God’s Grace in Ministry

During the month of August, Sherry and I had the opportunity to travel to a small village called Kaimosi and spent 5 days. On the second day, we walked the village and prayed for families of the Free Methodist Church. We learned that this was the very first Free Methodist Church in Kenya. It was originally under another small Holiness church but the leader was retiring and returning back to England. It was learned that the leader had been supported by a number of UK Free Methodist Churches so the Bishop of the Free Methodist Church of Burundi came over and visited with the church leaders and members. After a night of prayer, the majority of the members and leaders decided to join the Free Methodist Church. Current Highlands Conference Superintendent Martin Anami was part of the membership at that time. His father was the pastor of the church. During the next 2 days, we taught a seminar on marriage and family, along with a session on leadership. On the final day (Sunday) we worshiped with the church. This Sunday was Harvest Sunday where members brought a tenth of their harvest to the church.  Sherry was asked to give words of encouragement and pray for the harvest and harvesters.  Thom preached with five people rededicating their relationship with Christ.

The following two weeks (August 13 – 25) the Springs of Hope Bible School held its modular program. With the elections results given, some students were unable to make the trip to the school due to some violence in a few cities. However, we are thankful that 15 students in the Deacon program and 3 students in the Elder’s program were able to travel and take classes. Thom taught one course for the Deacon program being The Pentateuch and one course for the Elder’s program being Pauline Epistles. Sherry worked in organizing the library. She cataloged and entered into the computer over 1500 books. She also is serving as the registrar for the school. She is working with Thom on creating and organizing transcripts, handbooks, and constitution.

On the third Sunday, we traveled to Bondeni where we enjoyed the worship service with specials from the children and youth along with a wonderful meal following the service. Thom preached the message.

The final Sunday we traveled to Kitale and enjoyed our time with the church. We attended two worship services with a walk in between to property the church is wanting to buy. Thom preached in both services and also was asked to pray for the church and property. Afterward, we enjoyed a meal with the pastor, his wife, and assistant pastor, followed by a short visit in the pastors home with his family.

Sacrifice

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true worship. Romans 12:1

When you think of the word sacrifice, what comes to your mind?  For me, I think of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I think of Jesus’ crucifixion giving of himself for you and me. Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following definition for sacrifice: “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else” (sacrifice).  Giving up for the sake of something else or someone else is a characteristic that seems to allude many people at times, especially when we think of giving up for the sake of Christ.  There are times I find myself facing the challenge of sacrificing for Christ with thoughts of justification of why I do or should not move forward with the sacrifice I am facing.  At times I see myself already sacrificing and ask, “why should I do more?”  Yet, upon reflection what I think I am sacrificing, really is not a true sacrifice, it is just a small inconvenience to my life and choices I desire to make.

Over the past few months, I have met a number of wonderful people who pastor churches, their spouses, and children here in Kenya.  As I spend time with them, I learn of some of the sacrifices they make to serve God in Kenya.  Many of these pastors are from the lower financial class within the Kenyan society.  A number of them do not have a secondary (high school) degree.  They make very little money, for many working 12 -14 hours per day 6 or 7 days a week just to bring home enough money to meet the needs of the family is their goal.  And yes, there are times they go without because they have not made enough to cover their expenses. They do not have a government that provides or subsidizes for their food, rent, medical/dental, etc. that is available to those in other countries like the USA.

When I started to listen and ask questions to pastors and their families over the past few months, I realized the sacrifice they are making.  You see, they work many hours, which takes away from spending time with their spouse and children.  It takes time away for their calling as ministers of the Gospel.  For many, the only time they have to pastor is Sunday morning, yet they do seek to work into their day time to visit a sick person with in their congregation, etc.  For some, their church is a few hours or more away from where they work and live, so they have to travel at their expense to be available on Sunday to preach or if someone else is preaching, help with other tasks.  For most pastors, they receive no pay, or very little, no housing, or other benefits from the church because the church does not have the finances to do so. They struggle to see their church grow because of societal prejudices or lack of understanding.  The jobs that many can do are looked down upon even though they are important. They are told if you are poor, do not have a church plot(land)/building, then why should I believe in your God, he is not blessing you.  Even Christians who move into the area may look at them as not being blessed because there is a folk theology that if you are blessed by God you will have all the material blessings you want and need.

Yet, as I speak with them, their heart’s for their families, church, community, and those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ is deep and compassionate. They want to make a difference, they want to spend more time, but life circumstances limit their ability, yet, they continue to make sacrifices that maybe many of us may not make.

As you think of the pastors we work with will you pray:

  • that God will bless their families and provide for their everyday needs
  • for the efforts they put forth
  • that those whom they minister will be open to the Gospel of Christ
  • that God will help those who look down upon them because they do not have a church building (a number of churches in the larger towns and cities can not afford to buy land to build), a job that seems to be socially acceptable, a home that meets higher standards, etc. will begin to see the heart of God in these pastors and churches
  • that the compassion they share to their communities will be seen in a way that draws new believers to Christ
  • that the Holy Spirit will bring along people of Godly wisdom to help guide those steeped in cultural and folk theology into a stronger, more biblical understanding of God

May God Continue to Bless as you pray for the Ministry here in Kenya and all of Africa.

Thom

 

 

“Sacrifice.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 July 2017.

