Tuesday, December 14, 2010


After a really relaxing and enjoyable transition week in Dubai / Oman with some great friends, I am back in Texas! I will be here in Dallas/Denton until the end of January through the Denton Bible Missions Conference

Once again I got to go on a really awesome hike in Oman, then later that week on a tour of Old Dubai complete with sharks, gold, spices, and a dhow ride across the channel. This is what I have pictures of, but the best things about my visit are simply moments enjoyed together with good friends, encouraging conversations, times of prayer, and learning how to best pray for my friends. Enjoy the pictures here:
Goodbye Cake, Oman, & Old Dubai

Please forgive the lack of updates. I've come to a place where I can't even remember what's the last thing that I wrote to you all about. Probably something about the trip out to Meru. Well since then, things have been busy as usual. Before getting on a plane to come home for a while, I was able to continue preaching a series on the Sermon on the Mount and complete that. Also, I was able to finish the Bible Doctrine Survey class Ujamaa.

With Dennis and I gone, the main person in charge is James Muthee. He will continue to lead the church leadership team and be taking his fair share of preaching as well. Please pray for James, Jacinta, and their baby Daniel. It's a lot to take on by yourself and there is a good share of issues that are coming up within the church as usual.

In the meantime, I will be here in Dallas / Denton enjoying Christmas, my family, my friends, and supporters.

God bless (Jhn 3.30), and thank you for your prayers.

Ben Warren.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pictures, Videos, & Sermons

Due to the fact that things have been VERY busy here in the Omondis' absence, I'm finding it hard to sit down and write a good update. So for now, I'd like to share with all of you some of the things I have been doing through Pictures, Videos, & Sermons!

This is our first Baptism Service. We were able to do this just before Dennis left on the 19th of Sept.
Baptism Service

In early October, I had the chance to go to a rural area about 5 hours from Nairobi. It was a LONG journey: 1 1/2 hrs. to Mombasa, 8 hrs to Nairobi, 4 hrs to Nkubu, 1 hr to Mitunguu, and 30 minutes on the back of a motorbike to get to our destination. It is an area called Meru. Daniel Gitonga, our Serve intern, grew up there and is hoping to return to his home in order to teach and train pastors and work with his father in ministry. Missionaries and other NGO workers typically don't go there, so they were very happy to receive us and their hospitality was amazing. I don't ever remember being hungry! I was sick with a cold during that time but God gave me grace especially on the day of our seminar where 50 people showed up. Three old men rode their bicycles for an entire DAY in order to arrive in Karoche where the church was. They spent the night, went to the seminar, spent the night again, and rode for an entire day back. They are hungry for the Word and willing to sacrifice in order to receive it. Pretty amazing! Daniel's father is also a very influential leader in the area who has been preaching and doing ministry for 40 years. He also has established an irrigation system in his town which has really blessed a lot of the local farmers. Most of the people there simply live off the land.

BTCP Trip to Meru

Just the other week, the young people of our church (really college age) put together a Mbuzi Choma (Goat Burn) party where they bought a goat, slaughtered it, cooked it, and ate it. I led them in a Bible Study on the link between trust/faith and obedience. It was a really good time and a blessing.

Mbuzi Choma (Goat Burn)

As for the videos:
Dennis had asked me to make videos of many places and since they are already online now, I thought I'd share them with you:

And lastly, the sermons:

I have been preaching since Dennis left every Sunday. We are doing a series on Jesus' Discourses and Matthew. We started with the Great Commission and then moved back to Matthew 5. We are on Ch. 6 of the Sermon on the Mount now. Feel free to listen or download!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

one year (!)

Jerry Clark and his Team:
My life is a mess, but my heart is encouraged.

For any of you who know me well, you know I don't handle busy-ness that well. I need the occasional evening free and at least one day of the week where not much happens or is planned. In that sense the two weeks the team from Denton Bible was here was tough, but in another sense, they were all very encouraging. They taught very well and I was blessed by their teaching and by the trip up to Nairobi last week.

