roosters crowed outside. All these things generally NEVER happen in American ministry, and I'm glad to have experienced them. The pastors responded very well and I received a lot of great feedback from them personally and through Drew Trenz and Dennis Omondi who also taught at the conference.

While we were teaching through the whole morning, Jill Senechal and Allison Omondi had an hour and a half with women from the village. Some of them pastors wives, others just women from the area. They could have used so much more time with the women, but the women's schedules often times do not permit it with their cultural duties of housekeeping and child-rearing. Overall it was successful as Jill taught on what it means to have inner beauty as a woman of God (see here for Jill's description of the conference).

After a long week, I had Saturday to prepare for my 3 hour Church History class the next day. I didn't feel adequate to teach the class until I started teaching it and found myself really enjoying what I was introducing to the pastors and church leaders on Sunday. I will be continuing this class for 5 more weeks. These 9 church leaders have been going through BTCL for the last 2 1/2 years, and they are almost finished, graduating on August 16.

Below is a picture of the men we taught on the week of June 16th.

Thanks for praying. Please pray for me as I am adjusting to new, more flexible schedules and trying to learn greater independence in the city and learning more about what life is like here in Mombasa, Kenya.

Friday, June 20, 2008

One of the funniest things I've seen on TV in Kenya...

That would be a Spanish Telenovela (soap opera), dubbed over in English, and played on Kenyan TV. For some reason that international combination made me laugh hysterically. Plus it was funny to have the combination of already bad acting in Spanish with bad acting that didn't match the mouth movement in dubbed English.

Just thought I'd share that with you.
Update on the Ujamaa conference is coming up soon. I taught the Sermon on the Mount all week and was able to teach Mt 5:1-6:18.


Saturday, June 14, 2008


The ripcord syndrome.

I think it was John Brown who described this to me, but I'm not sure. There is something about a short stint or even a long stint where your mind at all times acknowledges the fact that you only live where you live on stint for a short period of time. For me it is only 9 weeks, 2 of them already completed. There is a sense of security knowing that I will be returning before I know it. This is the cultural ripcord, that now within 7 weeks I can pull the ripcord and parachute home. This is one of the many things that separate this experience from the future experience of moving to Kenya.

It is interesting thinking through the culture and the place with a long term vision of living here. I might be more observational because of it. I think being in the security of the Omondi's home and being with the team has caused my adjustment to be quite easy. Tomorrow or the day after however, I will be moving into the Glory Guest House where I will spend the remainder of my time. Here I hope to be better at talking to people in the area and building relationships on my own. At the Omondi's, all I have to do is stay put and 5-6 people will cycle through the apartment. Dennis calls it Grand Central Station. A lot of people know the Omondis and come often to visit. The picture above describes their house perfectly (hint: it is culturally accepted that you take off your shoes before you enter a house).

What is good about this last week has been preparing for teachings that I will be giving this week. Monday through Friday we are having another Pastor's conference where I will be teaching through the sermon on the mount. I have been working hard on these messages that have a certain theme of Being and Doing. We must act out of a flow of our transformed being. The Holy Spirit lives within us and His power must flow out of us like streams of living water (John 7:38).

Please pray for these pastors we will be teaching that God may speak to them through His Word and my feeble attempts to preach it.

Thank you.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mtwapa Conference & First Week in Kenya

For more pictures from the conference, click HERE.

It still has not been one week since I’ve been in Kenya, but it feels like it has been much longer. I suppose it has to do with adjusting to culture, weather, time, and the busy schedule our team has been on with the pastors’ conference in Mtwapa. I arrived late Monday night and slept and slept and slept. Tuesday was the first day of the conference, which I missed. So the last few days have been spent like so: wake up at 6 or 6:30 am, leave at 7 am, arrive in Mtwapa at 7:30-7:45 and spend the whole day there until 4 pm or so. Each day of the conference had a morning sermon from Gayman Helman on discipleship, a question/answer session with Dennis, a sermon from Dennis, question / answer session, lunch, and more question / answer. Gayman spoke about discipleship and the importance of retaining and guarding sound doctrine & Dennis spoke about the process of church development, marriage, and many other important things during the question/answer times.

