After three days of travel, I arrived in Eldoret, Kenya, I am happy to say, “safely and only one hour late”.
International travel is fraught with unpleasant possibilities, especially in winter. But at every point there was grace for the journey and I (and my luggage) arrived without mishap. True, the wheels were ripped off my suitcases, but with effort I can still drag them around.
I do not take uneventful travel for granted. The passenger next to me on the British Airways 777 discovered before leaving London that his bags had already gone astray and would be a couple of days catching up with him. So I thank you for offering travel prayers for me.
In Nairobi I was met by ministry friends Albert and Nancy Mulemi who transferred me to
a missionary guest house for the night. We simply could not minister in Kenya if it were not for many loving friends like them who put themselves out to make a way for us.
While waiting for them to arrive, I had a chance to pray for a woman in the airport parking lot who had a broken foot which had refused for ten weeks to heal. The Spirit of God came on her and she was visibly touched. I hope God healed her.
I also had a chance to talk to a taxi driver who was hoping Albert wouldn’t show up so he could drive me into town. I asked him, “Are you a Christian?” He smiled and said, “Yes. I go to church every Sunday.” I followed up, “So have you been born again?” He confessed that he had not. “And why not?” I continued. “Because there is plenty of time.”
I suggested he might want to rethink his position since he drives a taxi in the Nairobi chaos. He got busy in another direction.
I wonder how many ‘Christianized’ people in the world are in the same perilous life situation as Jared?
Friday, after a nice lunch at Java house, Albert and Nancy carted me back to the airport for the evening flight to Eldoret. I met two other American short-term missionaries from Colorado headed for Eldoret to spend two weeks in an orphanage.
We had a nice visit waiting for our Jet Link flight to arrive an hour late. There are more than 1,000,000 orphans in Kenya so there are many orphanages—not nearly enough—
and most need help.
Travel note: the 23% devaluation of the America dollar against the Kenya shilling in the LAST SIX WEEKS has an effect on one’s travel budget.
On arrival here, I was met by Pastors Joseph and Carin Omondi and their two sons who whisked me through a two-mile long traffic jam to the old Sirikwa Hotel. (The ‘whisked’ part is of course sarcasm).
Richard Cazzell and I have stayed at Sirikwa before. The staff welcomed me like a returning prodigal. After some fresh tomato (toe-maaah-toe) soup, I crashed and tried to sleep through some of the jet lag.
The hotel is quite old, harking back to the 50′s, I think. The staff is quite
cordial and the food is basic, fresh and plentiful. The rooms are Spartan, but everything works…well except for the hot water. Which sometimes doesn’t.
I slept from 11pm to 3am when the Spirit dropped by for a visit. (He often does this while I am in Kenya.) We had a productive conversation until 5 am during which He told me what to say at a noontime gathering where I would speak later in the day.
After a couple of bonus hours of sleep, I began my first full day in Eldoret.
I had breakfast in the dining room. The menu: omelets, toast, porridge, baked beans, fresh fruit, fresh mango & passion fruit juices, an incomprehensible Asian dish and rich coffee. The juices must certainly be on the breakfast menu served in the Kingdom soon to appear. Oh yeah, and French fries.
Joseph Omondi arrived and we spent a couple of hours going over duties and schedules for the next two weeks. The time was very profitable. He left to buy minutes for Richard’s Kenya cell phone of which I am the proud, temporary user.
Ben Bahati—Bishop over Global Field Evangelism—arrived and we had a quick lunch and caught up on essential news and altered planning. Ben and his crew are very effective planners who pack a huge amount of activity (on a shoe-string budget) into each day. However, there is still a good bit of what I call African ‘Just-In-Time-Planning’ which keeps everyone on their toes.
We went to the GFE church where about 75 people had gathered for lunch and an end-of-the-year celebration. After energetic contemporary worship, I spoke on Phil 2:5-8 – ‘having the same mindset as Christ Jesus’ and concluded with John 17 where God calls his People together in a unity which is only produced by our commonness in Christ by virtue of the Holy Spirit.
Later in the afternoon, Ben and his team continued the 5th of ten outdoor evangelistic rallies that are carrying them around the poverty stricken rim of Eldoret. This city is a huge overgrown country town of more than 1,000,000 situated on a 7000’ plateau in western Kenya.
The week-long rally is being held in a vacant field on the outskirts of the city. The area is called Huruma—translated means ‘Mercy’–exactly what the slum area needs. The team sets up a stage with sound and lights and the worship team sings and dances until a crowd gathers.
This evening about 1500 local folks pressed around as Ben preached from Job on God’s response to human suffering (of which these is abundance in Huruma). The people stood quietly and attentively. I am always amazed how respectful the listeners are at Ben’s public crusades.
When he finished preaching, he asked me to bring a closing word before he gave the invitation to come to Christ.
I was prompted to speak about the cross of Christ. How Jesus died on the cross to take upon himself the sin of the world. So effective was Jesus in doing this that he became a curse for us, making possible the breaking of contemporary curses. How Jesus’ sacrificial death takes away our guilt. How his naked crucifixion takes away our shame.
I welcomed them to come to Christ through the cross.
Ben gave an additional invitation and about 800 people crowded around the stage—about 100 of them children. Ben led them through s sinner’s prayer which the people seemed to engage sincerely. Ben gave further instruction including baptism and invited new believers to participate in a mass baptismal service which will be held early New Year’s Day in the swimming pool at my hotel.
Ben also invited all 800 to attend the Bible school where they could study the whole Gospel of John with me (Doug). His selling point: “This is the cheapest Bible school in western Kenya!” Not quite sure what to do with that….
A brief follow up was done with the respondents in a large tent provided for that purpose. I had a chance to pray for a young man caught in alcoholism. He prayed to receive Christ. If he comes to church tomorrow we’ll spend more time with him. He needs alot of healing.
The New Year will be rolling in here in a couple of hours—nine hours ahead of midnight at home. As I reflect back on 2011 I must say it wasn’t an easy year. But it was a year of God’s favor in the life of our family and we rejoiced at many “Jesus Sightings” along the way.
2012 dawns with deep concerns about the direction of America and the world in general. At the same time, the Holy Spirit encourages me to expect God to break through to us in fresh & remarkable ways.
So, in the Providence of God, I wish you all a Spirit-filled and Jesus-focused New Year!