We had a week of conferences here in our area and a week in Nairobi. The men were teaching pastors who are all either current students or alumni of BTCP (Bible Training Center for Pastors) while the women were visiting ladies' homes from our church. Each evening we met back together at the Serve Center for an evening seminar on Conflict Resolution with Jerry Clark speaking. Jerry is on staff with Denton Bible and works with the Men's Ministry and Reconciliation Ministry (counseling couples with struggling marriages). Each night people packed into our small classroom even to the point where some people (me every night!) having to stand. Everyone seemed to walk away with one word in their mouths, "Wow". Then we had a team day with the men which was incredibly encouraging as Jerry gave us some wisdom about 'temperaments' that people have. Apparently I'm laid back and a perfectionist at the same time! No wonder I'm so conflicted :). The next day was a wedding which I stood in giving me the opportunity to where an African dress shirt. Apparently, according to the comments I received I looked "gooood".

We took a day off and then headed out to Nairobi for another conference on discipleship. I was encouraged and reminded of my desire to work for the kingdom of God by making disciples of men. Please pray that God would bring faithful men into my path and I would know how to lead them towards maturity.

For more pictures from the last two weeks go here: DBC Team 2010

The Omondis are leaving:
Next week Dennis, Allison, and Anjela Omondi are coming to the states for home service for 5 months. James and I are left in charge of Serve and James, myself, and two other men are left in the leadership of the church. I am anticipating a challenge here, because it doesn't seem like the workload will be reducing at all even though the workers are reducing. There is a lot going on in the church including this current "Vision" - click on it to see more.

Pray for the Omondis - for rest and spiritual rejuvenation, for their support raising and care for their supporters, and for their time with family.

Pray for us - to work with the energy of the Lord. To have precision in our times of preparation for class and studies; to use less time but be more effective.

During all that crazy busyness stated above, I turned a year old. I left the states on September 5th, 2009. I've passed the year mark! Looking back, the amount of progress that occurred is....well, it's a lot! There's so much to learn! Culturally, I feel like I have been picking away at the ice of a frozen lake for a year now getting closer and closer. After a year, I've broken the ice, but I'm realizing that the lake goes down 200 feet deep, and it's very wide too. I'm sure you can measure it in volume as well...that's a lot of liters. Culture! Wow. So, one year. Is it 1/4 of the way through my term? Is it, "Wow, I've been away for SO LONG!"? I think it is more like, "Ok now I've officially started. Now I'm just beginning. I'll let you know if I say the same thing next year too :)

I'm good, but a little overwhelmed as usual. We are going to do a sermon series at the church over the Discourses of Matthew.
  • I will begin on the 26th of Sept with the Sermon on the Mount and preach through October.
  • I hope to make two trips - one possibly in early October to a rural region in Kenya NE of Nairobi with James and our intern Daniel Gitonga, and another possibly in early November to visit some friends in NE Ethiopia.
  • I am beginning Bible Doctrine Survey in one of our classes every Tuesday & Thursday morning.
I suspect that I will be coming up for air again around the second week of December when I come back to Texas for the holidays and the missions conference.

Prayer Requests:
  1. Praise God for a good time with the team from Denton and all the ministry we were able to accomplish.
  2. Praise God for the wedding that happened two Sundays ago. Many people from the church rallied together in service each playing their part to celebrate the union of Delvis and Elizabeth.
  3. Praise God for one year in Kenya!
  1. Pray for the church during this time without their official pastor. May we all grow in grace and learning. Pray for their spiritual growth and ability to stand firm as the leadership team leads them.
  2. Pray for the Omondis and for James Muthee, Martin Murigi, Godfrey Ikanda, Esther Karanja, and myself as we lead Word of Life Fellowship.
  3. Pray for me: spiritual fortitude, wisdom & discernment, faith/trust in God and not my logic nor emotions (I'm actually very logical AND emotional - another contradiction ; ) ), rest and energy which comes from God, and a focus not on my teaching but in the students' understanding.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Testament Survey