This has been a really good time for me to learn more about Kenyan Christianity and the problems within the Kenyan church. There is a lot of accepted heresy around Kenya, much of it imported from the American heretics of the prosperity gospel. I knew this before, but it is a different thing to see it. One of my favorite things that Pastor Chiro said, the man who organized the conference and provided the tea and food (which is UNHEARD of in Kenya especially if there are Americans in attendance), was that if Paul or Peter were alive today, they would not go to church, or at least they would not go to our churches because they would be so appalled by the false teaching. He then said, “I’ve even been to a meeting where it began by locking the devil up and putting him in the corner of the church. Everyone was cheering that the devil was locked up in the corner and they were so happy and excited. But what is the devil doing in the church! They are excited that the devil is in their church!” Chiro is a great man with a great heart. Dennis only recently met him, but he has been teaching BTCP classes in the area for 7 years. He loves the word of God and desires God-centered churches in Kenya.
I got to speak once for about 15 minutes. The night before Dennis asked me to look into Melchizedek and who he is especially as it relates to Hebrews 7:3 where it says that he has no father or mother. I did some research and prepared a small talk. It went very well and everyone seemed so appreciative to hear the answer I gave (which was from commentaries, research, and study notes). If I did not have those resources I honestly don’t think I would have been able to come up with the answer I gave – especially the part about the ancient Jewish interpretive principle that what is not written or recorded is treated as not existing. Resources. I got it from resources. Teaching is all about education & resources and then communicating those things clearly to others that do not know. Many of the pastors simply do not have the resources or education that we have. If you were a pastor who had to preach every Sunday, how well would you interpret the Bible if all you EVER had were the words themselves? I’m sure it would be pretty decent, but surely your culture, tradition, and experience would be a large obstacle to getting it right, as it is for everyone. But the more we are able to study and hear other’s views on topics, the more we are able to filter the truth away from those obstacles to correctly understanding the Scriptures.

The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 is asked by Philip, “Do you understand what you are reading?” and the eunuch replied, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” This is the ministry of Serve, to explain to those that have been given the role and responsibility of explaining to others. These pastors and church leaders have the responsibility to teach and preach the truth of the Word of God, yet for many of them, no one has explained it to them or trained them how to read, interpret, and apply the Scripture correctly. Think about the massive amount of resources even a small pastor in America has. The regular pastor in Kenya does not have those things: no commentaries, no background studies, no word studies, no podcasts, many not even a capable mentor. I’m excited to be a part of this ministry because there is great need here and we have great abundance in the area of knowledge. IT MUST BE SHARED. It must.

Paul warned the Romans of the heresy to come:
I urge you, brothers, to watch out or those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. Many of these heresies come from Kenya’s own culture and traditions, but many of the new heresies come from America. I’m starting to wonder if we as American Christians ought to take responsibility in correcting the heresies that have been birthed out of our own country’s greed and self-serving deception of the naïve people who seek relief in this difficult world. Pray for Kenya, for Serve, and all the other Pastor Chiro’s in Kenya who are seeking doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness through the inspired word of God (2 Tim 3:16).

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Rom 16:25-27).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I am in Kenya

Yesterday I slept almost the whole day. At night I got to go to a college meeting and see some familiar faces: Marto, Ivan, Betty, Sylvia, Jackie, and JJ. I look forward to spending more time with these guys and girls who I spent 2 weeks with last summer here in Kenya.

Today I spent the whole day at a Pastor's Conference North of Mombasa in Mtwapa. I met some great pastors there and heard some good teaching. Tomorrow and Friday I will be spending the day there as well. Tonight I eat, and prepare to answer for tomorrow a difficult question raised up this afternoon: Who is Melchizedek and why is he said to have no father or mother in Heb. 7? We'll see if I come up with anything?