Kenya FMC Recieves Full Conference Status

It was a great weekend for the Kenya Free Methodist Church as they moved from a Provincial General Conference to Full General Conference status.  In 1993 the Free Methodist Church was established under the direction of the Burundi General Conference.  Over the years God has used many leaders and laypersons to help the Kenya Mission field move to Provincial General Conference.  Over the past years under the leadership of previous Bishops and most recently Bishop Deogratias Nshimiyimana (Bishop Deo) and the Board of Administration for Burundi along with the Kenyan leadership (Bishop Emeritus Nixon Dingili and current Bishop Hawkins Mugaya) and the Kenya Board of Administration, Kenya Free Methodist Church was able to reach Full General Conference Status on 6/17/2017.  Bishop Deo was present to guide the proceedings and transfer of Ecclesiastical powers. Sherry and I, joined by Africa Director Mike Reynen, International Child Care Ministries Africa Director Vickie Reynen, and Shannon Butson and his three sons (VISA team here for three weeks) were privileged to be the guest of this milestone in the life of the Kenyan church.  Please pray for the Kenyan Church that the Lord will guide and that all those connected with the church will be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in her life to continue to share their faith in Jesus Christ, disciples new and current believers, plant churches and develop leaders (both pastoral and lay).

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Pray for Our Travel and Ministry this week.

samburu-national-reserve

Our travel schedule this week:
May 25 – fly to Nairobi – Meet up with Tumaini (Hope) Women of Kenya NGO group.
May 26 – Travel to Samburu to distribute sustainable food to very hard hit area of drought.
May 27 – Continue to Outreach in Samburu then travel to Meru after.
May 28 – Attend FMCKenya church in Meru – Then travel back to Nairobi.
May 29-30 – Thom will finish grading final assignments for NBC online class (Doing
Church as Mission) and set up NBC online class starting on 6th (Global Evangelism).
May 31 – Kibera FM Primary school with Mike and Vickie Reynen, Dr. Brown and Prayer Team visiting school, then breaking into small groups to visit homes of church members/children for time of prayer. (Kibera is considered the largest urban slum in Africa.
May 31- June 3 – Travel to Massi Lodge for Missionary Retreat with Dr. Brown as guest speaker (we will also enjoy partnering the Prayer Team traveling with Dr. Brown).
June 4 – travel back to Eldoret.

Meet Pastor Jared, family and Langas Church in Kenya, Africa

On Sunday, May 14, Sherry and I had to opportunity to visit Langas Free Methodist Church.  Pastor Jared told us not to worry he will make sure we can find our way and he will pick us up.  He arrives and walk’s through the gate area, we greet him and he say’s, “I have your transportation.” We proceed through the iron gates and see two motorcycles (boda boda). She looks at me and say’s, “is that our ride?” I said, “looks like it, hope on” (you should have seen Sherry’s face, she had never been on a motorcycle before). We hopped on and rode down the road and through town.  Sherry and I are on the same boda boda. I am at the back holding myself on with one hand and my bible in the other.  I was preaching at Pastor Jared’s Church.  I am sure we were a sight to those in the crowded town roads as we rode through.

We enjoyed our time with Pastor Jared and his wonderful congregation. The church was started in 2010.  They have had to relocated a few times in the Langas area since they rent facilities and sometimes the rent is raised where they have to make a change due to cost.  Purchasing a plot of land is very expensive in the Langas/Eldoret area, but they are confident God will bless them where ever they hold their services.  On Saturday May, 20th we visited with Pastor Jared and family at their home.  It was a lovely time.  You will notice a cow (ng’ombe) in one of the pictures below, that was from International Child Care Ministries a few years ago.  It has provided, in a number of ways, for his family. Please pray for Pastor Jared, Marian and their children that God will watch over them and continue to guide them as they lead their church. Pastor Jared also serves as the Parish Leader  were he guides and mentors 4 other churches with their respective pastors in the Eldoret Area.  Pray for the Langas church as they reach out to their community to minister and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people in great need.

Our First Month

It has been almost a month since our arrival in Kenya. It has been a time of adjustments, learning, and enjoying the people and culture of Kenya.  Here’s some of our experiences:

  • We had the opportunity in our first week to meet 28 students and the school board. We enjoyed speaking to the students in chapel and hearing some of their stories. We also enjoyed listening to the board and their heart to help the students grow and the school to move forward for God’s Kingdom
  • We had our first experience worshiping at a local church. They love to sing worship to God and spend a lot of time singing, what a blessing to participate even though we do not know Swahili, but we tried as we followed along in the Swahili Hymnal.  After worship, the make a line and as people come out of the church the shake hands while singing.
  • We have enjoyed shopping at the market stands on the road. We spend time walking down the main road and by fruit and vegetables from the local stands. We have gone to the local stores as well to pick up other items, but enjoy connecting with those at the stands.
  • We have experienced local transportation like: the bus rides (coaches) from Eldoret to Nairobi and back (7 hours one way), bus (smaller), and Matatu’s (minivan like) all full, shoulder to shoulder, and taxi’s.
  • When you are driving down the road (riding in our case) you need to watch out for: cattle, goats, sheep, and other animals crossing the road, other people walking across the road, other cars that will pass on both sides, and especially the “bumps” these are not your normal small bumps, they are very large “speed bumps” that are on the roads everywhere to help slow traffic.
  • Finally, At the end of this month Sherry and I will travel to Samburu, Kenya from May 26 – 28. We will help with the distribution of food to one of the very hard hit areas of drought and in need of food supply’s. Samburu is also the type area that most people think of Africa, and I have been told used in one of the Survivor Shows. They tell us Elephants are in that area in the wild, and we may see them depending on where they are at the time we arrive. Pray for those in East Africa and Kenya hit hard by the drought and for the opportunity we have to be the hands and feet of Jesus in meeting physical needs and hopefully the opportunity to meet spiritual needs as well.

Thank you for your continued Prayers and Financial Support. We are currently 88% raised for the first year with 12 % committed. Our second year we have 0% raised and 17% Committed. Please pray for the Lord to bring along other financial partners for our ministry.