Today we just finished the Epistles of Paul in our New Testament Survey Course. By the end of it, I will have taught 13 out of the 27 books of the New Testament. It has been challenging, but very enlightening. I praise God for the privilege of studying and explaining His Word. Here is an attempt we made in class to summarize the books thus far with one word or phrase:

Matthew - Jesus as King
Mark - Jesus as Suffering Servant
Luke - Jesus as Son of Man
John - Jesus as Son of God
Acts - The Church - Foundation (Peter) & Spread (Paul)
Romans - Gospel of Righteousness
1 Corinthians - Correction
2 Corinthians - Defense of Ministry & Minister
Galatians - Freedom in Faith
Ephesians - Church
Philippians - Humility
Colossians - Worthy Life
1 Thessalonians - Future Hope
2 Thessalonians - Not Yet, so Stand Firm
1 Timothy - Guidebook
2 Timothy - Soldier
Titus - Practice what you Preach
Philemon - Forgiveness
Hebrews - Superior / Better

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Sunday in a Massai Village

Time has passed as I have continued to work on this update. It is now Monday, the first day after Jesus' resurrection. Amefufuka! (He has risen!). Amefufuka kweli kweli! (He has risen indeed!) I was privileged to be the Easter guest of Lemsanya Ole Tisho. We went to his home, a Massai village about an hour from Morogoro, and enjoyed the Easter service which had an incredible choir, an easter sermon with many interjections of Bwana Yesu Asifiwe (Praise the Lord Jesus) and the above "amefufuka's", and a small skit in the Massai language about two families, one Christian, and the other traditional whose problems only became worse as they continued to go to the witch doctor for help. "Cast your burdens upon the Lord Jesus, do not multiply them by witchcraft," they said.

When they had a time of prayer, many people of the church came forward. We all raised our hands as a congregation and the pastor prayed for them in general terms asking God to heal them of diseases like typhoid, malaria, or even cancer. That God would deliver them from sadness and despair. That God would protect them by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus from the evil forces at work in this world. As he prayed, he touched each one of them lightly on the head, praying in general terms, but making sure he specifically encountered each person in need of prayer. I was already in front, but I wanted to join them. I wanted him to pray for me to protect me from spiritual attack which weighs down my soul with anxiety, or sadness, or loneliness, or a spiritual flatness. I didn't take that one step forward, because when you don't know anything about a culture, the safest thing to do is usually nothing at all. Then I wondered if my problems could be compared to theirs? I'm an American, and my opportunities are endless. I have support and a salary through generous givers and wonderful employment. I have food that does not make me sick nor hungry. I am healthy. As I look back, it could have been a good gesture to show them that I too am in desperate need of God's help at all times. I am lost and helpless apart from the Spirit of God. I stand condemned apart from the blood of Jesus. I too must abide in Jesus Christ, for without Him and His life from the vine infusing my life as a branch, I can do nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Tisho and his mjomba (maternal uncle)

BTCP Graduation in Ukunda, Kenya

Why was the trip to Kenya so good?
1) Fresh Eyes: I got to see the work we are doing in Ukunda, and even the place and people there with new eyes. Some eyes were fresh, some were wise, and my own were opened. Luke, a friend from language school who accompanied me on the trip brought the fresh eyes. John and Alan, the wise eyes. And through them seeing where I live and work, and the purpose and vision of Serve, mine were opened a bit more than before. I cannot tell you how valuable this was and is to me.
2) Home is People: Home is not a place nor things. Over Christmas I received a package full of wonderful things that reminded me of home: gum, granola bars (I have two left still), and other things like that. They reminded me of home, which is great, but they are not home. I visited some friends in the Middle East over Christmas. It was home there in the Middle East. John was home and we were in East Africa. Home is people. It was wonderful to spend time with John Brown and Alan Chamberlain to be guided, encouraged, and spiritually directed by them. As I reflect on this, I realize also that if home is people, then in time (not a short time, but in time) Kenya might just be home as well. That's an encouraging thought while in such a long transition.

