|Greetings to you all,
I find myself wondering why, it's now been weeks since I wrote to you all - and I don't have a really good answer. For one, I could say that my routine here has been messed up the last month as I endeavoured to get my visa extended for a further 3 months - which has now been achieved, praise God. But that would not be the whole truth. It seems it's hard sometimes to get back into the swing of things, like writing regular updates to those of you who are interested in what's happening here - to be true much has happened, but is getting lost in the passage of time. I'm finding more and more that making time to do, seems to be really hard right now. For instance, amid the practicle day to day needs of helping around the homestead, when I do get free time, I've been focussing on studying scripture (hours on end) - and this is needed if I am to continue to have something to give these people.
Even today as I sat down to start this update (well over an hour ago now), I've been distracted by a regular email I receive from T Austin Sparks and started reading in to that, (in it he was suggesting we need to take time (even if a few hours) to stop and consider and adjust ourselves to the things that God is saying. This is very true - it's so easy to get caught up in the business of ministry and end up just becoming an 'echo' and not the trumpet voice that God has called us to be. Next I was distracted from an update from some other online author, who pointed out he'd had a 'fast' from the News and all media updates from websites etc. His point was that he was now much calmer and more able to focus on what the Lord wanted him to pray about, instead of being driven into "reactionary" praying. I concur, after not seeing (or very little on the odd occasion when I've visited Nairobi) TV for 3 months now, I can honestly say, I don't miss it one bit, and it has allowed me more time to focus upon the Lord's needs, pray more productively to the issues he brings across my mind, and give more time to study of his word. Something which I have been constantly sharing here, whenever I teach or preach.
So now I've started this update, I find I'm in the flow and ready to go - I hope!
I have achieved a goal with the men's group. Last week, we each finally signed our own copy of the "Men's Action Declaration" - even the Bishop. The process of drawing it up with them and then allowing them to go through it thouroughly and ask questions, has really drawn them out and opened things up to the real issues going on in their lives and marriages. Much truth has come out and much scriptural guidance has been given over the last 3 or 4 weeks. I now patiently await to see how it will change their behaviour in the coming weeks a months. One such measure, will be to see them arrive at church together (at the same time) AND sit with their wives. It is very clear at the moment that men sit on one side behind the youth, the choir front middle and then children mostly behind them and then women on the right. How on earth this - non-spoken segregation ever started - I will probably never know, but it is something that I want to see change as I encourage families to sit and worship together.
Why is this important you ask? Because it is symptomatic of a much deeper issue going on in the culture here. Something which was starkly illustrated to me yesterday when one of the Bishop's very own daughters came to visit. Her husband refused to come in and remained outside the homestead instead - depsite the rain. I have known for a while that within the tribe the husband originally stems from is a ruliing that 'son-in-laws' should not shake-hands or really be in the same room as their 'mother-in-law'. Yesterday, I found out how and why this ruling occured. It arose because one day a mother went to visit her daughter and had to stay over for the night. The husband arrived home that evening in a drunken state and ended up going into the room where the mother was staying.... So the tribal chief, or the head of the family came up with this ruling, which in time has developed into a tradition, so much so, that men, even when saved - have a very stand-offish approach to their mother-in-laws.
"Hang-on though, what's the big deal?", you might be thinking. Especially as there in the UK, we all know there is the unspoken acceptance that most son-in-laws, don't get on with their in-laws. But here, where family and the extended family is so important; where uncles and aunts take in their nephews/nieces and educate them becuase their siblings cannot afford to; where uncles are honoured as fathers because the real parents are no longer around; and where even I am treated as a son to the Bishop and Mam here - because of one man's selfish foolishness, families everywhere here are now suffering division and seperation. And the ruling sounds "sensible and wise", but at it's root is a decision based on "fear"! This is a clear example of where the "traditions of me" are in direct opposition to the clear teaching of scripture.
