The ministry in East Africa is very diverse.
We have conferences in large cities, towns and villages. The meetings run two, three of four days. On Sundays we speak and minister in local churches. Some are in large cities — some in remote areas. Participants range from rural folks with limited formal education to urban folks in a growing, educated ‘middle class’. Many speak conversational English. Many do not.
The challenge always is to adapt the teaching and ministry to fit the time frame and the setting. Meeting times are — shall we say — quite elastic. Interruptions are common. Language differences are always a challenge. (I love to watch the face of my interpretor when I use an illustration about Sudden Death Overtime in the NFL to describe the last generation before the appearing of Christ!)
And mostly God Himself surprises us by taking the meetings & ministry in directions we could neither have anticipated nor prepared for.
The following is the blog from our meeting in the mountain town of Kisii last summer. In recent years the Gospel has finally broken through in that area long known for its spiritual darkness. Here’s a bit of what happened:
Kisii, Kenya Conference
From Tanzania we (Doug, Richard, Ben and Joseph) journeyed to extreme western Kenya to the bustling mountain town of Kisii.
As recently as seven years ago, Kisii was acknowledged as an area blanketed with spiritual oppression. But that blanket is lifting as a cadre of bold evangelists and church planters are bringing light into darkness.
Among those are the vibrant group of GFE pioneers who gathered for the Transforming Prayer training seminar. We were hosted by Pastors Daniel & Bernice Khatera, the senior church planters and welcomed by 50 other leaders.
The first day began rather conventionally as we taught the foundational material that is proving so transformative in East Africa:
- The Big Picture – What God is Doing in the World (also billed as ‘The Bible in 5 Minutes’)
- Doing the Ministry of Jesus (Luke 4:16ff)
- Training God’s People to Do the Ministry of Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-16)
- Forgiveness: The Key that Unlocks the Door to the Ministry of Jesus
The Saturday meeting ended a bit early as a storm coming off Lake Victoria threatened the open-air venue.
Sunday morning we divided the team in order to visit several churches. Richard and Pastor Mike Etemesi went to Kendegere GFE Church – Doug and Joseph went to Somgogu GFE Church.
The churches are located almost an hour drive on narrow dirt mountain roads. We dropped Richard & Mike off for their half-mile final walk to the church where they would minister with Pastor Vincent.
Joseph & I proceed up the mountain to Somgogu — a tiny mountain village in the middle of somewhere — where we were met by Pastor William.
Pastor William – like so many of Africa’s evangelists – has pioneered his congregation with virtually no financial backing. Men and women like Vincent & William and their wives are the true heroes in this world. One can only wonder at God’s glorious reception for them when their sacrificial labors are finished.
My (Doug) church was an unlighted tin shed with a dirt floor into which 90 people packed for worship and the Word. The music was exuberant; the people warm and gracious. I taught on OUR THREE RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD: Bond-Slaves – Friends—and Sons.
At the end we prayed for those wanting to make a first-time commitment to Jesus. Six women in their twenties came forward and did so. Then we prayed for the people to release unforgiveness, bitterness, resentments and revenge. Many did so. Then we prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill the areas of their hearts vacated by darkness. Apparently He did.
In Richard’s service he and Mike taught and encouraged the people. They prayed over about 30 children that they would grow like Jesus grew (Luke 2:52) and that they would grow to be mighty warriors in God’s kingdom.
After I (Richard) thought we were finished – possibly due to coffee deprivation – Mike suggested we pray for the sick. I said, “What a great idea, I’m glad you thought about it!”
About 15 people came for prayer. We prayed for the first three, then stopped, explaining to the people that all God’s people are invited to pray for the sick – not just the leaders. So with a bit of instruction ten of the members came and each one prayed for the healing for one. It was a joy to see them activated in a new way to minister to themselves.
Pastor Vincent asked who had been immediately healed ? Eleven indicated they had been healed, after which the church erupted into celebration. One very old man joyously testified that the presence of God was with them and His Name is to be glorified! Man, it was HOT!
The Conference continued with the schedule blown up. We started late, then it was decided to end early to allow for a daylight to drive to Kisumu.
So, we did a fast-paced intro to Theophostic Prayer sharing examples of how God has healed folks in prayer over the years, then showing the tight connection between the new prayer model and the ministry of Jesus in Luke 4.
As the session progressed two things happened: the leaders became more animated, and the Spirit of God settled on the people.
There was no time to bring individuals up for demo prayers, so I did a ‘group’ TPM prayer in which God did a deep work of repentance, deliverance and refreshing. Many were reportedly freed from old grudges and resentments.
Joseph invited six testimonies to end the sessions. Many more wanted to share and would have done so had there been time.
The meeting concluded in great joy. We were invited to return to do formal TPM prayer training.
After the first week of the ministry trip we feel like we have been surfing a lava flow by day and dropping into nightly comas on the African board-beds.
Back to August, 2011.
I’m sitting at my desk trying to discern how to prepare for the the six VERY different meetings and situations we are about to engage.
The Holy Spirit assures me that we have only to show up and share what we know to be true (in the Word as confirmed by our own life experiences) and He will do an amazing work in the lives of the people. Only his assurances give me the energy and confidence to take on new challenges in new places.
So I’m pulling together some new things to teach and reviewing lessons from previous conferences knowing that we will be high over the Atlantic before God begins to open the brochure on this year’s agenda.
So the Adventure continues! Thanks for your prayers which give flight to all of this.