Malaria, Initiation to African Mission Work

Some would say that during this month, I have been initiated into African missionary work. Malaria. Praise the Lord, that he preserved me from this sickness until after my trip to Kenya for the BTCP graduation and a wonderfully encouraging time with John Brown, one of the missions staff with Denton Bible, and Alan Chamberlain, a Denton Bible elder. God knew that I needed that time in so many ways. Two days after returning to Morogoro, malaria kicked in. I'm glad for the experience in many ways, although I do not want to repeat it. The unknown is usually more scary than something you've already experienced. Now I know what it's like (the vomiting, the aching, the fever, the extreme weakness), and I no longer need to fear it :). I thought it was funny that on the fifth day after I had completed my medicine and was feeling better that I tried to sweep my room and had to take a break in the middle of it because I was too tired! My room is seriously very small. After about a week I was fully recovered and getting back into Swahili. Praise the Lord for my new friends here who took very good care of me.

Two Moons Ago: Swahili time

Two moons ago I arrived in Tanzania. I remember just before I left Mombasa (Ukunda), I went swimming in my favorite spot on the beach, the one where there are almost no beach boys, where there is soft sand in the water and no rocks and sea urchins to step on, where there are the best waves at high tide. Full moon and high tide, waves that violently slam into your body and twirl you around like a squirrel in the mouth of a dog, except less biting.

It is a full moon right now (as I write this around the end of March), and although I have calendars everywhere that tell me I have been here two months, I'm reminded of the passing of time through the Swahili word for moon and month. "Mwezi". It is the same word.

I'm really enjoying the Swahili way of telling time.

7am is 'saa moja', 1:00, the first hour of the day. Think Biblically and you got the Swahili way of telling time. Hour one, saa mbili (2), hour three, saa nne (4) hour five, saa sita (6), time for lunch ... and so on. I have set my watch this way to help me think in Swahili more. By the time 4 or 5pm arrives, I feel like I have accomplished much because I've been up and actively doing things for 10 or 11 hours! By 7pm, it is the first hour of the night and the sun is shedding its last bit of light for the day.

If you get into more remote tribal peoples, they might tell years by counting rainy seasons. 10 seasons ago, 5 seasons ago, etc. I was reading a book by a Massai, the most well-known African traditional tribes located in Tanzania and Kenya. The author was relating his story about when he went off to boarding school. When he returned home for break, his father took a rope and tied thirty knots in the rope. He ordered his son to untie one knot every morning and when three were left, they would travel back to the school. This was back in the 70's, and life has changed rapidly even for traditional tribes like the Massai.

Right now I'm in my first rainy season. I've experienced 5 moons in Kenya and 2 here in Tanzania. As I write this, it is the 9th hour of the day, on the Thursday before Easter, the day that commemorates Jesus' institution of the Lord's Supper, our symbol of hope, forgiveness, and union / communion in Christ. In Christ. In Christ and He in us. Jesus spoke these words that very night:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ~ John 17:20-23

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Morogoro, Tanzania

Baba yetu uliye mbinguni,
jina lako litukuzwe.
Ufalmo wako uje.
Mapenzi yako yatimizwe
hapa duniani kama huko mbinguni
utupe leo riziki yetu. Utusamehe makosa yetu kama sisi tunavyowasamehe waliotukosea. Usitutie majaribuni, lakini utuokoe na yule mwavu. Kwa kuwa ufalme ni wako na nguvu na utukufu hata milele. Amin.