To drive the point home to me, yesterday evening, Mam's uncle came over to stay (he is regarded as her Dad btw). He was the one who explained where the above tradition had evolved from, but is himself steeped in tradition. Mam had invited him over to discuss the siblings of her later elder sister (2 sisters & 2 brothers) - whom she now has a kind of responsiblity for. Don't ask me how he's involved, but they are his concern too (perhaps as an acting father to mum). All 4 of these siblings are grown, well educated, have jobs, and all but one have have their own children. But not one of them is in a stable relationship (and by that, is meant they are not married). The discussion was to determine the reasons for that, so that I, as I was asked at the beginning of the conversation could pray for them. I was told I would be included in this conversation, which would swap between Kiswahili and English. In actual fact I sat through a 50 minute conversation entirely in Kiswahili, before anything was said to me in English! Lol. During that 50 minutes, I am of course praying, and asking God, what is it you have to say - and all I heard/received was the words "1....2....3..." and a sense things were "DONE" and nothing more. I felt completely in "the dark" so to speak. All I knew is that I had to say this, having no understanding - even after Mam explained the above to me. So I just said "Does 1...2...3 mean anything to you?" Mam, was then able to clarify they'd been discussing 3 things:
1) tradition, and how that can bind people up;
2) witchcraft - there had been a report it was involved in the mother's death; and
3) the effect of the death of the mother upon the siblings.
They didn't know which of them was the important factor. But I immediately knew - "yes", "yes" and "yes" - i.e. all of them. God had been counting them off to me and was saying, and confirming that each one would be dealt with (or "undone") as we prayed and applied truth to them. I felt led to do it this way:
1) Tradition was broken by the truth of 2 Cor 10:3-5;
2) Witchcraft - by the blood of Jesus;
3) Death - by pronouncing the blessings of God over their lives.
I also stated that as we were 3, we were a quoram, and applied Mat 16:19 & Mat 18:20, that we 3 were enough in agreement to make a binding and loosing decisions/declarations. Finally I said we should raise our hands into the air as a symbolic representation of breaking through into the heavens and pulling down heaven to earth, pulling down the strongholds....
This morning, I have been able to relate to mum's uncle, how No.1 above fed into No.2 by way of seeking to control (a form of witchcraft) and that control left unfetterd leads to 3. death.
I love the way God works, from something so foolishly sounding as "1-2-3", God brought out a whole strategy and word of promise that he was on the case and it was being dealt with.
On to other matters. I'm continuing with teaching the Sunday School and youth when I've been able to, although I haven't preached at Lwanda for some weeks now, primarily because I've been out at two other churhes preaching, where I've been well received and making an impact. Praying for the sick and prophesying into their lives, where God gives me unction to do so.
Fort he musicians amongst you, you'll be interested to learn that it's not only Lwanda that seems to play everything in the key of C# Major (transposingf the keyboard up or down to make the sound fit the singing. It also happens in the other churches too. (I'm making slow headway on this issue by slowly teaching them about different keys - it will improve the sound of worship). However, I now chuckle to myself, thinking of "ground-zero" - who was the one person they all learnt this from? LOL
I've started noticing something else in the last few weeks - as I walk the roads now, I've been hearing the term "how are you pastor" more and more - this sounds really odd to me - I've never thought of myself that way. And yes Ray, you were right - they will eventually call you something.
I don't mind, but I will still only refer to myself as one of God's servants and nothing more.
I think that's enough, as this should get me back into the swing of the regular weekly update again.
So bye for now, and keep praying for me please, I do value your prayer support. There are needs here which I can't meet financially, like the bibles and the school (they need some tables) that brought me out here last November - but I trust God will speak to hearts and stir you if you are led to give in that way. I am still struggling with Swahili and am ever more needful of being able to speak it, especially as I one step closer to being here long term. The extended visa, opens the way for PEFA to apply for my work permit at the 6 month stage, and the permit they apply for is at least 2 years, if not 4 years (I've had conflicting info on timings).
Do not doubt for a moment - people lives are being impacted and changed because I am here. The Kingdom is growing - foundations are being repaired and set in order - bit by bit. God is granting me favour amongst the people here. And in that I rejoice and take heart. Lives are being saved. Amen
Your brother and servant in Christ Jesus
P.S. - I haven't spell checked or proof read this article.