Kenya Journal August, 2022 Edition 5
What a great day to go to church(es).
Finally! It’s Sunday in Kenya and we get to worship and pray with our Kenyan brothers and sisters. I have been waiting for this morning for months now. Finally, we get to visit the churches in the Kisii/Kenyenya area with our teams.
Four teams headed out early this morning. By the end of the day the teams preached in five churches, visited two more churches, and preached an open air evangelism rally in the public market in Kisii town. Days like today are the fruit of years of labor. Our pastors did an amazing job of preparing their churches for our American teams. Attendance was high at every church, the anticipation level of both the Kenyans and the Americans were like a welcome mat for the Holy Sprit. Preaching in Africa while using translators is quite a challenge for most American preachers. There are very few similarities in a worship experience in a Kenyan church and the worship experience most of our teams enjoy back home in the U.S. This team was up to the task!
I and the team from Texas made our way to Kenyenya (Pastor Christiano) and made a day of it. Bible study first, then the morning worship service. A short break for a quick Kenyan lunch of goat stew and all the trimming served in the pastor’s office. Then a brief leadership training conference. This is a growing church with all the pains and challenges that come with quick growth. Leaders are scarce worldwide (or so it seems to me). And, you do not develop quality leadership quickly. In the meantime, a lot of folks have to do double and triple duty just to facilitate the demands of worship, evangelism, and facilities. God met us in every meeting. I have said many times, preaching in Kenya is such a humbling experience. I have not found people anywhere more hungry for clear, Biblical teaching and preaching. And when you are “brevity challenged” like I am, it is sheer joy to preach to a people who never look at their watch. In fact, they often don’t want to let you stop at the end of the service. It is a pure preaching adrenaline rush!
But, as much they get to preach. I try to quiet at dinner on Sunday nights. Listening to the reports, God-stories, laughter and excitement from these teams is the appetizer, entree, and desert for me! I have been teaching and preaching what these teams modeled fro our Kenyan churches this morning for 18 years now. God doesn’t just use “professionals” in His work. In fact, He does some of His best work with “unschooled, ordinary men” who have been with Jesus. I’m sure there was plenty of anxiety in their rooms last night as they prepared and prayed. There was no way they could know what they were walking into this morning. But that is how faith is built. By doing. By going. By leaving the safety net of what we know we can do, and stepping out in obedience to what God has asked us to do with Him.
If there was fear, I could not see or hear it. Just calm confidence in God’s ability to sustain each team member in every assignment through the day. I know these teams will line up for seconds at
God’s table of ministry soon. Days like today ruin you for spectating.
After an overfilled day of ministry, God gave us a little bonus this afternoon. When I returned to the Lord and my calling to preach over 40 years ago, the only pulpit available to me was the streets. I preached regularly in my hometown underneath the bridges where the homeless encampments were. Then, we would move the Greyhound bus station and preach in the lobby to the waiting passengers. Then God added the Union Rescue Mission to my itinerary. And I loved every minute of it. The level of dependency that street ministry generates is ministry training at warp speed.
You are never in control of anything in street ministry…except listening to hear what God has said to your heart. The original band of Kenyan pastors I began with here, started as I did—on the streets. Daniel is trying to build courage and confidence in a group of young preachers he is raising up. He knows what the street does for faith. So, he asked me if I would join him this afternoon and preach in the market.
Here’s how it works:
You send the dance/drama/worship team ahead to find a suitable location. Unload the sound system and fire up the generator. Crank the sound board up to about 8, and pour every ounce of energy and creativity you have into drawing a crowd from those passing by. Once there is a reasonable number of curious bypasses who stop to watch and listen, you bring out the evangelist to preach the Gospel. You have a 10-15 window at best. These people don’t have to stay or listen. Only God can hold the crowd there for you. And, only God can craft His message in a format that these non-church people can understand and respond to. It is a faith “gut-check.” It’s always a welcome assignment for me. There was response to the message. But, the response is not really the point of street evangelism. The obedience in the going and preaching is the point. You can never control the results or response on the street. But, you will never have any results or response if you don’t go.
I know there are more effective ways to make disciples than street preaching. That is why we have worked so hard to train these pastors and evangelists. But, you can never forget the fundamentals
fo ministry. The great hall of fame Green Bay Packer football coach, Vince Lombardi, started the first practice of each season the same way. He would gather the group of elite, professional athletes around him, reach into a mesh ball bag, hold up a football and say: “Men! This is a football.” That’s what God does for me each time I step into the fray of a open-air evangelism rally. He reminds me of what He believes in most important: “We go to them, because they cannot/will not come to us.”
Fatigue is a fair price for days like today. We finished empty today. Time to rest, refresh, get restored…and do it again tomorrow. I love this job! Thanks for partnering with me. Thanks for sending me. Because you send, I continue to go.