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

We say this every morning before class during a short devotional time. This is the Lord's Prayer in Swahili and in English. About a month ago I asked you to pray that I would have friends here at the language school. I remember worrying so much about going off to Tanzania alone. A country I had never been before going to a school I'd never seen to be in class with people I'd never met for four months. What if I didn't make any friends? Will I be completely and terribly alone? "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

God has answered your prayers abundantly. The community here is incredible. It is so diverse, loving, and encouraging. We have Catholic priests (Joby, Jackson, Prijo, and Shaju the Indian Fathers, Gideon from Ghana, and Michael from Indonesia) and sisters (Prerna from Northern India who I call 'Sista P!' and Cecilia from Nigeria), Lutherans from Iowa (Liz, Lu, and Kristen) and Finland (Leena & Erne), a family from Arkansas with Pioneer Bible Translators (Ben, Jennifer, Charis, Levi, Luke), and Presbyterian Koreans planting a church in a very small town in Western Tanzania (Qyn Hwan [Paul], Kim Sol Jeong [Jean], and David their son). Today actually was the first day I was able to find more information about the Koreans through conversing in Swahili since they do not know much English. It was exciting to get to know them a little after a month of just smiling. I'm also getting to know some of the teaching assistants, especially two Massai guys named Lemsanya & Kadeghe.

Our Massai guides and Swahili teachers up in the clouds: Kadeghe & Lemsanya

This is the other Ben from Arkansas.

So why did I worry? Why do you worry about things? Utupe leo riziki yetu - Give us today our daily sustenance, daily bread. Do not give us tomorrow's bread today, please don't do that! It will spoil. Just today. On Sunday I was joining Erne in an old sauna that some Finnish missionary built here at the school 20 years ago. Apparently saunas are a really big deal in Finland and they find it even necessary in a hot climate like Tanzania. Anyway, there I was sweating until my fingers were pruny with Erne, the Finnish Lutheran, and we were talking about how we shouldn't plan or worry about tomorrow because today's trouble is enough on its own. Then I suddenly thought, "If that were something I believed, wouldn't the most worry-free time of the day be the evening?" The day is over and there is nothing more to worry about since tomorrow has not arrived. Lord, give us the grace to live this way. I know I need that because my mind so easily moves toward the future.

Swahili has been great. I feel I've improved a lot and can carry on a very simple conversation as well as read kids books with the help of a dictionary. For some reason I really enjoy languages and even grammar...oops did I say that? Over the last week I read a story called, "Pilipili Hoho", which is about a boy who grows green bell pepper for a competition at school. One of the bell peppers, or pilipili hoho, grows to be the size of a watermelon and for some reason has legs. It's my first official book to be completed in Swahili and a delightful story. I got 80 new words from it that I'm now working on memorizing. My favorite verb is 'kutekenya' which means 'to tickle.'

Blessings to you. Thank you for praying and for allowing me the privilege of learning Swahili in such a beautiful place and with such beautiful people.

The mountain side is filled with villages and farms at a steep slope.

  1. Pray for continued diligence in my studies of Swahili.
  2. Pray for the seminars, conferences, and BTCP graduation that is happening in Kenya this month. I will be traveling next week for the graduation on the 13th as long as I have my passport. I gave it to the language school office when I arrived for visa purposes and haven't seen it yet. When I told the head teacher about that today, he seemed surprised. So pray I get my passport back and if I do, pray for safe travels.
  3. Pray for the student Bible study Ben and I started - for the gospel to be evident.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Kick in the Pants from D.A. Carson

"There are preachers who so loudly declare their love of preaching that it is unclear whether it is their own performance and their love of power that has captured them or their desire to minister to the men and women who listen to them. A church organist may buck every suggestion that a young, new musician be permitted to serve in this way, and pretty soon the reason becomes clear: the organist's self-identity is so bound up with the public performance of music that any thought of serving people has been suppressed, to the point that the thought of being replaced is intolerable.

As someone who has taught seminary students for more than fifteen years, I worry about the rising number of seminarians who, when asked where and how they think they might best serve, respond with something like this: "Well, I think I would like to teach somewhere. Every time I have taught, people have told me I have done a pretty good job. I get a tremendous sense of fulfillment out of teaching the Bible. I think I could be satisfied teaching Scripture."

How pathetic. I know pagans who find satisfaction and fulfillment by teaching nuclear physics. In any Christian view of life, self-fulfillment must never be permitted to become the controlling issue. The issue is service, the service of real people. The question is, How can I be most useful?, not How can I feel most useful? The goal is, How can I best glorify God by serving his people?, not, How can I feel most comfortable and appreciated while engaging in some acceptable form of Christian ministry? The assumption is, How shall the Christian service to which God calls me be enhanced by my daily death, by my principled commitment to take up my cross daily and die?, not, How shall the form of service I am considering enhance my career? This is not to deny that Christians may derive joy from work honestly offered to God, whether that work is vocational ministry or research into the properties of quarks. But it is one thing to find joy in the work to which we have been called, and another to make joy the goal of life, the fundamental criterion that controls our choices. It is one thing to weigh a Christian leader's evaluation of our gifts, and another so to focus on our perception of our gifts that self-worship has crept in through the back door. It is one thing to think of people as a live audience that will appreciate our displays of homiletical prowess, and another that passionately shapes each sermon to convey the truth to God's people for their good...

In short, Paul not only wants to be with [the Thessalonians], he wants to be with them for their good. And that is a demonstration of elementary Christianity. Christ Jesus came to us, choosing to be with us - and this for our good. He chose the path of self-denial, dying in excruciating shame and degradation so that others might live. He calls us to serve the same way, not by lording it over others but by open-eyed death to self-interest, for the good of others. This stance is not a mask to be donned as a disguise at religious conventions, but the hallmark of Christian living. Paul understood the point and lived it out. His prayers for believers are nothing more than an extension of the same love that he bore them."

Friday, January 29, 2010

A lot of life

Somtimes I feel like I'm completely surrounded by living things here. I woke up a couple of times in the night last night to hear the stray cat and kittens that live in my ceiling playing noisily and a weird sound that I could only assume was a monkey mating call of some kind...maybe a bush baby? Not sure. Then there's the neighbor's dog Dusty who sometimes gets into fights with the other neighbor's dog, Blacky. Or the cats that belong to the owner of Blacky. One of them always finds its way inside my house and would spend hours if I'd let it rubbing its sides back and forth along my legs.

Geckos or small lizards scurrying along the wall that supposedly eat some of the bugs in the house. And there is the unfortunate lizard that occasionally finds itself on the inner side of the hinges just before the door slams...smush. Some of the lizards outside are quite beautiful with green bodies and black heads with white spots, or blue-green bodies and a beautiful orange head.

Then there are the insects. The occasional roach that I try to ignore and hope goes away. The small spider that I always see when I lock the handle on my outer metal gate. The long legged spiders in the corners trying to trap ants. The trains of ants marching toward the destination of anything sweet. Medium size ants, big ants, and tiny sugar ants that find there way into anything unsealed. Black ants on my porch that seem to confuse my finger-nail clippings for food crumbs because they pick them up and take them home. I love to watch one line of ants moving along in one direction with one ant that is moving in the wrong direction. They have a head-on collision every two seconds, yet they seem to just stop short of bashing their heads together as if they were purposefully doing it to give one another a quick greeting before they continue their busy search for the sweetness.

During the rainy season, the mosquitos come out in full force and I invent new ways of killing them. Doom, the death knell of all insects in an aerosol spray can, is great for a large gathering of them near their dark refuge of my black bookcase. The classic move: a round of applause. The wrestlers' hand slam that knocks them out of their sense on to the ground with just enough time to squash them with my foot. And then the experimental 'grasping at the wind' where I hope that they will end up in my clenched fist.

Every morning I get to hear the sound of many, many birds. When I first arrived I remember thinking that they are kind of loud! But now I've become used to it. My favorite one makes a low-pitched sound a little higher than when you blow across an empty glass bottle. The sound comes out once, twice, and then many times in a row like when you drop a basketball on the court and let it bounce until it stops.

Then there are the monkeys around the area. Gray territorial ones, endangered black collobus monkeys with white tufts of hair extending from near their armpits, small, light colored, turquoise balled ones, and large, stocky, confident baboons sometimes with their young offspring clinging to their mother's stomach underneath looking like what we all imagine a demon to look like - big head, small body, large ears, beady eyes, and sharp fangs.

As long as we are outside, there are the cows grazing with their herdsmen and crossing the roads. The goats are all over, some tied others running loose, some males chasing the females for a quick sexual encounter, and one in particular that I saw itching it's chin on the edge of the road looking suicidal, as if it wanted me to run over its head.

Even though the mosquitos terrorize my skin, the ants ruin my food, and the monkey steals my spaghetti noodles from my house and a few pieces of bread from my grocery bag in the back of the car, that I was worried that the cat in my ceiling was a rat and relieved that the cat was a cat, and it seems that the goats are sometimes trying to get hit by my car, reflecting on these things make me grateful for being surrounded by so much life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tides of the Heart

I am transitioning out of Kenya for the next 4 months.

What? Did you say you are leaving Kenya? That’s right. I’m not exactly getting on a plane though. Bus, to be more precise. In early February I’m bussing it to Morogoro, Tanzania where I will spend the next four months in classes learning to understand and speak Swahili. I’ve been looking forward to this time where I can completely focus on this one thing rather than juggling lots of other studies and ministry. I’m excited about what the Lord has for me in Tanzania but at the same time life here continues to lead me in a perpetual state of transition. I’ve spent a little over four months here in Kenya, learning, adjusting, breaking down, building up - being reminded of God’s goodness. Now I’m going to go to another country to do the same I suppose. Ni bahati yangu (It’s my luck) that I am staying in E. Africa. It’s not exactly the huge jump in cultures that it was from America to Kenya.

High Tide, Low Tide:
This month has been hard when it comes to culture. They say people tend to get hit with culture shock again at 3 months and 6 months. I guess mine came a little late. I was able to go to Dubai to spend Christmas with some really great friends. I had a blast with my friends and really enjoyed seeing Oman and the Emirates. When I came home though I got hit with it. Empty apartment - no Dustin. No friends that I’ve been close with for the last 5 years like the ones I just visited. Ughh. Loneliness. After a week of battling through that, I felt much better. I had a great week after that. Then….Ughh, loneliness, unmotivated, bleh. Is this depression? Man, it feels like I’m depressed! A week later. Huh, I feel better now.

A man alone in culture shock is like the tides of the sea. One minute he’s strong in his own strength, self-confident, out conquering the land, sand castles, and the tourists who want to remain dry. The next minute he’s weak, receded, and rather static.
This is how I’ve felt this last month. Up. Down. High tide. Low tide. Tossed helplessly by the moon’s gravitational pull of self reliance, culture shock, and loneliness. Unless…

James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Ask God. Ask God for wisdom. Ask God for wisdom in faith, no doubting. Ask God for wisdom, wisdom that would allow you to see all the wonderful and beautiful things of Him that obliterates all the things you feel you lack and are in desperate need of. To be grateful, rejoicing in His goodness, daily mercy, and provision. Instead of setting your mind and heart on your circumstances, divert both mind and heart to God’s deeds, works, and wonders and ask yourself, “The God who did these things, can he be trusted? Can I trust this mighty God with my own circumstances, my own heart, my own life?” In light of his works, all creation cries out a resounding and confident “YES!”

Psalm 77:11-15
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

This has helped me in many ways. Focusing on what I believe I need and lack gets my heart into a lot of trouble. Focusing on God and His goodness and glory does not fulfill what is lacking but instead causes it to recede like the tide of the ocean. And instead of being static, unmotivated, still, and depressed, I am at peace with God in the low tide.